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Are New-Builds Really Worth It?

In this two-minute read, we look at the advantages of buying a new-build home .

When you visit a show home, it’s easy to imagine yourself sitting at the beautifully laid table, sinking back into the comfy sofa or settling in for a night’s sleep in a luxury bedroom. Every room has been set up to tempt you. But is a new-build home really the right choice for you and your budget?

We’ve explored some of the plus points of a new-build property.

  1. Shiny and new

The main advantage of a new-build is exactly that: its newness. Breathe in that fresh paint, smell and enjoy the soft fluffy carpets. Everything is pristine, there’s no 1970s wallpaper to contend with and you don’t have to make endless rounds of tea for builders (milk, two sugars, and don’t forget the digestives).

  • Make your mark

Depending on what stage of the build you buy at, most developers offer the choice of fixtures and fittings as part of the purchase price. So, you can choose your kitchen or bathroom tiles without the hassle of spending every foreseeable weekend shopping for furniture.

  • Warranty

New homes are covered by a 10-year warranty (as per NHBC regulations), so you’re also buying peace of mind. The warranty should protect you against any structural issues, but always read the small print so you know exactly what’s covered.

All appliances will be newly installed and will have their own guarantees, too.

  • Built to meet all current safety standards

Developers must incorporate safety measures such as smoke alarms, fire resistant materials and circuit breakers, making life easier when you move in.

  • Chain free

The two words every buyer loves to hear! With no other parties to contend with, the buying process should be easier to navigate. Also, once you’ve reserved your new-build, it will be taken off the market.

Also, developers often include various incentives when buying a new home such as offering to pay your stamp duty or legal costs.

  • Energy efficient

Build techniques have been developed to keep new properties warmer for longer with things like cavity and loft insulation – making them cheaper to heat and reducing your future bills. They should also be damp resistant, double glazed, and draught proof, keeping you cosy in those winter months.

If you’re thinking about buying a new home, speak to us at Nest in Essex.

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Keep Burglars at Bay by Beefing Up Your Home Security

This two-minute read looks at the best way to protect your home and outsmart burglars.

With a raft of high-tech home security gadgets on the market, it’s easier than ever to keep your family, pets, and precious belongings safe.

Whether installing a completely new system or tightening up existing security measures, homeowners have plenty of options to choose from.

Smart system

There’s an app for everything these days – including home security. A smart system wirelessly links alarms, sensors, and cameras to a hub that you can manage remotely from your phone. Some systems can also connect to other household devices such as lighting and heating.

Top tip

Not all systems will keep working if your Wi-Fi goes down. Look for one that can switch to cellular backup if the Wi-Fi fails, especially if you live in an area with patchy broadband.

Burglar alarm

It might not be as cutting edge as a smart system, but an old-school burglar alarm can still let off an ear-splitting siren to frighten off crooks. Many alarm systems also give you the option to pay for security staff to turn up on-site if the alarm is triggered – handy if you frequently work away from home.

Top tip

If you own a large pet, consider getting a system that relies on shock sensors instead of motion sensors. Shock sensors detect forced entry – not movement in the house – meaning your beloved fur baby can roam around freely at home without setting off the alarm.

Cameras

Doorbell cams allow you to see who is knocking on your door and talk to them – even when you’re not at home.

The camera footage is usually stored, so if there’s a quibble about a delivery, you can check back to see just what happened. It also means that you can forward footage of suspicious activity to the police.

Another option is to install a floodlight camera at the front or back of your property. Movement activates the light and camera facility – which comes with night vision.

Top tip

Do your research before purchasing a camera, as the quality of footage, especially when captured at night, can vary.

Be nice to the neighbours

Technology is great, but it always pays to foster good relations with your neighbours. Not only will a good neighbour keep an eye out for dodgy dealings, but they may also feed the cat and water the plants when you’re away.

For more advice about keeping your property safe, get in touch with us here at Nest in Essex.

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What’s Putting Buyers Off Your Property

In this two-minute read, we look at some of the things that may be putting buyers off (that you can easily fix).

So, you’re keen to sell your home in A, but you’re just not getting any offers. What’s going on? How can you make your home more attractive to potential buyers?

What’s that smell?

Your home is your castle, but your pong is also your pong. If a buyer walks into a property and is hit with a bad smell, it’s likely they won’t be coming back. Whether you’ve just been cooking cabbage, or you’ve got a whiffy pet, always air your home before a viewing. Light some scented candles, bake some cookies, and be sure to empty those bins before letting anyone in. 

Mess and clutter? No thanks

Buyers walking into a cluttered home may find it difficult to see past the mess. Got a lovely fireplace? No one can see it past the litter tray and old toys. Shelves stacked with stuff, clothes on the floor, overflowing bins… the list goes on.

Top tip: Before you put your home on the market, have a clear out. A tidy home makes a real difference.

OTT

Now, we all love a bit of leopard print (don’t we?), but if you’ve got animal print wallpaper, a neon pink feature wall or heavily patterned carpets, your taste might be putting buyers off.

When selling, try to ensure that the décor is as neutral as possible. That might mean investing in a pot of paint or hiding those bling bling vases in the attic. (Note: It might also mean changing those red satin bed sheets after Valentine’s Day.) 

Ugly on the outside

They say never to judge a book by its cover, but sometimes, the outside of a property is so unattractive that buyers write it off before even entering. If any of the following apply to your home, make sure to get them sorted.

– Broken gutters or pipes

– Overgrown weeds and dead plants 

– Damage to exterior walls

– Abandoned toys

– Smelly bins

An external makeover should help increase the enquiries you get about your property.

Quick fixes

Unless your buyer is looking for a ‘fixer-upper’, most people don’t want to be confronted with countless issues as soon as they walk into a property. Obvious repairs – such as small damp patches, peeling wallpaper, broken doors/windows/fitted units – need sorting.

If there are structural or damp problems that you’ve decided not to tackle, don’t hide them.

Be honest and be realistic; this will affect the value and desirability of a property.

If you want to sell your home, call us at Nest in Essex on 01268 500988.

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Random Acts of Kindness Day is Coming Soon

Sometimes, all it takes is a smile or wave to make someone smile. It’s free, it’s polite and most of all, it’s kind.

February 17th is Random Acts of Kindness Day. Yes, a whole day dedicated to being nice. Started by the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation in America, the initiative has gone global in a bid to remind people that being kind is easy.

In this quick read, we’ve come up with free and simple ways to be kind.

  1. Love thy neighbour

Ok, their dog barks all the time, they watch TV too loudly, and their new extension is a bit big. Whatever your reason for not loving your neighbours, it doesn’t mean you can’t be kind. Be the bigger person and wheel in their bins. They won’t know who did it, but you can feel smug in the knowledge you saved them a chore.

  • Smile at a stranger

Going for a walk? Running to the shops? Instead of sticking with that stiff upper lip, smile at a stranger while out and about. It won’t hurt, and you might make someone’s day. We never know what goes on behind closed doors; some people may feel isolated and lonely, or just need to feel like they matter. A quick smile costs nothing, and while it may not be returned, at least you tried.

  • Please and thank you

Go on, admit it – sometimes you order a coffee, grab it and run without saying thank you. Or, you go into a shop and forget to say please when you ask for your size. Just by remembering to acknowledge the person serving, you can make their possibly rubbish day less so. It costs nothing to remember your manners and make someone feel less invisible.

  • Be kind to yourself

Brits love a bit of self-deprecating humour. We do it all the time without even realising that subconsciously we’re telling ourselves that we’re not good enough. Whether you’re always forgetting things, moaning about how you look or telling people how much weight you’ve gained, make this the day you stop. Have a bubble bath, write down some goals or treat yourself to that extra biscuit. Just don’t silently berate yourself while doing it.

  • Save the environment

You don’t have to chain yourself to a tree or stop eating cheeseburgers to be kind to the environment. It just takes a bit of thought to make the world you live in a better place. Pick up some litter and shove it in the bin, make sure you recycle, or plant some seeds to enjoy the flowers and help the bees. However small the action, being kind will make you and your world feel better.

At Nest in Essex, we hope you enjoy your Random Acts of Kindness Day. What will you be doing to celebrate being kind in our community?

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How Not to Decorate Your Rental Property

In this two-minute read, we explore some common mistakes landlords make when it comes to décor. 

Are you a landlord with a new rental property? Are you about to decorate? Step away from the colour charts, put down the paintbrush, and read on.

Sometimes, it’s hard to separate your personal taste from your rental. After all, you’ve paid a lot of money for it, and you’ve probably invested time and effort getting it ready for the rental market.

Here’s what to watch out for:

  1. Getting too creative

Your rental property is NOT your home. You’ll probably never spend more than a few hours there, so keep a level head when it comes to decorating.

Stay away from fancy design features and keep colours neutral. Tenants – especially those who stay for the long term – want to feel like a property is their own. So that duck egg or dark grey you’ve planned for the bedroom might not be the right choice. Similarly, when it comes to flooring, tiles, and kitchen units, it’s best to keep it simple. Appeal to the market, not to yourself.

  • Know your market

Ask an estate agent who they think the property will appeal to. That way, you can make a better decision about how to decorate it, as different tenants need different things. For example, families normally stick around for a while, so you’d be best off with neutral colours and no furniture. Whereas student houses require basic furnishings, such as beds and storage.

  • Doing it on the cheap

It’s important to invest in long-lasting, durable fixtures and appliances. Filling a rental with cheap appliances and cut-price fittings could come back to haunt you, requiring repairs and replacements much sooner than you’d hope.

  • Spending too much

You don’t need to go for top-end products to entice tenants. Spending over and above your budget for top brands and fancy décor isn’t going to add value, it’s just going to eat into your overall profit. Go for reliability instead.

Of course, if you’re buying in a high-end area and trying to get the best possible rent, you may need to splash out a bit. Always talk to an estate agent about what they think will work well.

  • Kerb appeal

First impressions make a massive difference, whether at the front or the back of the house. So, don’t forget to spruce up the exterior of a rental property. This is especially important now, as post-lockdown private renters are more likely to want an outside area they can enjoy.

If you have a property to rent out, get in touch with us at Nest in Essex today.

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Two Top Tax Tips for Landlords

This two-minute read includes some handy tax advice for landlords.

Our tax system is often criticised for being complicated and unwieldy, but by following two simple rules you can take the stress and hassle out of filing a return.

Rule Number 1: Do your homework

Raise your hand if you find the subject of tax dull? You’re not alone, many people cite tax as a conversation killer (right up there with religion and politics).

And because they find it boring, they don’t bother to learn much about it or keep abreast of rule changes.

The problem is when you’re a landlord, ignorance isn’t bliss – it costs you money. If you don’t understand the system, you can’t minimise your tax bill.

So do your homework and make sure that:

  • You understand exactly what you can claim as tax deductible expenses. Many landlords grasp the big picture stuff but overlook the smaller items that, when added together, can significantly reduce their bill.
  • You’ve investigated whether it’s worth setting up as a limited company. This option won’t be advantageous for everyone (it tends to be more beneficial if you own a lot of properties).
  • You’ve looked into the possible benefits of putting your property portfolio into joint ownership. This is worthwhile if, for example, you’re a high-rate taxpayer and your co-owner is on a low income.

Rule Number 2: Get organised

Once you understand the tax rules, be disciplined with your record-keeping.

This means keeping receipts for repairs, maintenance work, safety checks, and insurance. The same goes for service providers such as cleaners, gardeners, and letting agents, and things like phone calls, stamps, and travel to and from the property.

We would advise that you tally up your expenses every month, instead of throwing all your paperwork in a drawer and having a panic later. If you’re disorganised, you’re much more likely to lose important documents or forget to claim something.

Don’t be an ostrich

Don’t be like one of the 1,790,368 people who missed their 2021 filing deadline and had to pay an HMRC fine.

As a landlord, you can’t dodge your tax responsibilities, so don’t bury your head in the sand. Educate yourself and be proactive.

We always advise our landlords to contact an accountant who has experience in dealing with property tax matters.

Contact us to find out how we help local landlords make the most of their rental investments.

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Promote Safer Internet Day – 8th Feb 2022

In this two-minute read, we look at ways to safeguard your kids online.

The internet is a weird and wonderful place. Where else can you find answers to complex questions in seconds, or see pics of your mate’s terrible 1992 hairstyle in a few clicks?

Love it or hate it, many of us spend hours a day online, browsing, posting, reading, and downloading. And that includes our kids.

On 8 February, it’s Safer Internet Day – a campaign designed to make the internet a better place for kids. Here are some safeguarding ideas.

  1. Talk about their online life

Most kids have no idea what life was like without the internet and have always been connected. So, it’s important to differentiate between their online and offline world, and to take a genuine interest in both.

Ask about their online activities – what they like to watch on YouTube, online games they play, favourite apps, recent posts on social media. You need to be aware of how they’re communicating and with whom. Remind them that not everyone is who they say they are online and why this could be dangerous.  

  • Understand online games

There are endless games and devices your child can play on; it can feel quite overwhelming. And while these games offer hours of fun, there are various issues you should be aware of such as age ratings, in-game purchases, talking to strangers, and bullying.

Get familiar with your child’s game and always check what age group it’s aimed at. Lots of games have settings that allow you to control features such as chat functions, purchases, and private messages. Decide what is appropriate for your child. 

  • Set screen time limits

How many of us sit on our phones when we’re supposed to be doing something else? Mindless scrolling is something we’re all guilty of, and if we do it, our kids will, too. If you’re worried about how much time your children are spending online, draw up a family agreement of how much time you’re each allowed online and at what times of day.

  • Supervise

This may be difficult when you’ve got teenagers, but with younger children, it’s important to monitor what they’re watching online. Worryingly, you’re often just a few clicks away from inappropriate content, so make sure younger children use their screens while you’re present and don’t let them take their screens into their bedrooms in the evenings.

Check out the Safer Internet Day site for lots of other useful resources.

From all of us at Nest in Essex, let’s keep our kids safe online.

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The Art of Compromise – What Buyers and Sellers Need to Know

This two-minute read looks at the, sometimes inevitable, part compromise plays in many property transactions

This two-minute read looks at the, sometimes inevitable, part compromise plays in many property transactions.

When it comes to buying a home, there’s a word that buyers don’t like to hear, but it really is a critical element of any property purchase.

And that word is ‘compromise’.

People often expect to step inside a property and know that they’ve found The One. But in most cases, the home-buying process is more complicated than that.

Most buyers, no matter how substantial their budget, usually have to knock a few things off their wish list and compromise.

It’s a dilemma that provides the narrative in almost every TV property show. (Kirsty and Phil spend half their time telling sulky buyers their expectations are WAAAYY off-target.)

Priorities

Every buyer has their own set of priorities. These may include:

  • Location
  • Number of bedrooms
  • Outdoor space
  • Home office
  • Transport
  • Spacious kitchen and living area
  • Off-street parking
  • Access to good schools.

But what happens if a buyer can’t get everything they want within budget?

Get real

This is where a good agent steps in to help a buyer reappraise their priorities. They’ll suggest a buyer:

  • Looks beyond their current needs and imagines what their life could be like in five or ten years.
  • Identifies their absolute ‘deal-breakers’ – the things that are non-negotiable.
  • Figures out where there is wiggle room (after all, the market waits for no one). This could mean being more flexible on location or opening up to the possibility of doing renovation work.

What it all means for sellers

Many companies encourage sellers to do a lot of the leg work – including viewings – themselves. But it pays to use an expert.

A good agent can tease out buyers’ true priorities. They’ll filter out the time-wasters, meaning you’re less likely to get bogged down with buyers who later get cold feet.

A savvy agent will also recommend your home to buyers who may not have considered it – or even seen it. Many buyers type their preferences in a property portal and rely on an algorithm to show them the relevant options. As a result, they only ever get a narrow view of what’s on the market.

An agent can think more laterally about the process and explain to buyers the potential of a property, even if it doesn’t automatically tick all their boxes.

For more advice about the property market contact us here at Nest in Essex on 01268 500988.