Property Advice Character

Advice?

This is our very own little hub for general property advice. Property is all we ‘do’, so we have a vast amount of knowledge and experience to share with you. Either try the hub below, pop in for a coffee or give us a call on 01482 645100.

Does our loft conversion count as a bedroom? Property Advice Cross

Generally, loft conversions do not require planning permission as long as the room being created is within the existing loft space, whereas if you are extending or altering the roof space, then planning permission is likely to be required.

However, building regulations approval is required to convert a loft or attic into a ‘liveable’ space, which means a space that can be described as a ‘room’.

So, if you have a converted loft space and you have a Building Regulation Completion Certificate from your local authority, you can count it as a bedroom. If, however, you have converted it without involving the local authority and without getting formal certification, then estate agents would normally describe it as a ‘fully boarded loft space’ and it cannot be counted amongst the number of bedrooms, nor can it be called a room.

If you require more information, please do not hesitate to ask. If we cannot help, and if you require any specific advice regarding planning or building regulation issues, we will refer you to your local authority or to a local, reputable architect who has expertise in design, planning and building regulations.

If we can help in any way, please Contact Us.

Does it matter that our property was flooded? Property Advice Cross

The great floods of 2007 in the Hull and East Yorkshire region had a huge impact on so many properties, and their owners’ lives. At the time, we had no idea what the impact would be on house values, but before long we were being invited to value properties that had been flooded, and quickly came to the conclusion that it was best to simply value them as we would have done before the floods. In other words, we did not down-value the properties because they had been flooded.

This proved to be the correct approach as we soon found that many buyers were happy to buy such properties on the basis that the flooding was perceived to be a ‘freak’ event. Some buyers will not touch a property that has been flooded. Others are in the slightest bit concerned. So if your house was flooded, we would simply market it for sale, with confidence, like any other house.

There is (of course!) one caveat, which is that household insurance remains tricky for not only flooded properties, but also properties in areas deemed to be at risk of floods. However, if you have insurance, which you hopefully will, the insurance company are often willing to transfer the policy over to the new owners to avoid them having to search for a new policy only to find many insurers unwilling to provide cover.

If you would like to discuss this insurance issue further, or if indeed you are buyer considering a flooded property, then our Insurance Manager would be happy to advise you. 

If we can help in any way, please Contact Us.

Am I in negative equity? Property Advice Cross

Being in negative equity means you owe the mortgage company more than your property is worth. We are not financial advisers, so if you want advice on a financial issue such as this, we would recommend you to a local independent financial adviser for expert, impartial advice.

The advice often given to homeowners in negative equity is to stay put and slowly pay off the mortgage, and to wait a few years until prices eventually rise until you are in positive equity. Negative equity only becomes a problem when you sell the property, or if you want to borrow against it, but these are issues that an independent financial adviser would be able to help you with.

If we can help in any way, please Contact Us.

Does it matter if I lose a bedroom to gain a bathroom? Property Advice Cross

If you are considering doing this, please consult us first and invite us to your property to see exactly what you have in mind. This is not a question that can be answered without sight of the property and taking everything into account including the type of property and the typical buyer profile. However, it is crucial to get this advice in advance because it is a big decision to make and making the wrong decision could cost you dearly when it comes to selling your property. Reducing the number of bedrooms in a property can instantly reduce the property’s value, but with the right advice there may be a way to minimise the risk.

If we can help in any way, please Contact Us.

Do you have any tips for showing prospective buyers around our home? Property Advice Cross

Many years ago Oliver Hudson created 10 Golden Rules for preparing your house for viewings by potential buyers. Some of these are a little ‘tongue in cheek’ but you’ll get the gist of what you need to do! 

  1. Smells put buyers off! Air the house and use air fresheners where necessary.
  2. Tidy away very personal possessions, and put away general clutter including clothes and shoes. 
  3. The house must be clean as well as tidy, and make sure the beds are nicely made.
  4. Give the bathroom a thorough clean. Replace any worn or discoloured items such as shower curtain, toilet seat and bathmats.
  5. Put out some fresh flowers.
  6. Turn on any lamps to create a warm feeling in the house.
  7. Have the following documents ready in a smart folder for all viewers to see if they wish:
  8. Recent water, electricity, gas and council tax bills 
  9. All guarantees for work or checks you have had done (e.g. double-glazing, boiler, damp-proofing, gas fire, new roof, conservatory, etc.)
  10. If possible, get everyone else out the house for half an hour, so the viewers can enjoy your property without feeling as though they’re invading the family’s privacy.
  11. If you spend any time chatting with the viewers, try to do it in the room you like best.
  12. And finally, just before the viewers arrive, pop a vanilla pod in a low temperature oven - it will make the place smell wonderful!

Having said all that, the presentation of the property for your photographs is the most important thing. When buyers visit a house for sale, they are aware people live there and will not expect it to be perfect. But when it comes to photographs, the property must look at its absolute best, even if that means moving loads of stuff into the garage and then putting it back in the house once the photographs have been taken! 

If we can help in any way, please Contact Us.

Can you recommend tradesmen? Property Advice Cross

We can and we do.

Whilst we obviously cannot accept any responsibility for the quality of their work, we are happy to vouch for and recommend certain people and organisations, whose services we use both personally and to address issues that arise at the property that we manage for landlords, for their professionalism, workmanship, and pricing.

We do not receive any financial reward for making such recommendations. We have excellent contacts in the following service areas:

  • Accountant & Tax Expert
  • Appliance Engineer
  • Builder
  • Building Aggregates
  • Carpet Cleaning
  • Damp & Decay
  • Electrician
  • Garage Doors & Gates
  • Gas Engineer
  • Handyman
  • Independent Financial Adviser
  • Independent Mortgage Adviser
  • Japanese Knotweed Specialist
  • Joiner/Carpenter
  • Landscape Gardening & Garden Materials
  • Locksmith
  • Painting & Decorating
  • Plumbing & Heating
  • Property Clearance
  • Skip Hire
  • Storage
  • Surveyor
  • TV Aerials & Cabling

If we can help in any way, please Contact Us.

How do I maintain my property? Property Advice Cross

We cannot stress enough how important it is to maintain your property on an ongoing basis. For most of us, our homes are the most valuable asset we will ever own, and if we don’t take good care of them they will deteriorate and lose value.

If we live in a home for ten years and don’t maintain it regularly, the cost of reinstating it to its original condition after 10 years could be far more than it would have cost us to maintain it on a regular basis. Many home owners are good at this, but some aren’t, and when we visit properties to provide advice or valuations, it is usually very easy to spot whether the property has been well maintained. In particular, all homeowners need to keep a close eye on:

  • Plumbing and heating, including problems like dripping taps
  • Gas appliances such as boilers and fireplaces (efficiency, safety, etc.)
  • Electrics and wiring
  • Chimney sweeping where an open fire is used
  • External windows and doors in terms of seals, double-glazing panels, and any signs of black mould
  • Soffits, fascias, gutters, fall pipes, cladding, and bargeboards
  • Roofs, tiling, ridge tiles, and chimney stacks
  • Structural issues such as signs of damp or cracking
  • Driveways, gardens and garages
  • External woodwork and paintwork
  • Internal décor, flooring and carpets
  • Kitchen units (e.g. doors with loose hinges)
  • Roof insulation

And, above all, unless you have the skills to do jobs that look professional, avoid DIY at all costs! Nothing puts a buyer off more than a property where botched DIY jobs stand out a mile!

Is it okay to convert the garage into a room? Property Advice Cross

This practice has become quite popular in recent years, but we urge you to proceed with caution. Often this can really enhance a property and the benefit of additional living space can outweigh the loss of a garage. However, every significant change you make to a property should be done with its future sale in mind. In other words, what impact will this change have on how a buyer perceives this property and the price they will be willing to pay for it, and will it make it more or less saleable? And just because people rarely garage their car anymore doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t want a garage!

Planning permission is generally unnecessary if you don’t plan to alter the structure of the building, but the change of use from a garage to a habitable room does mean you have to undertake the conversion in accordance with building regulations. Having said that, if you live in a listed building or a conservation area, planning permission may be required for even minor modifications, and homes in newly built estates sometimes require planning permission.

Building regulations apply to ventilation, moisture proofing, insulation, fireproofing, escape routes, and structural soundness. As a result, almost any design decision must take them into account. When dividing up the garage a new room is created. This room is subject to a set of building regulations that require an escape route and ventilation separate from the main room. Alterations such as an infill wall replacing the original garage door will also be subject to building regulations concerning the foundations. The building inspector will want to visually inspect windows, doors, fireproofing and foundations before he gives a certificate of completion. 

If you require more information, please do not hesitate to ask. If we cannot help, we will recommend a local, reputable architect who has expertise in design, planning and building regulations.

If we can help in any way, please Contact Us.

Is now a good time to sell? Property Advice Cross

The answer to this mainly depends on the condition of the sale market at the time, but you should be considering a number of factors such as the current value of your property in relation to the outstanding balance of your mortgage (if you have one); how much you paid for your property and what you have spent on it, in relation to its current value; your reasons for considering selling (size, lifestyle, need, financial change, equity release, relocation, etc.); what you would do if you were to sell (e.g. buy another property, rent a property, move in to someone else’s property, go travelling, etc.); is letting a better alternative; and so on. 

We normally find that a brief conversation, over the phone or in person (or sometimes meeting at the property so we can assess the property at the same time) quickly helps clients to reach a decision, or at least to go away with sufficient information to consider their situation further.

If you would like to know more about our property selling services, please click on the link below:

Thinking of Selling?

Should I sell or let my property? Property Advice Cross

This is a complex question that we can’t really answer until you’ve explained your circumstances to us. However, the kind of questions we would be asking in order to advise you about this might be: Do you have a mortgage? Have you discussed your financial situation with an independent financial adviser to find out if letting is financially viable for you? What kind of property is it and where is it, because you need to consider the type of tenant it would attract and what its rental value might be? Is the property in a suitable letting condition, and if not, what might be the cost of making it so, to ensure it meets regulations such as those for electrical safety? How does the current sale market compare to the rental market? If you’re moving abroad, what are the tax implications of becoming a landlord?

We normally find that a brief conversation, over the phone or in person (or sometimes meeting at the property so we can assess the property at the same time) quickly helps clients to reach a decision, or at least to go away with sufficient information to consider their situation further. If you decide to let but are worried about the pitfalls of becoming a landlord, help is at hand – we regularly coach new landlords (without charge) who want to minimise agency costs by managing their own property.

If you would like to know more about our sales and lettings services, please click on the links below:

Thinking of Selling?

Landlords

I need a formal valuation of my property in writing - can you help? Property Advice Cross

This is a service we provide on a regular basis, as homeowners often need formal valuations for reasons such as divorce or separation, probate, and part-exchange. For more information about our Formal Valuation service, please click on the link below:

Formal Valuations 

What should we do to our property to make it more saleable? Property Advice Cross

If you are planning to sell your property, then this could be a crucial question to ask. We are reluctant to encourage spending money on a property prior to sale, except in certain circumstances, and it also depends of course on if you have some money available to make any changes. However, it is amazing what can be achieved to transform the way a property is presented for sale with little expense and hassle.

 

This is something we are particularly good at giving advice on but, be warned, we will be completely honest! Telling you your house looks lovely and is ready to go straight on the market, if it really isn’t, would be a disservice to you and could seriously damage not only your chances of sale, but also the sale price negotiated. This is a conversation that must be conducted at the property, and in our view it is critical that this is done before a property goes anywhere near the market!

 

If we can help in any way, please Contact Us.

How can I add value to my property? Property Advice Cross

This is a huge subject and of course every property is different, but it is a really important question to ask. It is always such a shame when we are invited to value a property, following significant works, to find that a property owner has not, in our view, developed their property in the most beneficial ways. It is far better from your point of view to get us down in advance to discuss the options with you so that you can make positive informed decisions about what to do with your property. One common error is to overdevelop a property resulting in the property costing its owners more than it can ever be worth, simply because every property has a ceiling value that cannot be surpassed.

Common ways to add value to a property are: electrical rewire, new electrical consumer unit, modern glazing, new roof, new boiler and central heating system, new kitchen/utility, new bathroom, adding an en-suite shower room, fixing structural problems, loft conversion, single storey extension, two-storey extension, conservatory, re-configuring internal layout, garden makeover, land acquisition (e.g. piece of neighbour’s garden), building a garage, and creating off-street parking. To that list we should add ‘giving your property the wow-factor’.

 

However, whereas some changes can add value, others may not add value but can make a property far more saleable, which is extremely important. Furthermore, every significant change you make to a property should be done with its future sale in mind. In other words, what impact will this change have on how a buyer perceives this property and the price they will be willing to pay for it, and will it make it more or less saleable? 

Whatever you are thinking of doing, please do invite us down beforehand to get independent advice, in advance of making any significant changes to your property. 

If we can help in any way, please Contact Us.

A relative of mine has had to go into a residential care home – what should I do with the property Property Advice Cross

Sadly, but not surprisingly, this is a question that we are asked all the time, and all too often the family don’t know what to do. However, more often than not the choice is taken out of their hands if the property needs to be sold in order to pay for care home fees. Often social services will cover the cost of the care home fees until such time as the property can be sold but they will usually put a charge on the property to ensure they are eventually paid what they are owed once the sale completes. 

If, however, the family has sufficient funds to cover the care home fees, the decision about what to do with the property is usually emotionally driven. For example, families often prefer to leave the property empty because, for obvious reasons, they cannot face the prospect of selling it or moving tenants in. They must do what feels right and then, when the time is right, we can meet them at the property discuss the best way forward. Options considered might be selling it on the open market, selling it within the family, or keeping it as an investment by letting it out, which sometimes requires advance work to be done to the property to prepare it for letting.

Whatever your situation, we can help, all you have to do is ask, and we’ll do our best to guide and advise you. 

If we can help in any way, please Contact Us.

A relative has died – what should I do with their property? Property Advice Cross

Sadly, but not surprisingly, this is a question that we are asked all the time, and all too often the family members left behind just don’t know what is best. We can discuss the situation over the phone, at our office, or at the property, and will talk you through the options available. You may not know whether to sell or keep the property; the house may have been left to a number of people and you may be concerned about how to keep everyone happy and how to handle things; a member of the family may want to buy the property but you’re not sure how to go about arranging it and what the value of the property is. Whatever your situation, we can help, all you have to do is ask.

 

And not only can we help you to work out the best course of action, we can if you like arrange for you to speak to a member of our Wills & Probate team, who will be happy to have an initial chat with you (without charge) to point you in the right direction. For example, if you want to handle the probate yourself, they’ll give you some tips on how to do that, and if there is no Will, they can advise you about what the means and what you need to do. 

If we can help in any way, please Contact Us.

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