Moving house in the summer holidays – why not get the kids involved?

With the schools now closed for summer – there may be a chance to enjoy rather than dread a summertime house move with the children around.

Moving home can be stressful enough for the adults, but spare a thought for the younger members of the family, and channel their energy in a positive and helpful way – we think.

In all the excitement of moving it may sometimes be difficult to remember that children are also facing a change.

Our Head of Estate Agency, Su Snaith, said: “Selling the home and moving house can seem very daunting for some children, leaving them facing a huge change in their lives with new surroundings, new friends and possibly a new school.

“However old the children are, try and get them involved in the moving process by talking about the move, taking them on a fun trip to see a new school or new parks and places to eat, and give them little tasks to complete.”

Here’s how to get the children involved:

- Try chatting to them about the family’s plans, and get them on side when talking about moving to a new home in a new area – with lots to explore.

- Many children are expert hoarders, so introduce some eye-catching storage boxes and challenge them to sort out their toys/ belongings into things they really want to take with them and those to say goodbye to – this will help with de-cluttering too!

- For younger children, try and make sure that their boxed toys – with a label they can make themselves – are last into the removal van for easy access on arrival at the new home.

- If possible, allow younger children to select their new bedroom, decide on a colour theme and treat them to some new cushions, throws etc – but don’t overlook the favourite belongings that they may insist on taking.

- Let children say goodbye if you are moving out of the area. Take photographs and collect contact details from your child’s friends so they know they won’t lose touch.

- Ideally on the day of the move, have friends or relatives look after your children. If this isn’t possible, keep the children in the loop as to what’s happening and try and give them small tasks to do – but keep them small so that it doesn’t make the process more stressful for you!

- On arrival at the new house, encourage them straight away to put out a few initial belongings in their rooms to help make their mark on the new home.

The best-kept secret tips to help sell your home

We all know that a tidy, clutter-free house with freshly mown lawn and sparkly clean windows could all add to the appeal when selling your home.

But we have revealed a selection of largely unknown and surprising tips and that could give our sellers the edge over the competition.

Su Snaith, our Head of Estate Agency, suggests that while it is always a good idea to stick by the hard-and-fast rules of selling a property – that there are a few other tips homeowners may consider.

Su said: “Sellers often get advice from all directions the minute they put their property on the market. Estate agents are one of the few sources that can offer a constructive, helpful insight to selling your home and making it attractive and appealing to potential buyers.

“Of course, a lot of those tips will be the same-old DIY suggestions and ways to maximise the light and space in a room. But there are a few more unusual tips out there too!”

If possible – sellers may like to consider:

- Parking a posh car on their driveway! According to research from Avis, over a third of Brits (35 per cent) believe a premium car on the driveway increases the value of their home. In fact, 1 in 10 would consider hiring or borrowing some flashy wheels to park on their driveway when putting their property on the market.

- Consider staging an open house during a weekend, offering potential buyers an appointment system tour of your home and offer refreshments to really make them feel at home. Make sure you have answers to any questions to anticipate them asking at your fingertips.

- Think about having some picture postcards printed with details about your property and your agent’s contact information on and leave them in busy places like doctor’s surgeries, post offices or work noticeboards.

- Take a lead from new homes developers and really prepare for viewings by placing some signs around the home, detailing features like loft ladders, appliances, any energy information you have, security gadgets etc.

- It may sound like a simple idea, but style your dining room table – giving your property the ‘show home’ feel. A large dining table can look bare and uninviting, so styling it up with visitors in mind can increase the appeal. Think about a table runner, centerpiece and setting the table for dinner.

Grantham branch fundraising for SportsAid

Our Grantham branch are on the fundraising trail for Sportsaid! They will be appearing at Wyndham Park Family Fun Day in Grantham on Sunday, where SportsAid star Adam Harrison will be challenging Robin and Marion to a game of table tennis.

Our branch (which offers both Harrison Murray Estate Agency services, and the Nottingham Building Society services) has been supporting 18 year old Adam since March who has just returned from Italy after representing England at the European Table Tennis Championship. Adam told us ‘This was my big goal for the season and I am so glad to have achieved it.’

If you’re heading for Grantham, just look out for our gazebo to take part in our fantastic competition to win a meal for two at Roachford Hall! All proceeds will go to SportsAid.

Think about moving house now to secure school catchment places for 2015!

The schools may only just be breaking up for the summer – but now is the time to start thinking about a move in time for the September 2015 intake.

Moving into the catchment area of a good school is becoming more and more important for homebuyers, and something to start thinking about now if a particular school is in your sights for the 2015/16 academic year.

The findings of one of the most recent studies into the trend reveals that nearly a quarter of parents of school-aged children would be willing to move house and pay thousands of pounds more for their new home in order to be in the catchment area of a good state school.

It reveals that 23 per cent of parents would be prepared to pay between two and 10 per cent extra for their house, while nearly one in 10 said they would fork out more.

The deadline for secondary school applications for September 2015 is in some cases as early as this October.

Primary school applications for September 2015 close around mid-January next year.

So if you have identified a preferred school – selling or buying your home and moving to the catchment area before Christmas could be the key to securing a place.

Our Head of Estate Agency, Su Snaith, said: “School catchment areas have always been an important issue for homebuyers, but it seems that they are becoming more of a priority for many parents.

“It may seem slightly odd to start thinking so far ahead when the schools have only just started the summer break. However, with the deadline for school applications for 2015 admissions just a few short months away, now is a perfect time to move into the catchment area for a preferred school to get the family settled before the process begins.”

Fun in the Fens – Wisbech and March Launch Days

Thursday and Friday saw the official launch days of our lovely branches in Wisbech and March. Our exciting newly refurbished Harrison Murray branches that now also include Nottingham Building Society opened for business this June, offering our Estate Agency and Building Society services.

Robin Hood and Maid Marian were there to help the days get off to a flying start. Both branches soon became firm friends with the merry men and women of Sherwood Forest – the locals seemed to take to them too.

Wisbech proved that face painting doesn’t always have to be on the face – with a great dual branded team focus.

With March showing us that they are sweet in all ways.

Our performance trophy stays in Leicestershire for another month

Leicestershire is keeping hold of our Harrison Murray’s Challenge Cup for another month – with our Market Harborough branch picking up the coveted trophy for June.

Colleagues at our Western Park branch in Hinckley Road have handed over the silverware to our Market Harborough branch manager Kameron Hutchinson and his team.

The team beat off competition from our 19 other branches to clinch the award for its overall performance and excellent customer care during the month of June.

The top achievers pipped our Enderby branch to the top spot, with our East Hunsbury (in Northamptonshire) branch taking third place.

Kameron said: “We’ve had a fantastic month and really upped our game to regain ownership of the Challenge Cup, which is always a talking point in the branch among our customers.

“As well as our professional achievements, we are also delighted to continue our involvement with the community through our World Cup competition with the local nursery and our support of the recent Market Harborough Carnival.”

Pic caption:
Challenge Cup champions! Harrison Murray estate agency manager at the Market Harborough branch Kameron Hutchinson with sales negotiators Claire Appleby (left) and Kirsty Buchanan.

Bland versus ‘trashy’: Avoid a décor disaster when selling

We’ve all heard property experts talk about a ‘neutral décor’ being more appealing to potential buyers – but could plain walls, beige carpets and a lack of personal touches be detrimental to the sale of your home?

Viewers will want to be able to imagine themselves, along with their belongings, furniture and sense of style, at home in your property.

It’s easy to assume that offering a blank canvas will give potential buyers the opportunity to envisage themselves happily settled in.

But a lack of homeliness can make a property feel unloved and empty. The exact opposite of what most buyers will want to feel when they enter their future home!

We think it’s all about getting the balance right, here we share tips on getting the appearance of your home perfect for viewings – and give some food for thought when it come to a spot of summer DIY or property mini makeover.

Su Snaith, our head of estate agency, says: “We all know that making your home clean and inviting for viewers will increase the prospects of a sale – but when it comes to the décor and the appearance of your home, it can be tricky to get the balance right between overly-personalised and cluttered through to bland and unwelcoming.

“Those looking to sell will need to look at their property from a prospective buyers point-of-view, which can be difficult especially if you’ve lived in the same home for many years.”

Start by de-cluttering your property and simplifying the décor:

- Remember that what one person loves, another will hate. Pack away any outlandish artwork, furniture or furnishings ahead of viewings – that way, they’re ready for when you move but won’t obstruct viewers imagining their own personal touches being in place.

- Do a bit of DIY and replace any statement wallpaper with more subtle paint. Choose a single colour for each room.

- If your kitchen or bathroom has carpet, change them to hard flooring. It’s often a pet hate of homeowners and prospective buyers to see carpet in these two areas of a home.

- Make the most of natural light by simply pulling curtains back well and cleaning windows. If curtains and blinds are looking a bit old, send them to the dry cleaners or invest in a new set that are in keeping with your new, muted colour scheme.

When you’ve made your home feel open, spacious and light, it’s time to add a few hints of character and personality. It’s these points that will make your property feel welcoming to viewers.

- Don’t go overboard with patterned furnishings. A whole sofa in a bright pattern may be a little much, but a few brightly coloured cushions on plain sofas will add a bit of life.

- Opt for one accent colour per room, and then base your furnishings for that room on that colour.

- Are there any big blank spaces in your property? This is an important point to remember, because you don’t want your property to feel empty. Consider filling any blank floor space with a rug that matches your colour scheme or place some flowers in the centre of large tables to break up the space.

Going away this summer? Secure your garden against green-fingered thieves

While most of us ensure our house alarm is switched on, windows/ doors locked and a light left on when we go on holiday – how many of us think about garden security?

As many people prepare to take their summer break, we are warning homeowners against green-fingered thieves, in light of the latest crime statistics.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics Crime Survey England and Wales show that more than half a million thefts from gardens and outdoors spaces took place in the year to September 2013.

Our Head of estate agency, Su Snaith said: “While the majority of homeowners think of their garden as an extension of their living space and home – with nice ornaments and stylish furniture – some don’t always think about the value and security of their outdoor possessions in the same way as they do their house.

“Homeowners can take a few simple steps to protect their garden against green-fingered thieves, particularly during the summer – whether they are on holiday or not.”

- If you are going away, even for the weekend – lock any back or side gates or other entrances to the garden.
- Pack away out of sight any garden tools or equipment and ladders.
- Secure expensive plants with wire pegs dug into the ground around the root ball.
- Use a security pen to mark valuable items, like garden furniture, ornaments or trampolines, with your postcode.
- Install security lighting.
- Mend any broken fences or boundary gaps to deter opportunist thieves. Consider defensive planting like prickly hedges or shrubs.
- Even if you are working in the garden at the front of the house, don’t leave lawnmowers, tools, cycles or children’s scooters unattended. These are easy pickings for opportunist thieves. And don’t forget to lock the backdoor and back gate if you are working at the front of the house.

According to Which? The following are among the most common items stolen from garden:

- Bicycles
- Plants
- Power machinery, such as lawnmowers
- Hand tools
- Ladders – which may be used to gain access to the property
- Containers, ornaments and furniture.

Also don’t forget to make sure you have up-to-date home insurance, or get a quote today!

Sources:

http://www.lloydsbankinggroup.com/globalassets/documents/media/press-releases/lloyds-bank/2014/lloyds-bank-insurance-britain-at-home-report-2014.pdf

http://www.which.co.uk/documents/pdf/garden-theft-153985.pdf

Our estate agent Paula takes the plunge for up and coming athlete Jodie Caller!

In a daring feat – our local estate agent Paula Scinaldi is taking the plunge and leaping out of a plane – all in support of local Nether Heyford Judo champion, Jodie Caller!

Paula, estate agency manager of our Duston branch of Harrison Murray, has bravely nominated herself for a sky dive – but only if £500 is raised towards Jodie’s SportsAid fund!

As a junior Jodie competed for Great Britain at an international level, with huge success at previous European Championships. But Jodie’s eyes are now firmly set on competing for Great Britain’s under 21s squad at the European Championship and beyond that is the 2020 Olympics.

At 17 years old Jodie has got her sights set high but she needs all the funding she can get to achieve her fighting-fit goals. Every penny of the £500 raised, and beyond, will go towards Jodie’s SportsAid fund, which provides Jodie with travel to competitions, kit and accommodation.

Paula who is gearing herself up for the big jump said: “I’m in disbelief that I’ve really put myself up for a sky dive! But this is for a brilliant cause and Jodie really is one of Britain’s top judo prospects.

“Without the help of SportsAid, Jodie would be without the much needed support to get her to the Championships and beyond. On top of that, it’s fantastic to know that all funds raised will go towards nurturing Northamptonshire sporting talent!

“Harrison Murray and the Nottingham Building Society are official fundraisers of SportsAid, so here at the Duston branch we’ve been busy trying to think about the most daring way to show our support too. Watch this space for even more sponsorship stunts from the Duston branch!”

All donations are welcomed, and very much appreciated, via Paula’s JustGiving page: http://www.justgiving.com/Paula-Scinaldi10

A big hello to the people of Wisbech and March

Your exciting new Harrison Murray and Nottingham Building Society branches have opened for business this June, offering our Estate Agency and Building Society services.

You can look forward to a wide range of mortgage, savings and insurance products along with outstanding customer service.

Combining the existing Harrison Murray Estate Agency with the Nottingham Building Society is a fantastic way of providing you with a one stop shop for all your financial and property services.

To celebrate the newly refurbished Harrison Murray Estate Agency branches and the introduction of the Nottingham Building Society in Wisbech and March, we’re having two special launch days on 17 and 18 July.

Pop in and see us and you’ll have the chance to win a super stylish iPad mini* in our lucky dip!

Wisbech launch day: Thursday 17 July at 11am at 9-10 Bridge Street, Wisbech, PE13 1AE

March launch day: Friday 18 July at 11am at 39 Broad Street, March, PE15 8TP

*Terms and conditions apply