Want to Add Value to Your Property? Expand Your Kitchen!

Want to Add Value to Your Property Expand Your Kitchen

If you’re planning on selling your property in the future, you may be considering making improvements in the form of renovations. Among those renovations which can result in the most value being added to a property, the kitchen tops the list. In fact, this room is still regarded as one of a home’s most important when purchasing a property. A recent study revealed that a small kitchen could put off as many as 25% of potential house buyers, so it makes sense to expand your kitchen into an attractive and ready-to-use space.

Complete Renovation, or Kitchen Alternatives?

The numbers don’t lie; although it may be very tempting completely to gut your existing kitchen in favour of installing a brand new one, the costs outweigh the return on this investment. A new kitchen will run you about £15,000 to install, but will only result in approximately £4,500 being added to your home’s value.

As well, the personal tastes of a buyer may vary widely from your own, which can mean that they’ll set to swapping out your newly-installed kitchen soon after they’ve bought your property. If you look closely, you may actually discover that there isn’t anything amiss with your current kitchen, save the need for a few minor repairs and cosmetic touch-ups. There may also be other areas of your home which need more attention than your kitchen does. For instance, an ageing roof will be a much higher priority when you’re selling your home than your kitchen will be. That being said, the far more cost-effective option is to expand your kitchen without renovating it.

Tips for Kitchen Expansion

There are some ways to expand your kitchen that have nothing to do with the installation of new elements. For instance, by simply ensuring your countertops are free of clutter, your kitchen can appear to be far larger than it actually is.

Increase the Kitchen’s Perceived Size

Another way to increase your kitchen’s perceived size is to look up. Is there a lot of blank space on the walls? If so, you may wish to consider placing pictures, plates or other attention-grabbing items high up on the walls. When someone walks into your kitchen, these items will work to draw their eyes upward, increasing the perceived space of the room. You can also achieve this effect with paint in contrasting colours.

Another simple way to increase the perceived size your kitchen is to lighten the colour of your cupboards. White will make the entire kitchen look cleaner and can also make it look larger. Another effect of painting your cupboards is that this also serves to draw the eye upward and create the illusion of increased space.

Buy a Kit

If you want to save money but really want a new kitchen, you might consider the purchase of a do-it-yourself kitchen kit. These allow you to easily install new elements yourself without the outlay of hiring a professional. Of course, some skill will still be required to do this successfully, so don’t attempt it if you’re not confident in your DIY abilities!

Use the Dining Room

The extra space you need to expand your kitchen could be right in front of you if you have a dining room. Today’s home buyer is looking for more space in the form of bigger rooms, according to a recent survey. And today’s families tend to do all of their interactions in the kitchen and living area. That being said, look for opportunities to create a completely different feel by using the space in your dining room or another nearby room that you don’t plan to use.

Go Free-Standing

The standard built-in kitchen remains a popular choice. However, when thinking of ways to expand your kitchen, the free-standing kitchen option should not be ignored. Free-standing elements like a corner shelf from another room can add more space to your kitchen without incurring the additional costs to purchase it just for the purposes of selling your home. Not only that but things like corner cupboards and plate racks can add instant attractiveness to your kitchen.

Regardless which tips you choose to pursue, the good news is that you don’t need to spend a lot of time or money to make your kitchen look brand new for interested buyers.

House Prices Slow Down But Are Still On the Increase

House Prices Slow Down But Are Still On the Increase

In the UK, property prices have been rising steadily for several years. One prediction is that just a decade from now, prices may be as much as 50% higher than they are currently. Although this seems like a lot, the fact that house prices rose an average 7.82% between 2013 and 2014 make that 50% seem far more likely to be reached less than ten years from now.

In the Midlands and the North of England, property prices are steadily slowing, meaning that in 10 years, the price of a property in London could easily reach a million pounds. Meanwhile in England’s South and East, property prices continue to accelerate. And amid all of these numbers, it seems that the benefits of investing in property in Nottinghamshire have gone largely ignored. There are actually many reasons for investing in property now.

The East Midlands Property Market Remains Lucrative

The UK’s property market is a primary driving force for the economy, and has always been a risky venture with all manner of peaks and valleys to prepare yourself for. But, it remains a lucrative venture, especially in the East Midlands, even if you only plan to invest in one property. Combined with low mortgage rates, this generates the perfect conditions for successful investing.

Tenant Demand on the Rise

For those looking to start a property business, a by-product of the continuing rise in house prices, as well as a desired change in lifestyle, are causing more and more individuals to look for lower payments by pursuing home and flat rentals. All told, the increase in tenant demand has been significant, with an average of five people competing for a single rental property. This increase is expected to continue.

As well, the increasing mobility of the workforce is seeing a higher number of people looking to share accommodation, which is both more affordable and allows for more money to be saved for a large property or other purchase in the future.

Benefits of Investing in Property

There are many benefits to property investment. Not only can you run a property business from anywhere in the world, but you can enjoy sustainable business growth that’s also profitable. As well, rents are currently at their highest in this country, which means ever-climbing yields for property owners.

For those looking to begin a property business, both direct and indirect investments are available. A collective property fund can allow would-be business owners to own property without the high cost. This is done by entering a pool of investors, from which a professional manager collects money and then invested into shares of property or in the property directly. Collective funds are available in many forms, including property unit trusts, REITs (real estate investment trusts) and offshore property companies.

Those who wish to purchase property for themselves can also enjoy many benefits. As current numbers predict, the value of a home will only increase over the coming years, which can mean a large return if the property is sold.

Is this information Enough to make a Decision?

Although the numbers are in, predictions about the property market have been made and the many benefits of property investing remain, some will inevitably wonder when is the best time to take the property investment plunge.

The truth is that now is as good a time as any to invest. But whether or not you do so is an individual decision. Investing in property does involve taking risks, but the key is to be satisfied with the level of risk being assumed, as well as to be able to manage that risk.

Property investment is not something that should be entered into lightly. Much consideration needs to be made before making the decision to invest. It may be that you need a professional to help you determine the best course of action before going forward.


Can Remortgaging Give You a Better Borrowing Deal?


We all want to have the opportunity to save a lot of money without having to sacrifice anything. And the way that many homeowners are doing this is by remortgaging their homes. But how much are they really saving? A recent LMS report revealed that up to £500 was saved by 32% of homeowners when they remortaged.

Indeed, remortgaging is proving to be very popular, thanks to the resultant record low rates of fierce lender competition. Add to this an increase in housing equity, and the conditions are ideal. However, can remortgaging always get you a better borrowing deal? That depends on your individual situation.

Is Remortgaging for You?

There are lots of great reasons for paying off your existing mortgage and switching to another, but the costs of doing this must be carefully considered. As well, there are several steps to take before you start hunting for a lower rate.

Look at your Reasons

As stated previously, the desire to save money is a good reason to remortgage, as long as the benefits outweigh the costs. Staying with your current deal could cause you to miss out on better ones which could slash the cost of your monthly payment.

Remortgaging can also be of benefit if you need to make improvements to your home or need some cash, as it will release some of your home’s equity.

Those who want to pay off their mortgage sooner may also choose to take the remortgaging route, as it allows for the term of the mortgage to be reduced, freeing you from debt that much sooner.

Finally, remortgaging makes sense if something has changed with your financial situation. Some events which could be considered as a financial change could be the starting of a new job, having children or a similar significant life event. In these situations, remortgaging can provide the peace of mind of a no-surprises fixed rate.

The Costs of Remortgaging

Although remortgaging can appear to be a great deal at the outset, an important thing to think about are the fees. And so when considering this route, all charges spanning the length of the deal and your monthly repayments should be added up.

There are several other fees associated with remortgaging that need to be considered. Some of these are the valuation fee, mortgage account fee, and exit fee. Depending on the value of your property, the value fee can range from between £150 and £1500. The mortgage account fee is what pays your lender for the administration costs they incur during the process of remortgaging your home. This cost will fall between £100 and £300. The exit or closure fee is what is paid to your lender upon the repayment of your mortgage. Unless you’ve already paid the mortgage account fee, your exit fee will fall between £75 and £300.

There are 8 additional charges which could potentially apply to your remortgage, adding up to a possible £3000. The final cost is dependent on which fees and what amounts apply to your particular situation.

Property Value

Has your property’s value changed? This is a crucial piece of information to have because the higher the value of your property to your existing mortgage, the better the deals that may be available to you. There are numerous sources online where you can check the value of your property, such as Zoopla and Rightmove.

What’s Available on the Market, and Calling an Expert

Looking at the current market and putting your current payment amount against what you could be paying is a good way to see what kinds of deals are available to you. Once you’ve found your ideal rates, you may be able to get a good deal from a mortgage broker, who can access mortgage rates not offered on comparison resource sites. They can also assist with lending a pair of eyes to your calculations and helping you ensure you’re making the best financial choice for you.

Because every homeowner’s situation is so different, the only way to tell if a remortgage is right for you is to crunch the numbers. If the benefits of switching to a different deal outweigh the associated costs, then remortgaging could definitely be in the cards for you.


A Brief Guide to Gas Safety for Landlords


Gas safety is serious business, and landlords have been warned by the AIIC not to treat it lightly. Recent occurrences have seen landlords being fined for safety failings and for letting properties with dangerous gas boilers and equipment not checked by certified engineers.

Although it is unclear why there have been more of these incidences in the past year, the AIIC is now urging landlords to ensure that all gas systems in their rental properties, including boilers and gas appliances are safe. Carbon monoxide detectors have now become a requirement.

What can you do as a landlord to ensure that the gas appliances in your rental property are safe and working correctly? This guide will help.

Your Requirements as a Landlord

As a landlord, your duty is to ensure the maintenance of all flues and gas fittings to ensure their safe condition. This includes ensuring that all gas appliances are regularly and properly serviced according to manufacturer’s instructions or on the advice of an engineer registered with Gas Safe. Annual safety checks should be carried out on each appliance and its flue before the start of any new lease, or should have been inspected within one year before the start of the new lease. Appliances installed in a rental property for under 12 months will require inspection within one year of installation.

Keeping Records

Safety check records for each appliance must be kept for two years or more, and a copy of the latest safety check issued to existing tenants within 28 days of check completion. If new tenants are moving into the property, they must be given a copy of the record prior to moving in.

Taking All Reasonable Steps

It is the landlord’s duty to ensure they’ve taken all reasonable steps to ensure the safety of tenant appliances. This can mean requesting access to a tenant’s rental property in written form, including this access in their rental contract, or any other reasonable means.

Safety is not the Tenant’s Duty

Overall, the responsibility of ensuring compliance with the law belongs to the landlord. The landlord cannot delegate maintenance or safety check duties to the tenant, even if a managing agent is being used. Sub-let properties require the landlord to retain safety duties. However, these duties may overlap with those of the individual who sub-lets. In these cases, communication between the parties to ensure current checks and records are being kept is strongly recommended.

Risk of Prosecution, Penalty and Imprisonment

Not taking steps to maintain the gas appliances in tenant residences can result in injury and loss of life. Fines for not maintaining tenants’ gas appliances can reach £20,000, and offending landlords can be placed in prison for non-compliance. In some cases, both a fine and an order for imprisonment may be given. Unlimited fines may be the result of the case if is referred to the Crown Court.

Checking Certification of Engineer

Any engineer entering a premises to conduct maintenance and safety checks on an appliance must be confirmed as certified by the landlord. Engineers should be willing and able to provide a current card containing their photo, company name, registration number, security hologram, business registration number and start and expiry date. The back of the card should contain detailed information about the kind of gas work the engineer is registered to do.

If ever in doubt about the certification of an engineer, landlords can call the Gas Safe Register during office hours on 0800 408 5500, or visit http://www.gassaferregister.co.uk.

Failed Appliances

Any appliances which fail the safety check must be re-examined and the problem rectified by a certified Gas Safe engineer before using the equipment again. No appliance deemed unsafe should be turned on or placed into use until the identified problem has been rectified.

Should the smell of gas be detected, immediately open all windows and doors. Next, you’ll need to ensure the gas supply is shut off at the meter control valve. If this valve is unable to be found, and gas continues to leak, call the Gas Emergency Freephone Number 0800 111 999.