We show hundreds of people round houses every year. As estate agents, we pick-up on what buyers are focusing on. When it comes to spending your hard-earned cash on home improvements, are you focusing on the right things? It only takes seven seconds for someone to make a first impression, it’s no wonder people take so much notice of the things they see first.

The top five things people notice about your home on arrival are:

1. Front door / porch (30%)
2. Hallway/entry hall/staircase (30%)
3. Driveway / front garden (27%)
4. Overall decor / Interior design (25%)
5. Living room (23%)

Although the entrance to a home is ranked the most noticeable, only 2% of people focus on this area of their own home when they first move in, with the majority confessing they chose to fix up their kitchen, bathroom and bedrooms first.

Looking at the difference between the sexes, 28% of women notice the overall décor of a home compared to just 21% of men, and strangely, women are also quicker to notice the smell of a home compared to men (20% for women vs 13% for men). When it comes to the ages, the under 35’s are quick to notice integrated technology compared to just 2% of over 35’s.

So what can you do to make the best impression, help sell your home and possible even add value? Our top tips are:

1. Front Door

It’s no surprise that the front door is the first thing that people see about your home, and it is now often seen as a reflection of your taste and lifestyle. Entrances should feel protective yet warm and welcoming. Achieving this with a bog-standard front door can be difficult. Consider what impression you want to give to your buyers.

2. Hallway

Homeowners themselves don’t spend too much of their time in the hallway or stairwell, so it’s often forgotten, but it’s arguably the most important part of the home. Sitting in the centre and leading off into other rooms, the hallway can be a busy area, and is the second (30%) most noticeable thing about your home, so it’s important to keep it looking its best.

There are multiple ways of dressing up a hallway with a quick splash of fresh paint or a new runner on the stairs. For wooden stairs, painting the vertical side of each step can liven things up, and add heaps of personality. Laying down new floor tiles will dramatically change the look and feel of a hallway, and adding typical hallway furniture will make any hallway more inviting. A cheaper alternative to add personality is with a picture gallery leading upstairs, giving guests an insight into what is important to you.

However, it’s also important to remember that the hallway is a very functional space, so don’t do anything that could sabotage that, such as laying a luxurious carpet that is bound to get ruined by dirty shoes.

3. Front garden

It is possible to achieve a low maintenance garden which has maximum visual impact; bay trees on the patio will look smart, or even invest in a few shrubs or colourful pots to keep your garden looking healthy and green during the winter months. Ten years ago, astroturf was hardly ever seen and now it’s the norm in many properties.

Highlight your front garden’s best features using lighting. The great thing about garden lighting is that you can focus attention away from your garden’s more unsightly aspects, such as your bin shed, and toward your front door- as if to say, ‘come on in!’.

4. Overall decor

With so many different rooms to change, changing the overall decor of a home is harder than it sounds. If you don’t have an eye for interior design or have an unusual style, sticking to a soft colour scheme and adding your personality in with your own furniture and homeware is always a safe bet.

A simple way to freshen up your new home in the early days of living there is to add artwork. Framed in coordinating frames, artwork will add fluidity between the rooms and instantly add personality, making the space feel like your own until you have the time and the budget to tackle larger projects.

5. Living room

Living rooms are all about a welcoming atmosphere. Building charm and character aren’t always the easiest, especially in newer homes, but there are some ways to get around this. Architectural lighting work particularly well, something that stands out and creates a focal point within the room. Feature wallpaper in neutral colours can also be used to create strong accent walls, and give character to space.”

For more bespoke advice or to arrange a FREE Market Appraisal or Consultation, please feel free to contact us on 01522 716204 or 01476 515329

We’re hiring!

Due to a fast growing and expanding business, Mount & Minster are now looking to recruit a secretary or admin assistant to work as part of an established team in the busy Grantham branch.

This exciting role involves:

  • Assisting and reporting to the Managing Partner
  • Working predominantly in the residential department with some of the finest and highest value properties
  • Registering applicants for sales and lettings properties
  • Booking appointments
  • Attending meetings and taking comprehensive notes
  • Carrying out accompanied viewings of prominent private homes
  • Preparing and sending legal documents
  • Working closely with the team in other offices and departments
  • Being part of an enthusiastic and driven team, working towards common goals

The Person

Ideally you will already have some experience of working in property, however this is not essential and we are keen to hear from applicants with a strong, administration, customer service or sales background.

Possessing a clear passion for property and a good knowledge of the local area, you must have:

  • Excellent communication skills, both written and verbal
  • Good IT skills, including knowledge of Microsoft Word and Excel
  • A keen eye for detail
  • Confident and able to work alone, as well as be part of a team
  • A willingness to go the extra mile
  • A full UK driving license

The Reward

Salary dependent on experience + discretionary bonus
Training and support
Excellent career prospects

This is a fantastic opportunity for the right individual to join an established firm with an enviable reputation. Call 01476 515329 or email your CV to ralph@mountandminster.co.uk

Lots of people wrongly assume that selling a house is easy and doesn’t take any preparation. The reality is, selling a home involves specialist skills and knowledge from the best estate agents, however there are some things you can do to help to ensure an easy and stress-free experience, as well as getting a better price.

  1. Pricing your home right from the beginning is imperative. Price your house too high and you’ll miss out on offers and reduce your pool of prospective purchasers. If your property has been on the market for some time, people will begin to wonder whether there is something wrong with it. Don’t let it go stale. Listen to your agent and remember that the highest valuation may not prove to be the best advice.
  2. It’s important to enhance your kerb appeal. First impressions matter and you only get one chance. Consider what the outside of your property looks like to people driving up for the first time. Your property should at least look better than your neighbour’s. Revamp your front door, add a security light, plant some flowers and declutter any exterior porches. Remember, people love a healthy lawn.
  3. Exaggerations will only disappoint in the future. Take what you have and accept it. Don’t try to force the value. If you have a tiny spare room that barely fits a single bed, don’t describe it as an extra bedroom but instead be honest and explain that it would be better renovated into a walk-in wardrobe or storage room.
  4. Shop around for the best estate agent. It’s one of the biggest decisions of your life so make sure you choose the best company to do it. A lot of estate agency business is done through referral and word of mouth so ask around to find a recommended choice. The best is rarely the cheapest so stay clear of low-value ‘pay-anyway’ call-center agents. Going away with more money in your pocket is more important than low fees. Cheap is not best value.
  5. Depersonalise and declutter. Whilst a house should feel homely, you need to allow the potential buyer to imagine thier own family in the property. Remove all items that largely relate to your political and religious beliefs and get rid of any trace of pets. You may love your cat but some buyers won’t.
  6. The kitchen and bathroom always come first. Typically, these are the rooms that buyers want to see the most so they shouldn’t look as if they need a huge renovation. If you do decide to update these before selling then remember that neutral colours always work best and always renovate up to the worth of your home. There is no point installing a bathroom for £30,000 if your house is only worth £200,000.
  7. There isn’t a best time to sell your home. Rumours have it that spring is the best time to sell but houses do sell in winter, autumn and summer too. February and March particularly stand out as exceptional times of year to put your house on the market as there’s usually little available to buyers (low supply), therefore giving them fewer options or alternatives other than your property. Prices therefore tend to be higher. Sell when everyone else does and the market will be saturated and you’ll have to be more price sensitive. Sell in March and you’re more likely to achieve a premium on the price.

Selling and buying houses is a very personal journey but with a little research and the right agent, hopefully you’ll be on your way to making that property dream, a reality. If you have any questions, then please get in touch. 01522 716204 (Lincoln) | 01476 515329 (Grantham) | 02078 390888 (London)

New house price data released by Lloyds Bank has shown a regional divide across the county in sales of prime property, with Lincolnshire and the East Midlands doing very well.

According to Lloyds data, the sale of property priced at over a million pounds in London has seen a decline of 8%, a trend that that the East Midlands is countering with more southern buyers considering our more affordable and therefore attractive properties.

Lloyds revealed that there was a 67% increase prime sales in the East Midlands.

The picture was less positive in other areas of the country. The biggest drop was in the North East, which saw a 38% fall in the sale of million pound plus homes (from 13 in the first half of 2017 to 8 in the first half of 2018).

Yorkshire and the Humber also saw a decrease in the sale of million pound plus homes with a 27% drop, from 55 in the first half of 2017 to 40 in the first half of 2018. The region also experienced a significant decrease in average property prices, with average prices falling from £1,452,252 to £1,367,672.

The sale of million pound plus homes in London continued to decline, down 8% from 3,940 homes in the first half of 2017 to 3,628 in the first half of 2018.

Changes to Stamp Duty on second homes, introduced in 2016, are a likely contributing factor to this decline. Sales in London were at their peak at 4,371 in the first half of 2014, dropping to 4,238 in the first half of 2016 and then continuing to decline in subsequent years.

James Ward, Partner at Mount & Minster comments, “Yet again, our area is coming under the watchful eye of more savvy buyers who realise that there are certain areas in which people can enquire a good sized property with land for very little money compared to down south. Our transport connections at Newark and Grantham drive not only commuters, but those who only need to be in the Capital once every couple of weeks or so. The amount of applicants seeking something special between £1m and £2m has increased significantly and currently the lack of stock available to such a buyer allows many of our clients to sell for a premium due to a lack of supply and high demand.”

 

 

Many landlords worry about whether their valuable investments will hold up to the low temperatures, heavy rain, strong winds, and snow that are inevitable at this time of year. It is important to make sure that these properties are fit for purpose this season and your agents should be guiding accordingly.

Here are 5 tips that Mount & Minster advise in the run-up to winter:

1. External Inspection

Check all outside walls, windows, doors and roof for damages and any signs of weakness where the elements can penetrate. Replace any cracked tiles and inspect chimney pots, fitting ventilated cowls to unused chimneys.

2. Test the Heating

Ensure the boiler has been serviced for winter and all the pipes and radiators checked for leaks and bled where necessary. This is just as important if your property is lying empty. If the property is vacant, make sure that you arrange to drain the system down, along with all hot and cold water pipes.

3. Insulate!

Check that your loft insulation is up to current standards. If not, Mount & Minster can help you with grants that are available to their clients which can massively reduce the cost of insulating your investment property, and help attract a better tenant willing to pay more for a cheaper house to run. Consider cavity wall insulation, double or secondary glazing, and lagging pipes in void spaces.

4. Flood Risk

Be aware of burst pipes. They can cause significant flooding and serious damage to a property Protect exterior pipes with insulation sleeves if possible. Mount & Minster have contractors who carry out such measures for all our clients if requested.

5. Paving Slabs

Water on paving slabs will freeze in suitable (or unsuitable!) conditions. This can be dangerous and raise insurance issues and possible compensation claims against private landlords if someone injures themselves on the ice. It is important therefore to ensure that all paving is well-drained so that it avoids the collection of water that will stand and freeze, creating treacherous conditions.

 

Mount & Minster offer an award winning property management service that benefit all our landlords, whether they have one investment property, or a portfolio of sixty. To find out how we can help you, please contact us for a free consultation on either 01522 716204 or 01476 515329.

There is a lot of hype at the moment about the ‘online estate agents’ and the good value they seem to provide. Everyone loves a good deal, especially when we could save thousands of pounds! But, will you really save money using an online estate agent?

An independent expert advice service for those looking to sell their home has completed a detailed study into the prices achieved for properties and compared these prices between those achieved by low-value, online-only estate agents and the more traditional high-street estate agents.

The results are pretty astounding!

The Advisory.co.uk established that good high street agents in 73% of house sales are achieving a better selling price than low-value, internet-only agents. On average, agents such as Mount & Minster are achieving 5% higher selling prices for their clients. In the East Midlands, this equates to around a whopping £15,000. Those looking to sell their home, therefore, should consider the false economy of saving, say, £2,000 in estate agency fees by using companies such as Purplebricks as you may find you’re not saving money at all, quite the opposite in fact!

The results can be found here.

Some of the largest low-value agents are now beginning to go out of business, wound-up or are up for sale. Hatched has closed, Emoov (which also owns Tepilo) has gone into administration, and Purplebricks made a staggering £26 million loss last year. Those who are thinking of paying these unsuccessful companies upfront are putting themselves at risk. If any more of these companies continue to go bust, you will not get your money back!

Mount & Minster provide free and no-obligation market appraisals for those looking to sell. Contact us today on 01522 716204 or 01476 515329.

The town of Grantham, together with its convenient surrounding villages, has always been popular with commuters to London. This year, the proportion of buyers seeking to acquire a home in our local area has risen considerably and is set to increase further.

New research highlights that homeowners living 60 minutes outside of Central London will pay up to 60% less for a property, making Grantham and Newark the new hot spots with regular and reliable trains to the Capital.

The research has shown that workers in Central London who acquire a property in the East Midlands pay on average £325,091, allowing them to save an average of £483,342 by commuting approximately an hour each day when considering the average of cost of a home is £808,434 for a property within travelcard zones 1 and 2. Commute times from zones 3 and 4 into Central London can often take an hour, meaning those working in the Capital are beginning to question why they would pay such high prices for a home in an area that will not get them to work any faster.

The average house price in Grantham itself is £218,265 meaning that commuters willing to travel 60 minutes into Central London could save a whopping £589,809!

Buying a home in Central London is out of reach for many where house prices are around 16 times the average UK wage. In almost all towns in the survey, housing affordability is significantly greater with a London salary compared to what can be earned locally and for commuters with around an hour’s journey, the reward is an annual salary that is, on average, £8,600 (18% ) higher than what they could earn in their local neighbourhood.

However, Grantham may offer affordable properties, but with longer and more expensive journeys, the decision to commute is not simply a trade-off between financial costs and journey times. Quality of life is an important consideration. Family circumstances, schools, physical environment and value for money all come into the balance. So why is Grantham so popular?

What everyone knows about Grantham is that Lady Margaret Thatcher and Sir Isaac Newton were born here. Lady Thatcher attended Kesteven and Grantham Girls’ School, which is still doing for girls what Kings does for boys. The town also has an associated college of Nottingham Trent University offering courses in building, business studies and engineering. Sporting and outdoor pursuits are high on the agenda in and around Grantham. Meres Leisure Centre and athletics and football stadium, Belton Park, world class golf and spa facilities at Belton Woods and Stoke Rochford Hall, fishing on the River Witham, walking and equestrian sport to name but a few.

Grantham has a collection of ancient homes in Castlegate and Church Street, as well as the celebrated Angel and Royal Hotel, but there are also many new developments. At the lower end of the market, two-bedroom period town houses start at around £85,000. Four-bedroom detached houses cost between £170,000 and £300,000. The most sought after homes on the outskirts of Grantham can be bought for around £300,000, and the satellite villages are even more popular still, commanding premium prices.

Mount & Minster are award winning property professionals with offices in Grantham as well as London and Lincoln. We offer guidance to buyers and sellers throughout the sale process as well as free professional home valuations and advice.

We’re hiring!

Due to continued success, Mount & Minster are now looking to recruit a Junior Surveyor to work as part of an established team in the busy Grantham branch.

This fast paced, exciting and ever evolving role involves:

  • Working in Residential Sales and Lettings in this busy Agency
  • Contributing towards Rural Estate Management
  • Registering applicants details and matching them to available properties
  • Booking property and attending valuations
  • Attending property inspections
  • Carrying out accompanied viewings with applicants
  • Negotiating offers and liaising between applicants and clients
  • Working closely with the team, sharing information to secure additional business
  • Keeping a close eye on the local market, noticing any changes and identifying opportunities
  • Being part of an enthusiastic and driven team, working towards common goals

The Person

Ideally you will already have some experience of working in property, however this is not essential and we are keen to hear from applicants with a strong customer service or sales background who are motivated to develop a long-term career as an Estate Agent.

Possessing a clear passion for property and a good knowledge of the local area, you must have:

  • Strong negotiation skills
  • A high level of commercial awareness
  • Excellent communication skills, both written and verbal
  • Good IT skills, including knowledge of Microsoft Word and Excel
  • A keen eye for detail
  • Confident and able to work alone, as well as be part of a team
  • Able to work to targets
  • A willingness to go the extra mile
  • A full UK driving license

The Reward

Salary dependent on experience + discretionary bonus
Training and support towards becoming a Chartered professional
Excellent long-term career prospects

This is a fantastic opportunity for the right individual to join an established Estate Agency with an enviable reputation. Call 01476 515329 or email your CV to ralph@mountandminster.co.uk

Mount & Minster’s recent research has revealed average deposits for a home in the East Midlands currently equates to around £35k. Now, it is more important than ever to plan ahead to help your children get their foot on the first rung of the property ladder.

The research carried out over a 6 month period by the award-winning estate agents also revealed that a third of first-time buyers now rely on the bank of mum and dad to help them with their deposit and buy their own home. Now, off the back of the research, those working in the residential department for Mount & Minster have compiled their top tips as to how parents can prepare:

1. Invest in an ISA

The first thing you can do is invest in a cash ISA and start as early as possible. If you’re able to budget and allow for a small percentage of your monthly income to go into a cash ISA, this will make a huge difference as to whether your children can afford that all important deposit, and not. Fortunately for parents, there are hundreds of ISAs available, making it easy to opt for one with the greatest return.

For example, Mount & Minster found a competitive fixed annual interest rate of up to 7.5% with tax-free payments. Investing one’s annual allowance of £20,000 in a five year bond can accumulate a total of £8,712 in interest alone, bringing your total investment of £20,000 up to an impressive £28,712.

There are also ISA products out there are specifically designed and structured to accommodate first time buyers.

2. Choose the first property wisely

As a leading firm of property consultants, we often advise first time buyers not to get excited about the first property they see but to spend some time shopping around for the best property and value. Mount & Minster have a list of both FTB’s (first time buyers) and properties suitable for such a niche buyer. A lot of these properties never make it onto the open-market and are instead simply sold privately. We would encourage any such buyer to register their interest with us so that we can notify you when a new property which meets your specifications becomes available. It’s a seller’s market and properties are being snapped up faster than ever.

Similarly, it’s also important to make sure you’re getting the best mortgage possible. Mount & Minster know some of the best brokers in the business and a brief consultation is free!

3. Opt for a guarantor mortgage

All Mount & Minster’s clients and customers are different, however if you’re fortunate enough to be in a position of financial security, a guarantor mortgage is an excellent way of helping your children. Very simply, if your child begins to fall behind on their mortgage repayments you, the guarantor, will be liable to pick up the slack until they are able to resume payments. Easy!

The main incentive and benefit of such a scheme is that the first-time buyer is able to borrow more or put down a smaller deposit. You, the parent, will not have any stake or equity in the property, nor will your name appear on any of the title deeds.

4. Remortgage your home

A further option worth considering is to remortgage your own home to release a lump sum in cash that can be put towards a deposit on your child’s first home.

Remember that should you choose to remortgage your home, you will have more of your own payments to cover, you will incur arrangement fees and you will be then be paying interest on a higher mortgage rate. This could affect your retirement plans and the amount of cash freed up in the move.

5. Bring them home

Bare with us! Simply put, you could help your children hold onto their hard-earned cash by having them home for a little while. Inviting your children back into your home will help cut down on their outgoings including rent, council tax and energy bills.

The research carried out by Mount & Minster suggests the average millennial spends £750 per month on living expenses in the East Midlands, so living with parents and putting this money away will really help them get that little bit further to owning their very own home.

Mount & Minster are a firm of multi-disciplined property professionals with a connected network of over 200 offices throughout the UK, including offices in Lincoln, Grantham and London. Should you require any advice, please feel free to contact us.

So… either you’ve dipped your toe in the buy-to-let water already and are looking to expand your portfolio, or you’ve had a change of circumstances, or you’re possibly tired of the same-old boring nine-to-five job, to dedicate your working life to being a landlord. Great! It’s a big decision – and not one that should be taken lightly.

Mount & Minster, winner of last years East Midlands Lettings Agent award in the UK Real Estate & Property Awards, offers a guide to the basics, designed simply as a starting point:

Do the math.

Look at the difference between your total rental income and outgoings (mortgage repayments, insurance, agents’ fees, etc.). This is, in essence, your gross profit – and you’ll have to live on this (after putting some aside for tax) if you give up your day job.

Is this enough? Don’t forget vacancy periods where you wont have any income at all. Then there’s the occasional capital expense for repairs; boilers don’t last forever!

In order to live comfortably you’ll need around five properties or more, depending on The lifestyle you want to maintain.

Make a business plan

Get your bank manager on board. Use this opportunity to identify potential problems and outline your goals and how you’re going to achieve them. Take constructive criticism and use it to improve you plan.

Include your endgame. If the plan is to retire at 55 and sell your portfolio to fund a comfortable retirement, include this.

Manage or managed?

Tenants and tenancies can be tricky. Legislation is always changing. The day-to-day issues that will inevitably rear its ugly head need to addressed quickly and competently. If you’re knowledgable of the law and your statutory responsibilities then great. If you’re not sure or just simply don’t want to speak to plumbers, electiricans, students, council admin, debtors, utility companies etc, then make use of a professional and competent letting agent such as Mount & Minster.

Remember, if you get it wrong then you could go to prison or, at best, receive a hefty fine which will eat into your income.

Taking a wage

For tax purposes, you may well want to register as a limited company. In doing so, any profits the business makes belong to the business, and you’ll need to pay corporation tax on them. You’ll then need to pay yourself a wage as a director of the business. Or, you can alternatively take a small wage, then pay yourself a dividend once a year and pay tax on it through self-assessment.

If you elect not to register as a limited company, you’ll need to complete a self-assessment tax return and declare all of the profits you make, then pay income tax on them.

Managing your portfolio

As a full-time landlord, you’ll want to keep one eye on the wider housing market when deciding what to do with your properties.

You may want to accumulate as many properties as possible, or you may want to consolidate by having a smaller number of high-value properties that command a larger rent. This decision will depend on your local rental demographics, and a knowledgeable local lettings agent can steer you on where demand lies.

For instance, some landlords own several identical properties in the space of a few streets (although be aware this can leave you exposed in the event that demand for your one type of property suddenly dries up).  Equally, a local agent may suggest a diversified portfolio, aimed at a mix of renter types.

Next step…

Book an appointment with a professional agent and talk through your strategy. We can then point you in the right direction of suitable high yielding properties, help you acquire them, refer financial advisors and generally hold your hand from start… to retirement!

01476 515329 (Grantham office) or 01522 716204 (Lincoln office)