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Top Tips for Choosing an Estate Agent

In this two-minute read, we look at how to select the best estate agent to sell your home.

When it comes to selling a property, it pays to do your research before choosing an agent to manage the sale. 

Now you might think that all agents are much of a muchness (they all flog homes, don’t they?), but you’d be wrong!

A great agent won’t just sell your property; they’ll sell it for the highest possible price (which is the whole point, obviously).

A mediocre agent will go through the motions and probably secure a sale – it is a seller’s market after all – but won’t go the extra mile to get the absolute best deal.

Given that you’ll most likely only sell a property once or twice in your life, why wouldn’t you go with someone who will secure the best transaction for you?

Here are six things to look for in a good estate agent.

Track record. Go with an agent who has a good local reputation and experience selling properties like yours. And don’t just take the agent’s word for it; a good agent will have client testimonials.

Fees and costs. It may be tempting to go with the agent with the lowest fee – but be wary. Low-fee agents skimp on marketing and photography (it’s the only way they can do the job for such a low price and stay afloat). That might be good for their business model, but it’s terrible for your bank balance.

Professional marketing. Buyers do so much of their research online that an agent must have a professional digital presence. Compare how local agents present properties for sale. Look for good quality photography and well-written property descriptions.


Read the fine print. Be wary of agents who want to tie you in for an excessive period. It suggests they don’t have confidence in their own abilities.

Valuation. If an agent vows to sell your property for a sum that is jaw-droppingly higher than market value, be suspicious. Most likely, they’re over-promising to lure you in and will have to drop the price later when savvy buyers don’t fall for it. This tactic just wastes time. Go with an agent who is optimistic but realistic.

Gut instinct. Do you trust the agent or feel like they’re pulling a fast one on you? Follow your instincts.

For a free property valuation or to find out more about our selling track record, contact us here at Nest in Essex.

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The True Cost of Clutter When Selling a Property

In this two-minute read, we look at one of the simplest ways to turbo charge the sale of your home – decluttering.

When it comes to selling a home, there’s a simple way to add thousands of pounds to the price you achieve – and that’s to get rid of your clutter.

By being a little bit ruthless with yourself, and those you live with, you really can achieve a quicker and more lucrative sale.

Here are five ways to say toodle-oo to your old toot.

Make a start

The first step is often the hardest, especially if you have a strong emotional attachment to the property. Make things easier by focusing on a single cupboard or box – and building up from there. Move on to other boxes, cupboards or shelves in the same room before progressing onto other rooms in the property.

Be honest

You don’t have to bin everything, but you do have to be honest. Will a buyer be impressed by your fishing rod collection, or your stash of Queen Mum memorabilia? Probably not. Buyers are looking for a property they can put their stamp on and might be turned off by your ‘special interests’. Put your beloved items into storage.

When did you last use it?

It’s amazing how many items we never use but keep ‘just in case’. Exercise equipment, camping gear, and sewing machines top the ‘I swear I’ll use it one day’ list. Consider selling these items online. That way someone else will get joy out of them – and you’ll earn some extra cash.

Take before and after photos

Before you start decluttering a room, take a quick snap of it in all its crowded glory. Once you’ve finished in a room, take an ‘after shot’. You’ll be surprised at how much more spacious the room looks, providing useful inspiration to keep going on your decluttering mission.

Reward yourself

It can be stressful – and even emotional – getting rid of things that you’ve had for a long time. When you finish decluttering a room, reward yourself with a nice meal out, a walk with a friend or trip to the cinema.

If you’d like more advice about selling your home, contact us here at Nest in Essex.

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Eight Reasons Why People Move Home

A two-minute read on what prompts people to sell up and buy elsewhere.

Most people looking to move home fall into one of eight categories. Learn what these categories are so that you can fine-tune your property selling strategy.

  1. Space Chasers – These movers want more space to accommodate a growing family, a home office or a Labradoodle puppy. Homes with a generous garden, garage, and loft conversion top their most wanted list.
  • New Lease of Lifers – These city slickers yearn to feel the sand between their toes or fresh country air in their lungs. They crave a quieter life surrounded by nature – but still covet creature comforts like high-speed broadband.
  • Lovers and Leavers – People in this category are buying with a new partner/spouse or looking to make a fresh start after a relationship breakdown.  
  • Empty Nesters – With the kids all grown up, Empty Nesters are rattling around large homes (that are expensive to heat). They’re keen to downsize to an energy-efficient, low maintenance home with top-notch security.
  • Family Guys and Girls – This category includes parents with young children looking to be closer to a family support network and those who want to live near an ageing relative who needs TLC.
  • Catchment Hunters – Members of this group can recite the Good Schools Guide verbatim. They’ll pay a premium for a property close to an ‘Outstanding’ school (especially a high-performing secondary).
  • Mortgage Freestylers – This group is looking to restructure their finances. They aim to sell up, buy a cheaper property and live mortgage-free (hopefully with a few extra quid to spend in their retirement).
  • Career Boosters – Thanks to a new job or promotion, members of this group need to move to be closer to their place of work.

Top tip

When marketing and presenting your property, think carefully about who is most likely to buy it and promote your home accordingly.

Don’t overlook small details like broadband speeds, catchment areas and home security. These factors can be very influential to some buyers.

And remember that movers often fall into more than one category (for example, an Empty Nester might also be a Mortgage Freestyler, and a Space Chaser also a Catchment Hunter).

To learn more about successfully marketing your home, contact us here at Nest in Essex.

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Step-by-Step Moving Guide for Renters

In this two-minute read, we look at how renters can take the hassle out of finding a place to live.

Are you looking to move into a new rental property? Here’s a guide to finding a new home.

  1. Research 

Identify where you would like to live and what kind of property you’re looking for. For example, if you work from home, you might need office space. If you have children, you may want a garden. Having a clear idea of your needs means you won’t waste time looking at totally unsuitable properties. Once you’ve made up your mind, make a list of local letting agents.  

  • Budget

Itemise monthly expenses such as rent, council tax, and utility bills so that you understand what your outgoings will be (and to clarify if your choice of property type is within budget). Make sure you also factor in moving costs and set aside money for a deposit.

  • Viewings

Finding a rental property is a bit like dating – sometimes it can take a while to find ‘the One’. It can be helpful to make notes (during viewings, that is, not dates – that would be weird, obviously).

  • Be decisive

If you see a property that ticks all your boxes and is within budget, don’t mess about. Good properties are always in hot demand, so make an offer.

  • Holding fees

If your offer is accepted, the landlord will expect you to pay a holding fee. This is usually the equivalent of one week’s rent and deducted from your first month’s rent (if you proceed with the tenancy).  However, if you get cold feet, you’ll lose this fee.

  • References

Before you get the okay to move in, you’ll need to provide several important pieces of information. Expect to be asked for photo ID and your National Insurance number, along with bank statements and payslips (covering the past three months). The landlord will also seek references from your employer and previous landlord.

  • Contract 

Once the reference checking process is complete, you’re on the home stretch. All you need to do now is sign your contract. Always read any agreement thoroughly, and if you don’t understand something, ask for further explanation. At this point, you’ll also receive details about the water, electricity, and gas suppliers at the property. Note: You’ll also have to cover the TV licence and council tax.

And finally

Confirm your moving date and get packing!

For information about renting, or putting a property on the rental market, contact us here at Nest in Essex.

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Beginner’s Guide to Building a Property Portfolio

In this two-minute read, we look at the basics of building your portfolio and how to try and make your investment a sound one.

Building a property portfolio might sound like a great way to build an additional income, but it can be a tricky area to navigate with lots of pros and cons.

Getting started

First things first, where is the cash coming from? Have you already got a property and looking to buy a second? Or maybe you’re tentatively dipping your toes into the rental property market for the first time.

Whether you’re refinancing an existing property, or you’ve won the lottery (fingers crossed!), your initial pot needs to be big enough to cover the deposit (minimum of 25%) and legal costs. This is the minimal starting point when looking to buy additional properties.

Create a property profile

Have a clear idea of the kind of properties you’re looking for. Do you want to renovate and add value, or do you want something that tenants can move into straight away? Sticking to a checklist of requirements will help you stay focused and find a deal that really works for your budget.

Always know your numbers

Money money money… no this isn’t an ABBA song, it’s the core of building your property portfolio. A savvy landlord or property owner needs to know exactly where the money is coming from (or going to) for every step of the process. There’s your deposit, legal costs, stamp duty, renovation costs, rental yield, agency fees etc. It’s basically a never-ending spreadsheet that you need to keep on top of.

Knowing your numbers and carefully planning a budget is the key to successfully growing your portfolio.

Get chatting

Building a property portfolio requires you to build relationships. Pop in for a coffee at Nest in Essex,tell us what you’re looking for and your budget so that we can keep you in mind when anything suitable comes up. Similarly, our Lettings team has a wealth of knowledge regarding the types of tenants attracted to areas such as Rayleigh, Leigh on sea, Hockley, Hullbridge, Wickford or other neighbouring towns and their property requirements. So, this will help shape your initial property searches and buying decisions.

Create a network

Trust is so important when you’re buying property. Make sure you’re working with people you can rely on and that have the relevant experience. This applies to your solicitor, mortgage broker, and your builder (if your purchase needs some TLC).

Once you’ve established these working relationships, next time, hopefully the process will be easier. Personal recommendations from a friend or family member are a great place to start, but never feel like you have to settle for the first professional you meet.

To get started with your buy-to-let property search give us a call on 01268 500988

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To Furnish or Not to Furnish? A Landlord’s Dilemma

In this two-minute read, we ask some questions you should think about before renting out your property.

Once the last lick of paint has been applied and the carpets have been laid, it’s time to decide whether or not to furnish your rental property.

It’s a question that has many landlords scratching their heads. Does a furnished property command a higher rental yield? Or is it more hassle than it’s worth?

What type of rental property do you have?

Certain rental properties need to be furnished. For example, if you own a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) it’s wise to provide furniture, even if it’s the basics of just a bed, wardrobe, and chest of drawers.

Freehold properties are best left unfurnished so that tenants can make the property more homely.

What type of tenant does your property attract?

Furnished properties are very attractive to short- and mid-term renters such as students and professionals. So, if your property is located close to a university, a furnished property is a good idea.

Students will move in straight from their family homes so are unlikely to bring bulky furniture with them. Professional tenants prefer furnished homes as it saves them money and they can move in quickly.

An unfurnished property is more suitable for families or elderly tenants who rent for the long term and tend to bring their own furniture with them.

Do you have insurance?

If you furnish your rental property, you may want to think about landlord’s insurance to cover any damage that can occur to items within the premises. While this is an additional outgoing, if a large item of furniture needs to be replaced due to breakage or tenant damage, you’ll usually be protected.

Other points to think about when considering furnishing your rental are:

  • If tenants are moving large items of furniture in and out, there is a higher risk of damage to your walls/floors
  • As a landlord, you are not responsible for insuring tenants’ furnishings
  • Tenants in furnished properties can move out easily, so you can get your rental back on the market quickly
  • Depending on the location of your rental and the quality of your furnishings, you may be able to command a higher rent

If you want more help and advice as to the best furnishing option for your rental property, give us a call on 01268 500988

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Landlord Insurance: Do You Really Need It?

In this two-minute read, we look at the ins and outs of landlord insurance and consider how it might just save you money in the long run.

As a private landlord, you’ve got to stay on top of repairs, damage, and unexpected costs. So how do you safeguard your property and income? Do you cross your fingers and hope for the best? Or have you taken the necessary steps to protect yourself?

What is landlord insurance?

First off, there’s no legal obligation to have landlord insurance – unless your buy-to-let mortgage offer specifically requires it. But be warned, if you’re relying on a standard home insurance policy to cover your rental investment, this may not protect you when the property is occupied by tenants.

Landlord insurance is designed to cover various aspects of your property/rental agreement. Think of it as an umbrella policy, protecting you against different risks. It normally includes buildings and contents protection as standard, and you can choose to add different types of cover such as:

  • Rent guarantee protection
  • Tenant or accidental damage cover
  • Boiler or plumbing issues
  • Legal expenses

 Remember, the more you add to your policy, the more it costs.

What if I’m a leaseholder?

If you own a leasehold flat, the freeholder covers the cost of buildings insurance. However, this doesn’t protect you if there are issues within your rental property such as the boiler breaking down or someone injuring themselves on a loose floorboard (for example).

If you’re a freeholder, landlord insurance is advisable. The buildings insurance cover means you don’t have to worry about big outgoings in case of physical damage to the property, such as damp, cracks, and so on.

How much does it cost?

As with any insurance plan, the price varies depending on what your policy covers, so it’s difficult to predict. However, you can expect prices to start from around £200 per year. Use comparison websites to find the best deal and most suitable cover for your needs.

What happens if I don’t take out landlord insurance?

While it’s not the end of the world and not legally necessary, you may have to pay out a large sum if something goes wrong with the property or if a tenant or tradesperson makes a claim against you.

Many landlords choose not to take out this type of policy, especially those who own a leasehold property. As a bare minimum, freeholders need landlord buildings insurance to protect themselves and their tenants.

Talk to us at Nest in Essex to discuss whether you need landlord insurance or about how we can help look after your rental.

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Why Homeowners Should Sell Before They Start Looking

In this two-minute read, we look at the BIG reasons why your home needs to be up for sale at the very least before you start seeking a new one.

Picture the scene.

You’re house hunting and have been trawling the internet for what seems like forever. Then one day your eyes are drawn to a beautiful looking home that ticks all your boxes.

You visit the property and boom, fall head over heels with it. It’s the one.

You make your offer and start dreaming about waking up in this place you’d love to call home.

If this all sounds too good to be true, it’s because, in this scenario, it often is IF you’re making that offer without your current home being on the market already.

Why?

In our experience, when people start looking for a new home before their existing one is under offer it creates several potential issues that can mean being thousands of pounds out of pocket.

When you see a property you love, you can be blinded by emotion and pay over the odds for it.

And while you may be smitten with it, sellers usually find buyers who already have their homes under offer much more attractive than those who don’t.

The downside

The real downside in this scenario is you may feel pressured to accept less for your current home because you don’t want to miss out on the one you’ve fallen for. However, if you pay more for your new place and get less for your old one, you can see how that creates a crater-like dent in your finances.

So, here’s our advice for homeowners on why it’s a wise move to sell first and seek later.

First, put your home on the market with an agent who has a clear plan and strategy to achieve the best possible price for your property.

Once your property is under offer, it puts you in a much stronger position when offering on a new home. This is because you now fall into that attractive buyer category in the eyes of sellers.

And you won’t have that pressure of being in a rush to sell your home and potentially accepting under asking price offers because you’re desperate to move to the new place you love.

We’re on your side

We’re here to help you make the best decisions when it comes to moving home. And we’d gladly give you advice on buying and selling.

To speak with one of our friendly, experienced team, call 01268 500988 or send an email to info@nestinessex.co.uk