Study reveals how long it takes to get a good builder for home improvements

Property owners in the UK need to plan up to seven months ahead if they want a successful home improvement project by a quality builder, according to new research.

The Federation of Master Builders (FMB) has already revealed that consumers should expect to wait at least four months’ for a quality builder to be available but a new study shows that when this period is combined with the length of time various home improvement projects take to complete, owners will have to wait a lot longer.

It says that it is seven months for an extension, six and a half months for a loft conversion,
five months to paint the entire interior, five months for a new bathroom or kitchen, five months to convert part of a master bedroom into an en-suite, five months to convert a cupboard under the stairs into a downstairs toilet and just under five months to remove an internal wall to create an open plan kitchen/diner.

‘A successful building project requires careful planning and our research gives clear guidance to consumers on likely timelines. Not only do home owners need to consider how long a project takes to complete, they also need to remember how long they should expect to wait for a quality builder to be available to get going on their project,’ said Brian Berry, chief executive of the FMB,.

‘If homeowners want to work with a good builder, they should be expecting to wait at least four months and as a general rule, the larger the project, the longer the wait. When looking to appoint a builder, alarm bells should ring if they say they can start next week. Experienced and professional building firms are booked up far in advance and it’s always worth waiting for these firms if you want a stress-free experience and a quality finish,’ he explained.

He pointed out that it means if someone wants a new extension fully completed in time for Christmas 2019, they should be contacting builders for quotes by May at the very latest. If they want a new kitchen installed by the start of the summer, they should be getting in touch with builders now.

‘We’re urging homeowners who are keen to crack on with their renovation project to start getting in touch with prospective builders as soon as possible. We always recommend that homeowners ask for recommendations from family or friends, and ideally from those who have completed a similar project to the one you’re planning,’ Berry added.

He explained that if no personal recommendations are forthcoming, approach a professional trade association like the FMB is the answer as new members are thoroughly vetted, and their work independently inspected, before they’re allowed to join.

‘This gives consumers assurance that they’re working with a quality building firm. Refurbishment projects don’t come cheap and it’s worth protecting yourself as much as possible to ensure a positive experience,’ said Berry.

The FMB recommends asking for references from the builder’s previous clients and if possible, speak to them directly about the builder, to always use a written contract and never pay for the whole project up-front. If a builder is reluctant to use a contract, and demands a disproportionate amount of money up-front, alarm bell should sound.

‘Professional building firms do not work in this way. In the longer term, we need to end the cowboy builders’ reign of terror once and for all. Currently, anyone in the UK can set themselves up as a builder and start offering their services to consumers and this is why there are so many dodgy outfits. We’re calling on the Government to introduce a licensing scheme for builders so that consumers know that all building firms have a basic level of skill, competence and professionalism,’ Berry concluded.

Original source:Property Wire

Where to Spend and Where to Save When Selling Your Home pt.2

Take to the floor

Save Flooring is a very important consideration when you’re selling. If you have floorboards, or better yet parquet or block flooring, have it professionally sanded and sealed and throw a neutral rug down. The rug will move with you, of course, while a carpet won’t, so don’t necessarily splurge on that.

Spend If, however, your carpets are dated, heavily patterned or worn, then replacing them with a pale, neutral design is a relatively inexpensive option. Potential buyers will estimate the cost of replacing carpets to be much higher than it is, and either make a low offer or none at all. But fresh, neutral carpets are sure to impress your buyers.

Accessorise and coordinate
Bedrooms are generally very easy to present well. The look you are going for is boutique hotel: calm, coordinated and cosy. Put away all clothing and clutter and add small decorative touches, such as pretty lamps, vases or artworks.

Save You shouldn’t need to invest in new bedroom furniture, provided you have a suitable-sized bed for the room, and matching bedside tables with lamps.

Spend Do invest in good-quality white bedding (ideally long-staple cotton sateen for a hotel-quality finish). Go for the best you can afford – you will sleep all the better for it during the stress of moving (plus you’ll take it with you). Accessorise with coordinating cushions and a throw or bedspread but keep the colour scheme soft, relaxing and muted. Finish with a tactile, soft rug if your budget permits.

Let the light in
The ideal colour scheme for your home when selling is a neutral palette, since a strong or challenging scheme could alienate some buyers. Even someone who prefers intense colour should be able to see potential in the space and how they can make their own mark on it. Strong colours can also make a room seem dark and small. Maximise the sense of space and light. Throw the curtains open wide and use tie-backs or finials to smarten the look. Remove or open net curtains and ensure your windows are spotlessly clean. Don’t play it too safe, though – add interest with subtle colour in your accessories, such as cushions, blinds and curtains.

Spend Cushions and throws can be inexpensive yet high-impact ways to update your home.
Or keep to a neutral palette and opt for high-contrast textures in your accessories instead, layering satin cushions with faux fur or a chunky knit.

Save Taste is very personal, so it’s not a good idea to paper a whole room in expensive or dramatic paper. Well-prepared and painted walls will be just as impressive. However, a soft neutral metallic paper on a feature wall will add wow factor.

Edit your space

Spend If you have the budget for new living room or dining room furniture and plan to upgrade later on, why not upgrade before you move? Replace your dated suite, with its sagging sofa cushions, with new furniture that will move with you.

Save Alternatively, focus on the flow and layout. If your room is crowded, edit your furniture – it will only be for a couple of months. Either sell or store the extra items, but be ruthless. If you’re unlikely to need it in your new house, don’t waste money on moving or storing it. In a large room, ‘float’ your seating into the room, rather than pushing it against the walls. This creates a more sophisticated feel and you can add a console table behind the sofa, or add side tables for interest and display.

Tidy your kids’ rooms

Spend Try to keep these rooms neutral (rather than painted in football team colours) and add interest with decals, which are easy to apply and remove without damaging the walls.

Save Ruthlessly declutter, storing toys, books and odds and ends out of sight (and make sure there are no stray toy cars for your potential buyers to slip on). Make up the bed with fresh, clean bedding and accessorise with cushions, a small rug or a throw.

Create a bathroom sanctuary

Bathrooms need to be completely decluttered and depersonalised. And always, always keep the toilet lid down for photographs, viewings and open days.

Save Unless you have a non-ironic retro bathroom suite, in avocado or pink, there’s probably no need to replace it. Instead, focus on stowing away all cleaning products, bottles of shampoo, shower gel and soap. Remove medicines, tablets, tubes of toothpaste and anything remotely intimate or personal. Your buyers really don’t want to be reminded of who lives here. And, of course, make sure it’s scrupulously clean and tidy.

Spend Do remove carpets or rugs as these are very much out of style in bathrooms and could appear unhygienic. Replace with vinyl or tiles. Add new white fluffy towels (keep them for show only, you can always use them after you’ve moved). Add a healthy green plant or vase of fresh or faux flowers. Re-grout tiles and remove any trace of mould or mildew. If you have a shower curtain, it’s worth replacing it with a screen instead as this is an inexpensive upgrade that will add more wow factor. Shower screens maximise the light and are more hygienic and easy to spruce up for viewings. Spend some time buffing your taps and making all surfaces clean, dry and smear-free before viewings.

Original source:Houzz


UK house prices to grow by 13.1% over the next five years

House price growth in the UK is expected to be relatively moderate at 1.8% in 2019 with the property market affected by a number of economic, political and financial trends, according to the latest outlook report.

The outlook is influenced by lower sales volume and capital growth, growing caution amongst lenders, and dampened investor demand for buy to let, says the real estate market outlook report from global real estate advisor CBRE.

It also says that Help to Buy (HTB) continues to underpin the new build market, although the volume of HTB sales will fall after 2021 when only first time buyers will be eligible while affordability and mortgage regulation will constrain price growth.

It also points out that house prices are approaching the limit that current incomes and credit conditions can support, and the ability for buyers to bid up prices is limited, but nevertheless will see steady growth of a cumulative 13.1% over the next five years.

The forecast also says that rents are set to rise over the next five years, and demand for rental homes will increase after a two year period of weakening tenant enquiries, particularly from lower earning younger people.

It adds that a significant volume of institutional capital is targeting the UK’s private rented sector (PRS) with £2.1 billion n invested in the year to the third quarter of 2018, some 51% higher than the same period of 2017.

Investment is on a firm upwards trajectory, and investment volumes in 2019 seem likely to exceed 2018’s total, it concludes.

A breakdown of the forecast figures shows that the firm expects house prices to increase by 1.8% in 2019, by 2.3% in 2020, by 3.4% in 2021, by 3.7% in 2022 and then just 1.3% in 2023, but this amounts to a cumulative 13.1% over the next five years.

In the lettings market it forecasts a rise of 1.3% in 2019, 1.9% in 2020, 2.5% in 2021, 2.7% in 2022 and 2.6% in 2023, a cumulative 11.4%.

Original Source: Property Wire

Report shows most of UK saw steady rental growth in 2018

Rents in the UK increased by 1.5% in the 12 months to December 2018 to an average of £921 per month, the latest lettings index shows.

However, when London is excluded the rise was just 0.7% to an average of £763, according to the data from the HomeLet index, while in London they increased by 4.7% to £1,596.

The firm suggests in the index report that the figures show that the private rented market is resilient and in December rents increased in nine of the 12 regions covered. But rents were down by 0.3% month on month.

A breakdown of the figures shows that the biggest year on year rise was 4.7% in London while the largest fall was 4.6% in the North East of England to an average of £520 but increased slightly by 0.6% month on month.

In Scotland rents were up 1.5% year on year to an average of £623 but fell by 1.9% month on month while in Wales they fell by 1.7% year on year and by 0.7% month on month to £595 and in Northern Ireland rents rose 1.9% on an annual basis to £632 but were down 1.1% month on month.

The Midlands has seen steady growth. Rents were up 2.1% year on year and 0.1% month on month in the West Midlands to an average of £689 and in the East Midlands up by 2.9% on an annual basis and by 0.6% month on month to £629. In the East of England rents fell monthly and yearly to £895, down 1.4% and 0.3% respectively.

The South West of England saw a very steady year with rents up 2.7% to £833 and they also increased by a resilient 1.7% month on month while in the South East rents increased by 0.9% year on year and by 0.9% month on month to £998.

‘Positively for both tenants and landlords, this year we’ve seen stability in UK rental price growth, with increases remaining broadly in line with the rate of consumer inflation,’ said Martin Totty, chief executive of HomeLet.

‘For landlords there remains a sustained demand for property, with the private rental sector continuing to provide the market with both flexible and long term housing options,’ he added.

He believes that the strong growth in the London lettings market will continue as demand is outweighing supply. ‘Private residential landlords will continue to play a key role in the wider UK housing market. Whilst the outlook for property investors remains positive, one of the key concerns for the market in 2019 would be a potential lack of supply in certain regions,’ he explained.

‘The Government’s squeeze on private landlords via taxation changes and more regulation could discourage their continued participation in this important sector. Unlike the trends we saw in 2018, any reduction in supply could lead to rental increases that are above the rate of consumer inflation,’ he added


Original source: Property Wire

Where to Spend and Where to Save When Selling Your Home pt.1

Home staging is all about enhancing a house to appeal to the most number of potential buyers. Just as you wouldn’t expect to get a good price for a car with no service history or scratched bodywork, so a house needs to look well cared for and attractive to sell for the price you’re hoping for.

Here are some common tricks and tips for home staging that you can use when selling your property. Be open minded and remember, how we live in our homes and how we present them for sale are often very different things.

Know the basics
You’ll want to create a welcoming first impression, so an hour or so before the viewing, throw open the windows to really freshen up the place, but don’t use chemical air fresheners, which could trigger asthma attacks. Remember to close the windows again during the winter and to light the fire, turn on the heating and switch on a few lamps to create a cosy atmosphere. Keep pets and all their paraphernalia outside or in the utility room during viewings, and sprinkle around drops of essential oil, such as lemon, bergamot or geranium, for a spot of aromatherapy. Leave your estate agent to conduct the viewings and let the house sell itself.

Understand why you should stage your home
Have you ever viewed a show home on a new development and felt so at home you wanted to move in right away, or felt inspired to go home and make some changes in your own house? Property developers and interior designers work closely with estate agents to create the right look and feel for target buyers. Don’t forget that your house could be competing with a new build down the road (which may have stamp duty and part exchange incentives), so your house needs to have some major selling points, too.

And in the US, where home staging is a longer established industry, houses that have been staged typically sell in half the time and for 8-10% more than unstaged ones, according to the Real Estate Staging Association.

Consider the kitchen
Save It’s rarely worth the time and expense of buying a new kitchen when you’re selling your home. Your buyer is likely to have very different requirements and taste, and the kitchen will often be updated or replaced by the new owners anyway. Kitchens do sell houses, however, so make it look as good as possible without ripping it out and starting again.

Spend Consider replacing worktops and splashbacks, or even just re-grouting your tiles. Add decorative touches, such as fresh flowers, fruit in a bowl and coordinating small appliances, and keep the worktops as clear as possible to maximise the sense of space. Adding decorative touches and removing purely functional items in this way implies plenty of space and storage – and who doesn’t want that?

Give each room a purpose
Spend If you’re currently using a bedroom as a study, walk-in wardrobe, playroom or boxroom, it’s really important to present it as a bedroom when you put your house on the market, since the number of bedrooms is such a valuable selling point. Consider buying an inexpensive bed and making it up – you can always sell it later on if it isn’t needed in your new home.

Save Start packing what you won’t need for the next few months and store the boxes in your loft or garage. Decluttering like this will help sell your house, and save your time when it comes to the big move!

Spruce up your front garden
The front garden is a critical part of your home’s presentation. Take a good look at what your buyers may see as they arrive. You may not notice the cracks in the render or the plants growing out of the downpipe, but your buyers will, so get it addressed before you go on the market. Start a list of everything that could be done to update or improve your home, from weeds and cracked paving to dirty windows and slipped roof tiles. Buyers will either be put off, or make a low offer if they feel your home isn’t well cared for.

Save Investing in laying a new driveway or path is generally not necessary…

Spend…but gravel is an inexpensive and popular landscaping option, so use it if your path needs an upgrade.

Get some kerb appeal
Save A bit of elbow grease may be all that’s needed to improve that important first impression of your home. Is the front door cobweb free and gleaming? Does the doorbell work? Add a smart and inexpensive house sign with a clear name or number. It’s really off-putting for buyers to struggle to find your home.

Spend Do invest in a pair of pots either side of your front door, containing a healthy evergreen shrub, or a hanging basket or two in spring and summer. Add some outdoor lights for winter viewings – some fairy lights in a tree or solar lights to line the path.

Create an uncluttered welcome
Your hallway sets the tone for your whole house, so it needs to be beautiful, inviting and, most importantly, uncluttered.

Save Don’t make viewers squeeze past over-laden coat racks, piles of shoes and buggies. Stow everything away out of sight to show that your house has ample storage.

Spend No need to splurge here at all. Simply dress a console table with a vase of flowers and ideally place a large mirror over it. Your buyers will soon start to imagine themselves living a serene, uncluttered life in your home and be excited to see how the rest of the house looks.


Original source:Houzz

Official data shows more than 100,000 sales registered in England and Wales in November

Where in the uk are properties selling the fastest

More than 102,000 sales of land and property were registered in England and Wales in November 2018, the latest official data shows.

Overall there were 102,703 sales received by the Land Registry of which 77,369 were freehold, a 2% decrease on November 2017 and 14,866 were newly built, a 13.5% increase over the same period.

Semi-detached sales overtook the traditionally popular terraced home sales in November with 26,797 recorded compared with 26,758. This compares with 27,567 semi-detached in the previous month and 28,352 terraced registrations.

Some 23,931 detached homes were registered in November, down from the 25,066 in October and there were 19,158 flats or maisonettes registered, down from 19,352 the previous month.

There is a time difference between the sale of a property and its registration at the Land Registry.

Of the 102,703 sales received for registration, some 31,721 took place in November 2018 of which 567 were of residential properties in England and Wales for £1 million and over, 336 were of residential properties in Greater London for £1 million and over.

The data also shows that three were of residential properties in West Midlands for more than £1 million, seven were in Greater Manchester for more than £1 million and two were in Cardiff for more than £1 million.

The most expensive residential sale taking place in November 2018 was a terraced property in the City of Westminster for £38,822,000 while the cheapest was a terraced property in Burnley, Lancashire, for £16,700.

The most expensive commercial sale taking place in November 2018 was in Birmingham for £47,500,000. The two cheapest commercial sales in November 2018 were in Merton, Greater London and Dartmouth, South Hampshire for £100.

Original source: Property Wire