November 2018 - Fife Properties
Fife Properties

How to prepare your home for winter

As the temperatures begin to sink and the days begin to shrink one thing is for certain – winter is upon us. Along with the shorter days and colder temperatures come the wintery pleasures of warming up alongside a roaring fire, long walks in the country and crisp, frosty mornings. However, it’s also important to remember that the winter months can have a harsh effect on our homes, causing problems for heating systems and external fixings alike. Follow this list of tips to prepare your home for the chillier months, and to ensure that your main concern this winter is the choice between a cup of tea or a warming hot chocolate.

Pipe dreams

As the temperatures drop, the water in your pipes can freeze causing them to burst and for major damage to be caused to your home. In order to avoid this, keep an eye out for any gaps in external walls as the cold air could reach the pipes and encourage them to freeze over. Sealing over any gaps in external walls, as well as adding insulation around vulnerable pipes in areas such as the loft and garage could mitigate this problem. Further to staying vigilant to external wall gaps, keeping your heating on a low-level (around 4 degrees) – even when you’re away from your home – will maintain a consistent temperature around pipes, thereby avoiding the problem of pipes freezing over.

Boiler spoiler

When was the last time that you had your boiler checked? A poorly maintained boiler wastes energy and costs more to run, as well as running the risk of leaking carbon monoxide into your home. Having your boiler serviced will reap rewards in the long run, as well as giving you peace of mind in terms of safety and efficiency. Naturally, one of the key components of your boiler system are your radiators – a handy hint to maximise their efficiency is to put kitchen foil behind them for the heat to be reflected back into the room they are in.

Fill the gaps

Around a quarter of the heat lost from your home escapes through the loft, and therefore having good loft insulation is key to staying warm this winter. As well as the loft space, cavity wall insulation can make a real difference to keeping your home warm and energy bills low – with a typical saving of £145 per year saved on energy bills simply through having insulation installed. In terms of cost, there are a number of government grants and subsidy schemes available to help you with the initial outlay of insulating your home and staying warm this winter – so do your research and stay warm for less.

The big switch

If you feel that your winter energy bills are high despite your best efforts to prepare your home for the cold months then give your energy supplier a call and have a chat about being allocated a more cost-effective tariff. Remember that you will never experience a disruption in service if you decide to change suppliers, so feel free to shop around and find the best deal that works for you. You can use online comparison tools as well as literature direct from suppliers to find the most competitive energy rates and offers, so turn up that thermostat and get extra cosy!

Down the drain

As the leaves fall from the trees, drains and gutters can easily become blocked with debris, causing build-ups of water which could make its way into your home in the form of damp. As the temperature drops, these leaves are prone to freezing which can weigh down your guttering and damage external structures. Ensure that your drains and gutters are debris free by checking lower-level guttering on your property and clearing these out by hand as safely as possible – if the lower-levels are blocked then higher levels may also require a closer inspection.

Fife Properties Managing Director, Jim Parker commented: “Winter is a time of year that’s sometimes unpredictable. We have seen 4 seasons in one day on occasion, but the key is to be prepared. Our property management division often takes increasing calls over this season for boiler breakdowns etc. The key is to make sure we can respond quickly and often we do, which is why we have won letting agent of the year 8 times.”

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Revealed: how the property market has changed in the last five years

The ‘Housing Futures’ survey has been conducted annually by Strutt & Parker since 2013 to examine how the property market has evolved and then utilising this data to identify future trends which will shape the market. The latest version, ‘Housing Futures: New Horizons’, has shown that ‘connectivity seems to be the key for British home movers in 2018. We want to be connected in all areas of our lives…there is a growing requirement for connection, community and convenience.

Increased demand for lettings

An increase in the demand for lettings has had a significant impact upon the property market, with research showing that rental increased as a future tenure from 10% to 13% – reflecting its growing popularity. Growth in the private rented sector has seen a near 30% annual increase and encompassed within this sector is the “Build-to-Rent” market. Over the course of the past year, there has been a 45% increase in the delivery of completed “Build-to-Rent” homes with the focus on the type of property now shifting from blocks of flats to family housing, thereby supporting the lettings market in the long-term.

The pace of life dictating property requirements

As the pace of life quickens and we become more accustomed to instantaneous connections, our property requirements are reflecting this desire for connectivity – both virtually to networks and physically to one another. “Good broadband” is now regarded as a necessity for the majority of buyers – up to 57% – and twinned with this desire for “good broadband” is the desire to be closer to family and friends – up to 48%. There should be no surprise, therefore, that city living has increased in popularity as cities offer the greater levels of connectivity and accessibility which is now sought-after by buyers.

Fiscal concerns shaping the property market

As the Housing Futures report states, “over the past five years, the UK has seen turmoil in the political arena as well as in the regulation and taxation of residential property”. This “turmoil” can be seen in the changing shape of the property market; for example, demand for detached houses has significantly dropped over the last 5 years from 83% to 49%, whilst semi-detached homes have become the most popular. This shift away from larger homes indicates a hesitancy amongst buyers to stretch themselves when it comes to their finances, perhaps also explaining the growth in the lettings market as potential buyers become more financially prudent.

Family Ties

Also identified in their housing report ‘26 different property tribes’ – groups of people who are the most prevalent in the property market. One of the ‘tribes’ which will exert the most influence on the property market over the coming years is aptly named ‘The Waltons’ and consists of multi-generational households, much like those seen in years gone by. This multi-generational family home will become more prevalent due to the increasing price of property and the resulting necessity for multiple family members to combine their wealth in order to purchase better homes than if they were to purchase individually, or simply because family members cannot afford to live by themselves. Further to this family aspect in the future purchase of properties, providing financial support for relatives has become one of the key reasons to move home – now up to 22% of those surveyed cite this as a motivator to move home.

As political and policy changes take place throughout the United Kingdom, the property market is flexing to respond to these types of change – this is reflected in the rise of the popularity of the semi-detached home and the continuing growth of the lettings market. Buyers are more aware of their fiscal concerns and more demanding in terms of their requirement to be well-connected to friends, family and wireless networks. With an ageing population continuing to live longer, the power of the “grey pound” will exert itself upon the property market and, combined with younger generations who have a voracious appetite for property both in terms of letting and purchasing, one thing is for certain – the property market remains extremely financially solvent.

Fife Properties Managing Director, Jim Parker commented, “Connectivity is definitely one of the main drivers today when purchasing a house. While broadband speeds are important proximity to relatives/friends are also an essential part. Buyers want to know about lifestyle which is why our local property experts go out of their way to find out about the surrounding area, so they are informed.”

How much of an impact can a street name have on a home?

When considering the purchase of a property there are a number of variables to consider; how many bedrooms you need, if there are good schools in the catchment area and what the local amenities are to name but a few. However, it seems that there is one aspect which should also now be taken in to account – street name. Recent studies have shown that the name of the road which you live on can have an impact upon the value of your property – so the old adage of “location, location, location” may be even more accurate than ever previously considered when buying a home.

The regal touch

Streets with regal names such as Royal, Palace, Lord and Bishop can boost the value of your home – showing that royal prestige extends well beyond Buckingham Palace. Nearly 10% of house-hunters surveyed are willing to pay more for a property with a regal suffix, with 8% prepared to pay up to an enormous £30,000 more. This perception of prestige clearly has an impact on the price of a home and the overall appeal to buyers – so think carefully when browsing through all those homes for sale and don’t just consider their curb -appeal, but also their catalogue blurb-appeal.

The house on the hill

Aside from the prestige of the monarchy, it seems that certain road names also exert a hypnotic appeal upon buyers with properties on “Hills” and “Lanes” worth 50% more than the national average. Naturally, when you consider a hill or a lane there is the image of peace and tranquillity, which could be a contributing factor in their popularity amongst buyers. On the other hand, properties with “Street” or “Terrace” in their address are amongst the least expensive in the UK, perhaps because of the frequency of these names and as such, a perceived lack of exclusivity.

Bishop’s Hill or High Street?

Property buyers are a discerning bunch, with never-ending lists of requirements, and it would seem that a new addition to this list is an “exclusive” sounding address with many prepared to pay a premium for a premium-sounding address. This preparedness to pay for the privilege of living on “Royal Way” or “Hill Lane” however is split regionally – with those in London 24% more likely to pay extra for an address when compared to those in the North East. Perhaps, then, it is the high prices of the capital city and the greater level of investment it takes to buy in London which can woo buyers into spending just that little bit more – a premium-sounding address to reflect the premium cash outlay required to buy their property.

Fife Properties Managing Director, Jim Parker commented: ‘It is amazing how a simple a thing such as a street name can make a fundamental difference but in the past, we have had “Lovers Lane”, “Witches Wynd” which have all attracted more than their fair share of interest.’

What makes up the price of a property?

If you had to rebuild your home from scratch, how much do you think it would cost, and are there any special features which would cost a premium to emulate should the worst happen? According to a new study conducted by Direct Line Premier Insurance, the average person overestimates the rebuild costs for their home by 38%, showing that the general public has little idea when it comes to the bricks-and-mortar cost of rebuilding their properties. Then again, the true value of a property is clearly made up of more than simply the basic construction costs, with other considerations such as local amenities also playing a part in the overall value of a home.

On average, the base construction costs of our homes make up around 59% of the property’s actual value, according to Direct Line. Other considerations which influence the market value of a home include access to local amenities, schools and public transport; these account for over two-fifths of a property’s value. Naturally, there are regional variations in terms of the premium which is paid for these location-based factors and, perhaps somewhat unsurprisingly, it is in London that the highest location premium is levied.

In the capital, a three-bedroom property costs on average £647,000 which is an astonishing £442,571 above the rebuild cost of £205,000 – quite the location premium indeed. In fact, the location premium in London is so high that it is higher than the average market value of homes across the rest of the UK. After London, other locations with higher premiums include Brighton, Bristol and Edinburgh – all with location premiums of 60% or higher when compared to the actual rebuild costs of homes in these areas.

“Although people may be surprised by the amount of value placed on a property’s qualities beyond bricks and mortar, this analysis shows just how much intangible benefits such as; local amenities, location and transport links add to the price of a property,” said Nick Brabham, head of Select Premier Insurance.

The adage of ‘location, location, location’ has long been engrained in the property buyer’s psyche and this new research demonstrates just how tangible that cliché can be, in real monetary terms. An important reflection considering these figures is that of property insurance and the devastating impact which an inaccurate home valuation could have upon an insurance claim, with the effect of over-paying for some and underpaying for others.

Fife Properties Managing Director, Jim Parker commented, “On a more local level we can see the same with St Andrews, the London of Fife. It’s frightening to think how much more they could be paying. After all, the rebuild value of a 3 Bedroom Detached Villa will generally be the same anywhere in Fife so why should they have to pay more for insurance”.

If you want to discuss this further, then the local experts at Fife Properties can often get expert advice for you. You can book a FREE initial consultation today at the following link