Five Home Improvement Tasks Guaranteed To Add Value To Your Property

propertyIf you’re looking to maximise the space in your property – whether you’re looking at reselling or just making it a cosier and more comfortable place to live in for you and your family – you might want to make functional improvements and extensions. Of course they come at a price, but eventually, and if you’re keen on selling it in the future at a very favourable price, these top five home improvement projects are guaranteed to increase your home’s value to at least 5%.

1. Extensions

Have a look at your floor plan and see where you can build an extension of the structure to. Reports had it that you can add up to 5% of your property’s original value if you extent at least every 10% of your floor space.

2. Convert Your Loft

A 10% – 20% increase in your property’s value can be a staggering amount already. You can achieve this by converting your loft, particularly if your property’s within a commercial area like London. Vertical improvements like this can be cheaper and can preserve your garden area.

3. Add Another Bathroom

Second bathrooms or an ensuite are very much in-demand, especially with city dwellers. It’s as much a necessity for people on the go as much as a luxurious convenience. It adds more to the value of the property as to having an additional bedroom. Buyers in the city are more often on the lookout for more spaces to move about than having too many rooms in the house these days – compared to those looking for country homes.

4. A Conservatory Would Be Great

According to most mortgage providers, home values can increase to up to £10,000 if there’s a conservatory in it. But if it was poorly built, it could actually reduce the value to much lower than that.

5. Green Is The New Black

An environmental-friendly house is energy efficient. This means that with central heating, you can increase your property’s value for a little over 8%. And additional energy performance improvements can eventually add more value to your house. It also reduces the maintenance and costs of living of its dwellers The number of energy efficient homes is increasing this year and new home developers are looking to build more environment friendly and energy efficient homes at present. While an ancient property can be attractive, it may not be built for energy efficiency and modifications can be expensive.

Buying a Leasehold Property Can Be A Challenge

If You Don’t Make Yourself Aware of These Eight Things

leaseholdIs a leasehold flat an ideal property for you to buy?

For a long time now, a lot of people have been under the impression that buying a leasehold property makes them the owners of the place – which is actually wrong.

Leases are actually just extended rental forms. The freeholder (the current owner of the land where the property is built on) retains possession of the land which you pay ground rent for. When the lease on the building expires, the ownership goes back to them.

While on a leasehold property, there are lease terms that you need to abide by, landlord maintenance or management charges, and other costs like insurance and service fees.

You could be in for an expense nightmare here, too if the charges go unreasonably high, the property is badly managed, and when conflicts arise amongst managing agents, freeholders, and leaseholders about who should be in control of the repairs and maintenance.

So if you’re planning to be one of the many leasehold property dwellers, you might want to make sure that you’re aware of what’s ahead of you. Here are the 8 things that you need to be on the lookout for to avoid being caught in a disaster.

1. Learn the duration of the lease. Leasehold properties with duration of less than 75 years may make mortgage lenders hesitant to approve a loan.

Leasehold titles are available to download at the Land Registry website, and will contain information about the exact length of lease.

2. Extend prior to agreeing to buy the property. If the lease duration falls beyond the 80-year mark, it has to be renewed. And if it even falls further below 80, then renewal of the lease may be more expensive than expensive. Lease extensions can be pricey and you might have to get a surveyor to negotiate the value and a property solicitor or a licensed conveyancer to work on the documents. The cost of the extension itself is another story.

When the lease is short, you can haggle with your seller and attempt to have extended before you buy. This is crucial as you need to have owned a flat for at least two years before you can have it extended.

3. Long leases and freehold shares may be a lot more expensive to buy but more worth it.

4. Your conveyancer should be able to discuss the terms of the lease with you. If there’s anything that you don’t understand, feel free to ask them questions.

It is generally the freeholder that’s responsible for the building structure, but tenants are usually liable to contribute to the funds that will finance it. There are also occasions where the tenants are given full responsibility of the structure.

Ask about the funds that will cover the big building maintenance projects and find out how much you need to put in for it, and whether it increases at a given interval. You might also want to know how frequent the repair and maintenance works are done, particularly if you’re going to be in an apartment block.

When viewing, always be in the know for the deal-breaking issues. If possible, you need to have a full survey conducted – just to be on the safe side here.

5. Are there any other fees to pay? You would generally pay for building insurance, service and admin charges. See to it that you have full information on the amount and the schedules of payment.

6. It is important to know who the freeholder and the management company are. You might want to ask the other tenants to see if the set up is all right.

This information should as well be included in the leasehold agreement but you can always verify if it’s updated or not.

7. Lease restrictions. It is important that you know what you can and you can do with and within the property. You might not be allowed to bring in pets, play an instrument, strip floorboards, or make changes and/or extensions to the building. If you’re looking at something to use as a rental property, you need to know if your lease agreement allows renting your property out.

8. Lastly, but absolutely not the least, check to find out if you can possibly buy the freehold in the future or assume the property’s management.

Buying A Property – What Breaks The Deal?

propertyWhile building surveys are important for some property buyers in most occasions – to point out construction and maintenance problems of the property and use them as a weapon to haggle down the selling price, others are advised to rather have a second or third visit to carefully inspect the house for obvious issues. You can in fact do that and maybe save a lot of money on a professional surveyor. That is if you know well enough what to ask and look for. What you can do on the second or third viewing is to take someone along with you – perhaps a friend or a relative who knows well enough and give their opinion about the property and how it is (or maybe not) worth the price.

And while checking for issues that could affect the rice or the entire deal, do not be nitpicky. Small but easily repaired defects can be shrugged off, as long as they don’t pile up as you move along. You can make a list as needed and ask the seller to get them fixed before you move in.

Look for damps. Check the walls for peeling wallpapers, cracking paintwork, wet spots, window condensation, or mould. The cupboards will also give tell-tale signs of damp if they smell musty.

Look up. The property will tell its condition as well if there are brown stains drips, leaks, and cracks up the ceiling.

Open doors and windows as you move about. Shut each door behind you, too, while your seller (or the estate agent) walks you through, just to be sure they’re all working. You’re not spending just a few hundred buying this property so smile and tell that that they hope it’s all right if you look through the cupboards.

Check the switches. Make sure they are functioning, particularly the old switches. Ask about how old the wiring has been. Getting it updated can be very expensive.

See if it has enough electrical sockets. You might have to check if they’re working – given that you have asked for a floor plan to see where the power points are.

The plumbing matters. See if the sinks under the cupboards are dry and that the flush toilets and taps are working fine. Check the water pressure and if it gets hot. If it isn’t too much for you, you can go lift the drain covers outside and get someone to flush the toilet to see how the drain flows.

How warm is it? Ask them to turn on the central heating. You might want to check leaks and rust build-up on the radiators and see that they get hot on the surface.

Locks are your security. See to it that the door locks are still within quality (and insurance) standards. Inspect the windows of they have locks, too, and the see if the front door has any signs that it has been broken in.

Beware of woodchip. Buying a property with chip wood or textured wallpaper over it means that the owner has scraped through layers of paper – possibly stripping half the plaster off the wall.

Check the mats and rugs for any stains and dirt lurking underneath.

Check your mobile phone if it gets enough network coverage. You don’t want to be in a dead spot.

See the attic, too. Doing it during the day will let you oversee how well the woodwork still stands. See if there are any rotting timbers or cracks and wholes.

Look at the walls outside to find cracks or rotten woodwork.

You may have to check the roof using a binocular and see if there are slipped or missing tiles. The gutters and woodwork can be a massive problem in the rainy days.

The kitchen should have enough space. It will be a nightmare if you can’t move about well enough while preparing dinner.

Check the directions. You might have to use a compass to see if the sunny south-facing garden the seller promises is true.

See what the property next to what you’re buying is like. If it shows any sign of being a rundown, you should be concerned. It can be your problem, too in no time.

Remember that you are spending hundreds of thousands of pounds to buy this property. So in parting, have a good feel of how the seller reacts to your inspection and answers your questions. You might be able to hint that something is wrong here with their unlikely gestures or if they’re trying to keep something from you.

First-Time Buyer – Can You Afford A House In The City Centre


Living in the city has often been called having a successful lifestyle. Imagine being around entrepreneurs, living next to a banker, bumping into a young CEO, and not being afraid of missing out with the trends in places to dine and hangs out with friends in – well, not to mention living in a cosy, elegant and stylish apartment.

However, have we noticed any changes in the city itself? We could see at present that it isn’t just that city centres anymore that are being subject to development and expansion. Even the surrounding blocks of the city centre are now being built with new residential properties. And together with the increase in number of apartments in these blocks, leisure, commercial, and entertainment properties are also being built – making big cities across the UK in-demand for property investors and the centres of these cities the place to be for first-time buyers.

Choosing A Lifestyle

Besides merely having your own home, there are other reasons a first-time buyer chooses to live in the centre of the city:

  • living in an exciting area
  • keeping up with the excitement of an up and coming bit of the country
  • closer proximity to place of work
    closer to where most of their friends are
  • being where all the great events are

These are just a few of the reasons a young professional in their twenties to thirties would want to buy a property in the city.

In their excitement, and without considering another option, a first-time buyer can be quite stoked about a semi-furnished two-bedroom property, because most of them think that the price is set out of the centre.

The thing is whether you get a property within the city centre or it surrounding suburbs, the price barely has any difference because the developers are looking to stretch the city centres to the corners with the most potential. With tens or a couple of hundred thousand pounds in price difference, living four miles from the city centre is just the same as being in there itself.

To afford getting that a city-dwelling lifestyle, a first-time buyer is strongly advised to make rather huge budget adjustments.

You can consider giving up the fancy car and trading it for a less expensive but equally functional one. Needless to say parking fees can be expensive in the city centre, too, so you may have to just consider taking public transport. Or if you’re really living very close to the office, walking is a plausible option. It does help you save a lot of money and afford urban dwelling.

What’s in a modern home for you?

It isn’t for everyone. It all depends on how you see your life. But even if it’s just a temporary thing for you – perhaps a short-term investment that can help you afford your dream home in the future – you may still be able to reap a lot of benefits from it.

Compared to a lot of older houses (or period properties), modern homes are less likely to need renovations, and even less changes.

And because your modern apartment in the city is relatively smaller and are built with reasonable consideration for energy efficiency, you’ll get cheaper heating bills. Most of the city apartments are managed and serviced by private companies, so it takes the burden of getting damage repairs off your shoulders.

Or, if you’re looking to save a lot on the initial costs of removals, most of these modern city homes are sold furnished; landlords and agents also often sell furnishing packs. That’s a lot of stress taken out of your head.

If you prefer this kind of dwelling, whether it’s a lifestyle call or out of necessity, you should consider living in the city – regardless if it’s right in its hear or within the surrounding/closer areas. And in parting, just always remember to consider how much you can afford (or how much you’re willing to spend for a modern city apartment) and shop around for great deals – from the ideal property to the people working with for you throughout your purchase (surveyors, mortgage providers, and conveyancers).

Squeezing The Seller For Property Related Information

20 Questions You Can Ask Before You Place Your Offer


If you think doing your own research helps you enough to make a decision when buying a property, think again. Although doing your homework can come in very handy especially when finding out the average prices on ideal properties, asking the right questions and getting satisfactory answers can also help you with negotiating your offer – especially if you’re unsure that the seller has put in a reasonable price on their property.

Before you even get excited about the house and make an offer, you should ask as many questions and get enough information about the property. It is also quite important that you get these details in writing so you could take it with you and have a look at while making a decision.

Before putting in an offer to your seller or the estate agent, here are 20 questions you can ask them – the answers to which can help you get a good leverage on negotiations later on.

1. How many people/potential buyers have viewed the property?
2. How many others have put in an offer?
3. For how long has it been on the market?
4. Are there are current electrical and gas checks done on the house?
5. What are the terms on the lease? (if any)
6. Are there any issues with the neighbours?
7. What’s the reason for selling the property and are they certain about it?
8. Are there any renovations made on the house?
9. When was the boiler installed and last inspected?
10. When was the last electrical rewiring done?
11. Is the seller involved in a chain – buying a new property to move into?
12. If buying a flat, how much is the ground rent and service charge?
13. Who’s living upstairs, downstairs, and next-door?
14. For how long has the current owner stayed there?
15. What other items and/or furniture are included in the sale?
16. Is there enough parking space?
17. Is it safe to make a fire?
18. Is there any partial sinking of an area in the land?
19. What are the regulations on local council tax? (or you can alternatively research this on your own)
20. What’s the crime rate in the area – any issues with mugging or murder?

Your seller/estate agent should at least be able to discuss the facts surrounding these questions with you. But again, all the important details you need to know, you can ask them to put it in writing. Knowing about this stuff may give you an edge when negotiating your offer.