Planning ahead: selling properties with permission granted

Getting planning permission for work on a property you are looking to sell may sound counterintuitive but it could have its advantages. We look at whether obtaining planning permission can make a property more alluring to would-be buyers and add value to your home in our Q&A blog.

Q: Is my property suitable for an extension, conversion or remodelling?

A: If you want some advice as to the potential in your property – and if any works may require planning permission – the best thing to do is to ask a reputable local estate agent for advice. They will be able to advise you if properties like yours in the area have already been remodelled, extended or converted, and talk to you about what could be feasible.

Q: How will I know if any works need planning permission?

A: The best way to find out if a planning application is needed is to have a conversation with your local council’s planning department. There’s also lots of information on the Government’s planningportal.co.uk – it’s worth a quick check before you get carried away.

Q: Will planning permission add value to my property?

A: Having planning permission in place usually increases a property’s market value, as it shows buyers the true, permitted potential that the property offers. Having planning permission granted also saves purchasers the hassle of applying themselves – and that alone can be a deal clincher. Precisely how much value planning permission adds depends on a number of factors, like the type of property, its location, the work covered by the permission, the type of permission and when it was granted.

If you achieve planning permission before going on the market, remember to ensure that your property listing includes information about the planning permission – this will not only substantiate your home’s valuation but it can also spark interest from a wider range of potential buyers.

Q: How much does it cost to get planning permission?

A: In most cases, there will be a planning application fee to pay when you make a submission. The cost varies across the UK and depends on exactly what you’re applying to do but as a very rough guide, a basic householder application is just over £200. It’s best to contact your local planning authority before you submit your application to make sure you apply correctly and pay the appropriate fee – any errors can delay your application. Although getting planning permission incurs some costs, it’s far cheaper than carrying out the works yourself and you should recoup the submission cost through a higher sales price.

Q: Does planning permission lapse?

A: In most cases, planning permission is valid for three years from the time the local planning authority grants it. This means you have three years in which to start the work, rather than actually complete it. Despite this, it’s worth checking the dates on any planning permission that you’ve had granted in the past and allow plenty of time for a sale to reach completion before the permission expires.

Q: Should I get some plans drawn up to show what’s possible?

A: If you can afford to employ an architect to draw up plans, it’s a great way to help potential buyers envisage what is permitted. This can be especially useful for those who lack forward vision or a strong ‘mind’s eye’. An illustration, computer generated images or even a revised floorplan will all help persuade buyers and can be included in property listings.

If you’re looking to sell and want to unlock the potential in your home, get in touch. We can show you what homeowners of similar properties have done, and give you a valuation for your home both with and without planning permission in place.

Have you got the energy to be bothered about EPCs?

With climate change in the media almost every day, is it time for homeowners to pay more attention to Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) ratings? We look at the increasingly-important role an EPC rating plays in the sales market – not only in attracting buyers but also in affecting a property’s value.

Duty of environmental care

It appears that now, more than ever, people are looking for ways to live more sustainably and help the planet. In fact, a recent survey by home appliance brand Beko found 9 out of 10 of those questioned felt it was their personal responsibility to make changes to the way they live.

Why should home movers be bothered about EPC ratings? 

Although EPCs are a legal requirement for every property coming onto the market, they also offer a range of useful information to a prospective buyer. EPCs are now scrutinised to check estimated energy costs, read advisory notes on suggested eco improvements and see the typical financial savings. If buyers don’t like what they find, they may be deterred from booking a viewing or making an offer. 

Elevate your home’s value with a better EPC

Research has found that around 82% of home buyers, particularly the younger generation, would be willing to pay more for an eco-efficient home that allows them to reduce their carbon footprint. It was also found that more than 1 in 4 people would pay at least a 6% premium for a home with sustainable features.

The results above dovetail with what Moneysupermarket.com found in a recent survey. The comparison site discovered, on average, an A-rated home has a value 14% higher than that of a similar G-rated property. There are even bigger differences regionally, so having a good EPC rating doesn’t just contribute to a lower carbon way of living, it can contribute to a final sales price too.

A poor EPC may stop buyers getting a mortgage

As part of its commitment to bring all greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050, the Government is considering whether to set lenders ambitious targets around the energy performance of the properties they lend against. The end goal would be to encourage homeowners to improve their home’s energy performance before they sold.

It is thought mortgages lenders would be named and shamed for repeatedly lending against homes with poor EPC ratings, and there is even a suggestion that lenders could be forced to consider a property’s EPC rating before they approve finance, perhaps making the most eco-inefficient homes unmortgage-able.

If you are looking to market your home and need help arranging an EPC assessment, get in touch. Likewise, if you’d like to buy a property with a better EPC rating, we can match you with an eco-efficient property in your area.

Is summer a good time to sell?

Early summer usually heralds the start of the great British getaway, with suitcases packed, passports located and flight times double checked. This year, however, looks set to be a repeat of 2020, with a degree of uncertainty around holidays overseas.

What is a travel agent’s loss may be the property industry’s gain, as more Brits look to buy and sell in the traditionally quieter summer months. There are a number of reasons why 2021 is different, so if you’re sitting on the fence over the matter of selling your property, read on.

Stamp duty holiday…it’s not over!

While many of the headlines have focused on the 30th June 2021 deadline, when the maximum £15,000 stamp duty saving ends, the initiative has been extended. Although the discount threshold will drop to £250,000, home movers can still save thousands. From 30th June 2021 until 30th September 2021, there will be no tax to pay on the first £250,000 of a property purchase (or zero stamp duty if the property is worth £249,999 or less). The usual stamp duty thresholds will return on 1st October 2021, so movers looking to save money need to take action now.

Mortgage interest rates drop to sub zero

Borrowing money is at one of its cheapest levels for decades, thanks to a war between mortgage lenders to secure business. The competition has seen the re-introduction of rates below 1% this summer – 0.95% in some cases. The borrowing affordability is prompting previously hesitant buyers into action, which is boosting the entire home moving market.

Saving money has been a silver lining

If you’re thinking of selling but are worried about a lack of buyers, think again. Curbs on holidays, eating out and leisure activities last year allowed many to save healthy deposits. When combined, this summer represents the ‘perfect storm’ of buying conditions. We’re finding many purchasers are looking to make offers in the coming months for fear of missing out.

Selling your home this summer? 

Here are our top 5 presentation tips ahead of photography and viewings this summer:-

  1. Tidy gardens: there is no doubt that outside space sells so if you have a garden, make sure it’s neat and tidy. Mow lawns, weed flower beds, prune back overgrown shrubs and clear away kids’ toys as a minimum.
  2. Set the scene: entertaining al fresco is big news, so set aside some time to illustrate what’s possible outside. If you have garden furniture, set it out as if you’re hosting and even dress the table as if you’re about to eat.
  3. Create kerb appeal: don’t let potential buyers get the wrong impression the minute they arrive outside your home. Attend to flaky exterior paint, hide recycling bins, sweep your front path, fix a broken gate and clean your front door or even give it a fresh coat of paint. You’ll get extra bonus points for a hanging basket in full bloom or a pair of artfully-placed bay trees.
  4. Make inside light and airy: summer is no time for stale air and dark rooms. Ensure all windows are sparkling clean inside and out, throw open windows and doors if the weather is fine, use fresh flowers or a natural home fragrance to scent rooms, and ensure blinds and curtains are open.
  5. Keep viewers comfortable: bear in mind viewings may take place during a heat wave….or a torrential summer downpour. Be ready to accommodate either with a cold drink or an umbrella, and don’t forget to keep the property’s temperature at a comfortable level.

If selling your property is this summer’s focus, let us know. We can get you on the market in a matter of days, making the most of this season’s super selling conditions.

How to avoid arguments when moving home

They say moving home is up there with death and divorce in terms of stress levels. It’s hardly surprising given the sums of money involved, the level of commitment required and the pressure of deadlines. Together, these elements can put a strain on any relationship, whether you are buying with a friend, sibling or partner. Here’s our guide to surviving one of life’s most testing times with as few squabbles as possible.

Acknowledge that not everybody is equal

Money is often at the heart of arguments and it’s no different when it comes to property – perhaps one person has put down more of the deposit or maybe one buyer is going to pay more of the monthly mortgage repayment. If you’re the party stumping up the most cash, the temptation is to use this as a position of superiority in arguments, or to take control, which can lead to resentment further on. Quarrels can be avoided if there is a serious ‘clear the air’ discussion before any property is bought.

Explore a ‘Deed of Trust’

This is also known as a Declaration of Trust, and protects the financial interests of the buyer who is contributing more – an important aspect if there should be a parting of ways in the future. A Deed of Trust ensures shared assets are divided fairly, and it covers instances where one buyer is stumping up a bigger deposit, paying off more of the mortgage or is picking up the cost of the property’s maintenance. Just having this legal agreement in place can ward off arguments.

Sharing the same property vision

It’s no good looking at property without discussing what you can afford and really need beforehand. Being dragged along to a house that’s £50,000 over your budget or that is too far from a school, for instance, will lead to tension. Make sure you agree on what you can afford before going anywhere near a ‘for sale’ sign. Agreeing on a budget and a shared list of things a new home must have can also stop buyers falling out. Use two columns – ‘essential’ and ‘preferable’ – so you’re both working towards the same vision.

Split the admin

There is a fair share of paperwork and administration involved when buying a property and if you have a property to sell too, that workload can double. Filling in forms, chasing solicitors and talking to mortgage lenders can be time-consuming and tedious. Split the admin side of things equally to avoid one person feeling like they have been burdened with the mundane but crucial tasks.

And if it goes wrong…

…..don’t blame each other. Sadly some property purchases never get off the ground or the transaction fails to clear the final hurdle but this is usually because of factors outside of the buyers’ control – especially if you’re in a property chain. Focusing on a new plan made together is much better than dwelling on the ‘what ifs’.

If you are looking to buy a property with a friend, relative or partner, we’re here to help. Although we won’t take sides in any arguments, we will be here with impartial, constructive and useful advice.

6 portable garden trends

A quick skim of social media shows we are styling outside spaces in the same way as our home interiors – with colour, furniture and accessories – especially now our gardens are more important than ever.

Thankfully, there is a more temporary route to this summer’s hottest garden trends for those not wanting to make permanent or expensive outdoor improvements – ideal if your current home isn’t your forever home. Here are our top 6 portable garden trends for this summer:-

  1. Fire pits & chimineas: with recent emphasis on entertaining outside – and the British weather not always delivering tropical temperatures – a source of outside heat has moved up the must-have list. A bonfire isn’t always safe or practical, especially if you’re renting, but the good news is fire pits and chimineas are very much in vogue. These wood-fired portable sources of heat stand on legs and therefore won’t scorch the ground below.
  2. Plant pots: plants can be expensive and if you do choose to fill beds and borders, there is no guarantee anything you dig up and transport will survive in your next garden. The most portable way of adding flora and fauna is to use pots. Opt for a variety of sizes and you’ll be able to grow everything from bulbs and bedding plants to vegetables and even small trees, then simply load the pots onto the removal van when you’re on the move!
  3. Mirrors: if your garden is more of a courtyard or terrace than extensive area, mirrors can bounce around daylight and trick the eye into believing the space is larger than it is – just as you would inside a home. Prop a mirror against a wall for a no-fix solution or securely wall mount for removal at a later date – just ensure you opt for a mirror designed for outdoor use.
  4. Lighting: whether for safety or a sense of theatre, garden lighting is big news this summer. Solar lights are a fantastic, wire-free way of illuminating your garden and can be purchased anywhere, from supermarkets to garden centres. Choose from strings of festoon and fairy lights, spotlights and lanterns – all with the added benefit of being totally portable.
  5. Hot tubs: ‘plug in and play’ hot tubs have become less of a novelty and more of a permanent fixture, thanks to their temporary nature and more modest price point. Even though inflatable tubs feel a quick and easy luxury, they still need an outside power socket and careful daily chemical treatment – plus they use a significant amount of electricity. If you’re a tenant, you’ll need to check in advance with your landlord as to whether a hot tub and an outside power socket are allowed under the terms of your tenancy agreement.
  6. Waterproof textiles: the craze for creating outdoor rooms has led to an explosion of waterproof textiles in the form of cushions and rugs. Although it’s not desirable to leave these accessories out for a regular drenching, they will be shower proof and able to withstand a typical British summer. Opt for good-quality classic designs and a set of waterproof textiles will work in any garden you happen to grace.

If you’d like to see our list of available properties with gardens, please get in touch.

 

Monthly mortgage repayments: fixing the cost

For many of us, knowing what our monthly bills are going to be provides a comforting level of security and while many costs vary month-on-month – such as gas and electricity – having a set mortgage repayment is achievable.

Mortgage rates: why do they matter?

Every mortgage has an associated rate of interest – the amount charged by the lender for the privilege of loaning the buyer money. As a simple example, for every £10 loaned, the borrower will pay the bank £11 back – an extra pound for providing the loan. Actually, how much is repaid depends on the rate of interest set by the lender – and this figure is influenced by the Bank of England interest rate and by wider financial conditions.

A lender has the right to increase – or decrease – the rate of interest applied to a loan during the term of the mortgage. In previous decades, rates of mortgage interest quickly rose from 7% to 17%, making repayments unaffordable for many homeowners.  More recently, mortgage rates have plunged to their lowest levels and it’s possible to secure a rate of around 1% in some cases.

Every time the lender changes their mortgage interest rate – and that can be as frequently as monthly – the repayment amount will also change, becoming more or less expensive.

What is a fixed rate mortgage?

Fluctuating repayment amounts particularly affect borrowers on tracker and variable rate mortgages, as they are at the mercy of the lender’s intentions and of the Bank of England’s interest rate decisions. Fixed-rate mortgages are the truest way of knowing what your monthly mortgage repayment will be, as a fixed interest rate is agreed at the start of the loan and it will stay the same for a pre-agreed period of time.

Fixing: for how many years?

The traditional home loan term is a 25 year mortgage but there is unwavering certainty when it comes to repayment costs.

It has now become commonplace for lenders to offer fixed mortgage interest rates for 2, 3 or 5 years, with a few 10-year fixed rate products creeping into the market. When the fixed-rate period ends, the borrower has the choice to take out a new fixed-rate product, choose an alternative home loan or revert to the lender’s standard variable rate.

Considerations when taking out a fixed-rate mortgage

Given the ups and downs of life, many borrowers love fixed rate mortgages, knowing their repayments won’t climb higher and higher every month. There are, however, some considerations that you should talk through with a mortgage adviser or your lender. These include:-

How competitive are fixed rates?

Variable rate and tracker mortgages usually carry a lower rate of interest as lenders know there is the likelihood of repayments rising. Fixed rate borrowers will see higher rates of interest set at the start, as the predetermined repayment is seen as a benefit that carries a premium. The size of your deposit will also impact what rate of interest you are offered – generally, the bigger the deposit, the lower the rate. It’s also worth comparing the total repayment costs of different fixed rate mortgages – including any arrangement fees – with other products on the market.

What happens when the Bank of England lowers its interest rate?

Lenders usually – but not always – pass on a cut in the nation’s interest rate to borrowers. That means a tracker and variable mortgage rate that was 3% may become 2.5%, bringing down the monthly repayment in the process. Borrowers with a fixed rate mortgage will not benefit from a cut – their monthly repayment will stay the same.

What happens if you want to end the mortgage early?

Sometimes fixed rates that looked good value to begin with start to look costly as new mortgages are released with lower rates. It is possible to leave a fixed rate mortgage but there could be a fee, depending on your timing. Those exiting before the fixed term expires may have to pay an early repayment charge – usually a fee between 1% and 5% of the outstanding mortgage balance.

What happens if I want to overpay?

Long-term fixed rate mortgages tie borrowers to a certain product or lender for an extended period of time. It’s worth knowing what it may cost to make overpayments during the term – establish this before you sign any loan agreement.

Colour by compass

Unless you love the look of stark white walls, most of us like to introduce a little bit of colour to our homes. Did you know, however, where each room faces – north, south, east or west – can drastically impact how a colour looks? Whether you have a free license to paint walls, fancy hanging wallpaper or are adding colour with temporary art, colour mistakes can be avoided with some advance planning.

One direction

Your first step should be identifying which way your rooms face. You can download a compass app to almost every smart device to help you establish which direction you’re dealing with, or use the compass that comes with Google Maps for a quick start.

If you want to know which direction your entire property faces, simply stand at your front door, looking outwards, and read which way the compass points. If you’re trying to establish which way a particular room faces, stand in front of the window that is your biggest source of natural light and read the compass from that position.

North facing rooms

These tend to let in cooler light and can feel cold if your colour choices have blue, grey or green undertones. Colours with cream, yellow and orange hues will help make these rooms feel warmer, as will rich, darker shades. In fact, north facing rooms look great with deep red accents.

South facing rooms

These rooms are often filled with a warm, soft light from sunrise to sunset, therefore you can use blues and cool greens without the room feeling too cold. South facing rooms are also the place to experiment with pastels, although any colour tends to work when the natural light is slightly golden.

East and west facing rooms

When you’ll mostly use these rooms should dictate the colours you choose, as they can switch between both cool and warm natural light depending on the time of day. It’s common for west facing spaces to feature cooler light in the morning and softer light in the afternoon – the opposite is true for east facing rooms.

Save stress with samples

The calibration of our phone and computer screens rarely depict colours as they appear in real life, so anything you see online should only be used as a guide. The most accurate way of deciding which colour is for you is by obtaining samples – tester pots of paint, wallpaper cut offs and fabric swatches.

Try and get enough so you can create four samples of each colour you have in mind, then stick a sample of each to every wall in your room (use something like 3M Command’s no-residue adhesive strips if you’re worried about damaging the wall). You’ll be amazed at how different the same colour looks in various places, as shadows and other furnishings will influence their tone.

Look into the light

To make sure you really love a colour, check the samples under different light conditions. A pale pink, for instance, may look almost white in the morning, like bubble gum at lunch and more orange in the evening. Plus, don’t forget to alter the light source too – natural light with curtains/blinds open, at night with curtains/blinds shut, with overhead artificial lights on and with just side or lamp lights too.

If you’re looking for a new home that’s a blank canvas ready to make your mark – or you’d like a property that’s already decorated with pops of colour – get in touch for a list of available homes.

The voice: control your home by having a conversation

It’s 2021 and who wants to physically push a button or flick a switch? Today, it’s all about controlling your home with your voice.

What used to be the work of sci-fi is now an everyday convenience, brought to us by Google, Amazon and Apple, among others. If you haven’t kept pace, almost every appliance and home gadget can be controlled by simply having a conversation with a voice-receptive hub.

The most popular hubs

If you’re familiar with Google, you can opt for a Nest, while Amazon fans can choose the Echo – both are plug-in hubs that use wifi, Bluetooth and a built-in speaker to connect to devices around your home. Apple’s Siri is another option, which can be activated using an iPhone, iPad or via the company’s HomePod smart speaker.

Cheaper than you think

When it comes to cost, the initial outlay has been driven down, thanks to competition – even the newest hubs are priced at less than £250 and entry levels models are available for less than £40. Even cheaper is the Amazon Echo Flex Plug-in Smart Speaker at around £25. It can be plugged into any power socket, bringing hands-free voice command via Alexa to any space in your home.

Tell it like it is

So what can you tell your hub to do? Here are the most common voice commands and functions:-

 

  • Make an announcement 

 

Voice control makes bellowing up the stairs ‘dinner’s ready’ a thing of the past. Voice-controlled hubs let you make ‘announcements’ or ‘broadcasts’ to every room where there is a linked smart device. Simply say ‘Hey Google, wake everyone up’ and your household will get the message via their personal speaker, or you can use your network of connected devices as an intercom to have two-way conversations between rooms. It’s also possible to make hands-free voice calls to almost anyone using a hub.

 

  • Ask questions

 

Thanks to its speaker and wifi connectivity, you can ask your hub anything and it will search the internet for the answer. You can check the news and weather, ask for a traffic report ahead of a journey, find out the latest sports scores, convert metric measurements into imperial and even establish when your local shops open.

 

  • Run a virtual assistant

 

If you’re lax about noting down dates and details in a diary or on a calendar, a hub can become your virtual assistant – think of it as an in-house PA who’s always polite and precise. Ask your hub to set timers (very handy when cooking), create daily reminders (perhaps to feed the fish or drink more water) and start a food shopping list for you (add items with your voice as soon as you remember).

  • Tell appliances when to start and stop

There are a myriad of appliances, gadgets and white goods that are now manufactured with smart, connected technology as standard. From doorbells and dishwashers, to thermostats and TVs, choose a product that’s compatible with voice control and you’ll soon be saying “Alexa, make me a latte’ or “turn the Nest thermostat up by two degrees’. Home Connect is a great place to discover which brands and appliance models feature smart tech and voice control.

 

  • Light show

 

The humble light bulb has had an upgrade – check out Lifx and Philips Hue for voice controlled versions. Tell your light bulb to switch on and off, change its colour, dim its brightness and activate its motion sensor, or use an app to activate the light when you’re not at home as an added security measure.

Whatever home tech you opt for, make sure your chosen hub or speaker is voice control-compatible. In addition, always download the latest version of any software required to your smart device (phone or tablet) and, of course, it’s essential to keep your hub plugged in and the power switched on!

The voice: control your home by having a conversation

It’s 2021 and who wants to physically push a button or flick a switch? Today, it’s all about controlling your home with your voice.

What used to be the work of sci-fi is now an everyday convenience, brought to us by Google, Amazon and Apple, among others. If you haven’t kept pace, almost every appliance and home gadget can be controlled by simply having a conversation with a voice-receptive hub.

The most popular hubs

If you’re familiar with Google, you can opt for a Nest, while Amazon fans can choose the Echo – both are plug-in hubs that use wifi, Bluetooth and a built-in speaker to connect to devices around your home. Apple’s Siri is another option, which can be activated using an iPhone, iPad or via the company’s HomePod smart speaker.

Cheaper than you think

When it comes to cost, the initial outlay has been driven down, thanks to competition – even the newest hubs are priced at less than £250 and entry levels models are available for less than £40. Even cheaper is the Amazon Echo Flex Plug-in Smart Speaker at around £25. It can be plugged into any power socket, bringing hands-free voice command via Alexa to any space in your home.

Tell it like it is

So what can you tell your hub to do? Here are the most common voice commands and functions:-

 

  • Make an announcement 

 

Voice control makes bellowing up the stairs ‘dinner’s ready’ a thing of the past. Voice-controlled hubs let you make ‘announcements’ or ‘broadcasts’ to every room where there is a linked smart device. Simply say ‘Hey Google, wake everyone up’ and your household will get the message via their personal speaker, or you can use your network of connected devices as an intercom to have two-way conversations between rooms. It’s also possible to make hands-free voice calls to almost anyone using a hub.

 

  • Ask questions

 

Thanks to its speaker and wifi connectivity, you can ask your hub anything and it will search the internet for the answer. You can check the news and weather, ask for a traffic report ahead of a journey, find out the latest sports scores, convert metric measurements into imperial and even establish when your local shops open.

 

  • Run a virtual assistant

 

If you’re lax about noting down dates and details in a diary or on a calendar, a hub can become your virtual assistant – think of it as an in-house PA who’s always polite and precise. Ask your hub to set timers (very handy when cooking), create daily reminders (perhaps to feed the fish or drink more water) and start a food shopping list for you (add items with your voice as soon as you remember).

  • Tell appliances when to start and stop

There are a myriad of appliances, gadgets and white goods that are now manufactured with smart, connected technology as standard. From doorbells and dishwashers, to thermostats and TVs, choose a product that’s compatible with voice control and you’ll soon be saying “Alexa, make me a latte’ or “turn the Nest thermostat up by two degrees’. Home Connect is a great place to discover which brands and appliance models feature smart tech and voice control.

 

  • Light show

 

The humble light bulb has had an upgrade – check out Lifx and Philips Hue for voice controlled versions. Tell your light bulb to switch on and off, change its colour, dim its brightness and activate its motion sensor, or use an app to activate the light when you’re not at home as an added security measure.

Whatever home tech you opt for, make sure your chosen hub or speaker is voice control-compatible. In addition, always download the latest version of any software required to your smart device (phone or tablet) and, of course, it’s essential to keep your hub plugged in and the power switched on!

Buying ‘big ticket’ items: filling your home with no upfront costs

There’s no getting away from the fact that moving home costs money. Even after you’ve paid legal fees, a deposit and perhaps stamp duty, there will be things that you need to buy. So how can you pay for those ‘big ticket’ home items – such as kitchen appliances, sofas and bedroom furniture – when your pot has run dry? Here are some options to consider:-

0% interest credit cards: if you need to splurge on stuff for your new home, taking out an interest-free credit card is a good way to spread the cost at no extra charge. And, as the Money Saving expert explains, you’ll get Section 75 consumer protection when you use your credit card to make purchases over £100. You can use comparison websites, such as comparethemarket.com, to find the best 0% rate interest credit card with the longest zero percent period – which can be up to 24 months.

When using this funding method, set a reminder to clear the balance at the end of the interest-free period or you’ll risk being automatically switched to its regular (much higher) interest rate. Can’t clear the balance at the end? It may help to do a balance transfer to another 0% interest credit card when the time comes, although there will be a small fee for this service.

Pay in instalments: if you’ve ever shopped online, you may have seen the option to pay in instalments. Companies, including Klarna, Splitit, Clearpay and PayPal’s Pay in 3, offer shoppers the option to split paying for goods into three equal payments. The first payment is made at checkout, with two further payments due typically after 30 and 60 days. Theoretically, this allows the buyer to benefit from two more ‘pay days’ to clear the balance, without being charged interest.

If you miss a payment, you could ruin your chances of using such payment plans in the future or even hear from debt collection agencies. Look for an option that withdraws each instalment automatically or set up a direct debit so you never miss a payment.

Take out a loan: it’s important to know whether you need a personal loan or a home improvement loan. You can use the former to cover the upfront purchase of white goods, flooring and furniture, for example, while the latter is reserved for renovation works and can come in the form of either an unsecured personal loan or a loan secured against your home.

A personal loan can be taken out to cover the cost of multiple big ticket items when you’re furnishing an entire property, for instance. Reading Which?’s Guide to Personal Loans is a must before you make an application, and always use a comparison website to find the best interest rate and repayment term for your circumstance.

Payments and your credit score

It is definitely a case of buyer beware! Read the small print and recognise if your chosen payment method is actually a credit agreement. While taking out a credit card and making regular, timely payments can improve your credit score, falling behind with or missing payments can damage your credit rating.

It’s wise to check your chances of being accepted for finance by getting a credit report before you start applying. This can be obtained for free at ClearScore and other credit reference agencies.

Find free items

If you’re not keen on taking out credit or spreading the cost of a shopping spree, there is an alternative. The internet has revolutionised how we dispose of unwanted items for the home, with Freecycle, Gumtree and good old Facebook full of freebies. Of course, when items are offered at no cost, there is no consumer protection. Plus, you’ll usually have to make your own arrangements to collect the goods – with no guarantee they’ll work ‘as new’.

If you’re planning on moving home soon, get in touch for buying, selling and renting advice.