Much Loved Images, but Meerkat Firm Busted By Uk Competition Watchdog

meerkat image with Oops

Britain’s competition watchdog has found that comparethemarket.com is in breach of antitrust law over its arrangements with insurers, which could be resulting in higher costs for consumers.

Following an investigation, the Competition and Markets Authority provisionally found many of the price comparison website’s contracts include so-called “most favoured nation” clauses.

They were found to prevent home insurers from quoting lower prices on rival sites and other channels, meaning customers are presented with fewer options.

It also meant home insurance companies are more likely to pay higher commission rates to comparison sites with the extra costs potentially being passed on to customer, the CMA said.

CMA chief executive Andrea Coscelli said: “Over 20 million UK households have home insurance and more than 60% of new policies are found on price comparison sites. Therefore it’s crucial that these companies are able to offer customers their best possible deals.

“Our investigation has provisionally found that ComparetheMarket has broken the law by preventing home insurers from offering lower prices elsewhere. This could result in people paying higher premiums than they need to.”

The comparison website, famous for its use of meerkats Aleksandr and Sergei in its TV adverts, could be fined up to 10% of its revenue as a result of the breach.

A spokesman for comparethemarket.com said: “We are disappointed by the CMA’s provisional findings.

“We will carefully review the evidence once we have access to it, and look forward to working with the CMA over the coming months to ensure a satisfactory outcome.”

By Ravender Sembhy, Press Association City Editor CITY CompareTheMarket 02 Nov 2018 – 11:52

meerkat group

The World’s Biggest Coffee Morning 2018

Macmillan coffee morning

Do you like a good cuppa and slice of cake mid-morning?  

Well, so do the hard working construction workers at the new Aspire site in Eversely Hampshire…

Paul Wilmott, Managing Director of Aspire will be hosting a Macmillan Coffee Morning on Saturday 29thSeptember and would love it if you could join them, anytime from 10am – 12pm.

Work on the Aspire new homes is progressing well and this small select development is really starting to take shape.

This presented Aspire with opportunity to invite you to site to see the progress yourself, while raising money for this worthwhile cause.

Macmillan Cancer Support is a charity close to our hearts and Aspire hope you are able to join them for the World’s Biggest Coffee Morning 2018.

Please note that due to health and safety reasons, Aspire are not able to permit access inside the houses but it will still be an inspiring visit!

How to find the site…..

Call the Hartley Wintney branch of McCarthy Holden or just take a look at the map below.

map
new homes site Eversley

3 Stylish Home Decor Trends For Autumn – And Maximalism Is Officially Back

Designers have revealed their new decor schemes for autumn and winter. Gabrielle Fagan selects her three favourites.

Autumn is the time of year when nature changes it’s colours, and thanks to the new home collections, it’s easy to ring the changes indoors too.

Choose from sumptuous florals, a cool Nordic theme that celebrates easy, stylish comfort, or full-fat maximalism, with its emphasis on luxury and individuality.

Be inspired – whether it’s a total revamp or just a refresh with a few new accessories – so that your rooms are fashionably kitted out for the seasons to come…

Make magic with moody blooms

property interior

“Escape the everyday and saturate your home with glorious jewel tones this autumn. There are so many ways to use them – in Oriental, deco, and bold floral prints – I love that it all feels a bit fantasy,” enthuses Lois Vincent, home designer at House of Fraser.

“You can up the glamour quota by mixing in a few gilded accessories; after all, who doesn’t need a flamingo candlestick in their life?”

DECOR TIP: Rich plum and berry shades are the perfect autumnal palette for a cosy feel. If you don’t want to go full-on floral, choose dusky pink and warm neutrals for a backdrop and then layer up with petal-rich accessories, from throws to bed linen.

property interior

Conjure calm chic spaces.

“Simple, minimal and layered – soft crafted neutrals and materials are set against stripped back rustic woods for this calm, tranquil look,” says Karen Thomas, head of design for Home at Marks & Spencer.

“This palette of ‘Calming Neutrals’ is inspired by the change in seasons, and evokes a restful and relaxing feel for the home. As we move into autumn, we celebrate the urge to nest and stay indoors.

“Layer soft knits and textures for a casual lived-in feel, and use clean lines and smooth surfaces of cool marble and craft glazes to accessorise your living space.”

DECOR TIP: If you’re reworking your entire living space, keep to a palette of pale grey, wood and white for walls, floor and furniture. Declutter to create a pared-back base, and if you want to warm the scheme, add accents of yellow or green in accessories or plants.

Decorate to the max.

“We expect maximalism to be one of the breakthrough looks for autumn and winter, and we’re already seeing people investing in bold, bright pieces for their homes,” says Fionnuala Johnston, senior designer at John Lewis.

“Maximalism is not necessarily about overcrowding a space, but choosing to be bold by showcasing your own unique style in a creative way.

“Carefully considered mixing and matching of colours, prints and textures is key to achieving the look, and it’s the perfect opportunity to layer designs and blend references.

“A good example would be combining a contemporary drinks trolley with tropical, vintage wallpaper, for a refined glamour that celebrates old and new style.”

Designer Abigail Ahern has embraced the luxe look and made it her own, with her richly designed animal-inspired Edition homeware for Debenhams. Our favourites include the Lizard Cushion, £45; Table Light, £80; Bison Planter, £14; Highland Cow Wall Art, £35; Lantern, £24, and Honeycomb Sideboard £760 (range available from late September).

DECOR TIP: Floor-to-ceiling curtains and reflective surfaces, such as mirrored glass and metalllics, contribute to the luxe look and create an atmosphere of elegance. A successful home will reflect your personality and taste and contain pieces that make you smile – don’t be afraid to experiment.

property interior

Alternatively, if the thought of redecorating is not appealing then why not start a property search for the idea home.

Bank of England Warns of No-Deal Brexit House Price Crash

Property Hampshire Warning Bank of England
Governor of the Bank of England Dr Mark Carney leaving Downing Street, London yesterday, following a Cabinet meeting.

Was this a forecast?

The Governor of the Bank of England has warned ministers that house prices could crash by more than a third in the event of a disorderly, no-deal Brexit, according to a report by Gavin Cordon, Press Association Whitehall Editor.

Yesterday, Mark Carney briefed Theresa May and senior ministers on the Bank’s planning for a “cliff edge” break with the EU at a special Cabinet meeting on Thursday to review the Government’s no-deal preparations.

It is understood he warned house prices could fall by up to 35% over three years in a worst case scenario, as sterling plummeted and the Bank was forced to push up interest rates.

“What could be lost in the alarmist headline is that Carney wasn’t making a forecast,” says John Holden Chairman of McCarthy Holden.

We’ve been here before

“And hang on, haven’t we been here before?” Holden continues.

Back in May 2016, the then Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne warned that following a leave vote house prices would drop by 18%. Around the same time US President Barack Obama said Britain would go to the “back of the queue” for trade deals with the US if it votes to leave the European Union.

“So again today we read headlines which could damage confidence further in both the wider economy and the UK residential property market.” continues Holden.

Understanding the context

Fortunately, some leading economists have stepped up and put Mr Carney’s comments in a framework of context.

Take BBC’s economic editor Kamal Ahmed, who stated today that it appears that the Governor wasn’t providing the Cabinet with a forecast of what the Bank believes would happen in the event of a no-deal Brexit. He was briefing the Cabinet on what preparations the Bank was making if that does happen, including last November’s stress test.

It was not a forecast.

It was an apocalyptic test where the Bank deliberately sets the parameters beyond what might reasonably be expected to occur. The major banks all passed the test, giving reassurance that the financial system can cope with whatever happens next year.

The Governor believes that a ‘no-deal’ scenario would be bad for the economy. But not as bad as the headlines today which are based on a doomsday scenario that is not actually forecast to happen.

The market insight from John Holden is  that “On the shop floor at McCarthy Holden the first half of 2018 saw one of the poorest levels of house sale transactions for some time, however, since July positivity was in the wings because house buyers began surfacing again with intent.”

“Right now, discerning house buyers are seeing the current market conditions as an opportunity to move whilst prices remain static. The news for house sellers is that you can and will sell successfully in today’s market, but don’t expect a fancy or inflated price.”

“Large house price gains are gone for a while, but like all markets when they rebound from a low they come back with a sharp and fast uptake. Savvy buyers know this and are taking care of business now” concludes Holden.

John Holden - Chairman McCarthy Holden

Below are samples of fine homes that have SOLD (exchanged or completed) during 2018

The A-Z of Home Renovation

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THE A-Z OF HOME RENOVATION

Thinking about embarking on a ‘project’? Claire Spreadbury reveals everything you need to know.

A new beginning: Starting a building project feels exciting. You’re creating a new section of your home, designed uniquely for you, which is pretty special.

Builders: The people who are going to take on your work need thoroughly researching. They’ll all have different work ethics, set-ups and costs. Ask around and find out if friends and family would recommend builders they used – it’s surprising how many won’t.

Contract: Once you’ve made a deal with a builder and the work’s secured, insist on a contract. This should tell you exactly what will be done when – week by week – and how much you need to pay at every stage. Remember to only pay that money when work’s completed as agreed.

Dirt: Strap in for a few months of filth. There will be dust everywhere. Some builders are better than others when it comes to protecting you from the dirt (for example, blocking off sections of the house so mess can be contained to work sites) and cleaning it up. Your grass is also likely to get filthy (and slightly ruined) if they store tools in the garden.

Extras: Beware – everything will have been priced up for you, but as the build progresses, there will be lots of additional opportunities for you to haemorrhage cash. The builders’ costs, for example, might include uber-cheap, ugly new radiators, but no doubt there’ll be an option to upgrade to much prettier ones, for a price of course.

Frayed nerves: Going through a build is incredibly stressful, and youmight well need to take on the role of project manager, which is almost impossible if you’re trying to work and sort out your family at the same time. Be prepared for difficult conversations with the builders too – if  you’re not happy with something, it won’t change unless you speak up.

Getting cash out: You might not want to do any dodgy dealing, but if you’re trying to haggle and the only way to make things more affordable is to supply a lump sum of cash, you might be tempted (though we couldn’t possibly recommend it). Getting large amounts of money out of the bank can be troublesome. You may have your account blocked and be treated like a total criminal, just to warn you.

Holidays: A holiday feels so good in the midst of a build, but be warned – there might be a little less activity going on when you’re not around. Builders often work on several jobs at the same time, so if someone else is around and shouting louder, people may get moved off your project onto theirs.

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Itemisation: When the builder gives you your contract, go through it with a fine-tooth comb to check if anything’s missing. If you’re ordering a new kitchen or bathroom, check the itemised list. You may have spent days in the shop talking through it all and working out what you want with the supplier, but that doesn’t mean they won’t incorrectly order something.

Jargon: There will be lots of things you won’t know the names of. When builders, plumbers or electricians litter their updates with words you don’t understand, ask what they mean.

Keys: Your builders are likely to need their own set of keys, so be prepared to get a set cut, and to trust them in your home. Otherwise you’ll need to remain in the house the whole time, and might just drive yourself insane.

Lost stuff: Anything you leave on site is likely to end up in a skip if it’s not needed, and things like light fittings or thermostats – that are fixed to a wall that are being knocked down or worked on – can easily get mislaid.

Mess: Strap yourself in for a messy few months. You’ll have stuff on top of stuff, on top of stuff. It’s a nightmare.

Never-ending: The builders might tell you eight weeks, you’ll estimate 12, but when they’re still at it during week 14, you might feel like you want to explode. Building work takes an awfully long time.

Open plan: This is the look so many of us are trying to achieve. Open plan living’s what modern life is all about, a real home hub where everyone can be together, perfect for families and entertaining. Just beware, there are fewer places to hide mess so think about storage, and if you have a TV in your open space, that’s going to take over, so you might need some screen rules.

Portaloo: They’re not pretty but if having a portaloo stops dusty builders traipsing up your stairs to use your bathroom, you want to have one installed. Check if it’s included as standard in your job price.

Queen-size tantrums and emotions: Nothing can really prepare you for the stress building work puts on your life. If you have other stressful elements to worry about too, prepare yourself for a tough few months. You’ll be snappy, ratty, emotional and generally quite unpleasant whenever you’re inside the house.

Real-life blur: Once you’re a good six weeks into a build, something happens to your brain. You’re no longer able to retain any additional information that isn’t written down, and have to take each and every day as it comes. Planning ahead can no longer happen.

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Skips: When you’re having building work done, a skip is one of the first arrivals. Don’t get too excited about using it to chuck out some big old bits of rubbish you’ve been hoarding for the last 17 years, though. Generally, builders might let you pop in the odd thing, but if you take advantage, they’ll charge you for the cost of the skip – which is hundreds. Prepare yourself for scavengers too; scrap metal dealers will come and rummage at all hours, and some have better manners than others. Same goes for neighbours looking for matching bricks and tiles, and complete randoms hoping for treasure.

Timings: We all know a builder’s schedule is unlikely to go completely to plan. Be prepared for timings to be, let’s say, flexible. It’s slow work – but worth the wait.

Under the ground: You might have to wave goodbye to bits of your garden or a beloved rose bush when it’s dig up to provide the soak away. The tunnels and pipes are often necessary for plumbing work, but rest assured, the garden will grow back (minus the rose bush).

Various people: Building firms use different people for different types of work, so you could see a lot of different faces over the course of the work. It’s a good idea to try and get to know them all though, as you’ll feel easier about being in the house with them.

Wall cracks: When you knock down walls and do extensions, you put the rest of the house under severe pressure. Supports will be put in place to ensure it’s safe but you will discover lots of brand new cracks, around windows, across corners and over ceilings. This can be alarming but it happens. Wait for the house to settle (usually at least six months is advised), then fill in the cracks and redecorate.

X-rated language: It’s not sweary builders you need to worry about, but your own language. Another side-effect of stress, it’s likely your swear count will rise dramatically. Stay calm by organising time away from the house, relaxing exercise classes like yoga or meditation, and mindfulness apps.

Yes please: Remember everything you say ‘yes’ to could cost you money. Some builders are more upfront about it than others. So if you’re asked if you’d like something a bit different, be sure to check whether it’s included in the price.

Zoo-like behaviour: Most reputable firms will use good staff, but there’s always the odd one – possibly the labourer doing all the horrible jobs – who might not be quite as tidy and polite as you might like. Be sure to give them mugs you’re happy to throw away for their cuppas, prepare for mud getting everywhere and cover up any areas – like stair carpets and hallway – with sticky, plastic coverings. You’ll really appreciate it come the end of the build.

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Before you start building works of a significant expense, why not speak to your local branch of McCarthy Holden who will be able to guide you in potential before and after values. For your local branch information:  

https://www.mccarthyholden.co.uk/branches/

How To Turn Up The Heat With The Tropical Homes Trend

interior design photo

For a different house interior design, birds, wildlife and foliage all star in the latest decor must-haves. Gabrielle Fagan reveals how to style them up.

Hot weather may make you yearn to escape to a tropical paradise but if that’s beyond the budget, you can easily create your own exotic sanctuary.

Combine vibrant shades and bold palm prints with a sprinkling of tropical touches – it’s one of the easiest ways turn up the style dial in your interior, and add a little sizzle to your space.

So, put away your passport and pick one of these sun-kissed looks…

Wing it with tropical birds

“Exotic birds – parrots, flamingos and toucans – are winging their way into our homes, as they’re the perfect way to introduce the colour we’re craving, to give rooms a punchy personality,” says Nadia McCowan Hill, style advisor for online interiors specialist, Wayfair. “Why not flirt with this feathered trend with bold bed linen, cushions, wall art or some eye-catching glassware?

“Alternatively, give an unloved space (such as your downstairs loo or the inside of a cupboard) a quirky makeover, with a striking splash of flamingo or parrot-decorated wallpaper, ” she suggests.

Walk on the wild side with animal prints

“Opting for safari-themed homeware is another sure-fire way to make your interiors grrrr-eat!” says McCowan Hill.

“As well as walking on the wild side with animal images and faux heads, add some bold contrast with bold zebra stripes for a pouffe or chair, and dress a floor with fur print rugs.”

interior design photo

Pick a leafy pattern

“Lush leafy patterns are another easy way to bring this hot summer look home, because palms are evocative of far-away destinations,” notes McCowan Hill.

“For a fresh take on this summer favourite, choose a classic print with a tropical twist, and accessorise around it. That way, you can ramp up the effect to suit your taste. Metallic touches will add a hint of luxury, which will contrast well with a pared-back setting.”

If you really want to create a sultry atmosphere, wall specialists Pixers has a fab Art Illustration With Palm Tree Doodle mural, £301 (though prices start from £29), which would have real impact on a feature wall in a living area.

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By Gabrielle Fagan, Press Association

8 Reasons To Get Solar Panels On Your Home

house with solar panels

Could your property value be enhanced and the house become more saleable be with the benefit of solar panels and reduced energy bills? Putting property values top one side, in this article by Lisa Salmon (Press Association), she examines some good reasons to consider a solar panel installation.

Sunlight is free, so why not harness its energy through solar panels on your home?

Most people would love to save money on their domestic energy bills, and the summer is the ideal time to do it.

And that’s not just because you don’t need the heating on. It’s because all that sunlight is producing huge amounts of energy, which can be harnessed if you have solar panels on your home.

While a decade ago solar energy provided virtually no power, around 840,000 homes in the UK now have solar panels – also known as photovoltaics (PV) – and the renewable energy source regularly generates around a fifth of the country’s electricity for hours on summer days. The spell of hot, dry summer weather has helped break several solar power-generation records, and recently even very briefly eclipsed gas power stations, as the UK’s top source of electricity.

However, the solar energy boom may already have reached it’s peak, as solar panel installations have flatlined recently because financial incentives for householders to get them installed have been slashed dramatically, and will stop completely next year with no sign of a replacement scheme.

But green campaigners desperately want solar power to keep its foothold in the energy market, and point out there are still many reasons to consider installing solar panels on homes.

property roof with solar panel

1 Solar panels can save you money

The Energy Saving Trust (EST), an independent consumer body which helps householders and businesses save energy, says the amount saved depends on several factors – where your home is, what direction your roof faces, how big a system you install, when you install it, and how much of the energy produced you’re able to use yourself. For a typical 4kW system in the south of England, you could make around £275 a year in feed-in tariff generation payments and export payments.

Use the EST’s online Solar Energy Calculator (energysavingtrust.org.uk) to assess what financial benefits you may get from installing a solar PV system.

You’ll also save on electricity bills, says the EST. The amount you save depends on how much energy you use in a day when your solar panels are generating energy. If you’re usually out all day, you’ll only save around £90 a year on your bills. However, if you tend to be at home, you could save around £220 a year. Including the benefits from tariffs, this would give you a total saving of around £365-£495, depending on your lifestyle.

Caitlin Bent, home energy expert for the EST, says: “Solar panels are most suited to people who are at home a lot during the day, who can really take advantage of using free electricity when the sun is shining.”

2 You get paid for energy you produce

As well as saving on electricity bills, you can make money in two other ways with solar panels. Firstly, through the feed-in tariff, you’re paid for every unit of energy you generate. The feed-in tariff will close to new applicants in April 2019, although payments will continue for 20 years from the date of installation for those who invest in solar panels before April.

Secondly, you can make money via the export tariff, through which you’re paid for any energy you don’t use but send back to the grid. However, because export isn’t metered for domestic properties, the government assumes you’ll export 50% of the energy you produce. This means regardless of how much you use, you’ll be paid for 50% of your generation.

3 You’re helping to save the planet

Solar electricity is green renewable energy, meaning it doesn’t release any harmful carbon dioxide or other pollutants. A typical home solar PV system could save around 1.2 to 1.7 tonnes of carbon per year. The EST says: “By generating clean, green electricity you reduce your home’s carbon emissions. Plus, any solar energy you don’t use will be fed into the grid, so it can be used by someone else.”

4 Costs have fallen

A typical 4kW solar PV system now costs around £5,500 – £6,800 on average, according to government figures. When the feed-in tariffs began in 2010, costs were as high as £12,000-£14,000.

5 You can store solar energy on batteries

Batteries can now be purchased by householders to enable them to consume rather than export their solar electricity, which makes more financial sense.

6 It’s possible to use solar tiles if you prefer

Solar tiles are designed to be used in place of ordinary roof tiles. However, a system of solar tiles will typically cost about twice as much as an equivalent panel system. Therefore, solar tile systems aren’t normally as cost-effective as panel systems, and are usually only considered where panels aren’t appropriate for aesthetic or planning reasons.

7 They’re low maintenance

Solar panels require relatively little maintenance, but you may need to wash the surface occasionally, and make sure trees don’t begin to overshadow them, to make sure they continue working at their most efficient. Debris is more likely to accumulate on ground-mounted panels, and roof panels that are tilted at 15 degrees or more will be cleaned by rainfall. Panels should last 25 years or more, but their inverter is likely to need replacing at some point sooner, at a cost of about £800.

8 They come with a guarantee

“The performance of solar panels will degrade slightly over time,” says Bent, “but most come with a guarantee of at least 25 years.”

If you are a house buyer looking for a home with solar panels, why not undertake a property search from our home page