- Hits: 572
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…
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.
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.
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 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?
- Hits: 497
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.
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.
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 Howe Residential, 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.
- Hits: 162
In the blink of an eye, the trees are dappled in burnished reds and golds. That first waft of coal fire smoke garnishes the dusky sky. Dust off your autumn boots and dig out your gloves…September is here.
Summer brought with it the UK’s busiest month of house sales in a decade. Everyone agrees, the housing market is booming.
So, alongside crisp misty mornings and crackling log fires, what delights does autumn hold for sellers?
Over the last few weeks, we’ve taken calls from family buyers looking for larger homes. These guys like to buy in autumn, spring and early summer. If these times ring a bell (the school bell) that’s because they are term times!
We find that buyers with children tend not to house hunt during the school holidays. After all, when the sun is shining, ice creams at the seaside and outdoor escapades with the family beckon, leaving little time for viewing homes.
It’s also worth remembering how stressful viewing a home can be, with children who just want to be outside.
Instead, parents tend to wait until the children return to school, so they can view homes in peace. But there is more to it than convenience alone; psychology of space can come into play too.
As the days stretch out and it’s light until late in the evening, kids often spend much more time outdoors. Whilst their children are busy playing in the garden until the last glimmers of sunset fade, it’s easy for parents to feel their home is bigger than it is.
As a result, ‘upsizers’ tend not to feel as squeezed for space in the warmer months. After all, with the children outdoors, the house seems so much bigger. With more room to stretch out, a house move may not feel as urgent.
But as the nights begin to draw in, the house begins to feel crowded, meaning parents once again are looking for a change and a larger home in which to grow.
House hunters searching in September and October tend to be keener to make an early decision. After all, everybody wants to settle in ready to start enjoying their new home in time for Christmas. In fact, ‘a quiet and settled Christmas’ can be a real driving factor. Buyers are more motivated than ever to get the deal done.
With that in mind, let’s explore the top seven reasons why selling in September might be the best option for you:
New school year = new start
The schools have gone back. At long last. For parents, it feels like a new year and a fresh slate. With the children no longer cluttering the decks, they can see things with clarity. They can also take steps to move on. School bags strewn in the hallway and cluttered desks in the evening add more impetus. New school year = new start. Where better for a new start than in a new home?
Ordinarily, buyers looking at property in September are keen to get moving. With Christmas on their minds, they want to have contracts signed and house moves completed well in advance of the festive season.
Adding to the festivities this year are the tax duty slashes from chancellor Rishi Sunak. Will the removal of stamp duty levies on properties below £500k light a fire within would-be buyers?
With plans for a pre-Christmas move supplemented by big savings, this excitement will no doubt drive them on.
An empty home is a clean home
Does the prospect of keeping a home clean and tidy for viewings fill you with fear?
If you have a family, having the children out of the house and at school during the day is a big bonus.
An empty home is so much easier to keep tidy. This means you can prepare for viewings without the worry of your hard work being undone at every turn. No more painting of the Forth Bridge!
Cosy September marketing
In September, your home is looking at its most warm and cosy, with lamps lit and the fire on. Never has it looked more welcoming and inviting.
Capitalise on the misty evenings and create a haven of comfort and cheer for house-hunters. A ‘twilight’ image during this season can showcase your home at its toasty best.
September weather may leave you feeling cold on the outside, but your home will be enticingly warm on the inside.
Size matters in September
With the colder weather and darker evenings, homeowners often retreat inside. A home that seemed spacious in the summer months suddenly feels much smaller.
Children who fled to the garden and local parks to meet friends in the summer are now flocking home. Sometimes with their friends in tow.
All these ingredients provide motivation to move on and seek out a bigger house.
Freedom to view at leisure
Not only is your home child-free in September – so are you! Harried parents trying to balance entertaining children with house-hunting are finally free. Free to focus on that essential task of moving home.
Now the schools have gone back, mums and dads are free to view homes child-free.
Free of distractions, questions and demands, parents are more relaxed. No need to rush through a viewing in a hurry, you are now free to view in a better frame of mind. Take the time you need to make a decision.
September’s garden glory
Although you might not realise it, September is a great month for the garden.
No longer scorched by the summer sun, the grass is looking lush and green. Shrubs are beginning to display an autumn glow … your garden still looks lovely.
Even when the leaves start to drop, this can be a bonus, with views often improving. As well as the low sun providing a great backdrop for twilight photo shoots, it can also bathe the house in a lovely glow for early evening viewings.
As you can see, September can be a wonderfully successful time to sell your home! But following the summer surge in home sales, will autumn sales follow suit?
Rishi Sunak seems to think so; the Chancellor’s recent cuts to Stamp Duty now extend until March 2021 and with the Stamp Duty threshold raised to £500,000, less than 10% of buyers will have to pay any Stamp Duty at all.
Whatever your plans, chatting them through in full confidence can help. We’d be proud to be part of your moving journey.
- Hits: 682
We have all heard that first impressions count and never is this truer than when trying to sell your property. Not only will excellent photographs catch the attention of eager buyers, but by emphasising the lifestyle your home actually offers, a well-planned photoshoot is likely to draw in serious viewers who won’t waste your time.
So why not pinch a few tips and tactics from the world of professional photography to get your home ready for its market debut?
Lay the Groundwork
There is a lot to consider before inviting a photographer to take pictures of your house. Everything from the weather on the day of the shoot, to the quirks and features of your home, and even the experience of the photographer can influence the outcome.
While there isn’t a lot about these factors you can control, you do have the power to set the scene to achieve optimum results. Here are some expert tips to help you on your way:
Clear the decks
You can’t add inches to the size of your rooms, but poor lighting and clutter can certainly appear to shave them off when taking pictures. Avoid pictures of dingy corners or garish decor by thoroughly decluttering, polishing, and rearranging furniture as necessary to maximise the beautifying benefits of reflective surfaces and light. This way, you can be sure you’re displaying the full potential of every room.
Top Tip – Photographers are often tempted to use a wide-angle lens, which in some cases may mislead a viewer or make the room appear to have strange angles. Consider this fact when discussing the options on the day.
Shop for Props
Luxury homes in magazines elicit such desire because they have been expertly staged to hint at the lifestyle most people crave. No matter the size of your property, you can take a leaf out of these glossy publications and apply their style tricks yourself.
Here are some ideas for the different areas of your home that won’t break your budget:
Even if your kitchen isn’t fully bespoke, it’s always better to present it positively rather than avoiding pictures of it altogether. Help viewers imagine spending their days in the heart of the home by adding:
- A wooden board piled high with rustic loaves of bread and delicious cheeses
- Bowls of fresh fruit (strawberries, apples and limes work well)
- Champagne and pastries
- Flowers that chime with the home – wildflowers for a country farmhouse, or elegant lilies for modern properties
While people enjoy spending family time in the communal areas of the home, avoid displaying an array of toys or sentimental items in your photos. Many potential viewers may also find evidence of pets off-putting because of the damage they can cause to floors, carpets, and other areas of the property. Instead, opt for:
- Pillar candles
- Fresh flowers
- High-end magazines and coffee-table books
Bedrooms & Bathrooms
At the end of a stressful day, we often want to unwind in our own private space. You can help ensure bedrooms and bathrooms seem warm and inviting by including:
- Crisp, ironed sheets
- Plump pillows
- Fluffy white towels – for display only
- Spa- and salon-quality toiletries
Even small lawns or courtyards can exude charm, aided by:
- Tealights or church candle lanterns
- A flowering plant as a table centrepiece
- Hanging baskets in bloom
You have likely lived in the property – No one knows your home as well as you do. By taking note of special features, attractive design elements, and favourite areas, you will have a useful brief to use as a reference point when discussing the upcoming shoot with your photographer.
Make sure that they receive a copy of the brief in advance to avoid confusion. It is also a good idea to request ‘lifestyle’ shots featuring your carefully chosen props, and ‘vignette’ photos that use doors and mirrors to frame key features or views attractively.
Time it right
Understanding the way your home presents on the compass will help you determine the best time of day to take certain shots. No one wants to see a gloomy exterior or a cold-looking garden, so your photographer may need to return in the evening to catch the sun to the front or rear of the property.
Be a co-producer
On the day of the photoshoot, make sure you are waiting in the wings to assist the photographer by removing distracting objects or adjusting the lighting. A good photographer will point out any potential obstacles for you to correct. Involving yourself in the process can reduce the chance of disappointment in the final result, so don’t be shy about getting stuck in.
Style to season
Spotting pics featuring flowers in full bloom in the middle of winter may make browsers question how long your property has been on the market. Autumn house hunters are also more likely to be drawn by a Yuletide scene than those who have just put the season of giving behind them and are desperate for sunnier days.
This may require refreshing your photos throughout the year to avoid giving buyers an excuse to put in a cheeky offer. The good news is that some images can be airbrushed to improve the scene – a service your photographer may provide.
Don’t be tempted to cut corners by asking a non-professional to take some pics. A real pro will take their time and understands the need for ambience and the best way to set up a shot. This will save you a lot of heartache in the long run.
Delegate to the Experts
- Hits: 194
You know your home looks good. You’ve chosen your estate agent, the photographer’s booked and you’re ready to launch.
But is there something missing….?
Let us help you transform your home from ‘market ready’ to ‘market ravishing’ with our home styling tips.
So, what is home styling?
Home styling is ‘fine-tuning’ your home so a buyer can imagine themselves living there.