Moving home? Here’s how to prepare your pocket as well as yourself

Moving home can be one of life’s most exciting – and let’s face it – expensive experiences.

According to research, during 2013 UK homeowners spend over £6 billion on moving – with the average cost of moving now standing at around £8,248.

This, says Lloyds Bank, is an increase of six per recent in the past year and takes into account stamp duty, estate agency fees and legal fees.

However, with some forward thinking and careful preparation, there is a real opportunity to save money when it comes to moving – curbing the spend, and the stress levels.

Our Head of Estate Agency, Su Snaith, said: “We all know that buying a property and moving home can be exciting, daunting, stressful and expensive all at the same time.

However, there are ways to prepare for the move and introduce some ideas or tasks to help save money in preparation and along the way.

We like to ensure that our customers have as smooth a journey as possible, both personally and financially.”

Here are our tips to help curb the cost of moving:

- Work it out. Calculate the total cost of your mortgage, including all set-up and arrangement fees so you know the final amount. Try and keep cash in a savings account and only move it to your current account when you need to pay the mortgage.

- Get moving. Rather than pay a removal firm, how about hiring or borrowing a van and move yourself – with the help of friends and family. Take some time to dismantle flat-pack furniture to give yourself more space, and sell anything lurking in your loft that you’ve not used in years. This will make moving easier and cheaper – and could earn you some money in the process.

- Box clever! Visit DIY stores, garden centres or supermarkets and ask if they have any empty boxes you can take off their hands instead of splashing out on expensive storage containers. Check online for offers or deals on removal boxes.

- Don’t forget your bills – Make sure you pay off your utility and broadband or phone bills and cancel any that you won’t need to pay when you move. Use your move as an opportunity to shop around for the best utility providers, and set up direct debit payments to pay these bills, as well as Council Tax so you can get used to the outgoings.

- Be prepared – Speak to your estate agent to establish what the cost of bills and council tax is likely to be – especially if you’re moving into a larger property.

- Get covered – Take time to shop around for home insurance, and ensure you have the right cover in place from the day you exchange contracts.

- Extras – Think ahead to the day itself. Do you need to budget for extra childcare or kennels for a pet? Will you have the time or facilities to cook or should you plan for takeaways for a day or two? These costs can all add up so make sure you include them in your budget.

- Build up an emergency fund just in case you need to budget for any repairs or redecorating in your new home – along with any additional furniture or furnishings you may need. Look around for an instant access savings account with a decent interest rate and set up an automatic transfer so that you can save a little each month to help with unexpected outgoings.

Ten years in the business for our Estate Agency Manager Teana

For most people buying their first home, the excitement and joy of moving in is where the process ends.

But for Teana Hampson, this is where her interest in estate agency began – and a decade later, she is heading up two of our successful Leicestershire branches.

Teana is notching up 10 years in the business this month, having swapped working in a napkin factory for a career where she is able to fulfil a role which satisfies her both professionally and personally.

Having worked her way up the estate agency ladder from her first role as junior negotiator in 2004, Teana joined Harrison Murray as sales manager at the Western Park branch in Hinckley Road.

From there she progressed to branch manager and branch partner, before being promoted to estate agency manager for this and our 2013 branch of the year – Enderby.

Self-confessed people person Teana said: “I became really interested in estate agency and how the whole process worked during the time I was buying my first house. I had a thirst for knowledge which took me down the estate agency career path, and now to my role with Harrison Murray.

I truly enjoy helping people make their moving dreams a reality, and am lucky to be running two highly successful branches in Leicestershire, and with the help of two fabulous teams, expand the service Harrison Murray can offer.

I do really enjoy coming into work and can’t see myself doing anything else.”

Pic cap:Teana Hampson.

It’s A Dog’s Life Facebook Competition

For 6 weeks we are running a competition on our facebook page.

Spot The Dog loves his home. If you love yours – visit our facebook page, and Share the ‘It’s A Dog’s Life’ post to be in with a chance to win an iPad mini *Terms and Conditions apply

Our March branch has a focus on football for sporting youngsters

Budding Rooneys and Stirlings in March have been taking to the pitch in a brand new kit – thanks to our branch in March.

Youngsters from March Soccer School’s Under 8s Blue team played in the new strip for the first time at the weekend, during a warm up friendly match ahead of the start of their season.

As well as their proud parents and manager Matt Christian, the players were cheered on by our sales manager Nicola Roberts – who officially presented them with the team shirts.

Nicola said: “They looked absolutely gorgeous and it was a complete pleasure to attend their first match. The whole Harrison Murray team wish these talented boys and girls all the very best for the rest of the season.”

A well-attended community facility, March Soccer School was founded in 1992, and is now a long established FA Standard Chartered Youth football club open to all young people in March and surrounding areas.

The school currently runs 15 teams in age ranges Under 7s to Under 15s, and welcomes boys and girls.

Manager Matt Christian said: “I would like to personally thank Nicola and everybody connected with Harrison Murray for their kind generosity in sponsoring the March Soccer School’s Under 8s Blue team a full new kit and waterproof jackets.”

The team currently plays in the Fenland & District Youth league and the season gets underway on Saturday 13 September at home to Hungate Rovers – having won their friendly against March Town 1-0.

Pic cap:
Come on you Blues! Harrison Murray sales manager Nicola Roberts hands over the new shirts to Under 8s Blues team manager Matt Christian and some of the players.

Take your time when viewing a property – a snap decision could prove costly

Alarming research reveals that hasty homebuyers are spending just over half an hour viewing a property before making arguably the biggest purchase of their lives.

The study shows that people looking to buy a house in a competitive market are spending less time looking around a property, with their snap decision meaning they could miss signs of maintenance issues.

We have our own advice for potential buyers, in light of the Aviva research which suggests one in four (24 per cent) of people make just one visit to a property before putting in an offer, and every year as many as 40,000 buy a property without a single viewing.

Our Head of Estate Agency, Su Snaith said: “These figures are alarming. Not devoting enough time to inspecting a property could have a serious financial impact further down the line. Unnoticed maintenance and structural issues can result in high repair costs or even lead to the loss of a sale altogether.

“We would strongly advise anyone putting their home on the market to take a close look around the property and correct any maintenance issues, however small, they come across.

“To buyers, we would suggest taking a checklist with them of potentially problematic areas and to allow enough time to conduct a thorough viewing, including asking any questions of the agent.”

At a glance we have a checklist of things to consider:

- If the house has a chimney serving an open fire – ask when in was last professionally swept and check for signs of external damp staining or deterioration of brickwork.

- Check gutters for signs of splitting, damage, blockages or vegetation growing in them.

- Ensure there are no unpleasant smells coming from the drains and the gulleys aren’t blocked by debris, and there are plugholes for snow clearing.

- Look carefully for any signs or evidence of damp within the home – staining or discolouration is often an indication that water is seeping through.

- Cast a careful eye over walls and ceilings for cracks.

- Check timber window frames for signs of rotting or leaks.

- For PVC windows, look to see if there are any signs of brittle or cracking sealant around the frames.

- Condensation on the window could indicate poor insulation or inadequate ventilation.

The survey revealed that the most common unanticipated problems found by buyers include:

- Plumbing issues including blocked drains (12 per cent)
- Damp (12 per cent)
- Cracks in the walls or ceilings (11 per cent)

For other helpful checklists please visit.

Our Melton Mowbray branch notch up their 1,000th property sale in double celebration

Our Melton Mowbray branch is celebrating its 1,000th property sale, seven years after opening its doors in the town.

The achievement has been announced by our branch partner Mike Ford, following the recent milestone property and another celebration for the team.

The branch has been serving the town and surrounding villages since 2007, as it is the existing holder of our monthly Harrison Murray Challenge Cup trophy, awarded for overall performance and customer service.

Mike and the team have been awarded the silverware for second time in three months.

Mike said: “We would like to thank the people of Melton and the surrounding villages in helping us to achieve this milestone in our relatively short history to date with the town, and for continuing to make us their agents of choice as we enter what we anticipate being another busy month.”

Pic cap:
Marking a milestone with its 1,000th property sale – the Harrison Murray Melton Mowbray team left to right; Sandra Beesley, Antony Watson, Mike Ford, Julie Sadio, Kathy Tew.

Enderby’s marathon fundraising for Amy

Our Enderby branch had a very special visitor recently! Track and SportsAid star Amy Griffiths (18) is currently ranked 11th in the world at junior level and has just smashed the England Schools Champion record with her personal best of 4:15.08 in the 1500m. The record had previously been set in 1989, before Amy was born!

Teana Hampson, our Branch Manager at Enderby says ‘Amy has had a fantastic season and we’re delighted to have her visit and hand over her cheque!’

Teana and the team presented Amy with £272 which they have raised so far this year in addition to the £750 donated earlier in the year. The money was raised by negotiator Naomi Hewitt, who took inspiration from distance runner Amy and ran the Clumber Park half marathon back in June helping to boost the branch’s donation to over £1,000 for the year. The money will help Amy travel to training and competitions as she aims for her senior Team GB vest and Rio 2016.

Hood is Hiding in Market Harborough! We launch ‘Where’s Robin?’ competition

Our Market Harborough branch has joined forces with Harborough FM are calling for Market Harborough residents to get hunting for Robin Hood!

Robin Hood, the notorious Nottingham outlaw, will be hiding on ‘For Sale’ and ‘Sold’ boards throughout the town.

Whoever finds Robin first must call Harborough FM to be in with a chance of winning a £20 Zizzis voucher. Plus they will receive a £250 voucher to put towards their Harrison Murray selling fees!

We are launching the ‘Where’s Robin?’ campaign to let people know about our coming together with the Nottingham Building Society.

Nottingham’s most famous character, Robin Hood is also the Building Society’s mascot!

Earlier this year, we became a one-stop shop for the community’s property and financial needs, and they now offer whole of market mortgage advice. A big must-have for those looking to move home.

Kameron Hutchinson, our estate agency manager in Market Harborough, said: “We’re always making an effort to be a part of the Market Harborough community, we’re available seven days a week and welcome homeowners and buyers to pop by any time – whether they’ve found Robin or just want a bit of mortgage advice!

“The ‘Where’s Robin?’ campaign is lots of fun: Robin is looking for a new home and we’re calling on the Harborough residents to put him in touch with us. Good luck!”

The competition will run from Monday 8th to Friday 19th September (excluding weekends) and winner’s will need to visit Harrison Murray, 45 High Street, to collect their prizes. Terms and conditions apply, to find out more call Harrison Murray on (01858) 431635.

Pic cap:
Where’s Robin Hood? He’s hiding in Market Harborough and Harrison Murray manager Kameron Hutchinson has launched an appeal to find him!

Mortgage advisers will find the best mortgage for you

Regrets? Home-owners have more than a few.

A survey by consumer champion Which? reveals 23% of those who took out a mortgage or remortgaged in the past five years say they did not shop around enough*. Ben Osgood, from Nottingham Mortgage Services (NMS) is not surprised by the high levels of dissatisfaction.

Taking on a mortgage is the single biggest financial commitment most of us will ever make. Yet not enough of us seek impartial, reliable professional advice, believes Ben, a senior manager for whole-of-market (WOM) mortgage broker Nottingham Mortgage Services (NMS).

Many of us don’t appreciate the potential perils of trying to find a mortgage ourselves. The DIY approach could see you:
• Get a less than competitive deal.
• Suffer delays which could see you miss out on your dream home.

NMS, a subsidiary of The Nottingham, has professionally trained, industry-regulated unbiased advisers who get to know customers’ needs and financial circumstances before searching the whole of the mortgage market to find deals that suit them.

The mortgage market is vast and fluid. While you could conduct your own online mortgage searches on something like Google, and get access to those mortgages that are directly accessible to customers, why not let us do it for you, afterall NMS advisers have access to more than 7,300 different products.

“Even the most financially sophisticated customer cannot access everything,” says Ben. “You have not searched the whole of the market until you have spoken to a WOM adviser.”

Even if you think you have found a mortgage at a rock-bottom rate, you may be forced to think again. The deal that might look good now might be seen as a massive mistake down the line.

“It is rare we do a search and the mortgage that ‘comes out on top’ is the one the customer ends up being placed with,” says Ben. “There are lots of things customers need to consider: the type of the mortgage, the term, flexibility and qualifying criteria.”

Lenders, like lots of businesses, experience peaks and troughs in demand. Sometimes they have backlogs. If you need a mortgage quickly – perhaps because you want to buy a property at auction – you need to know a lender will be able to deal with your application within your timeframe. And, here’s a thing, lenders are not always up front with customers about such things.

Advisers from NMS can give you that crucial information because they have good lines of communication with the different lenders. NMS, at any given time, has 600 mortgage applications in the system. Its advisers know how well placed a particular lender may be at any given time to meet your requirements.

Different lenders also have different qualifying criteria for their products. Some lenders may automatically refuse a mortgage because a potential customer has missed a credit card payment in the past few months, for example. Others will take a more relaxed view. A good mortgage broker knows each lender’s rules inside out. Consequently, they can stop customers wasting their time on applications that are destined to be rejected.

This is more important than you might think because mortgage applications inevitably come with credit checks. If a customer has numerous mortgage related credit searches against their name in a short period of time it can reduce their credit score.

It is not impossible for borrowers to find themselves a decent mortgage. Many, as the Which? survey shows, come to regret not making more informed choices.

“It is hard work for customers who do not have professional knowledge,” says Ben. “I’d certainly advise people get professional mortgage guidance. Why not take advantage of our expertise?”

Talk to one of our mortgage advisers today by calling 0344 481 0013 or if you would prefer a face-to-face consultation find your nearest branch adviser and book and appointment to see them at a time that’s convenient.

Find the best mortgage deal

(* The Which? research was carried out as part of a bigger survey into how consumers choose mortgage products and their attitudes to the product selection process. Populus surveyed 4,170 UK adults online between 18-22 December 2013. Of the sample, 409 people had purchased their first mortgage or had remortgaged in the last five years and were the main or joint decision maker. Data was weighted to be demographically representative of all UK adults. Populus is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.)

Make the smart move towards a more environmentally friendly home

If you are looking to sell your home before autumn kicks in, are there any ways you can ‘go greener’ to further boost its appeal to potential buyers – and save money?

It is well known that older properties are not as energy efficient as new build homes, but there is nothing to stop you from going all out to make your home as energy-smart as possible.

Here we share the views of the National Association of Estate Agents – who say there has never been a more important time for homeowners to help the environment.

Our Head of Estate Agency, Su Snaith, said: “Technically we are still in summer and the weather is mild, so people naturally don’t want to think about autumn and winter just yet.

“However, by putting a few measures in place now, particularly if you are looking to sell your home, then you and your buyer could be reaping the benefits of taking energy efficient action early and heading off any larger than necessary bills this winter.”

- Check your loft insulation is thick enough and in good condition. A depth of between 220mm and 270mm (depending on materials) is recommended. Loft insulation, cavity wall insulation and double-glazing can all help protect your home and save money on heating bills. You may be eligible for a grant to help with some of this work.

- Bleed radiators to get rid of any air inside which may lead to increased bills if the water can’t heat up effectively.

- Turning the room thermostat down by just one degree can save around £75 a year.

- Energy efficient light bulbs use less energy and last up to 10 times longer than standard bulbs.

- 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.

- Defrost your fridge frequently and check the door seals. When buying new white goods, try and purchase more eco-friendly models.

- In good weather, dry your clothes outside rather than using a tumble dryer. But if you do need to dry your clothes indoors, use a clothes rail instead of a radiator as this stops the heat from reaching the rest of the room.

- If you live in a hard water area, limescale can affect the efficiency of your kettle. Look out for a buildup of limescale in your kettle and treat with vinegar or descaling solutions.

- Insulate your hot water cylinder – a well-fitted tank jacket could save you around £20 to £30 a year, more if you heat your water electrically. Insulating the hot water pipes will also save more energy, and can help your taps to run hot more quickly.

- Save water – take a shower! If everybody in your family of four replaces one bath a week with a five-minute shower, you can save up to £15 a year on gas bills and up to £25 on water bills (if you have a water meter). Save even more money by replacing an inefficient showerhead with a water-efficient one.

- Go greener in the garden by using a water butt to collect surplus rainwater.

- If you are giving your interior a spruce up or lick of paint, why not consider a green alternative when it comes to the decorating by using paints that are kinder to environment.

Lots more tips are available from the Energy Saving Trust website