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08Jan

It’s a new year – time to give your home a whole new look? If you’re selling your home, or planning to, our top home styling accessories for 2021 may help you make the right decisions to give your home a mini-makeover without breaking the bank.

And, now that the majority of us are ‘locked down’, you may have more time than usual to get new home accessories ordered online, even taking advantage of the New Year sale prices (if you’re quick!).

Home styling accessories can make even the most stale and tired rooms look new and on-trend again, so let’s dive into our seven top styling tips which won’t break the bank:

  1. Rugs

A large rug can transform a room, adding warmth and accentuating the room’s style. Rug trends in 2021 take a vintage turn. A simple flat pile with neutral tones echoing the room is on trend rather than thicker pile or geometric print. Avoid Persian inspirations unless you live in Downton Abbey.

You don’t have to spend a fortune either; decide on a budget and stick to it. You should be able to get a large rug, say 8’ x 4’, for under £150 if you shop around. 

  1. Cushions

Cushions are a really easy way to provide an instant update to a room whilst adding colour, texture and interest. Again, the trends point towards a simple style: stay away from geometric prints and pictures.

2021 has an altogether cleaner look for accessories. 

  1. Flowers

The finishing touch for viewings, adding scent and a sense of homeliness. Make sure arrangements are in keeping with the overall style of the house and the room.

If in doubt, keep the colours pale and the style simple with a vintage, minimal or Scandi twist.

  1. Toiletries

Toiletries for photos and viewings should be modern, elegant and the best you can find. Keep them eco-friendly and high-end – AcureTropic and Mu London are great options. Similarly, small, independent brands which are local to you are a nice touch.

Remember, keep these for viewings only – hide them after each one to keep them in pristine condition. 

  1. Bedding

New bedding for all rooms, especially the master bedroom, is a great way to show off each space to the best of its advantage. Environmentally-friendly fabrics with natural tones are growing in popularity – keep a look out for a brand with an eco-friendly ethos.

Don’t forget vintage accents either – another key trend for styling a bedroom.

Two cushions and a throw on a bed will add that elegant touch of style without overcomplication.

  1. Towels

Buy some new ones and make sure no one uses them – they’re just for show! Pop them away with the toiletries after each viewing to keep them crisp and fresh.

White or neutral shades are best, a staple style for a bathroom. They should be in keeping with the bathroom itself to ensure it looks simple and clean.

 

  1. Mirrors

Mirrors have a real Scandi feel to them in 2021, alongside other wall hangings like art. Mirrors especially add a feeling of coordination and harmony to a room, along with reflecting light, making rooms feel more spacious.

On top of these trends, there are three bonus points which our experience has taught us to constantly keep in mind when styling a home – Things that never go out of style.

Things which, whatever the trends for the year are, should always be in focus:

  1. Keep things clean and clear

We’ve noticed that buyers prefer a clean palette of neutral tones. This gives them more opportunities to let their imaginations run wild with ideas for their new dream home.

  1. Create an atmosphere to aspire to

The more you show the incredible lifestyle your home offers, the more prospective buyers see themselves living there – whether that’s done by leaving a large glass bowl full of vibrant fruit in the kitchen, an elegant vase of delightful flowers in the hallway or a delectable cake which might tempt them to stay a bit longer for another slice.

Some relaxing, ambient music playing in the background and a cosy room lit by the soft glow of a lamp in the corner also adds a feeling of wonder to a viewing.

  1. Keep a critical eye 

Remember to look at each room with an objective viewpoint; remove or replace accessories that don’t add to the aesthetic of the area.

First impressions are everything.

We also recommend staying up-to-date on constantly evolving home styling trends. Try these high street and online retailers; their prices won’t break the bank either:

  • Next – An excellent range of bang-on-trend soft furnishings and home accessories at value-for-money prices.
  • Wayfair – Furnishings for every budget; they have a ‘shop the look’ feature allowing you to pull together items that match before buying.|
  • Tu by Sainsbury’s – Brilliant if you’re on a budget. There are several ranges offering affordable updates for every room in the house.
  • eBay – A fantastic resource for homewares, both new and pre-loved. Great for your budget and your carbon footprint

 

There you go! Our top trends and home styling tips for 2021. Which will you be giving a go? You can even go one further and research some more if you’ve got a little spare time during lockdown.

Get in touch today on 01364 652652 or katie@sawdyeandharris.co.uk and we can provide you with specialist, expert advice to support you through your specific set of circumstances.

15Dec

In last month’s blog, we talked about finding the perfect tenant for your property. Finding that gem of a tenant is the key to peace of mind as a landlord, but once they are in situ, things will run from strength to strength.

Once we find them, we need to know how to manage certain situations as and when they arrive. A good letting agent always supports the landlord’s journey; however we think the more information we’re armed with, the better!

These 7 top troubleshooting tips are worth keeping in the back of your mind.

So here we go!

What happens if…

Your tenant gets a dog

Dogs. A human’s best friend. The friendly face sat by the door when you get home after a busy day. There is no love like the unconditional love of a dog – it’s a wonderful thing.

But when we pop round to discuss something with our tenants and a Newfoundland that we weren’t aware of greets us at the door, it can come as a bit of a surprise!

Many landlords simply refuse dogs (or other pets) outright and advertise this policy at the outset. But tenants sometimes want to get a dog after the tenancy starts. Some even buy a dog without their landlord’s permission and hope they won’t notice.

So, what does the law say about your rights as landlord, if your tenant gets a dog?

If having a dog living in the property is in breach of the Tenancy Agreement, you can, in fact, evict. But before you take such drastic action, you may want to weigh up the pros and cons of the situation. If they have otherwise been a good tenant, having a dog may actually ensure they remain in the property for longer, thus saving you the time, effort and expense of having to re-let it.

But what about possible damage or increased wear-and-tear?

If you’re letting your property unfurnished, you could ask your tenant to agree to, for example, a twice-yearly carpet clean. All you need to do is to add the pet to the Tenancy Agreement, together with a condition your tenant must comply with. If your property is furnished, you may need to take a view on how much damage could potentially be done to your furniture by a dog, and assess whether the current deposit will cover it, or if, in fact, you need to request a higher deposit. (Note that you’ll need to also take into consideration that the maximum deposit you can request is only five weeks’ rent.)

Our conclusion is that sometimes, a pet-owning tenant can be of higher value, respect and value your property more, and stay longer. Ultimately though, as the property owner, the final choice is yours.

Your tenant gets married

If your tenant is the sole name on the Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement, and they get married, the new Mr or Mrs will need adding to the Agreement. Just as with any new tenant, you’ll need to carry out the usual credit checks and their ‘Right to Rent’ and create a new AST with both names listed.

Of course, this happy news is definitely something to be celebrated by tenants and landlords alike, so why not send them a bottle of fizz and a card to congratulate them and let them know you value them as tenants.

Your tenant makes a DIY disaster

We’ve all been there, right? That ‘little job’ we thought would take ten minutes turns into a situation… We strip a wall and the plaster falls off, that beautiful sunshine yellow paint we thought would add some warmth to our hallway feels like we’re walking literally into the sun every time we come through our front door now it’s on the walls… not ideal.

Our tenants may want to make the place feel more homely for them, but they can come unstuck too. We need to know how to manage things effectively when things don’t go according to plan. Assessing the situation objectively will help move things forward.

If your tenant’s actions cause immediate damage, such as a burst pipe or severed cable, call in a professional to fix it straight away. Your Agreement – if drawn up by a professional – will detail who is responsible for what, and a DIY disaster should be a bill footed by your tenant – not you.

If their decoration is simply not to your taste, then maybe take a view. Royal purple may not be our choice of kitchen wall colour, but our tenants love it. If they pay their rent on time, look after your property and communicate well with you, maybe let them have their way with the décor. After all, a tenant who redecorates will typically stay longer, and you can always make sure your Agreement stipulates they have to repaint in magnolia or similar before they leave.

Your tenant passes away

Sometimes things happen that are unforeseen and just can’t be helped. The death of a tenant is one of these times. We need to know how to handle it, should we be in the rare position that it happens.

Reach out to the family to send your heartfelt condolences and, if appropriate, talk about next steps. The fact that a tenant has died does not mean that the tenancy automatically comes to an end. The tenancy becomes part of the deceased tenant’s estate and so must be dealt with by the executor of the will, until the probate is granted.

You don’t want your property left vacant for months, however, so find out who has been appointed executor and contact them. If yours was a sole tenancy, ask for the tenancy to be surrendered, if appropriate, so you can take over the property. It’s the responsibility of the estate to clear the property and have it cleaned ready for handover, just as if it was the usual end of a tenancy. If you have to do this yourself, make sure you document all costs so you can claim them from the estate.

Ask your letting agent for advice as soon as you can, and they will lead you through the process.

 Your tenant gives notice early

When and how much notice a tenant needs to give you depends on the Tenancy Agreement. The minimum term is usually six months, and after that, the tenant can give one month’s notice at any time. You as the landlord, on the other hand, need to give two months’ notice to terminate the tenancy.

If your tenant wants to leave before the end of their Agreement, they can ‘surrender’ their tenancy.

You don’t have to agree to end their tenancy early, and you can insist they pay the rent and all bills (e.g. Council Tax) until the end of their tenancy. Most landlords will take a view, and if their tenant’s reason is valid, they tend to release them early. Most importantly, take advice from your letting agent, who will make sure you act appropriately and legally, in the circumstances.

 

 

Your tenant stops paying the rent

If your tenant suddenly stops paying the rent, and perhaps even does a flit, it can be a real worry for you. However, you must follow the legal process to give yourself the best chance of recovering both your rent, and your property:

  1. Talk to your estate agent and ask their advice about exactly how to proceed to keep you compliant and legal.
  2. Whilst it’s tempting to change the locks and re-advertise your property, unless your tenant has been officially evicted (read more here), they are still legally the property’s occupant.
  3. Where possible, try to open up communication channels with your tenant. There may be valid reasons for their non-paying, or leaving the property without notice, and you may be able to find a way to compromise and negotiate with them.

Your tenant wants to buy your property

Your tenant loves your property so much they want to buy it? Great! But before you rush into drawing up the paperwork, here a few things to consider:

  • Are they offering the full market value? Ask an estate agent to give you a market appraisal and realistic valuation to make sure you aren’t underselling your property.
  • Check your Agreement – you may still be liable for your agent’s fees, either selling or management fees.
  • Weigh up your options – how much is it going to cost you to replace the income from your tenant? Also take into account the amount of time it will take you to find a new tenant, reference them and have them move in. A good short-term sale price may not make up for the income lost over time, so do your sums before you commit.

Your letting agent can provide a guiding hand through it all, advising on the best course of action.

 

 

If your tenant has done something you’re not expecting, don’t be blindsided – we can help. Just give us a call on 01264 652652 or drop us a line at katie@sawdyeandharris.co.uk and let’s figure out the best way for you to protect your financial investment.

14Dec

Are you starting to feel like you’re rattling around in a house that’s too big for you?

Are you ready to put less time, effort and money into somewhere new?

Have you got your heart set on being closer to family (or further away)? Have you always dreamed of that coastal hideaway or a chocolate box cottage in the countryside?

Now is the time to move on to the next chapter in your life.

When it’s time to start thinking about making changes to your lifestyle, your home may well be your most valuable asset. It is vital that you realise its financial potential.

Now is the time to downsize.

We think downsizing is actually a step forward, a really positive move. A move full of options and opportunity.

This blog is all about what it really means to downsize, and how we can work out the practicalities needed to make this next chapter get off to the smoothest of starts.

So how do we know? How do we realise the time is right?

Moving into a smaller home is not a decision most people take lightly. We may want to ask ourselves some questions before making the final decision to sell and move on. Our experience of helping thousands of homeowners to move has led us to create a checklist to provide some clarity. We often talk about downsizing as the next chapter, so let’s think of it like writing a novel…


The Plot

Sometimes, when we least expect it, or maybe when we most expect it, the way we feel about our home starts to change. We can embrace the opportunity in front of us and make some positive changes, moving forward and making thoughts and dreams a reality. This is where the research comes in. It is really important to have a plan.

Plan your finances to determine the price you need and want from your sale and decide on a date to put your home on the market. Planning out the implications of your move in detail is vital to seeing the full picture. Downsizing often releases equity, and having a plan for your pennies will give you a goal to reach for.

Make a wish list and a deal-breaker list for your next home, and start to look around. See what’s out there, and find out what you really like – what would you love to have in your new home now the practicalities have changed? Having your next home in mind will keep you motivated.

Arrange consultations with three estate agents and then choose the one you would like to work with. Choosing the right estate agent is the difference between selling at the price you really want and your home sitting on the market for months. Your agent needs to have the right attitude when it comes to selling your home, a high level of accountability and exceptional marketing techniques.

The Beginning

So now we have the plot and the characters; it’s time to begin…

Go through your home, and make a list of any outstanding jobs. It’s time to get them done. If your home has a more dated décor, it may be prudent to make some changes to avoid those low offers that are based on your home being too dated for some buyers.

Make a list of any accessories to buy to dress your home for photography. Today, for your home to capture a buyer’s attention online, it needs to stand out. From croissants and flowers in the kitchen, to fluffy towels and luxury toiletries in the bathroom, to candles and coffee table books in the living rooms – it all adds to the ‘wow’ factor for prospective buyers.

Work with your agent and photographer to take and then approve the images for use in your marketing. Communication is key. Sign off the brochure once you’re happy with it, and the plot can develop.

The Middle

Once your home is on the market, it’s time to get the story moving.

Keep your home looking its best for every viewing. Buyers like to see things clean and clear. Clear surfaces and floor spaces, and clean everything until it sparkles. Light and reflected shine are the best ways to show off the size of your rooms to their full advantage.

Contact removal companies for quotes. It can be really worthwhile getting your ducks in a row for moving. There will be a lot to sort, many years of memories (and junk!) to go through and lots to take on your journey with you. Decide on a company and what services you need – a good removal firm will advise you and help you decide what is right for your move.

The Conclusion

The time has arrived! The crescendo of the piece! The height of the drama – if there’s going to be a plot twist, it will be now. But let’s keep to the narrative and think about those moving days.

Pack as much as you can the night before, and have a survival box full of essentials for your last night and morning. Keep this box for your first night and morning, to keep things as  simple and easy as possible.

Make arrangements for child and pet care as necessary. Moving day is not the time or place for animals or small children, so keep them all safe and happy whilst you get things set for them in their new home.

Make plans for that first night – will you go out, get a takeaway or have ready meals in for dinner? Make the beds as soon as you can so you can relax later, and have that special bottle of wine ready to celebrate your new home with!

So, there you have it. Our top tips to help your move to the next chapter. Downsizing means having the opportunity to enjoy more of what makes you feel happy, comfortable and fulfilled.

With downsizing comes choice, time, money and a sense of wellbeing, and that sounds just the ticket, don’t you think?

Call us on 01364 652652 or email us at katie@sawdyeandharris.co.uk to find out how we as specialist estate agents agents can help you start your new chapter!

15Nov

As a landlord, one of the challenges that may keep you awake at night is thinking about your tenants – finding the right ones, keeping the good ones, finding a way to make those unsuitable tenants move on … all this added stress can be a nightmare!

So, what’s the answer?

How do we start to sleep more soundly and feel better about our properties and our tenants?

How do we find that elusive ‘perfect tenant’?

Do they even exist?

The answer simply is yes. Yes they do.

There are plenty of amazing tenants out there, and in next month’s blog we’re going to walk you through the process of attracting them.

But, before you can attract a perfect tenant, we need to define what that really means and how we recognise these gems when they appear in front of us.

We’re all looking for tenants who pay the rent on time, and who look after our properties. But there’s more to finding a profitable and enjoyable tenant than just that. Spending some thought and time researching the perfect tenant for your property will save you time and money if you get it right.

But what does ‘right’ look like?

Every property is different, as is every person. Finding the right match is key and that is the tricky bit. There are so many moving parts to manage!

Firstly, there are all the considerations around you as a landlord. What about the income you need to generate? The lifestyle you want to lead? Your intentions and plans for now and for the future? Do you know what you need or want from your property at the moment? What about going forward? Do you want to manage everything yourself or do you need some support?

Then there’s everything associated with your tenant to think about. Can you trust them to look after the property? Do they have a personality that will mesh well with yours and really take care of the things that matter to you? What does their past record look like? Can you get references – are they genuine? Will they pay their rent on time? Will they fit in well with the neighbours? Do you have time to do all of this yourself?

That is a lot of questions! And these are the tip of the iceberg when it comes to finding the perfect tenant. It can feel overwhelming, worrying and stressful.

When you get it right it’s easy… you can sleep better at night.

So, how do we get it right?

That’s where choosing the right letting agent comes in.

With even the best of investments, no rental property is going to make any money until there’s a tenant in place and regularly paying you rent. Our time and our properties are precious! Letting them out can be such an ordeal on our own. Having the peace of mind and knowing that our properties are in safe hands far outweighs any cost involved, especially when the service is excellent. A letting agent can take the weight off your shoulders throughout the entire process. From finding tenants, to collecting rent, to fully managing each tenancy in the way that you need – a good letting agent does it all.

When looking for a long-term tenant, there are so many things to think about. How do you decide on the perfect one? Here are some thoughts from our letting agents on how we do just that…

"Look for someone who wants to look after the property as if it were their own.”

Do they talk about making improvements, or finding furniture to complement certain spaces? Do they offer to take their shoes off when they walk in to look after the carpets? These are definitely positives to look for.

 

 

 

“Getting a dog means they’ll stay longer.”

Pet friendly rental homes are hard to find – if a prospective tenant has a dog, or wants to get one, it is likely that they’ll want to stay there for a much longer period of time.

 

 

“Look for people with a stable job.”

Stability at work leads to stability at home and the ability to pay the rent in full and on time.

 

“Are they communicative with you?”

Do they reply quickly to your emails or messages? Do they answer the phone or call you back in reasonable time? Good communication in the early stages is indicative of great ongoing communication – a must between landlord and tenant.

 

“Are you wanting a shared house with several tenants?”

If that’s not for you, then it’s better to know that from the very beginning. If you are looking for sharers, then there is a lot to be mindful of, but also loads of benefits.

 

 

“Trust your gut.”

If you feel uneasy or you notice anything that you really don’t like, take it as a sign that these are not the tenants for you. You’re looking for a less stressful process, not to add pressure.

 

“Be choosy.”

Meet people in person – or make sure your agent does. We can learn so much more about a person, in person, than we ever can via phone calls or emails. Find out about their plans, any links they have to the area or any friends you might have in common. Do they have children that go to the local school? Do they work locally? See where they are in their lives and have as much insight into them as tenants and as people as possible.

 

 

 

“Get references.”

Tenant referencing is the best way of finding out information about a prospective tenant and there are several options to choose from; from landlord references, to credit checks, to income and employment references along with right to rent referencing.

Referencing gives you much more confidence in your decision.

 

 

 

Want to know more about how we can support you on your rental journey?

Get in touch!

For more information on how our expert letting agents can help you with your property, call us on 01364 652652 or email us katie@sawdyeandharris.co.uk.

02Nov

We all dream of a white winter wonderland. A thick layer of snowy icing on the lawn, roaring fires, candlelit windows, movie afternoons wrapped in thick, downy duvets. The spicy scent of mulled wine drifting in from the kitchen.

If your home is on the market and winter is on the horizon, you couldn’t hope for a more enticing scene…

But what about when the reality of a wet winter bites, with its muddy lawns and leaf-blocked drains?

If you want to win viewers’ hearts this winter, it’s time to tidy, style and sprinkle some sparkle. We can’t guarantee you a Christmas card snow scene, but we can share our best tips for winter viewing success.

Give your garden some TLC

Before your viewer even sets foot through the front door, their first impressions of your home will already be established. Your garden, driveway and front path may be the first things a viewer sees, so where better to begin your seasonal makeover?

Gardens can feel out of their element in the chilly climes of winter, with the laughter of summer a distant echo. Unless your garden is well stocked with winter colour, chances are it won’t be at its best right now.

Perk up your outside space with a planter of seasonal colour, or even a holly wreath. Also, stock your bird feeders with seed – particularly those close to windows. What viewer could resist the charms of a friendly robin redbreast?

Your favourite garden sunbathing spot may be out of commission for the winter, but unused shouldn’t mean forgotten. Remember to rake leaves over the wintertime to keep lawns looking loved.

If your garden is looking like a blank canvas right now, that could be a bonus. Allow would-be buyers to plant their own seeds of imagination by tidying up. Pack garden furniture away for the winter (particularly parasols). Treat any remaining tables and chairs to a scrub down.

Eagle-eyed viewers will be looking at more than the lawn and borders. They will have a keen eye open for maintenance issues, so be sure to pre-empt these by taking some preventative steps. Power washing paths and patios will keep them free of slippery moss. While less than appealing to the eye, more importantly, viewers could see it as an accident waiting to happen. Potential buyers don’t want to see a home that is going to cost them time and money in repair work. Gutters can get built up with a surplus of leaves at this time of year, so be sure to clear yours before any damage occurs.

If you feel your summer garden is a major selling point, don’t worry. A few well-placed photos of your garden during the warmer seasons will help viewers see what they are currently missing.

Last outdoor tip … if possible, ensure you have adequate outside lighting for late afternoon viewings. Once the clocks go back, the nights draw in with haste! Give your viewers a clear view of the path ahead.

Create light and sparkle

Let there be light indoors too. Draw your viewers like a moth to the flame with amber-kissed windows. Opt for soft, lampshade mood lighting over the full beam of spotlighting.

Cosy doesn’t have to mean closed in. Leave the curtains open, even once your viewer has arrived. This will keep rooms feeling spacious and in touch with the outdoors.

With the nights drawing in, viewers will have less opportunity to see your home at its lightest and brightest. Reduced daylight means less chance for your home to reflect light and sparkle. Don’t worry, you can compensate for this by giving reflective surfaces a thorough clean and polish before any viewings take place.

Remember to clean the places you don’t expect viewers will look. Often forgotten spots include fridges, skirting boards and cobwebby corners. Pay particular attention to high-traffic rooms that might need a little extra polish and shine, such as downstairs loos. 

Dress rooms for the season

Create a sumptuous feel by adding a sprinkling of softness throughout your rooms. A velvet cushion or a fluffy rug can add a cosy feel on a cool winter’s day.

This is especially true in bathrooms. Replace any threadbare bathmats with toe-sinking, plush, deep-pile rugs. It’s always a good idea to keep a set of super-soft luxury hand towels at the ready, for viewings only.

A warm welcome

The key to winter viewing success is two simple words: warm welcome.

Treat guests to a glowing reception. Hallways should be kept at an ambient temperature, with no room forgotten about. Even if you have an unused box room, now’s the time to add a furry throw to the bed and crank up the thermostat.

Who can resist a roaring fire? If you happen to have a real fire, keep it lit! Nothing says sanctuary more than the crackle of logs and shimmer of ruby coals in the hearth.

Add a touch of magic to ornamental fireplaces and blocked up chimney breasts. Place pillar candles or a bowl of fairy lights in the alcove for an ethereal glow.

 Evocative aromas

Follow these visual styling tips and you’ll guarantee a good-looking home for viewers. But as we know, it’s not all about looks, there are still two further senses to consider…

Smells can sway a viewer in one of two ways. Make sure your home’s aroma leaves them in fragrance heaven – and not running for the door.

A clean house smells fresh, so be sure to hoover the carpets and open windows in kitchens and bathrooms to air them before viewings to keep them free from funky odours. Air fresheners and incense can be a bit like ‘Marmite’ for viewers, so play it safe and try to avoid them if you can.

 Tasty treats

Nothing says ‘welcome home’ quite like the smell of freshly baked treats. Pre-bought (or freshly baked) gingerbread popped in the oven to warm will fill the air with winter spice, and provide a nifty nibble for viewers.

You could even buy ready-to-roll cookies and pop them in before a viewing, ready to serve up as a tasty treat.

Offer a reviving hot drink or cocoa or even mulled wine to your viewer. A restorative treat will go down wonders and help to establish your home as a welcoming haven from the cold.

 

Un-deck the halls

Try not to be too quick to put up Christmas decorations. As magical and traditional as they may be to you, for a viewer they only add clutter. After all, you wouldn’t introduce a tree into the living room at any other time of year, would you?

With these tips in mind, it’s time to turn your home from ‘bleak’ midwinter to ‘chic’ midwinter.

And if we do happen to receive a dusting of snow this winter, do remember to clear a path to the door. After all, now you’ve taken our winter viewings tips, they’ll be lining up to get a glimpse of your home!

If the thought of putting your property on the market this winter is leaving you cold, why not engage the advice of the experts?

At Sawdye & Harris, our team are always ready to help share our expert tips and advice on how you can help your home stand out and shine this winter.

Call us for a chat on 01364 652652 or email me katie@sawdyeandharris.co.uk to learn how we can help you sell your home the right way.

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