string(22) "dfhjhdfjdfhdkjfhdfhdjf" string(22) "dfhjhdfjdfhdkjfhdfhdjf" Financial Archives - Fleet, Hartley Wintney, Odiham McCarthy Holden Estate Agents
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SELL YOUR NEW
HOME QUICKLY

FIND OUT HOW
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SELL YOUR NEW HOME QUICKLY

FIND OUT HOW

7 Tips for First-time Buyers Hoping to get on the Property Ladder Right Now

The economy is in a tough place – but there are still lots of things first-time buyers can do to boost their prospects. By Vicky Shaw.

While parts of the UK’s housing market have undergone a mini boom lately, there have also been signs that life is getting tougher for first-time buyers.

The choice of low deposit mortgages has shrunk in recent months, as concerns about ‘riskier’ lending have grown. According to NAEA (National Association of Estate Agents) Propertymark, first-time buyers made up 23% of home sales in August, a fall from 25% in July.

However, while the Covid-19 crisis has brought big financial challenges, it also appears to have made some aspiring first-time buyers more determined than ever.

Just over a third (35%) say the pandemic has had no impact on their plans to buy, according to research from Legal & General Mortgage Club.

With many people spending more time indoors than they normally would this year, more than half (54%) of first-time buyers say lockdown conditions have made it easier to save money. A small group of buyers (8%) have even brought forward their plans to buy.

To find out more about how first-time buyers can make the jump onto the property ladder in tough conditions, we asked Kevin Roberts, director at Legal & General Mortgage Club, to share some top tips…

1. Consider getting advice

Get an adviser on your side and get them to do the work for you. They’re going to know the market. Bear in mind that the mortgage market is busy at the moment and applications could take longer than usual. An adviser will work on your behalf to get your application through as quickly as possible.

2. Be prepared

If there is going to be a ‘flash sale’, which some lenders are doing now, you really want to work with your adviser and have everything ready – your payslips, your identification, everything that you need. Be really on the front foot and know what you can afford. Think about your spending habits – you need your credit score to be as good as possible.

3. Can you save a bigger deposit?

A bigger deposit could give you more choice. For example, if you can stretch from putting down a 10% deposit to a 15% deposit, there are more lenders at this level.

Legal & General Mortgage Club’s research has suggested that some people have been able to save more during lockdown, whether that’s from saving on rail fares or fewer coffees, people have been able to save some money.

4. Do you have a family member who can help?

Perhaps a parent or grandparent may be able to help you to top up your deposit. There are also ‘family assist’ mortgages out there, such as Barclays’ family springboard mortgage, where a helper transfers money into a linked savings account for a fixed period.

5. Could other schemes give you a helping hand?

The government schemes available, such as Help to Buy and shared ownership initiatives, may vary depending on what part of the UK you live in.

There are a broad range of lending opportunities around shared ownership. Some options may allow borrowers to ‘staircase’ out of shared ownership, where they purchase chunks of equity back over time.

There is also the Lifetime Isa, which is available across the UK and comes with a Government bonus. Someone must be aged 18 or under 40 to open a Lifetime Isa.

6. Have your priorities changed?

Lockdown has changed where some buyers intend to purchase and the types of property they are seeking. Think about how your needs may have changed over lockdown and if you do plan to buy a bigger property, don’t overstretch yourself.

7. Finally, remember all is not lost if you can’t buy right now

Borrowers need to get their housing plans moving if they want to take advantage of the temporary stamp duty holiday currently in place. Stamp duty applies in England and Northern Ireland, but similar holidays are also in place in Scotland and Wales. But if you’re not in a position to buy right now, you may still find good opportunities in the months ahead.

There have been some signs recently that rising demand may have potentially increased house prices in some areas. While no one can say for certain what will happen in the future, for some people, it may potentially be a good time to buy next year, when things may be a bit more settled and buyers may possibly find they are in a better position to negotiate.

So don’t give up hope, as by really thinking about your outgoings, trying to save and talking to family members, you could really boost your ability to get onto the property ladder.

How to Avoid a Staycation Scam

Nearly a third of us are planning a UK-based staycation before the end of the year – but watch out for bogus breaks, writes Vicky Shaw.

With many people’s 2020 holiday plans in disarray due to the pandemic, a significant number of us are planning to take a break much closer to home, instead of jetting overseas this year.

Nearly a third (32%) are planning a UK-based staycation this year, according to Nationwide Building Society, as travelling abroad to our usual holiday hotspots has become so much trickier.

But while this should help give some local economies a much-needed boost, those planning to sample what the UK holiday scene has to offer should beware of ‘staycation scammers’.

So what do you need to know about staycation scams? Here are some important points to keep in mind…

What staycation scams should you watch out for?

Among the many coronavirus-related frauds which have emerged, Action Fraud has been urging consumers to be on the lookout for fake caravan and motorhome listings.

These may be advertised on auction websites and the prices are often low to attracted people in. Criminals will come up with excuses for why the vehicles cannot be viewed in person. The goods don’t exist, or will never arrive.

And if you’re looking for a holiday cottage or apartment, beware of bogus websites offering places for rent, often at discounted prices. These websites may appear professional and convincing, using images of properties that are not really available. Scammers may require a deposit, which is never returned.

Even if you think you are on a trusted website, check the URL for subtle changes, which can indicate it is imitating a genuine firm.

How to avoid staycation scams

Action Fraud says people should always follow the advice of the ‘Take Five to Stop Fraud’ campaign, and take a moment to stop and think before parting with their money or personal information, in case what appears to be a bargain getaway turns out to be a scam. If something is advertised at a rock bottom price, ask yourself is it really a bargain, or could it be a scam?

If you’re considering buying a motorhome or caravan, do some research, and if you’re dealing with someone online, ask if they can send you a video of the vehicle.

Don’t let online sellers persuade you to pay by bank transfer, as you may never see your cash again. Also, read online reviews to see what other people say about sellers.

How you pay could also give you added protections

You could consider using payment methods such as PayPal, which has added buyer protections, or pay by credit card.

Under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act, credit card purchases of goods costing between £100 and £30,000 have added protections if something goes wrong and items or services purchased never materialise.

Under Section 75, the credit card company is held jointly liable with the trader or retailer, so you can put in a claim to them.

Stamp Duty Changes To Boost House Market

Prior to today’s announcement the market was doing rather well post lockdown, so the new stamp duty announcements will boost house sales further.

Nearly nine in 10 people getting on or moving up the property ladder where stamp duty applies will not need to pay the tax at all while a temporary holiday applies.

From July 15 until March 31 2021, buyers will pay no stamp duty on the first £500,000 of their purchase when they move home.

The measure, which temporarily increases the “nil rate” band of stamp duty from £125,000 to £500,000, will reduce the average stamp duty bill for a main home from £4,500 to zero. Buyers can potentially save up to £15,000.

Announcing the move, Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: “Nearly nine out of 10 people buying a main home this year will pay no stamp duty at all.”

Stamp duty applies in England and Northern Ireland and people usually pay the tax on homes priced above £125,000. Some stamp duty discounts were already in place for first-time buyers.

There are already signs that the stamp duty holiday is helping to reboot the property market.

In the first half hour after the announcement was made on Wednesday, traffic to property website Rightmove jumped by 22%.

See this range of recommended properties for purchasers looking up to around £500,000

Start your property search here.

stamp duty changes estate agents Hampshire

Now that wasn’t Expected!

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The first week of Estate Agents being allowed to conduct house viewings has been a real eye opener, with the level of buyer activity much higher than anticipated which hopefully bodes well for a quick bounce back in the house market.

No doubt there will be some readers who will think, well you would say that wouldn’t you, in the hope of pepping up the market, but I can counter any such thought with some hard facts and examples, so here are a few case notes from the first week back.

New House Eversley – Under offer in three days

This fine new home by Aspire was placed on the open market on Monday 18th May at a guide £1,125,000.

By Thursday 20th May a sale was agreed to a proceedable purchaser.

Country House Eversley – Emerging Buyer Interest around £2.0m. guide

We took this property to the market a few weeks before lockdown, so viewings went on hold during the lockdown period.

Yesterday we had multiple viewings at the house and two offers have already been submitted. This home is typical of the kind of property that will be sought after in the emerging market of house buyers leaving London and other major towns and cities for rural living.

Do you have a country house for sale? We have a waiting list of buyers looking right now.

Right now the short to medium term outlook is positive and the biggest demand is for rural / semi-rural properties in all price ranges, but especially in the £1.5m. to £6.0m. sector.

So if you live in a country house and are looking to sell, this summer could be the best time to go to market. If you would like a free and confidential market appraisal contact your nearest McCarthy Holden branch.

Fleet – On £750,000 guide

With marketing help by way of a vendor inspired video tour during lockdown, this stunning detached house has gone under offer.

Blue Triangle, Fleet – Exchanged on guide £1.5m.

In just over one acre in one of the most desirable roads in Fleet, this imposing property was built by the renowned local builder Pool & Son in the 1930’s.

Fitzroy-Road-sold-fleet McCarthy Holden estate agents

As we said in last week’s market update, the prospect of house sales in the short to medium term is relatively easy to judge, because we are working with house buyers and sellers alike every day, so their motivations and the drivers of the market conditions are there for us to interpret.

House Viewing Protocols Working Well

The new way of conducting house viewings is going well, with strict social distancing protocols and excellent co-operation from vendors and purchasers alike.

Some of the social distancing protocols include the following.

• Only one viewer can be present at a time, no children will be allowed in a property (this is because avoiding the touching of surfaces is difficult with young children).
• The owner/tenant will leave property for the viewing.
• We will supply the viewer with disposable gloves and mask, subject to our supply allowing for this.
• The viewers will be allowed to walk around and asked not to touch anything.
• In order to maintain social distancing, the agent will not be able to enter every room with the viewer.
• When the viewing is completed, the agent will lock up the property and leave, then dispose of gloves and use hand sanitiser.

The House Market / Buyer Attitudes

We are impressed with the resilience of house buyers, who continue to remain upbeat about their moving plans. Furthermore, 95% of the sales arranged we had in place at the start of lockdown, continue to remain in place and in the past week many of those have moved forward to exchange and simultaneous completions..

Emerging Markets

In the last week there has been increasing signs of the biggest emerging market being driven by people wanting to leave London and other large cities or towns, to find a new home in a rural or village setting, yet remain within reasonable distance of London etc. That is a positive for the home owners we act for on the Hampshire / Surrey / Berkshire borders, especially those who live in property worth between £1.5m. and £6.0m. in our area of operation.

If you are selling a rural property, contact your nearest McCarthy Holden branch for a free and confidential property appraisal.

EMERGING MARKET PHOTO

The Weeks Ahead

Simply making hay whilst the sun shines!

 

John Holden – Chairman

7 Ways to Add Value to your Home

add value to home

From ambitious building projects to timely tidying up, Luke Rix-Standing looks at how to boost the value of your property.

add value to home

Keen to add value to your home? Whether you’ve just moved into a decrepit bedsit, or have lived in a mansion for years of domestic bliss, there is still plenty of mileage to adding value to your property.

Doing so could help improve your own quality of life while you’re still in the property (if buyers find something appealing, odds are you might too), and keep you well placed on the property ladder, regardless of whether you’re currently looking to sell.

From five-year plans to on-the-day dust-ups, here’s seven ways to add value to your home…

add value to home

1. Loft conversion

Perhaps the gold standard of home improvements, loft conversions are not for the faint of heart, but can come with major domestic and financial rewards if done well. Adding square footage is a guaranteed value-boost, while the market fixation with number of bedrooms means that adding one can practically ensure a hefty payday when it comes to selling.

“The average loft conversion costs around £40,000,” says Chris Smith, regional director at estate agents Yopa, “but can increase your property value by an estimated 21%. They’re usually more of a long-term strategy, so you might not see all the money back if you sell immediately.”

Loft conversions are not cheap – and not suitable for every property of course – but they often perfectly prove that old adage, that you have to spend money to make money.

add value to home

2. Brush up on kerb appeal

First impressions matter, and putting your best foot forward is key to getting customers through the door. “We estimate that simply by improving your property’s ‘kerb appeal’, with a freshly painted exterior, clean windows, a tidy driveway and a new front door, can boost the value of a property by up to 10%,” says Smith. “The outside of your property is the first thing potential buyers will see, both when browsing online and in person at a viewing.”

On modern properties, buyers may probably expect double glazing – a savvy way to save on your energy bill in the meantime – along with up-to-date security and draught-proofing.

add value to home

3. Go for open-plan living

Open-plan living has been in vogue for some years now, and it’s clearly not going anywhere anytime soon. Most modern house-hunters are looking for spaces that are practical and adaptable, and it seems distinctly old-fashioned to cook your food in one room and then have to transport it to another to eat it.

Open-plan living spaces don’t have to be giant, or rectangular – you’re looking to create areas that are connected but distinct. Consider sliding doors or curtains that can pull back during the day, waist or shoulder-high partitions, or doorway-like arches that demarcate your space.

These are the golden rules of open-plan living: separation without isolation; continuity without uniformity.

add value to home

4. Refurbish the kitchen

A recent report by Norton Finance mapped out the most expensive home improvements performed by homeowners in their first year in a new property, and kitchen renovation ranked second only to furniture.

The centrepiece to so many homes, it’s no surprise that the kitchen commands so much attention both before and after a sale, and a well-designed room can easily pull in extra thousands.

“If your budget can only stretch to renovating one room, that room should be the kitchen,” says Smith. “You can cut costs by painting cupboard doors yourself and adding new, fashionable handles.”

add value to home

5. Add a conservatory

The stars have to align somewhat for conservatories to be sensible investments, but if the cap fits, they can enhance a property with ease. Aside from the necessary financial clout, homeowners will need to ensure proper planning permission, while those with smaller gardens might want to think twice before sacrificing valuable yard space.

Though often associated with summer, conservatories really earn their keep during the winter months, when they provide a portal to the outside world, free from the cold, damp and dark.

“The addition of a traditional British conservatory typically costs around £5,000,” says Smith, “and can increase the value of a property by around 10% when done well. To add real value, make sure your conservatory is fully glazed and blends in with the style of the rest of the property.”

add value to home

6. Redecorate

Consider any second-hand shop – regardless of what it sells – and consider the price difference between products marked ‘used’, and products marked ‘like new’. This one’s a no-brainer, and just a fresh lick of paint can make pokey rooms immediately more marketable.

Your house isn’t new – but it’s new to your potential buyers, and you’ll be doing your bank balance a favour if you can make it look that way from the moment they cross the threshold.

add value to home

7. Add an extra bathroom

As with bedrooms, the number of bathrooms appears like a ranking next to your property, and it’s a crucial integer in the valuation equation. Broom closet, pantry, cupboard under the stairs – a small downstairs loo doesn’t take much, and it can be a delightfully canny way to carve profit out of otherwise wasted space.

“You can add up to 5% value to your property by adding a second bathroom,” says Smith. “An average bathroom costs £4,500, and according to NAEA Propertymark, 70% of estate agents say an additional loo helps to sell a house.”

10 Ways to Make the Most of Your Money in 2020

money 2020

Brushing up your money habits this month could make a big difference to your finances in 2020 and beyond.

money 2020

The new year often means a fresh start – and for some, 2020 could mean turning over a new leaf when it comes to their finances. But don’t be put off by the idea of having to grapple with big numbers, as large gestures aren’t always what’s needed.

You may find small actions taken now could go a long way towards improving your financial prospects, whether it’s cutting down on daily treats or trying out online tools to help you manage your money better.

“In 2020, investing a little more time managing our money could be the best investment we make,” says Alistair McQueen, head of savings and retirement at Aviva.

Here, he shares 10 top tips for better money management in 2020…

money 2020

1. Don’t just focus on your big financial commitments – small ones can also add up

For example, did you know that over a working life of 40 years, we could spend more than £25,000 on daily coffees? Reducing this to one takeaway coffee every other day could save more than £10,000.

In 2020, it would be a good idea to think about where you spend your money and what little savings could be made.

2. Make the most of free help

Many of us are not confident when it comes to managing our money – but there are many free services to help us along the way, such as the independent Money Advice Service website.

3. Shop around

Many people don’t shop around when making financial decisions. This could be costly. A different bank account, a different pension, or a different mortgage could save you a lot of money.

money 2020

4. Understand your state pension

The state pension represents the biggest source of income for most people in retirement. But it is also complicated. In 2020, it would be a good idea to get a free state pension forecast from the government to understand how much state pension you could be entitled to, and from when. More information is available at gov.uk/check-state-pension.

5. Take control of your workplace pension

Record numbers of people have been saving into private workplace pensions. This can make a big difference to your retirement wellbeing. In 2020, it would be a good idea to understand your workplace pension, to ensure you are maximising the benefits.

6. Hunt down lost savings

It’s been estimated that more than £20 billion of people’s private pension money could have been misplaced over the years. In 2020, you could use the Government’s free pension tracing service to track down any pensions you may have lost. Go to gov.uk/find-pension-contact-details.

money 2020

7. Use your retirement freedoms

This year marks five years since the freedoms launched. More than one million people have since taken advantage, seizing greater private pension flexibility from age 55. If you are aged over-50, the Government’s free Pension Wise Service (pensionwise.gov.uk/en) can help you understand your options.

8. Make the most of online tools to help you manage your money

Many banks and pension and investment providers offer free online services to help you make the most of your money, whenever and wherever you want.

9. Keep calm during volatility

Continuing economic and political uncertainty may cause investment volatility in the year ahead. In 2020, it would be a good idea to ease your nerves by reminding yourself that the value of your investments can go up as well as down, and many investments are designed for the long term. Try to avoid short-term panic.

10. Keep fit

Last year saw the number of people in work over the age of 50 reach a record 10 million. Working longer is a very powerful way of paying for our longer lives in retirement. Keeping fit and healthy will help us do this.

money 2020

Full Time Career Opportunities In Estate Agency

career icon photo at mccarthy holden
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Start a new career as a property negotiator / property consultant in 2020, by joining McCarthy Holden at either their Fleet or Hartley Wintney branches in Hampshire.

Positions are available at both of these branches, for either individuals already working in estate agency as an experienced negotiator, or for individuals who are currently in a career sector such as the service industry.

If you are an estate agency negotiation with around two years experience we would welcome the opportunity to meet you and explore the career opportunities at McCarthy Holden. We find negotiators who join us with this kind of experience stay with us, many now for 10 to 20 years so we hope this indicates that the real skill of negotiating is something that is highly valued, as opposed to relying on algorithms and online property portals.

For those of you not currently working in estate agency, the refreshing news is that some of our most successful property consultants moved from careers such in the hospitality, retail and wider services business sectors. A couple of examples are shown below.

Victoria at McCarthy Holden estate agents
Victoria - Fleet branch

Victoria joined McCarthy Holden in 2010, when she left a career in the hospitality industry. She has forged a very successful career at McCarthy Holden and is highly respected by customers and colleagues alike.

Matthew at McCarthy Holden estate agents
Matthew - Fleet branch

Matthew left British Rail in 2015, to pursue a negotiating and client management career at McCarthy Holden. His career in estate agency is now firmly established and just like Victoria he is much respected by customers and colleagues.

We are looking for people with a healthy work ethic, who in return for high property sales performance will bring high salary rewards, and yes there are long working days, with frequent out of hours needs of customers to be dealth with.

At McCarthy Holden we won’t crush your spirit with targets for selling financial services, but instead allow you to care for obtaining the best possible price for our vendors by applying negotiating skills and following though with managing the sale process from start to finish.

Every day will be varied and different, but one thing that will not change is our desire to deliver our services with traditional values of trust, honesty and respect for our customers and colleagues. These values are very important, so only candidates that who can truly deliver on these essential traits should apply.

Excellent communications skills are essential.

Because we are looking for both experiences and career change candidates, the salary / rewards scales are varied so please apply in the knowledge that we aim to match or exceed the market levels in the area of salary rewards.

email sholden@mccarthyholden.co.uk with your cv to apply

Saturday Job Opportunity In Estate Agency

Hartley Wintney Cricket Green McCarthy Holden estate agents
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Working in your local community is such a rewarding job, and Saturday work at McCarthy Holden results in a part time job that provides a great mix of meeting customers in the branch and viewings at properties, so the day is varied.

We have several part time positions at both our Hartley Wintney and Odiham branches, so if you are looking for a part time Saturday cover career as a property negotiator in 2020 then please get in touch.

At McCarthy Holden we care for obtaining the best possible price for our vendors by applying negotiating skills as opposed to relying on algorithms and online property portals, so excellent communication skills are essential.

Every day will be varied and different, but one thing that will not change is our desire to deliver our services with traditional values of trust, honesty and respect for our customers and colleagues. These values are very important, so only candidates that who can truly deliver on these essential traits should apply.

Hours are 9am to 6.00pm Saturdays.

email sholden@mccarthyholden.co.uk with your cv to apply.

Hartley Wintney hight street mccarthy holden estate agents
Saturday Job vacancy Hartley Wintney - photo by johnjoe.co.uk copyright
Odiham hight street mccarthy holden estate agents
Saturday Job vacancy Odiham - photo by johnjoe.co.uk copyright

Buying a new Home? Phil Spencer Reveals the Warning Signs to Walk Away from.

property warning signs

It's all about Information, Information, Information, says the property guru.

Ever moved into a new house and realised that your new neighbour is the drummer for an amateur metal band? Or snapped up a new pad only to discover that the bedroom turns into a swamp every time it rains?

We sincerely hope the answer is no, but given how complex, difficult and murky property deals can be, that may be more by luck than judgement.

Property expert and investor Phil Spencer has headed up Channel 4’s Location, Location, Location alongside Kirstie Allsopp for almost two decades, and has now set up Move IQ, a website that uses complex algorithms to produce 45-page status reports on properties.

He took some time away from the cameras to comb through the real estate red flags that should make you dig a little deeper – if not send you running for the door.

property warning signs

Cautionary tales

We don’t want to alarm you, but there are a lot of traps you can fall into when assessing a property. “I know of one sale where the buyer didn’t do their research,” says Spencer, “and bought a house without realising the neighbours were running a business with 24-hour deliveries.”

That’s just the tip of the iceberg, and Spencer is full of anecdotes about property purchases that went pear-shaped. “I’ve worked on several cases of buying a house from a divorcing couple, when you find out later that the person still in the house doesn’t want to sell. That makes for an extremely complicated negotiation.”

“There are lots of examples of people buying houses, and then finding out that the right permissions weren’t in place for building work done by the previous owner. If a house has probate, that can be complicated… Honestly, it’s a minefield.”

The very last thing you want at the sharp end of a property deal is a sudden, nasty surprise. So, how can you ensure you don’t end up as another anecdote on Phil Spencer’s list?

property warning signs

Knowledge is power

Unfortunately, the most worrying warning signs are the ones you can’t see. “Your priority is misinformation,” says Spencer, “you need all your info to be as accurate as possible, and it will come primarily from the estate agent and the vendor. Ask direct questions, ask them again, and then ask the same questions of different people.”

We wouldn’t want to cast any aspersions, but you can take it as read that estate agents aren’t going to lead with the negatives.

“The key thing,” says Spencer, “is to ascertain why the house is being sold. People often try to muddy the waters and it’s up to you to get to the bottom of it. Have they outgrown the house, are there financial reasons, or is there an argument with a neighbour?”

“There are plenty of valid reasons for selling, but it’s going to come down to negotiation, and you want to know how motivated the vendor is to do the deal. Will they want to conclude quickly, and how willing might they be to agree to a price reduction?”

Once you’ve got a number on the seller, you can turn your attention to the house itself. “You need to understand the marketing history,” says Spencer. “Is there any interest, has anybody made an offer, and has anybody had a survey done?” If the house has been on the market for six months under a different agent, undergone repeated surveys and fallen through three times, then that’s need-to-know information.

Next up is the price – is it reasonable? “The internet has made making comparisons easier than ever, but you need to be sure you’re looking at fairly recent sales,” says Spencer. “Pounds per square foot is a useful rough guide; work it out for the property you’re interested in, and compare with others in the area.”

“Remember, this is just a rule of thumb, and takes no account of condition, views, garden, and so on.”

property warning signs

Buyers and sellers

You and your vendor don’t need to be bosom buddies – or even make each other’s Christmas card lists – but there’s a certain amount of trust at the heart of every sale.

“You don’t have to go for dinner and drinks, but you want to know that they’re selling you the truth,” says Spencer. “If you ask a direct question, you need to be confident you’re getting an honest, if probably gilded, answer.”

Unmotivated sellers can spell trouble – last-minute mind-changing can be infuriating and costly – and be wary of overly-canny sellers straining every sinew to show their house at it’s best. “If the table is laid for dinner, there’s fresh bread baking, and the smell of percolating coffee,” says Spencer, “keep your wits about you!”

“I’ve also seen examples of sellers stowing things in storage to make their house look roomy enough for children and two adults. There is, if you move half your stuff out.”

Beware stubbornness, not just in your vendor but in yourself. “Sometimes people become ‘principled’ in property negotiations,” Spencer says. “It’s not the time – if you’re paying good money for something, don’t fall out over a loo seat or a fridge. I’ve seen little things like that derail massive property deals – just respect that it’s someone’s home and they can get a bit emotional.”

property warning signs

Bricks and mortar

For many, a house viewing involves scouring every nook and cranny for dry rot, blue tack stains and missing roof tiles, but for Spencer, such practical pitfalls are a secondary concern. “I wouldn’t get overly het up about it,” he says, “the surveyor will come in and give the house the once over.”

“If it’s of interest, by all means go over the house with a fine tooth comb – you can easily see for yourself if the windows are rotting, there are cracks in the walls or the bath leaks. Just remember, there’s nothing wrong with any of these – so long as it’s reflected in the price.”

Much more important are pre-existing works and renovations, and the paperwork surrounding them: “If you do end up negotiating, you want to be able to warn your surveyor and solicitor about any extensions, because you’ll need the forms and permissions that support that work.”

Confused about Retirement Savings? 7 Popular Pension Myths Busted!

With the next phase of automatic enrolment starting from April, Alistair McQueen from Aviva separates facts from fiction.

The minimum amounts that can be put into workplace pensions will be stepped up from April, as UK savers are encouraged to put aside more for their retirement.

Under automatic enrolment rules, from April 6, the minimum that can be put in by employers and their staff will increase from 5% of qualifying earnings to 8%. Within the new 8% rate, at least 3% must be paid by the employer, with the remaining 5% made up by staff.

Automatic enrolment started in autumn 2012, amid concerns people were living for longer but not saving enough for their later years. “Automatic enrolment is approaching its seventh birthday. In its short life, it has already brought a quiet revolution to pensions in the UK,” says Alistair McQueen, head of savings and retirement at Aviva.

Pensions are not always easy to understand, though, and there’s still a lot of confusion around them for lots of people. Do you feel unsure of the facts? Here, McQueen busts seven pensions myths…

busting pension myths

Myth 1: No one is saving into a pension

Automatic enrolment has introduced more than 10 million new savers to workplace pensions since 2012. There are now a total of 22 million people participating in workplace pensions in the UK.

Myth 2: Pensions are for old people

Contrary to popular perception, it is the under-30s who are leading the way. All ages have seen an increase in workplace pension participation since 2012, but the under-30s have seen the biggest increase – more than doubling from 35% saving to over 79% by 2018.

busting pension myths

Myth 3: The government will pay for all my retirement

It’s true that we can expect some money in retirement from the state, but this is currently up to a maximum of about £8,500 every year. Today, the majority of the typical retirees’ income in retirement is from sources beyond the state, such as private pensions and other savings.

Myth 4: I will receive my state pension from age 60 if I’m a woman, or 65 if I’m a man

These commonly referred to and long-standing ages were set decades ago, when we could generally expect a few short years in retirement. Since then, average life expectancy has greatly increased, and the age at which we are eligible for our state pension has been increasing, with women starting to qualify for their state pension at the same age as men.

The state pension age is set to keep rising too. The yourpension.gov.uk website can help you check your state pension age.

busting pension myths

Myth 5: I can’t retire until I reach my state pension age

We are free to retire whenever we want to. However, we can only really think about retiring when we feel we have saved enough money to meet our needs when we’re not working. New rules allow people to access private pensions from age 55 – but the state pension age is set by government.

As individuals, we have the freedom to choose our retirement age, but this brings with it a responsibility to ensure we can fund our lifestyle from that point onward. There are many free online resources to help make this decision – such as Aviva’s ‘My retirement planner’ (aviva.co.uk/retirement/tools/my-retirement-planner).

Myth 6: I’m the only one who is confused by pensions

Research suggests only a minority of us feel we really understand pensions. So, if you’re feeling a bit uncertain, you’re not alone. The great news is that more of us are saving for our future. And if you’re looking for a little nudge in the right direction, Aviva suggests three general rules of thumb that could help you be better prepared:

1. Save at least 12.5% of earnings towards your retirement. This can include money from your employer and the taxman.

2. If possible, start saving at least 40 years before your target retirement age.

3. Try to have built up at least 10 times your salary in your pension by the time you retire.

busting pension myths

Myth 7: Retirement is further away than ever

There’s still a collapse in workplace participation as we progress through our 50s. This represents a huge waste of talent, experience and potential. One of the strongest levers we can pull to help fund our lives in retirement is to work longer. Many employers are taking fresh steps to support a fuller working life, with the aim of ensuring that age is no barrier to opportunity.

Contemporary Connections Exhibition In London this March

Art Noble Exhibition March 2019

CONTEMPORARY CONNECTIONS
Curated by ArtNoble
Tuesday 19 – Saturday 30 March 2019

Following on from 2018’s debut exhibition in November, ArtNoble is proud to present Contemporary Connections, a group exhibition displaying works by seven contemporary European artists.

In a world constantly heading towards self-absorption, Contemporary Connections aims to initiate a dialogue among artists, artwork, audience and collectors, creating enduring connections that are fundamental to our happiness, existence and wellbeing. Whilst not being tied down to a specific thematic or style, Contemporary Connections will display a distinct selection of works, ranging from ceramics, to photographs and paintings, including the feature image above by Yaprak Akinci – Keep your barrels safe.

Art Noble Exhibition March 2019
Alberto Selvestrel - Senza Titolo

These works have been chosen to stimulate interactions between the works and artists, with the aim that these interactions will propagate also to the collectors and visitors.
To enhance this theme of connectivity, talks, workshops and presentations by the artists will be held at the gallery to complement the exhibition. Details of these will be announced on our website.

Art Noble Exhibition March 2019
Gaila Adair - Piccadilly Hill
Art Noble Exhibition March 2019
Pierantonio Maria Micciarelli - Verso il Tibet

ArtNoble’s exhibition ‘Contemporary Connections’ opened on 19th March and will be on show until Saturday 30th March at Willesden Gallery (95 High Road, London, NW10 2SF).

On weekdays we will be open from 9am until 8pm whilst at weekends we will be open from 10am until 5pm.

Come by, say hi and enjoy the beautiful works on display by our artists.

ArtNoble is a distinctive exhibition platform dedicated to the promotion of unique contemporary talents. Founded by Matthew Noble in the summer of 2018, ArtNoble aims to provide an alternative to the standard art gallery model by sourcing talented and upcoming artists irrelevant of their background and medium and curating site-specific exhibitions, with the ultimate vision of connecting the artists and their works to an ever-growing number of collectors.

Artists

Gaila Adair
Yaprak Akinci
Cinzia Castellano
Alberto Fusco
David Gee
Pierantonio Maria Micciarelli
Alberto Selvestrel

Art Noble Exhibition March 2019
Alberto Fusco - Aura
Art Noble Exhibition March 2019
David Gee -Reptilian Bow

More about ArtNoble

ArtNoble is a distinctive exhibition platform dedicated to the promotion of unique contemporary talents. Founded by Matthew Noble in the summer of 2018, ArtNoble aims to provide an alternative to the standard art gallery model by constantly sourcing talented and upcoming artists, irrelevant of their background and medium, and curating site-specific exhibitions.

ArtNoble’s mission is to overcome the barriers and exclusivity typically associated with today’s art world, with the ultimate vision of connecting artists and their works to an ever-growing number of collectors, art enthusiasts and interior designers.

Operating in this way allows ArtNoble to make contemporary art accessible to everyone, creating mass engagement with several different artworks, increasing the perspective with which art is perceived, engaged with, and ultimately, acquired.

Currently operating in London and Milan, ArtNoble represents several contemporary artists. Further to artist representation, ArtNoble also works closely with a number of interior designers, procuring art for their client’s homes, along with acting as an advisor to a number of private collections.

Web site artnoble.co.uk

Art Noble Exhibition March 2019

8 Tips for Successfully Managing your Money as a Couple

Finances can play a big part in relationships. Vicky Shaw finds out how to set good strategies in place and avoid money fall-outs. So, love has blossomed and you think you've found the perfect partner - but are you financially compatible? Understanding each other on money issues can go a long way to making or breaking a relationship.

managing money in a relationship

“Whether you’re married, living together or just getting to know one another, it’s crucial both parties understand each other’s finances and know how they view money management,” says Emma-Lou Montgomery, associate director at Fidelity International (fidelity.co.uk).

“Being open to discussing the long-term financial plans you may have, and vice versa, can save having a lot of issues further down the line.”

Here, Montgomery shares eight tips for making sure your finances flourish in your relationship…

2019 money financial predictions

1. Don’t be afraid if one of you is a saver and the other is a spender

In a balanced relationship, having one keen saver and one more comfortable spending (within reason) can be beneficial – if it’s clear who’s responsible for what financially in the relationship. The saver can encourage a healthy attitude towards financial saving goals – be it a first home, an adventure holiday, or just cash for a rainy day. On the other hand, the spender may take on monthly living costs and cover expenses like socialising with friends and family.

2. Don’t leave your partner in the dark

All too often, couples leave one of the parties completely in the dark over bigger commitments, like savings or retirement plans, leading to misunderstandings and tension.

The money and your financial security belong to both of you, so make sure you both have at least a basic understanding of the state of your finances. It may feel daunting at first, but talking openly about your finances is so important, both when fostering new relationships or maturing in a long-term relationship or marriage.

managing money in a relationship

3. Be honest

Many people hide debts from their partner – often out of embarrassment. But honesty really is the best policy. If you’ve come to the point when securing a joint loan or mortgage makes sense, it’s crucial any unpaid debt or blips on credit scores come to light. A supportive partner will work with you to find a solution. If they’re not up to it, then better you know now rather than later.

4. Communicate when one of you earns more than the other

Pretending you earn more than you do when you first meet might seem like a good idea, but eventually the shortfall will become apparent. Communication here is key. Some couples have separate bank accounts, others keep a joint account for household expenses, some agree to split bills equally, some do it in proportion to their income, while others divide up the outgoings, with one person paying the mortgage/rent and another responsible for utility bills, for example.

managing money in a relationship

5. Don’t let ‘outside’ interests/expenses become a source of conflict

It may be that you have children from a previous relationship who need your financial support, or a hobby that requires a substantial financial outlay. If you aren’t open about the costs with your partner, these ‘outside’ expenses can become a source of conflict. Be up-front and honest, so you both can ensure you’re able to factor them in to your shared budgeting.

Often, keeping a separate pot of money or a separate account for these expenses is a good way to ensure they’re accounted for and covered. Separating them out also means they’re not a constant niggle to your partner. Setting up a direct debit to cover these costs is another way to make it easier.

6. Discuss the future now

For example, if you both want to travel the world later in life, factor that into your finances now to make sure that when you do travel, you can travel in style.

managing money in a relationship

7. Don’t be afraid to take control

While it’s good to plan together, make sure you also take responsibility for your own finances – whether it’s by opening a new savings account or contributing more into a pension.

8. Protect yourself and your partner

Nowadays, many people choose to live together for longer before getting married or without tying the knot at all. However, this can be an issue in terms of your finances. You could consider setting up an agreement to ensure that both parties are protected and assets are divided as you would wish.

Hoping to get on the property ladder soon? 8 tips for First Time Buyers

It's a huge, expensive step but can be done - so soak up these expert tips, says Vicky Shaw. This year could be a bit uncertain for the housing market, which may be making first-time buyers feel somewhat nervous. However, some recent figures may offer some reassurance for those trying to make the jump onto the property ladder.

Research from Yorkshire Building Society suggests the number of first-time buyers getting on the property ladder with a mortgage in the last year, was at its highest level since 2006. Across the UK, 367,038 first-time buyers secured mortgages in 2018, up from 362,800 in 2017, the analysis suggests.

There are also some steps first-time buyers could take, which may boost their chances of bagging a property. “Buying a first home can be as daunting as it is exciting, but there are a number of simple steps people can take to prepare themselves and make the process as smooth as possible,” says Chrysanthy Pispinis of Post Office Money.

Here are Post Office Money’s eight top tips for getting on the property ladder…

first time buyer top 8 tips

1. Set a savings goal

Three-quarters (75%) say that saving for a deposit is the biggest hurdle to home ownership, with first-time buyers spending four years adjusting their lifestyle to save for their starter home, according to a survey of people who recently got on the property ladder. So setting a savings target early is important to keeping you focused and on track.

2. Factor in the additional costs of moving

Aspiring homeowners must not forget additional costs associated with buying a home, such as removal firms, estate agent fees and surveyors. It’s important to consider these costs in advance and save little and often.

first time buyer top 8 tips

3. Take time to talk

Parents – as the ‘bank of mum and dad’ – are playing an increasingly important role helping many first-time buyers onto the property ladder, loaning on average £24,347, according to Post Office Money. But of the one in six first-time buyers funding their home purchase from a parental loan, 87% have no proper agreement in place, its research also found.

Therefore, it’s important everyone involved is clear about the nature of their agreement, so that everyone’s expectations are aligned. This includes making it clear whether the money is a gift or a loan that needs to be paid back. Post Office Money has a ‘bank of mum and dad conversation guide’, which could help with such conversations. (postoffice.co.uk/dam/jcr:93ea6a47-6444-4ac8-8a22-c091054a3541/Mortgages-Advice-Doc.pdf)

4. Calculate how much you can afford to borrow

Once your savings pot is up and running, consider using an online affordability calculator to get an idea of how much you’ll be able to borrow based on your income and outgoings. Although this should be used as a guide, the information will help you focus on properties that are within your price range.

first time buyer top 8 tips

5. Know the (credit) score

Before getting a mortgage, you will be credit checked, so now’s the time to check your own credit report and ensure all the information it contains is accurate and up-to-date. A good credit score can be the deciding factor in not only getting approved for a mortgage, but also the rate you are offered. Plan now to start paying down any outstanding debt, be sure not to miss any agreed payments on utility bills or mobile phone bills, and try to make more than the minimum repayment in the six months before your mortgage application.

6. Find the right mortgage for you

There are lots of mortgages out there aimed specifically at first-time buyers, including some very innovative deals.

first time buyer top 8 tips

7. Research affordability hotspots

You may have your heart set on a popular area – but so will many other buyers.

On average, new buyers will end up moving 5.2 miles away from where they originally intended. Consider widening the net to make your budget go further, so you can buy more bricks and mortar for your money. You could try searching in up-and-coming areas, which may become future property hotspots, rather than places where property prices have already increased by a lot.

8. Know the local rate of sale

On average, it takes 102 days for a property to sell in the UK. Understanding the rate at which property sells in the area you’re looking to buy in can potentially help when making buying decisions.

If you are starting your home buying journey and would like local, financial or property advice please pop in to your closest office for a cup of tea and a chat with our team, they will be delighted to give you all the help you need.
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8 Key Money Moments to be Prepared for in 2019

It pays to be prepared - or at least means you'll be a little more in control of your money. Vicky Shaw reports on this year's financial forecast.

2019 money financial predictions

As with any year, 2019 is bound to bring some unexpected surprises. But, looking ahead, there are some money moments you may be able to prepare for – even if some are more certain than others.

“Uncertainty and change are a part of life, and we’ll be better placed to ride these waves if we’re prepared for whatever may come next,” says Alistair McQueen, head of savings and retirement at Aviva. “We will all benefit from a couple of hours to prepare our finances for whatever 2019 may bring.”

So what can you do to help get prepared? Here, McQueen highlights some of the key 2019 money moments to get ready for…

2019 money financial predictions

1. Get ready for the rising state pension age

In 2018, the state pension age for men and women was equalised, at 65. Men and women will now experience a state pension age rising in tandem. The state pension continues to represent most peoples’ biggest source of income in retirement. So, in 2019, it could be a good idea to request a free state pension forecast from the government to understand when you will be entitled to yours, and how much you may receive (gov.uk/check-state-pension).

2. Get ready for a longer working life

Last year saw the number of people in work over the age of 50 reach a record 10 million. As our life expectancy rises, we can expect this trend to continue. Aviva expects one in three workers in the UK will be over the age of 50 in the next decade. So, looking ahead, it may be worth starting to re-frame your expectations towards a longer working life. Aviva is launching a new service called the ‘mid-life-MOT’, to help our people prepare for this longer working life.

2019 money financial predictions

3. Get ready for an increase in pension payments

Employers have duties to provide a workplace pension. Since 2012, this new system – called automatic enrolment – has introduced nearly 10 million new savers across the UK to pensions. It’s been a great success. In April 2019, the minimum pension payment will increase from 5% of your earnings to 8% of your earnings. At least 3% of this 8% must come from your employer. A workplace pension can be a valuable way of saving for later life. So, in 2019 think about preparing for this increase in payments. For your future, it will pay to save.

4. Get ready for potential further interest rate increases

After a near decade of record low interest rates, 2018 saw the Bank of England increase its base rate to 0.75%. Many commentators expect 2019 could see further small increases in the base rate, in a bid to ease rising price pressures. This would be good news for savers, but not so good for the millions of borrowers holding short-term loans and mortgages. So, in 2019, it would be a good idea to shop around for the best saving and borrowing rates. A small change could make a big difference.

2019 money financial predictions

5. Get ready for more people taking up pension freedoms

The new pension freedoms for over-55s have proven to be hugely popular. More than £20 billion has been withdrawn from private pensions in new flexible payments. If you’re over 50 and considering your options, it would be a good idea to consult the government’s free Pension Wise service for guidance (pensionwise.gov.uk).

6. Get ready for more ways to manage your money online

Many of us regularly go online to send emails, do a spot of shopping or catch up on social media. But using the internet to manage pensions and investments continues to be an afterthought for many. Most pension and investment providers now offer free online services to help you manage your money. So, in 2019, consider taking advantage of these services so you can make the most of your money, whenever and wherever you want.

2019 money financial predictions

7. Get ready for the new face of the Bank of England £50 note

The new face on this new note will be announced in summer 2019 – and the Bank has stated that it will be someone who has contributed to science.

8. Get ready for the long game

2019 looks set to be a time of volatility and change. At times like these, it is helpful to remember that investments are typically designed to navigate at least a five-year horizon, or even up to 40 years if it’s our investment in our retirement. So, in 2019 it would be a good idea to remember those longer-term goals.

2019 money financial predictions
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