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Moving Home with Kids Made Simple

Moving house is stressful, moving house with kids… well, that can be a recipe for meltdowns, tantrums, and sleepless nights.

As parents, you’re probably moving house for logical reasons: you need more space, you want to be closer to good schools, you’ve found a better job in the area. But as many of us know, logic and rationale aren’t always high on a child’s list of priorities.

Change is scary for all of us, not just children, so how can you make it easier?

In this three-minute read, we look at a few ways to help your little (and not so little) cherubs settle into a new home.

Prepare your child

Keep your child informed. Talk about the new home, why you’re moving, where you’re going, their new room, and so on. By including them in the process – such as visiting the property before the move – they know what’s coming. Kids love an adventure, and a new home is just that.

When packing up their things, get them to help. Create a special moving box, so they have all their favourite toys, clothes, and bits and bobs in one place. It could help them feel more in control and get them ready for the change ahead.

Sleep is key

When your child doesn’t sleep, everyone suffers. You’ll be exhausted, they’ll probably be grumpy, and the whole household will feel bleary-eyed. Try to keep their sleep routine similar to their old one to (hopefully) avoid sleepless nights.

Show them their room before you move in, or if possible, let them choose their new room. Let them know where their cot/bed will be and how the room will look.

When it comes to those first few nights, make sure you know where their favourite blanket or toy is, so you don’t have to fret before bedtime. (This approach might not work with teenagers.)

Moving-in present

Show us a parent that hasn’t bribed their child with chocolate or a toy, and we’ll eat our hats! A move-in present doesn’t have to be expensive; it could be the promise of an activity you’ll do together once you’ve moved in, or a toy that’s been waiting for them to arrive.

Decorate together

Whether it’s a new paint colour, bedspread, or wall art – letting your child choose what they like gives them a sense of ownership and independence. Creating a cosy, welcoming space will help your child settle and make their room feel like home.

Celebrate

Whatever the circumstances of your move, children will want to feel like it’s an adventure. So, make sure to celebrate together. You could have a first-night pizza party, a teddy-bear’s picnic in the garden, ask the grandparents over, or even blow out candles for the new home’s first day. Making the move as fun and celebratory as possible gives the whole family something to look forward to.

Nest in Essex can help you and your family find your new home, so get in touch with us today.

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Four Things You Must Do If You’re an Accidental Landlord

If you’ve become a landlord due to unexpected circumstances such as bereavement or a new relationship, here’s some helpful advice. A two-minute read. 

It’s surprising how many people become landlords more by chance than design – or in other words, ‘accidental landlords’.

Whether through inheritance, a change in a relationship or a new job, sometimes people find themselves in the (rather fortunate) position of owning a property that they don’t want or need to live in. And instead of selling up, the owner decides to rent the property out.

While this usually works out well in the long run, accidental landlords can slip up if they underestimate what the job involves – it’s not as easy as it looks.

Here are four tips for accidental landlords.

  1. Talk to your lender

If you have an owner-occupier mortgage on the property, you must notify your lender if you intend to rent it out (otherwise you could be penalised). Sometimes, the lender will grant ‘consent to let’, which is permission to rent the property under your existing mortgage. But this is usually a short-term solution, and you’ll probably be expected to get a buy-to-let mortgage eventually.

  • Get landlord insurance

A bog-standard home and contents policy won’t suffice – you’ll need specific landlord insurance. Do your research on this because the policies on offer can vary significantly. On top of buildings and liability cover, some policies allow you to opt in to cover legal costs, loss of rent, or accidental damage. 

  • Understand the rules on deposits

There are strict laws regarding tenant deposits. When a tenant pays you a deposit, you must register it within 30 days with a government-approved scheme. (This is a third-party scheme that protects tenant deposits.)

  • Get to grips with red tape

There are all sorts of laws – at least 175 – that apply to UK landlords covering everything from evictions and gas safety to electrical checks. It can be overwhelming trying to get your head around these, but most successful landlords develop systems to make sure they stay on top of things. And if you really wanted to sit back and let someone else take the strain, employ the services of a professional letting agent to do it for you.

To learn more about our property management services, contact us here at Nest in Essex.

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Thinking of Buying a Doer-Upper… Read This First

When searching for a new home, do you scroll past properties that look a little worse for wear? You know the ones, where the carpet hasn’t been changed since the 70s and the floral wallpaper is curling off the walls?

Lots of buyers look for newly renovated or new-build homes due to fear of the doer-upper. If that sounds like you, we’re here to tell you that you’re potentially missing out.

Older, unloved properties may look scary, but they’re often hiding bags of potential.

Here’s what to consider when buying a doer-upper.

  1. Costs and budgets

Dilapidated or older properties tend to come onto the market at a lower price than their newly renovated competition. With new homes, you’re paying for the time and money someone else has put into it. While with doer-uppers, you’ve got something relatively untouched and ready for updating.

Of course, you must factor in build costs, decoration, plumbing, electrics, etc. But in many cases, these can work out at less than a new-build, especially if you do some of the work yourself.

Top Tip: If you’ve fallen in love with an older property, make sure you view it a few times, and take an experienced builder along to see it so they can advise on costs and potential issues.

  • Research

Buying an unloved property without doing your research is a fool’s game. Get yourself online and look at similar homes in the area; ask the agent as many questions as you can to get to grips with the property. Is there potential to extend? Does the property have permitted development rights? What do the other properties on the street look like? There are no silly questions when you’re thinking about a renovation project.

  • Add value

When buying a doer-upper, you can feel smug in the knowledge that any updates you do will add value. For example, many older flats or houses don’t have a central heating system, which would put a lot of buyers off. By installing one, changing the old windows, and investing in insulation, you’re not only energy-proofing, but you’re also saving money in the long run. Also, if you decide to sell, you’ll be able to command a higher purchase price.

  • Make your mark

It’s great moving into a shiny new home with a flawless kitchen and high-spec bathroom, but imagine creating your own space. There’s nothing like seeing your design ideas come to life and a renovation project allows you to do just that.

If you’re looking for a renovation project, get in touch with us at Nest in Essex. We’ll help you find your dream home.

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How to Wow Buyers with a Spacious-Looking Home

Find out how you can impress buyers by making each room in your home look as spacious as possible. A two-minute read.

Whether you’re marketing a one-bedroom flat or a seven-bedroom mansion, the same rule usually applies – big is beautiful.

We’re talking about big rooms, of course! It’s well known that a home that feels spacious will always fetch a higher price than a similar property that comes across as cramped and crowded.

The good news is you don’t need to go crazy with a sledgehammer knocking down walls to make a home feel roomier – a few clever adjustments will do the trick.

Here are five ways to make your home look bigger.

  1. Ditch the clutter 

Carry out an audit in each room of your home and identify any items you can live without for a few months during the marketing process. Put the ones you want to keep in storage and ditch the rest (some have probably been gathering dust for years). Don’t be precious; no one’s passing judgment on your hobbies or interests. Just give buyers what they want: a blank canvas that they can put their own mark on.

  • Get the furniture right

Perhaps you have a huge sofa that’s fab for family film nights but swamps your living room, or a 14-seat dining table that you only use at Christmas? Put super-sized items of furniture in storage and hire or borrow pieces that are in proportion with the room.

  • Use mirrors

Mirrors reflect light and make a space look bigger. Positioning a large mirror at the rear of a room is a great way to make it look roomier.

  • Go neutral

Dark walls and bold patterns make a room look smaller (and don’t even get us started on dark-coloured ceilings). Interior designers suggest painting the walls and ceiling the same light neutral tone to make a room feel more spacious.

  • Let there be light (artificial and natural)

Always open your curtains or shutters before a viewing to allow natural light in. Also, dot lamps around the room to generate more light. A variety of lighting creates depth (and hence a sense of space) in a room.

For more tips about marketing your property, contact us here at Nest in Essex

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A Landlord’s Guide to Coping with the Energy Crisis 

This eight-point plan outlines the best way landlords can manage the issue of energy bills. A two-minute read.

This year’s colossal hike in energy costs has left millions of households reeling. And with no relief in sight, the problem is likely to stay at the top of the agenda throughout 2022.

Here’s an eight-point plan to help landlords deal with the issue as best they can.

  1. Make sure your tenancy agreement clearly states who is responsible for paying energy bills (most typically, it is the tenant).
  • Even though your tenant will most likely pay the bills, do your bit to keep costs down by staying on top of maintenance and draught-proofing. Repair any rickety windows that might allow heat to escape and install energy-saving light bulbs.
  • Take a meter reading when a new tenant moves in and record it in the inventory. (That way, there can be no confusion or dispute with the previous tenant.)
  • Explain to your tenant (if the bill is in their name) that they are entitled to shop around for the best energy deal. Also, discuss the benefits of having a smart meter. These provide detailed energy usage information to allow tenants to understand what’s driving their fuel costs.
  • Some energy suppliers require a few days’ notice to end a contract. It’s the bill payer’s job to notify the fuel supplier. Your tenant may not be aware of this, so give them a gentle reminder a week or so before their tenancy ends.
  • When your tenant moves out, take a meter reading and pass it on to the relevant energy supplier along with the tenant’s forwarding address. 
  • As the landlord, you’re responsible for the energy bills during void periods. Ensure that most of the lights are switched off (you might want to leave a few on for security purposes). In the warmer months, turn the boiler off, too. In winter, you might want the heating on intermittently to ensure the pipes don’t freeze and protect against dampness.
  • Consider investing in big-ticket energy-efficient measures such as solar panels, insulation, and triple glazing. These will bring down fuel bills and add value to your property.

Much of the above can be handled by an experienced letting agency – making your life a whole lot easier.

For more advice on our property management services, contact us here at Nest in Essex.

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Can Nice Smells Help Sell Homes?

Have you got a big one? A small one? Maybe you’ve got a wonky one.

Whatever its shape or size, we’ve all got one.

We’re talking about your hooter. Smack bang in the middle of your face; the nose is a great tool when trying to sell your home.

Known as ‘scent branding’, businesses all over the world are investing in signature scents to harness the power of smells, memories, and emotion.

In simple terms, a nice smell can help your property stand out in a crowded market.

In this two-minute read, we look at some of the top scents you can easily use to get your buyers’ noses twitching.

Baking

It’s an oldie, but a goodie. A recent poll by Bankrate UK found that baking was the winning smell for buyers of all ages. Those heady scents of rising yeast evoke emotions of comfort and safety.

You don’t have to be Mary Berry producing perfect loaves, but you could get some pre-made cake mix to pop in the oven before a viewing. If you’re a disaster in the kitchen, you can also buy ‘fresh bread’ scented candles.

Fresh linen

The smell of clean clothes is a winner when it comes to younger buyers. But instead of hanging out your laundry for all to see, grab yourself a fresh linen scented candle. It’s an aroma most associated with cleanliness.

Lavender

Once you get away from the bees hovering around a lavender bush, you can’t help but notice that intoxicating smell. So, it’s no surprise that the smell of lavender ranks highly when it comes to favourite fragrances. Lavender has got lots of positive qualities and is known for evoking feelings of calm and relaxation.

Coffee

Put your instant blend away, we’re talking about real freshly brewed coffee. It’s a strong smell that’s popular with younger age groups, and brewing a fresh pot before a viewing is easy (and cheap) to do. And if you get on well with the potential buyers, why not share a brew with them?

Vanilla

One of the most popular scented candle variations, vanilla is a great way to disguise unpleasant smells in the home (think whiffy pets or dirty gym kits). Aromatherapy buffs also believe that vanilla is a great stress reliever, creating a calm environment. What better smell to help sell your property?

Top Tip: Less is more when filling your home with scents, so don’t go crazy with artificial smells such as air fresheners. Instead, keep the aroma subtle and fresh. 

If you’re thinking about selling your home, contact us at Nest in Essex today – we’ve a nose for sniffing out the best results for our clients.

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Landlords – How to Improve Your Relationship with Your Letting Agent

As trusted local letting agents, we work with a lot of landlords. Finding tenants, managing properties, organising inspections – we take care of each step. However, more and more landlords are choosing to work alone, but is it as easy as they think?

Here’s why we think working with an agent is the best way to rent out your property.

Save time

Even if you’re a full-time landlord, finding, vetting, and keeping tenants happy is time-consuming. While there are many online options for finding tenants, there’s a lot to be said for an experienced letting agent taking care of this process for you.

Firstly, agents have a ready-made list of vetted, potential tenants looking for properties, so they are well placed to get your rental off the market and occupied quickly. By getting a letting agent to take care of referencing, negotiating, and rental agreements, you can focus on more enjoyable matters.

Maximising your income

By placing your property on the market with a reputable letting agent, you’re more likely to achieve the monthly income you need, as they’ll be able to market your property in the most professional way. The quality of marketing is often reflected in the number of enquiries from potential tenants.

Also, good agents offer landlords a variety of income protection strategies – such as rent protection and organising deposits. They’re also covered by professional indemnity insurance, so they’ll be checking and double-checking that everything is done properly.

Accurate valuations

Experienced local letting agents know their market. They know who will be interested in your property and how much they’ll be willing to pay. This is essential knowledge that you, as a landlord, may not have.

Also, if you’re not 100% happy with an agent’s valuation, shop around. Contact at least three agents to find a happy medium and go with who you feel is the most professional. Ask if they can show you comparable evidence of rents they’ve received for similar properties to yours.

Legal expectations

There’s a lot to learn about the legal requirements of renting out a property. As experienced agents, we know what certificates and checks need to be obtained and can organise these to be done for you.

At Nest in Essex, our lettings team offer excellent customer service and expert advice. So, if you’re looking for a new agent to take care of your rental property, give us a call on 01268 500988 to see how we can help.

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The Key to Getting Top Price for Your Home (Hint: Choose a Great Estate Agent)

This two-minute read explains how to identify a great estate agent – one who’ll land you the best deal for your home. 

What separates a mediocre estate agent from an exceptional one? It’s not what they say; it’s what they do.

While some agents talk a big game, in reality they just go through the motions. But great agents (and we like to think that here at Nest in Essex we fall into that category) go all out to get the very best deal.

That’s because top agents know that now, more than ever, every extra pound added to a sale price matters to sellers (and can be put to good use to cover DIY or furniture in their new home).

So, how can sellers spot a great agent from a run-of-the-mill one? Here’s what to look out for.

A comprehensive marketing plan – The great thing about the internet is you can see if an agent means business. Top agents use professional photography, floor plans, and sparkling copy to showcase properties and engage buyers. They also regularly update their website and post live feeds, video tours, and property sneak peeks on social media. Contrast this with the coasters who throw a few shabby images on a property portal and then wait for the phone to ring. Who do you think achieves the best result?

Negotiating skills – People often overlook the importance of negotiating skills in the selling process. But when you’re close to sealing a deal, a savvy negotiator can really make a difference on price. A great agent has soft skills – the ability to listen, read body language, and interpret the dynamic between couples – along with industry nous.

Has a rapport with buyers – To know if a buyer is serious and how much they are willing to spend, a great agent needs to be personable and have good communication skills.

Can explain their valuation – A top agent doesn’t just pull a figure out of the air; they do their homework. So, when a potential buyer pushes for a price drop, a great agent can justify their valuation and stand their ground.

Honest feedback – A great agent won’t just tell you what you want to hear but what you need to know. If your house needs decluttering, or you need to improve how you stage it, they’ll be straight with you.

Here at Nest in Essex, we’re serious about delivering for our clients. Get in touch to learn more about our successful selling track record.