How to put buyers in the mood

Contemporary Open Convector Wood Fire

With most people now settled into the swing of 2015, the late winter months can provide an opportune moment for buyers to really focus their property search.

The winter market can also bring a greater sense of commitment from both sides to complete the sale, as people tend to make life-changing decisions (like moving house) at the start of a new year.

And with the rapid approach of Valentine’s Day, we have some tips for sellers which will hopefully lead to buyers falling in love with their home – putting them in the mood for a move while braving the cold.

First impressions/kerb appeal

The approach to your house is really important, and the outside of your property is the first thing potential buyers will see.

Paint and repair any weather beaten gates and replace any frost bitten or dead plants with some colourful seasonal bedding plants.

An outside doormat is not only welcoming to visitors, but shows you care about those little extras – as does a working doorbell and gleaming outside light. Make sure you sweep away any cobwebs or leaves from the porch.

Keep it cosy

A warm and well-heated home will ensure that viewers take their time to look around.

If you are expecting a viewing, make sure you allow enough time for your house to warm up. Buyers will most certainly be interested in how the heating system works and how the rest of the home is insulated to keep out the cold.

Highlight any energy efficient aspect of your home, including draught and loft insulation. A recent survey suggests lower utility and heating bills are among the top three areas where people want to save cash.

Run an open house

Speak to your estate agent about holding an open house event. Buyers will often brave the cold if they are serious about moving house, although the prospect of walking the streets looking at properties in the cold isn’t that appealing.

However, sellers can make this work to their advantage by running well-advertised open-house days during the winter. This will help attract committed and focused buyers, who will be grateful for your offer of a warm drink and a slice of homemade cake – and may even put them in the mood to make you an offer!

Lighten up!

It is essential that your home is well lit, particularly with the current darker days. Without much natural light or sunshine at this time of year, it is down to the seller to help brighten up the house to show it off at its best.

Switch lights or table lamps on in rooms during viewings, and make sure blinds and curtains are well pulled back. Safety conscious buyers may also be impressed by outside and security lights, so invest in those if you can.

Head of estate agency Su Snaith says: “We know that there are some really serious buyers out there, who have set themselves a goal of moving early in 2015.

“A welcoming home with well thought-out attention to detail, and sellers going that extra mile, could clinch that all important offer.”

Don’t let the first impression rubbish the value!

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Overflowing bins create a terrible first impression

With new research revealing that rubbish can significantly reduce the value of your home, Harrison Murray has some top tips to make the most of a first impression.

Street litter can knock tens of thousands of pounds off the price of a home, according to research commissioned by Keep Britain Tidy.

It says cigarette butts and food wrappers on pavements or overflowing wheelie bins put buyers off a property even before they’ve set foot through the door.

And as first impressions count – whether for a job interview or first date – the same applies to selling a property.

Your home may look palatial and spotlessly clean inside, but potential buyers won’t know that if you don’t get them through the front door.

There are many ways to give your home the X Factor with a few tips on making the most of your home on the outside.

Head of estate agency for The Nottingham Estate Agency (of which Harrison Murray is part), Su Snaith, says: “We are all aware of the on going challenges within the housing market and the stiff competition among sellers to get the best price for their property.

“While this latest report is somewhat saddening, our own sellers are able to bring the wow factor to their front door.

“When people buy a property, is it usually with their heart and not their head – so first impressions are very important – whether it be the street leading up to the property or the approach to the property itself.”

Su added: “Winning over the potential buyer or viewer with something that is pleasing to the eye makes all the difference. Attention to detail is so important.”

Simple kerb appeal tricks and tips that won’t break the bank:

  • If you’ve got a wooden front door, give it a lick of paint or varnish to spruce it up while protecting it. The same applies to gates
  • Clear cobwebs from the porch area and from around the doorbell and outside light
  • Invest in good outdoor lighting, keep it clean and fit an energy efficient bulb
  • Clean windows regularly
  • Have the number of your house clearly displayed – buyers will get annoyed if they can’t find the property easily. And if the numbers need replacing or updating, consider shiny new chrome ones
  • To ensure buyers aren’t put off by parked cars outside your home. Politely ask neighbours to move them temporarily and move wheelie bins out of sight
  • Brighten up the entrance with some colourful potted plants

Great sport Paula takes the leap

Paula Scinaldi parachute jump

Paula lands safely back on terra firma

Duston Branch Manager Paula Scinaldi bravely took part in a daredevil parachute jump last weekend to raise money for British judo champion and SportsAid star, Jodie Caller.

Previous jumps had been cancelled due to inclement weather but despite an incredibly icy day, Paula managed to take to the skies at 14,000 feet to complete her jump and take Duston’s SportsAid fundraising to an impressive £530.

Before taking the leap Paula was given a pep talk from Jodie herself who took time out from her busy schedule to come and watch the jump, which saw Paula in freefall for around 60 seconds before engaging her ‘chute.

Following a run of success at junior level, 18-year-old Jodie finished 2014 by winning gold at the Junior British Championships and an impressive silver medal at the Senior British Championships.

These results mean that Jodie is automatically on the Junior and Senior Great Britain Squads for 2015 and is well on target for the Rio Olympics. All cash raised will help Jodie travel to training and competitions.

Congratulations to both Paula and Jodie!

Paula & Jodie

Olympic hopeful Jodie (left) chats to Paula before the jump

Mayor officially opens Ashbourne branch

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The Mayor of Ashbourne cuts the ribbon to officially open our Ashbourne branch, watched by The Nottingham’s Chief Operating Officer Simon Taylor (centre), Building Society Manager Sian Harris (right) and mascots Maid Marian and Robin Hood.

The Mayor of Ashbourne, Councillor Sandra Spencer, cut the ribbon to officially open our new branch in Ashbourne on Friday (23 Jan).

In a short speech she praised The Nottingham Building Society and Harrison Murray for opening the new branch, when so many competitors are closing, and wished everyone at The Nottingham continued trading success.

Our Robin Hood and Maid Marian mascots were also on hand and proved to be very popular with old and young alike.

There was also a nice surprise gift from The Salvation Army – who are based next door to the branch – when they presented colleagues with a teddy bear dressed as Robin Hood, which is now proudly on display.

The Chairman of the Ashbourne Aztecs junior football team, Julian Burton, also popped in to enjoy the celebrations as the branch are sponsoring the side – who are currently top of the league!

The Mayor was joined by her consort, Martin Spencer. Also present at the event were Simon Taylor, The Nottingham’s Chief Operating Officer, Area Managers Diane Walters and Richard Bocock, Sian Harris, Building Society Manager, and Paul Westmoreland, Harrison Murray Manager.

Ashbourne Aztecs 2

Ashbourne Aztecs Chairman Julian Burton (second right) joins in the celebrations at the branch opening.

Ashbourne 2

Many thanks to our Ashbourne neighbours, The Salvation Army, for kindly presenting us with this Robin Hood teddy – which is now on display in-branch.

Lower heating and utility bills on householder wishlists

Radiator

Saving money on heating and electricity are two of the top three savings which British householders aspire to make in 2015.

A new survey reveals reducing expenditure on heating bills is the second most popular saving (41 per cent) after lower food bills (46 per cent). Third on the list was a desire to slash electricity bills, at 29 per cent.

Head of Estate Agency at The Nottingham Building Society (which includes Harrison Murray and the Nottingham Estate Agency), Su Snaith, said: “This is a very timely reminder that people should think carefully about their own energy use and potential savings at this time of year.

“In particular, those who have a property to sell will want to demonstrate, if asked by a potential buyer, running and utility costs – which can easily be reduced with some simple but highly effective measures.”

In line with the Energy Savings Trust, Harrison Murray have some top tips to help cut down on the bills and winter smart your home:

– You can save around £43 a year just by using your kitchen appliances more carefully.
– Set your washing machine to wash at 30°C.
– Use a bowl to wash up rather than leaving the hot tap running. Don’t fill your kettle up every time, only boil the amount of water you need.
– Turn the room thermostat down by just one degree – it can save around £75 a year.
– Use energy efficient light bulbs that last up to 10 times longer than standard bulbs.
– Consider draught proofing your home. Figures show a fully draught proof home could save around £20-£30 a year. Don’t forget to keep doors closed in rooms you are using to keep the heat in.
– Turn off household appliances such as microwaves, TVs, videos, music systems, and computers when not in use, as they continue to use energy when they are left on standby. A typical household can save between £45 and £80 a year just by remembering to turn off appliances left on standby.
– Defrost your fridge frequently and check the door seals.
– Boilers account for around 55 per cent of what is spent on energy bills in a year – it may be a good idea to get it serviced regularly.
– If you have a standard shower it will use around 40 per cent of the water required for a bath. Some water companies are giving showerheads away for free. Contact your water company to see if you are eligible. By installing a water efficient shower head, a family of four could save around £65 a year on gas for water heating, as well as a further £95 on water bills if they have a water meter.
– Bleed your radiators to get rid of any air inside which may lead to increased bills if the radiators aren’t working efficiently.
– Homeowners with a tile or slate roof need to check that there are no loose tiles or slates. When the wind is strong, a loose tile can easily be displaced and that will let in the damp. You should repair or replace any broken or missing tiles immediately.
– If you notice damp, dry out the affected area or use a de-humidifier to help stop condensation. If there is a lot of condensation in your house, it can harm paintwork and cause black mould spots.
– Check that your loft insulation is thick enough and in good condition. Loft insulation, cavity wall insulation and double-glazing can all help protect your home and save you money on heating bills.

To find out more about how to protect your home, call into any of the Harrison Murray or Nottingham Estate Agency branches or click here.

Lock out opportunist thieves

Burglar Breaking In To Home At Night Through Back Door

Thieves are using keys hidden under the mat, or in other easily accessible places, to burgle homes across the country – according to new research.

Thousands of homeowners are being burgled by opportunist thieves with their own house keys which have either been stolen at an earlier date, or found in a hiding place at the property.

Crime figures suggest more than 6,000 burglaries in 2014 involved the culprits gaining access to the property using keys as opposed to ‘breaking in’.

We have some practical tips and advice for homeowners when it comes to security, particularly in the winter months.

Head of Estate Agency at The Nottingham Building Society (which includes Harrison Murray and the Nottingham Estate Agency), Su Snaith, says: “Despite the obvious security risks, leaving a key hidden outside the property under a mat or a plant pot is an age old tradition.

“However, we would strongly advise homeowners to either leave a spare key with a neighbour or family member, and of course in the case of them having their property on the market, with their estate agent.”

Figures show that:

29 per cent of Brits admit to leaving a spare key hidden outside the property.
The most common places to hide a key are; under a plant pot (19%), bin (13%), rock or stone (13%) doormat (10%) and even under a garden gnome or ornament (8%).

Su adds: “With Spring still a way off, we do still have the dark morning and early evenings, but we aren’t suggesting that people live in fear.

“It is simply about adopting a practical, common sense approach in assessing safety measures in your existing or new home.”

– Lighting. Consider installing motion-sensitive lighting fixtures above front doors, porches, garage doors and entrances to back gardens. Fit timers to indoor lights when you are out for the evening or going on holiday.
– Codes. If you are moving into a new property, familiarise yourself with the alarm and set a new passcode.
– Securely bolt or padlock side/back gates.
– Be letterbox aware. As vehicle theft becomes more sophisticated and often to order, thieves turn to letterboxes to obtain keys. Make sure you put these and other valuables out of easy reach and sight of the front door.
– Put your mark on valuables with a UV pen – a discreet way to identify your items if they are stolen.
– Sheds. Many sheds are used to store cycles, garden equipment and tools. Ensure you have a sturdy padlock on your shed door. The same goes for your garage.
– Don’t get caught out online. Be careful about what personal information you divulge on social media. Opportunist thieves are turning to social to target unsuspecting victims, so don’t give too much information away regarding your whereabouts. Never reveal that your property is empty
– Be a good neighbour and join the local Neighbourhood Watch group. If you are new to the area, this is also a great way of getting to know your neighbourhood and meeting new people.

Our top tips for making moving day go without a hitch!

boxes

After spending weeks and months anticipating the moment – moving day is fast approaching, so take care to make sure it goes without a hitch!

With so much going on at such a busy time it can be easy to forget something essential, so take some time to make a tick list of jobs as you go.

Our Head of Estate Agency, Su Snaith, said: “The demands of moving house are weighty enough, particularly when it gets down to the nitty gritty of packing and labelling boxes and belongings – everything from the family heirlooms to the children’s favourite toys.

“However, a little forward planning can certainly cut down the stress and reduce the potential for an upset. As soon as you get the date for your move and the time for the exchanging of keys, you can start to get organised.”

Before you start what can seem like a daunting task, here are a few tips to help you plan ahead in plenty of time:

– Book some time off work for the move and give yourself plenty of time to make calls, rally the troops to help, or just to spend time getting prepared.

– Get quotes from removal companies. Once you are clear about your move in date, it is worth beginning to research removal costs. Hiring a removal firm can certainly ease the burden, but don’t settle for the first one you come across. Get several quotes or to save money, hire a vehicle yourself and get friends to pitch in.

– Set up services as soon as possible. It’s frustrating to move into a new property only to find the gas and electricity isn’t working. Check with your agent for details of the previous providers so you can call them to change the name on the contract or set up new accounts. Also, make sure that phone and broadband services are enabled prior to moving in as these often take a number of weeks to become active.

– Key to the door? Check who has the keys (i.e. agent, solicitor) and when they will be released for the property.

– Make sure in advance that there is adequate access to the property for large vehicles to ensure no hidden surprises on the day of the move. It is always good to check that access will still be available to neighbours and other vehicles using the road outside the property during offload.

– Dismantle heavy furniture first as this usually takes longer than other tasks. Consider transferring these items to the front of the house in the days leading up to the move so they can be loaded first.

– Pack a ‘basics’ box – It is very easy to forget the essentials when moving house but ensuring that you have a spare change of clothes, a wash bag and a charger for your phone can be very helpful – and of course a kettle, mugs and tea bags!

– Compile a fact file for the people who have bought your home; include things like rubbish collection day, recycling arrangements and heating instructions. On the day of the move, defrost your fridge and freezer and make sure you leave any instruction booklets for appliances you agreed to leave. If you’ve planned properly then you should have time to do this.

– Make sure your old home has been thoroughly cleaned. Hire professional cleaners to clean the house for you, it will be one less thing for you to worry about.

Nottingham city branch land £2,000 estate agency sales prize

Nottingham city branch Estate Agency Manager Ben Sales with colleagues Sheryl Bradley, Jackie Finnegan and Tayo Harrington.

Nottingham city branch Estate Agency Manager Ben Sales with colleagues Sheryl Bradley, Jackie Finnegan and Tayo Harrington.

Staff from the Nottingham city centre branch of the Nottingham Estate Agency are enjoying a very happy start to the New Year after hearing they are to share a £2,000 sales prize.

Manager Ben Sales and team – Tayo Harrington, Sheryl Bradley and Jackie Finnegan – landed the bonus for the highest percentage of property sales and new instructions of all of The Nottingham Building Society’s 35 estate agency branches (Nottingham Estate Agency and Harrison Murray) in the final quarter of 2014.

Ben, who is based at the branch on Upper Parliament Street, said: “It’s fantastic to be recognised in this way. We are extremely hard working and passionate about helping people buy and sell home. To come out on top of the pile when there are so many other excellent branches and colleagues makes us extremely proud.

“We will use this as a catalyst going into 2015 to help as many people as possible with all their requirements when it comes to buying and selling property.

“Our customers themselves have played their part in us winning this award – as they truly do seem to recognise our offering as a ‘one-stop shop’ where not only do we buy and sell properties and offer Lettings, but also advise on mortgages (via our Whole of Market offering) and home insurance.”

Considering a new year move? Here are our top tips for sellers and buyers

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For would-be buyers who have spent months saving for a deposit or sellers holding fire when it comes to putting their property on the market – 2015 is the time to get moving!

While spring is traditionally a busy time when it comes to moving house, the start of a brand new year can promote people to think about taking action early, and stay one step ahead of the crowd.

And with a few simple tips and words of advice, particularly with so much to think about during the buying and selling process, we have a checklist to help you along the way.

Tips for sellers:

– Set a realistic asking price based on the valuation given by your agent. If your price is too high, potential buyers won’t come and view it.

– Keep your home clean and clutter free – and that includes the garden. It may seem like a chore but a tidy home and outdoor space will make a good impression on buyers.

– Take viewings at any time. Buyers can sometimes request a viewing at short notice. Unless you have a really good reason for saying ‘no’, don’t! Be prepared to allow them to come at any reasonable time and don’t miss an opportunity.

– Get your finances sorted from the outset and be clear on how much you can afford to take on your existing home and how much you can spend on your next property.

– Start the search for your new home by looking around and comparing what’s on the market, and try and stick to something in your price range.

Tips for buyers:

– Do your homework. Check out the location you want to move to and tell your agent which particular area you really like to narrow the search and timescale. Be specific about your needs – do you want a garage/ would you be happy with a smaller garden /do you want to be within walking distance of local amenities?

– Get financially prepared and be sure of how much you can afford to spend before putting in an offer. Think about any additional budget you may need for alterations.

– Don’t view too many properties or you may forget what you have seen at the outset. Try and have a shortlist based on your requirements.

– Don’t dither about making an offer if you’ve found the property of your dreams. If it’s right for you then go for it and don’t run the risk of losing out to another buyer.

– Make an offer. Don’t be afraid to make an offer at any level you feel reasonable. Your agent should be able to guide you on what the seller might accept, but the level of the offer remains the decision of the potential buyer.

Top Tips – Getting A Mortgage

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Nottingham Mortgage Services, part of our parent group – are experts in helping people find the right mortgage for them.

With years of experience in the mortgage market, and access to many providers – the people who know what they are talking about, give you some top tips on getting a mortgage here.