In the UK, the government has put several schemes for first-time buyers in place to help people trying to get onto the property ladder. With rising house prices, recessions and not much movement to the national living wage - it is the hardest it’s ever been to get there. That is why it is so important to know what options are available to you for receiving a little extra help towards that dream. 

While we know how difficult it is and are aware of the common struggles young people are facing nowadays, it doesn’t mean the desired result is impossible to achieve. As we said - we are lucky in the fact that there are many ways you can receive financial assistance, advice and help to hit those all-important saving goals. 

With that in mind, let’s take a look at what’s on offer at the moment and which options may be best for you. 

What Qualifies You For Schemes For First-Time Buyers?

It is simple really. To be qualified as this term, you and anyone you’re buying the property with must be purchasing your very first residential property. If you’ve owned (not rented) a house or flat before, you’re unlikely to be eligible for much of what we’re about to discuss. 

Because of this, it is always worth consulting your bank or advisor before looking into major financial decisions. 

Help To Buy Equity Loan

This is a loan from the government that you can combine with a small deposit and a mortgage to help you buy a new-build property. You can usually receive between 15% and 40% of the property price, depending on where you live in England. The only catch is that you will need at least a 5% deposit to top it up and be able to get a mortgage agreed to cover the rest. 

Benefits

There are two main benefits to this approach. 

Firstly, you only need a deposit of 5%, rather than the normal 10% or 15%. This means you don’t need to save as much or use as much of your money that’s been put aside to cover the initial sale. 

Secondly, you will have more access to better mortgage rates as you will only need to cover a small percentage of the property’s value. For example - if you enter with a 5% deposit and a 20% help to buy equity loan, you will only need a mortgage to cover the remaining 75%. As a result, you could be looking at lower monthly payments, to begin with and better mortgage rates overall.

Disadvantages

These kinds of schemes for first-time buyers are based on property value. This means you have to be cautious of the ever-changing property market. So even though you are taking a 20% loan - you could end up paying more than you received due to the increased house prices. 

For example, if you bought a £200k property but sell your home with Beals a few years later for £250k, a 20% loan will have increased from £40k to £50k in light of the increased property value. As a result, you will need to pay back £10k more than you borrowed to purchase the house. 

Help To Buy ISA

NOTE - This scheme was closed for new accounts in 2019, so the information below only applies to those who opened a help to buy ISA before 30th November 2019.

Any contribution you make to your help to buy ISA will receive a 25% contribution from the government up to £12,000. This means you could be entitled to an extra £3000 towards your house deposit if you save the full amount. 

If you managed to start saving in a help to buy ISA, you now have until 2029 to add funds and then a further 12 months to claim your government bonus. All of your savings are tax-free.

Benefits

The clear advantage of this is receiving extra tax-free money from the government! They are essentially topping up your house deposit as a reward for saving money. Also, both your initial deposit and monthly contributions qualify for the 25% bonus so you won’t be missing out on any pennies.

Another benefit is true if you are buying with someone else. Since you can both qualify for these ISAs, it means you would be eligible for £6000 extra from the government to help with that deposit!

Disadvantages

Although you are entitled to an initial deposit of up to £1000, you can then only contribute £200 a month to your ISA. This can prolong the saving process for some people and means you are limited to what you can put away. 

Also, the government bonus only gets paid out when you are buying your first home. This means you cannot use it for any other purchases, even in an emergency. It has one specific purpose and then of course could not be used again to buy a second property. 

Another disadvantage is the cap on property prices. For example, if you live outside of London, you must be intending to buy a property worth LESS than £250k. However, due to the hefty difference in the property market, this increased to less than £450k inside of London. 

Shared Ownership

If you can’t quite afford the mortgage on 100% of a property, shared ownership offers you the chance to buy a share of between 10% and 75% of the home and pay rent on the rest. (It doesn’t mean you need to share the house with other people.)

If you do not own another property and your total household income is less than £80k a year you will be eligible to buy this way. It is essentially a middle ground between owning and renting that allows you to buy more shares in the property as and when you can afford it.

 

Benefits

You’ll only be paying a mortgage on the percentage of shares you own. This means the money needed for a deposit will be a lot less. As a result, it is much easier for lower-income families to get onto the property ladder.

Furthermore, this method is more preferable to renting as the shares you own will increase in value if the price of the property goes up. This means you will have a nice bit of equity to lean on when you decide to take the next step to full ownership. 

Disadvantages

First and foremost, you are still a tenant. This means you may need to ask the housing association for permission to make changes or improvements to the property. Similarly, you may need to pay fees for maintenance to communal areas if there are any. 

Also, if you later want to move on and sell your home, you could run into some trouble making a quick sale. This is because you could be limited to who can buy the home and other restrictions may make it difficult to get rid of. 

Lifetime ISA

Also known as LISAs, this falls under the same branch of schemes for first-time buyers as the help to buy ISA. 

Similarly, the government will still pay a 25% bonus on anything you contribute up to a set limit each year. However, with a LISA you are entitled to add up to £4000 a year rather than the £200 a month cap on help to buy. This means that the most you can claim from the government in 12 months is £1000.

The major difference between the two is that you can use a lifetime ISA for more than purchasing a property. You are also allowed to withdraw funds for retirement once you reach 60. This means you can continue paying into the account AFTER you have bought your first home - it will just have to remain there until you’re 60 years old!

Benefits

Firstly, it is, of course, worth mentioning that while they are similar, the lifetime ISA is still available to you. You can no longer apply for a help to buy ISA.

Obviously, gaining an extra £1000 a year to help towards a deposit is a huge benefit of this scheme. But beyond that, you can’t forget that not only are the contributions you make tax free. So is any interest and government bonus you earn on it. 

As well as this, the larger cap means your saving goals could be hit much quicker and you will be well on your way to getting on that property ladder in a couple of years. Also, unlike with a help to buy ISA, you are not limited to one purchase. You can keep adding to it to top up your pension pot and receive a nice profit on top!

Disadvantages

One potential drawback is that your £4000 a year allowance on LISAs also contributes to your cap on other ISAs. This means that should you save the full amount, you will only be able to invest up to £16k in other places. 

Also, should you need to withdraw any funds for reasons other than purchasing a property, becoming terminally ill or retiring at 60, you will incur a 25% exit penalty fee. Even transferring your LISA to a different account would see you getting less than you put in. 

Get On The Property Ladder With Beals

We are lucky to have so many schemes available to us in the UK to help young people get on the property ladder. It can be really useful for low-income families and solo-buyers. However, there are always things to consider when looking to open new accounts and so your financial status, personal situation and future plans should all be considered before making a decision.

Also, don’t forget that many of these can only be used to purchase your first home. If you are already a homeowner, you will not be entitled and you cannot use the scheme again after becoming one. So take your time to research thoroughly and think about which looks right for you. 

But for any more advice or help starting the journey to your dream home, give us a call! We offer an unparalleled experience which is why we have so many repeat customers, we know how to get it right every time. Whether you be a buyer, seller, landlord or tenant, we've got you covered. Contact us here by submitting an enquiry form or call one of our dedicated branches, the individual contact numbers for each can be found here.

 

Energy performance certificates have been a legal requirement in England, Wales and Northern Ireland since 2009. You must get an EPC if you want to sell or rent your home. So, we’ve all had time to get used to the idea, but what is an EPC?

We strip away some of the myths to bring you the facts about energy performance certificates, and answer the pressing questions.

What Is an Energy Performance Certificate?

We have had energy performance ratings for a long time. Every time you buy a washing machine or oven, you will see a coloured chart showing you the energy efficiency of that appliance. 

It helps you choose the most efficient model to reduce energy costs and save you money. It also encourages manufacturers to make their products more environmentally friendly as customers demand the most cost-effective technology. 

In essence, an EPC for a property is a four-page document that rates your home’s energy performance using a coloured chart ranging from green for the best to red being the worst. Each colour is allotted a letter from A to G. 

It also provides you with suggestions to help increase your home’s rating to improve efficiency, including the potential costs and savings. 

 

Do I Need an EPC?

If you are selling or renting your house, you will need an EPC within seven days of the property coming onto the market. They are a legal requirement. The good news is if you are using Beals Independent Estate Agents to market your home, we will sort this out for you. 

If you fail to produce an EPC, you could receive a £5,000 fine. 

 

Who Does the EPC?

Your EPC is carried out by a qualified and accredited Energy Performance Assessor. These assessments can be sourced independently, but the vast majority of sellers and landlords use their estate or letting agents to organise the report.

 

Can My Home Fail an EPC

If you are selling your home, you cannot fail the energy performance certificate. The report ranks your property from A to G, with A being the most efficient and G the worst performance. 

However, if you are selling your home, a low score will likely damage your chances of securing a buyer, which could negatively affect your asking price. 

If you are renting your property, things are slightly different. Prior to April 2020, the law demanded that homes should have a minimum of an E-rating in order to secure a new tenancy. Post-April 2020, this now applies to all tenancies. 

 

What If My Rental Home Has an F-Rating?

You will not be able to rent your property if it scores an F or G-rating. Before installing a tenant, the law states that you must perform improvement works recommended in the report to a maximum value of £3,500 (VAT inclusive).

This is going to change because the UK government has pledged a minimum of a C-rating for all rental properties by 2030. Given that the UK has the highest concentration of old and leaky homes in Europe, that equates to a lot of upgrades. 

 

When Am I Not Required to get an EPC?

There are instances where an EPC is not required. For example, if you rent an individual room within your home. But bear in mind that a self-contained flat within a property with its own entrance and facilities will need an EPC.

If you own a listed building, it is protected, or in a conservation area, your property is exempt from an energy rating. This is to protect the property because some energy improvements could dramatically alter the outward appearance. 

You can check the status of your home with your local authority conservation officer.

 

Will I Need to Renew My EPC?

Your EPC is valid for 10 years and it rates the home and not the person commissioning it. You can reuse the EPC multiple times within that time frame. 

 

Should I Update My EPC If I Improve My Home?

You don’t have to get your home rated after improvements that you think will improve the overall score. However, if you are thinking of selling within the 10-year period when the EPC is still valid, it might be a good idea to increase buyer confidence. 

It might also help you attain a better price. 

 

How Do I Query My EPC?

If you don’t understand something, or you disagree with the report, you can contact the energy performance assessor who did the assessment. Their details are listed on the document under the “About this document” section. 

If the problem remains unresolved, you can make contact with the accreditation scheme listed on the document. 

 

Ways to Improve Your EPC Rating

If you are worried about the EPC result, you can do some simple things to improve the rating before the assessment is carried out. 

 

Start with Lighting

Lighting is surprisingly energy-hungry, especially if you use halogen or non-low energy bulbs. Consider changing your old bulbs for light-emitting diodes (LED) or compact fluorescent lights (CFL). 

LED bulbs use 75% less energy than incandescent lighting. When you multiply the number of light bulbs in your home, that’s a massive energy saving. 

 

Replace Old Heating

Old gas boilers are one of the biggest causes of a low energy score on your EPC. It’s expensive to replace your gas boiler but it is worth doing if you have the funds and you think it is necessary. 

New condensing gas boilers are 95% efficient, with only 5% of the energy being used to power the boiler. Compare that to an old boiler, which could be as low as 60%. That means that 40% of the energy used powers the boiler. 

This is a long-term energy solution, and you are unlikely to see the benefits if you are selling your home, but it will improve your EPC result. 

 

Update Roof Insulation

Heat rises, so is it any wonder that a poorly insulated roof leaks all the heat from your home. Ensure the loft insulation is a minimum of 270mm thick to trap the heat in and reduce heating costs. 

The good news is if your insulation is 90mm or less, you can apply for funding to upgrade the insulation. 

 

Update Wall Insulation

Older homes have cavity walls, which is essentially two skins of brick with a gap between them to allow air to flow. While they are excellent at helping your home breathe, they can be drafty. Consider cavity wall insulation to solve this problem. 

One of the biggest influencers of the EPC rating is cavity walls, so a simple way to get the highest score is to insulate your walls. 

 

Update Thermostats

Old boilers are inefficient, but you can improve their performance by updating your heating controls. New thermostats and individual thermostatic radiator valves (TRV) increase the efficiency of your heating system. 

Using a smart meter also helps you improve how you use energy because it tells you how much you are using in real-time. 

 

The Last Word on Energy Performance Certificates

Try not to look at the EPC as a stick to punish you for having a poorly insulated home. Remember that when you sell, you usually need to buy, so by applying the same standard, we all benefit, including the planet. 

Energy performance certificates are designed to drag the UK’s old, leaky and inefficient housing stock into the 21st century to reduce energy bills and help to save the planet. That has to be a good thing for you and your children’s futures. 

 

 

 

 

 

Getting Your Property Ready To Rent In Simple Steps

Renting out your home sounds simple enough, but in reality, there are a few things you need to consider. Whether you are an accidental landlord or looking to become a property magnate, the steps are the same. 

Preparing your property for possible tenants has benefits. It makes your property more desirable and improves the tenant’s rental experience. The best advice is to start early when it comes to planning for a future tenant, and there are simple steps you can follow.

Start Early

This is crucial because there are hoops you need to jump through before you can rent out your property. First, you should speak to your existing lender to establish that you can actually rent the property out. 

You will likely have a residential mortgage on your home, which means you are effectively changing the mortgage terms if you want to rent it out. Speak to your lender because you will need permission before you do anything. 

Most mortgage lenders will accommodate your request but be warned that by changing the nature of the mortgage, they will likely charge you an admin fee and possibly a higher rate of interest. 

They are unlikely to give you permission to rent the property out if you are still inside a fixed-rate period, but if you are outside a fixed-rate period, you are free to shop around; it might be the incentive your lender needs to grant your wishes.

If you want to shop around for the best mortgage deals, speak to a Beals mortgage expert. They have access to the entire mortgage market, ensuring that you can compare rates for the best possible mortgage. 

The second item on your list should be to consult with an ARLA (Association of Residential Letting Agents) registered agent to get the best advice on what you need to do to get your home into a lettable condition. 

They can offer hints and tips and guide you in the right direction so you can focus your energies in the right areas. Most prospective tenants start looking at properties well before their move-in date; you should give yourself an eight-week head start on any renovation or decorating work. 

Make Your Home Irresistible

Nothing beats that first impression, and you only get one chance to make it. You are competing with other properties for your tenant, so if you want the best tenant and the best possible rental income, invest the time now to get your home looking right. 

This might mean giving the walls a fresh lick of paint or carrying out those repairs you always intended to do but left until the last minute. A well-maintained house provides the tenant with the peace of mind that they will have minimal problems during their tenancy and that you are a landlord who cares about the condition of your property. 

It also encourages them to continue to care for your home while they are in occupation. This is one of your main aims as a landlord because tenants that care as much about your home as you do are worth their weight in gold. 

Design With Tenants In Mind

Your home may be beautifully decorated, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to appeal to your average tenant. To appeal to the broadest audience, the best approach is to think in neutral colours. 

The more people you attract to your property, the more you can pick and choose the right tenant and the better the monthly rental income. 

Neutral colours give the tenant plenty of scope to personalise their space because it will be their home after all. 

It also means that when your current tenant moves out, the neutral colour scheme will appeal to subsequent applicants. It is also less likely to age, which saves you money in the long run. 

Make Essential Repairs

Keeping your asset in the best possible condition is a must for any landlord. It protects your investment; the property is occupied for longer, reducing void periods and non-payment of rent, and minimises the prospect of expensive repairs further down the line. 

After all, it is still your property, and you want your investment to grow. Leaving the property to deteriorate will only cost you more money in the long run and cause you headaches with void periods and emergency repairs.

There are ways to make your life easier. Choose darker colours for carpets and if possible, go for laminate or hardwood floors that are more hard-wearing and show less damage.

Choose widely available and affordable colours for the wall, like magnolia, creams and white. If you are replacing bathroom suites, you don’t need to buy the budget option but think cheaper rather than expensive.

 

Think About Safety Requirements

If you provide electrical items, it is often a requirement to get a PAT (portable appliance test) test to prove the appliances are safe to use. You also need an Energy Performance Certificate and a Gas Safety Certificate before you rent the property out.

Your letting agent is the best person to organise these because they do it every day and have reliable contacts in the industry who can provide a swift service and offer the best deals. 

You also need to install smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors to protect the tenants against fire and deadly gasses. Now is also an excellent time to review your gas boiler because it might be deemed unsafe for modern standards and need replacing if it is old. 

If you buy new appliances like cookers, fridges and boilers, make up an information pack for the incoming tenants with all the instructions to use them safely. It could save you stress further down the line when the appliance breaks because they didn’t use it correctly. 

If you manage the let yourself, it also saves getting those late-night phone calls from the tenant complaining that the boiler won’t light or the oven won’t work. 

 

Keep It Clean

It is your responsibility to provide a hygienic and clean property. Ensure the bathroom is free of mould and mildew, and the carpets are clean and stain-free. You will struggle to find a tenant if the property’s condition is not up to standard, and when you do find a tenant, it will likely be for a reduced rent. 

So, before inviting people to view your property, spend the weekend before it goes on the market cleaning, scrubbing and washing down surfaces. Don’t forget to move large appliances to clean behind and wipe down inside the kitchen’s cupboards. 

You could also speak to the letting agent and ask if they have a professional cleaning service or have contacts who offer such a service. This might be the better option if you are stuck for time or don’t have the appetite for a weekend in rubber gloves. 

It all sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised how many houses and flats come to the market in a substandard condition. 

 

Now You Are Rental Ready

Congratulations on getting your property ready to present to the rental market. The more effort you put in to get rental ready will reap the rewards when you find a tenant. If they see you care about their needs and have moved heaven and earth to make it as perfect as possible, they will treat your property with the respect it deserves. 

And that’s the goal we all want: a reliable and trustworthy tenant who wants to stay in your property for the long term. 

Once you’ve got your home on the market and become great friends with your amazing independent estate agents, it’s time to think about the little details. Just like a first date, first impressions can make or break a sale. That is why it’s so important to properly prepare your house for viewings and really make a point of showing off the potential of each room. Just like you would dress to impress when meeting someone new - you want to help your property do the same. It might be time for a little spruce up and a spring clean just in time for some potential buyers.

It can be hard work keeping everything spic and span for viewings, but trust us when we tell you it’s worth the effort. Any small changes you make to improve or freshen up your home could see you with a much faster sale and even a higher offer. That’s what you’re aiming for after all. You have the best chance of making that happen if the people coming to view can easily see the potential it holds and how much they can do with the space. Making it look and feel like home already will get them past the first barrier as soon as they walk in the door. 

We’ve put together a list of easy things you can do to make sure you’re fully prepared. We want to help you as best we can to sell your property, that way you can find your dream home while providing someone else with theirs! Every little helps in this process, so from the tiny considerations to the home renovations, it will all count towards the next step of your journey. (You’ll make someone else really happy too!)

 

Kerb Appeal

Independent estate agents from all over will go on and on about this. Potential buyers make an immediate judgement on a property from the minute they see it, and some will even drive by before the viewing to scope it out from the road. This is where your green fingers are going to come in handy. If you have a front garden with a lawn, make sure it is being regularly mowed because long and untidy grass can make somewhere look unkept and is not very inviting. So at the very least, just keep it maintained.

You can then start keeping the hedges trimmed and weeds at bay. This will ensure people know the owners look after every bit of the property - which bodes well for the inside! Although, it’s not only the greenery that should be kept an eye on. The external features of your house include the window frames, driveway and doors too. This means it could be time to do those touch-ups that have been waiting all winter… 

Window frames may need to be cleaned regularly to keep the dust and grime off. As well as this, giving any woodwork or guttering a new lick of paint won’t go amiss. Whatever you can do to brighten the outside up will be much more appealing when people pull up. So grab your trowel and weed-wacker and that first impression is sure to be a great one. Don’t give them a reason to walk away before they’ve even been inside.

 

Declutter

That’s right, it’s time to go through your things and get rid of (or hide away) the bits that don’t need to be on display. Living in a property for extended periods can understandably see a build-up of clutter. But tackling it now will not only leave your home looking tidier for guests, but it will also save you time in the move! Don’t box up items you’ll never use again - just get rid of them now and you’ll have some extra space in the new place.

We don’t expect everything to be hidden away in the loft or under the bed, but trying to clear worktops will make it more appealing for buyers. Having clear sides in the kitchen will show off how much counter space is available. This is usually a requirement for people looking to upsize. They want more room to work and the less you have out on the side - the more room there will be. Not only this, making sure washing up and dishes are put away (or hidden in the dishwasher) makes the space much tidier and doesn’t divert their attention.

The same goes for items we often leave laying around. Things like children’s toys can easily be put back on a shelf or in a toy box. This will mean viewers can take in the space without worrying about falling over a shoe or stepping on a lego brick. It just makes the experience of walking around the property much more enjoyable. They’ll remember the bad bits over the good ones, so give them positivity to walk away with.

 

Bathrooms

Start by making sure that surfaces and floors are wiped down to prevent dirt and grime from catching anyone’s eye. If you’re worried about stubborn mould and watermarks, you could think about getting the shower and bath re-sealed to remove any mould build-up. Even this small change can often make the entire room look brand new. It will keep everything looking sparkly and clean. 

As well as this, it is a good idea to put out clean, folded towels when you’re expecting a viewing. It is another little thing that can have a real impact on how people see the space as a whole. They’ll be looking for potential, so make it easy for them and display how lovely everything could look if they lived there. Giving them a preview of what’s on offer will give them things to think about and they’ll soon realise all the advantages of your property. 

Remember to open the windows in bathrooms to get rid of condensation and excess moisture. This is often why you’ll find stubborn marks on the tiles or mirror, so it might save you some effort when cleaning too. It’s also a good idea to tidy away any medicines or toiletries that may be on display as you don’t really want people snooping around it and it will make the entire area more open.

 

The day of a viewing

While the general upkeep of your home will keep the bulk of things spic and span, there are some areas you should double-check before people come to view. Firstly, if it’s the middle of winter it will create a really welcoming environment to put the heating on for a while before they arrive. They’ll appreciate the warmth and it might even make them stick around for longer! It also shows them that the home is not draughty or cold at certain times in the year. 

Next, it always looks nice if you run the hoover around, particularly dusty areas to keep the floors looking new. And to accompany this, making sure each room is free of the odd mug or dressing gown on the floor will keep everything looking in order. It’s the things that go unnoticed day to day that people coming to view will pick up on first! Once you’re happy everything is clean and tidy you can think about making rooms smell nice and adding small touches like refreshing the vase of flowers on the window sill.

Lastly, we know you love your pets but other people might not. So see if a neighbour or family member can look after them for a while as to not scare any potential buyers away! It can also be off-putting to have dogs and cats running around after you while you’re trying to take everything in. If an agent is showing the people around, you often don’t need to be home. So you could make the most of it and take the dog for a walk - but make sure any other family members know not to go barging in as well!

 

We are your independent estate agents

All of these things together will create the perfect set-up for anyone interested in your property. While it is important to make a good impression and show off your home - we understand that you may still be living there at the same time. So don’t make it too stressful on yourself. The place doesn’t have to look un-lived in, nor does it need to be show home standard. But anything you do to make a bit of extra effort will benefit your journey to selling and finding a new home of your own.

For almost three decades we have been at the heart of the local community, delivering our special brand of property sales, rentals and financial services. From humble beginnings and just 26 people, we have grown into Hampshire's leading independent estate agents, with offices in 10 prime locations. We have a dedicated team of 150 property experts waiting to help you achieve your dreams. Our independence makes us unique because we can provide a personal service from our many high street branches without being controlled remotely from a head office located on the other side of the country.

We offer an unparalleled experience which is why we have so many repeat customers, we know how to get it right every time. Whether you be a buyer, seller, landlord or tenant, we've got you covered. Contact us here by submitting an enquiry form or call one of our dedicated branches, the individual contact numbers for each can be found here.

With autumn just around the corner, it’s that time of year when a warm and cosy house is a must! We understand that if you aren’t a homeowner it can be a tricky process to make your rental property UK feel like home. It’s easier to change certain things when you’re paying the mortgage, but that doesn’t mean you can’t create a warm and welcoming space while renting in the UK. We’ve put together some tips that might help you realise the potential of your home.

Non-permanent additions tend to be the way forward with rental agreements. Whilst you might think the only way to make drastic changes is to repaint or knock down walls entirely, there are so many other things you can do. Make it your own now, and if you decide to go elsewhere in the future - all you need to do is pack it away. There are no worries when you’re leaving it as you found it! Even though some landlords can be more flexible than others, here are some safe options for adding a personal touch to your rental property UK.

 

Bring the outside in

 

House plants are all the rage and they’re a fantastically easy way of livening up your space. They add an immediate pop of colour to any room. Not only are they great for aesthetic purposes, but they can be used for cleaning the air around you. They remove toxins and can be really helpful for keeping your home a healthy, clear area to relax in. (Unless you don’t have a green thumb and opt for faux plants of course! They’re still just as lovely to look at.)

Another way plants can make somewhere feel like home is by carefully choosing the pots they live in. Make a statement by having bold colours and patterns or compliment the rest of your interior design by matching the colour schemes. It’s a great way to start the process of deciding what colours you like and what makes the space seem bigger or more welcoming. They can always be moved from room to room should it not look how you envisioned.

 

Light it up

 

Whilst you might not be able to change main light fixtures, it doesn’t stop you from bringing in some free-standing lamps and alternatives of your own. You can experiment with different sizes and styles here to create some depth. Think about rooms with more space that might benefit from floor lights - you could create a reading corner with a warm, overhanging floor lamp. Alternatively, desk lamps always come in useful for producing a really cosy, autumnal feeling and can also help compartmentalise larger rooms into sections.

Candles and coloured bulbs also offer a great source of mood lighting if you want something less harsh than a ceiling light all the time. Smaller rooms may benefit from this change as many landlords will invest in the cheaper option of LED bulbs. These can often be a lot more stark and maybe brighter than your average halogen bulb. If you do find this is the case, dimmer and warmer lighting options are available for you to experiment with.

 

Accessorise

 

Buying your own soft furnishings is normally a given when moving to a rental property UK. While some furniture and white goods may be included - it’s up to you to decorate as you wish. You can be as creative as you like with patterned rugs and pillows. Or if bold isn’t your style, you can even just match things to your colour scheme (if you have one). Simply adding your own flare with small details will make all the difference in a home where you can’t make large alterations. 

Something that can put people off renting is if the property is dated. In this case, you might find carpets with bold colours or loud patterns that discourage you from an otherwise beautiful home. Large rugs are a great way forward if you find yourself in a similar situation. Although you can’t replace the carpet, you could certainly cover it up. It will add an extra layer of comfort and warmth too on cold days. Find a nice sized option with a pattern, colour and texture of your choice.

 

Upcycle old furniture

 

If you are bringing furniture with you to a new property, or even buying on a budget - upcycling is a way you can make them fit your style and bring a new design to your rental property UK. Charity shops often have pre-loved items such as draws and side tables that just need some restoration. This allows you to repaint and make changes to pieces that might not have worked with your style otherwise. These are still things you can take away with you if you leave but can be really handy in unfurnished properties. 

Simple components like changing the knobs and handles on a chest of drawers or removing doors and shelves from certain pieces will give it a new look entirely. The best thing about this is that if your rooms are painted a fairly neutral colour, you can essentially do whatever you like with the furniture. People will notice the quirks and bursts of colour long before they notice the walls or carpets. 

 

Dress the windows

 

An unfurnished rental property UK might not come with curtains or blinds of any sort. This means it’s up to you to inject your own ideas and create the cosy or open atmosphere you’re looking for. Curtains actually make up a large part of a room’s style. One of the first things people tend to do when visiting a home is look out the windows at the view. This will be the case for any guests you may have too. So they’re going to notice what’s around the windows as well. Make a statement by adding some floor to ceiling curtains or use some netting behind other layers to keep it fresh in the summer and warmer in the winter.

However, if the landlord has left curtains up when you arrive, you may be able to keep them stored nicely until you move out and replace them in the meantime. (It’s always worth asking before you take something of theirs down.) Curtains with eyelets are easy to change over and can be used to add a larger pop of colour to the end of a room. It’s also worth taking into consideration the location of your property. As some places can have a lot of light pollution - blackout curtains might be a worthwhile investment - especially in bedrooms.

 

Create your own gallery

 

Art and photos are a must-have when turning somewhere into your own. One drawback of a rental property can be the inability to hang pictures. Command strips are a fantastic invention that doesn’t leave a trace. Again, it may be worthwhile checking with the landlord before using strips or anything similar, but usually, it won’t be an issue as it doesn’t leave a permanent mark. Alternatives like washi tape and blue tac could allow you to stick photographs and light decorations onto the walls without breaking your rental agreement. 

Heavy picture frames are probably a no-go when renting. Although, it leaves you to embrace your creativity and produce some pieces to hang in your at-home gallery. If you have children, bright paintings and drawings are memories that could go anywhere in the house. Or if you’re artistic yourself - light canvases and printed photographs will hang nicely with the non-permanent alternatives to hooks. There is so much potential for you to make somewhere rented feel like home. So don’t shy away from putting your stamp on it.

 

Find a rented property UK with Beals

 

Most people dream of getting onto the property ladder someday, but renting is a great alternative that gives you the freedom of your own space, without the struggles of a mortgage. It can be hard to make somewhere that isn’t ‘yours’ feel like home - but we’ve seen in this article that there are plenty of ways to make changes. It may take a bit of creativity, but over time, it is completely possible to transform your space.

For almost three decades we have been at the heart of the local community, delivering our special brand of property sales, rentals and financial services. From humble beginnings and just 26 people, we have grown into Hampshire's leading independent estate agent, with offices in 10 prime locations. We have a dedicated team of 150 property experts waiting to help you achieve your dreams. Our independence makes us unique because we can provide a personal service from our many high street branches without being controlled remotely from a head office located on the other side of the country.

We offer an unparalleled experience which is why we have so many repeat customers, we know how to get it right every time. Whether you be a buyer, seller, landlord or tenant, we've got you covered. Contact us here by submitting an enquiry form or call one of our dedicated branches, the individual contact numbers for each can be found here

Our step-by-step guide to successfully selling your property

1. Getting a valuation

Selling your home is never an easy decision. You’ve probably spent hours considering the pros and cons, but now you’ve reached the stage of getting a valuation. 

Our dedicated professionals value hundreds of homes across Hampshire every week, so if anyone can give you clear guidance, we can. Our knowledge, skill, and passion are just a few reasons why we are renowned for achieving the asking price across a vast range of our client’s properties. 

2. Why choose Beal’s?

How do you choose the right estate agent? What should you be looking for? What is it that sets one agent apart from another? 

Beal’s has been delivering for almost 3 decades. Thirty years of successfully matching buyers to homes. 30 years of delivering on our promises. There is no substitute for experience. You can’t buy it, gift it, or fake it. 

It only comes from 30 years of living and breathing property sales.

 We have the longest opening hours of any other agent on the high street. On average, our branches are open an hour longer each day, which means across the week, you literally get an extra day’s worth of marketing. 

We have professional photographers, interactive floor plans, drone videos for a bird’s eye view of your plot, glossy, highly detailed brochures, exposure in the biggest shop windows like Rightmove and Zoopla, and so much more. 

There is nothing we cannot deliver when it comes to selling your home. So, what else do we do?

3. Choosing a solicitor

You might think instructing a solicitor is not necessary when placing your property on the market. It might be how every other agent works, but we promised we were different, and this is one of the ways we can demonstrate it. 

We believe you should be legally prepared because to be prepared means you are in control. Nothing is left to chance. We can cater to all eventualities. 

Possible scenario

Seller A places their property on the market and waits until they find a buyer before instructing a solicitor. It takes a week to organise, and then the legal pack needs to be prepared. This takes another few weeks before it is ready to send to the buyer’s solicitor. 

The buyer’s solicitor has nothing to work with until the legal pack is received. Seller A risks adding a 4-week delay to this process, slowing down the property sale.

The average sale time in England and Wales takes a minimum of 12 weeks, so why risk delaying it further? Get the legal paperwork done in the early stages before a buyer is found. The minute a sale is agreed, your solicitor has a legal pack ready to send to the buyer’s solicitor, and you save 4 weeks on the sale process. 

But how is this possible?

Our recommended solicitors operate on a no-sale, no-fee basis, so if your sale fails to reach a legal exchange of contracts, you don’t pay any legal fees. Zero. Nothing. Not a penny!

Our solicitors are dedicated, professional, friendly, approachable, and above all, effective and efficient. No other estate agent can match this service. No other estate agent champions getting legally prepared like us. 

It’s another reason why we are so unique. 

4. It’s all about the presentation

Our presentation is second to none. We pride ourselves on attention to detail, and when it comes to presenting your home for sale, we ask that you do the same. Before placing it on the market, our property experts can advise you on the best ways to maximise your presentation. 

We then work our magic with professional photographers, interactive floor plans, glossy property brochures with the highest level of detail, property tours, and drone footage. 

5. It’s all about the advertising

When we started 30 years ago, selling property was vastly different. Today, everything is instant, available 24/7, and nothing seems to stand still. Luckily, we have moved with the times.

It’s all about exposure across as many media platforms as possible. Rightmove, Zoopla, our dedicated property website, social media, text alerts, emails, you name it, and we cover it. 

From the moment you instruct Beal’s to market your property, we tailor a marketing strategy to make the process as easy, pain-free, and swift as possible. From day one, we are on a mission to achieve the best price with the best buyer. 

Success is the result of planning, hard work, and persistence, not luck.

And we never lose sight of the fact that you are our number one priority. Keeping you happy throughout the process is the single most important factor.

6. When you get an offer

When we get an offer, we will inform you right away, both verbally and in writing. We also let you know if there are any special conditions attached to the offer. Sometimes buyers ask for specific items to be included in the sale. 

At this stage, we won’t ask you to make a decision. We still have to establish the buyer’s ability to proceed and their financial situation. 

Only once this is complete will we ask you to decide. 

7. Sale agreed

After you accept the offer, there is still plenty to do before we can start toasting your success. So, what is left to do?

What happens next?

Once your solicitor receives confirmation that the sale is agreed, they will send out a draft contract to the buyer’s solicitor so that they can prepare their enquiries. 

You should also get a date for the survey and a preliminary exchange and completion date, so you have a focus to work towards. 

Our work doesn’t end with an agreed offer. We continue to support and advise you, negotiating the path to completion. We are your point of contact, keeping you in the picture every step of the way. 

Our target is to liaise between the solicitors, resolving problems, and keeping the sale moving, because until the exchange of contracts happens, nothing legally binding. 

8. You’ve done it!

Once the contracts have been signed by both parties and the 10% deposit has been paid, by banker’s draft or telegraphic transfer, the completion date is set. Here is a brief rundown of how we got to this point: 

So, you’ve exchanged contracts! All the questions and queries are settled, and both solicitors are happy.

9. It’s moving day

Completion only happens when the seller’s solicitor receives the remaining funds (typically 90%). They get confirmation that funds have cleared, and they contact the seller to confirm the release of the keys. 

They also call the estate agent, who then contacts the buyer, informing them to collect the keys. 

Congratulations! You’ve done it.

Your step-by-step guide to renting a property

1. Make contact with us

The first thing you should do is make contact with us. You can either register your details in person at one of our 10 high street branches, or you can phone or email us. 

Registering your interest in a property online is great if you are pushed for time. We will call you back at a convenient moment, discuss your requirements in more detail and book you to see the property. 

2. Understanding what you want

Our rentals experts know how to zero in on what’s important to you, so an informal chat will put us in the picture. The better we understand what you are looking for, the more accurate we can be when we contact you with details of the perfect place. 

3. It’s out there somewhere

So, we have established your wants and needs, and now all we have to do is find the perfect property. We may have something available that ticks all the boxes right away. In which case, bingo, you are in luck. 

If not, we turn every stone to find the right place, and the minute we do, you can be assured we will contact you via phone, SMS message or email. If you see our number pop up, take the call.

4. Type of tenancy? 

The type of tenancy is crucial when matching a property to your requirements. If you are looking for a short-term tenancy, expect it to be 6 months or less and likely a stop gap to another move. Maybe you are renovating a home and need some temporary accommodation?

The great news is short-term tenancies come with all the utility and council tax charges built into the rental price. You don’t need to worry about setting up your own accounts. 

However, if you want something more permanent, you might be better with a long-term tenancy. They are always 6 months or longer and give you the peace of mind that your home remains your home for the foreseeable future. 

5. Fancy a managed property?

If you want reassurance when renting, it might be an idea to go for a managed property. An increasing number of people like this option because it brings certainty and peace of mind. 

You get a property manager to liaise with should there be any issues, an emergency contact should you need help in an emergency, and the satisfaction of knowing that your property meets all the current legal and safety laws. This includes the Gas Safety, Electrical Safety and the Furniture and Furnishings Act. 

6. What you should be asking

So, you’ve contemplated all of the above, and you're still confident that renting is the path for you. Before diving in with both feet and booking a viewing, try and think about the questions you should be asking. 

Knowledge is king, so what things should you ask?

Now you’re ready for your first viewing. 

7. I like it and want it 

So, you’ve seen something you want to rent. Great news! What’s next?

You can make an offer to the agent there and then. In fact, with rentals, the sooner, the better because new properties coming onto the market are always popular and snapped up quickly. It really is a case of first come, first served. 

If you like it, there’s a fair chance someone else will too. Speak to the agent and if you want it, make the offer. 

Once the offer is made, we will ask you to fill out an application form, and then we will communicate the offer to the landlord. At this point, you have the opportunity to make clear any unique conditions of the offer, and we will ask you for references. 

8. It’s a yes

The landlord is happy with your offer and wants to accept it. We will arrange the following regardless of whether the property is managed or not:

9. You’ve done it!

It’s completion day. Your references checked out, and everything has gone to plan. You can now get your keys. If the property is managed, you will also get the contact details of your dedicated property manager. 

Now you can get on with the important stuff like moving in and choosing what takeaway you want for your first night in your new home.

Make life simpler with our easy-to-follow guide to letting with Beal’s

1. Accurate valuations every time

When it comes to letting your property, there are some factors you should consider above all else. The first is speed. You want to get a tenant in the most timely manner because the longer the property remains unlet, the bigger the void period and the cost to you. 

The second factor is money. We all want the most we can get for our investments, and that includes your rental property. After all, it’s an investment. Your chances of getting the best possible price go hand in glove with speed. 

The faster you let it, the better the price achieved. 

Our lettings experts perform thousands of valuations every month, giving us an unrivalled knowledge of rental prices in your area. It’s the reason why we regularly achieve the asking price and, in some cases, exceed price expectations. 

So, where does your lettings journey start? It begins with making contact. You can call us, email or pop into one of our 10 high street branches to have a friendly chat with our rental specialists. 

2. Why choose Beal’s?

Deciding to rent out your property is an important decision, so choosing the correct agent is equally crucial. What factors should you keep in mind? What are the key questions you should be asking?

Achieving the best price for your rental is not a case of pot luck. We don’t slap a price on and hope for the best. It takes planning and commitment. It takes a strategy that involves the best marketing material, the best online presence on the UK’s leading property portals, and it takes experience. 

We have almost 3 decades of experience to draw from and thousands of rentals every year. We know your market, and we know your property value because we have dealt with hundreds of similar properties. 

That kind of accuracy comes with experience. 

3. What we do

4. Take advantage of corporate services

Beal’s works closely with hundreds of companies searching for properties for their relocating employees. The advantage to you is your property is exposed to the broadest range of potential tenants working for companies eager to pay the top price for a premium service. 

5. Let’s talk property management 

Property management is typically the best way to achieve the highest rental returns. Likewise, many tenants actively seek out managed properties to get the reassurances they need, and they are prepared to pay a premium for this service. 

With Beal’s managing your property, you get the assurance that your home and tenant are in capable hands 24/7. You get a dedicated property manager whose mission is to deal with the day-to-day management of your rental, covering general issues to more involved concerns like dealing with utility companies, emergency maintenance and rent collection. 

6. It’s all about the presentation 

Gaining the right first impression is vital to securing that tenant in the best possible time for the highest rent. 

Preparing for the rental market takes care and attention. It’s worth casting your eye over your property to see if any glaring issues could impact your rental price. Does it need a fresh lick of paint, or are there any outstanding DIY jobs that need completing?

Once you are satisfied, it is time to call in Beal’s dedicated team of professional photographers. From the latest digital imagery, 360-degree tours, interactive floor plans and the most detailed property brochures, we take the time and effort to create that all-important first impression to get you the best tenant at the best price. 

7. Getting ready for tenancy

The first step is to prepare an in-depth inventory to document the property’s condition along with a complete record of everything included in the rental. 

We have dedicated inventory experts who produce detailed reports to protect your property and possessions. 

8. Type of tenancy

Essentially, there are long-term and short-term tenancies. So, what are the differences?

Long-term tenancy (6 months or more)

You are accountable for confirming that the tenants have active accounts with utility companies, telephone providers, TV licensing and council tax. 

Short-term tenancy (up to 6 months)

You keep control of utility, council tax and TV license accounts, as these costs are integrated into the monthly rental charge. The tenant is responsible for any telephone services. 

9. It’s all about the marketing

Achieving the best price and tenant takes exposure. Luckily, we are experts at exposing your property to the widest market. We advertise on Rightmove, Zoopla and our state-of-the-art website. 

From coloured brochures to SMS and email notifications, we have every angle covered. 

10. It’s all about the viewing process

Time is the one thing many people don’t have, so knowing that your letting agent works longer than any other agent on the high street is reassuring. It means that we conduct accompanied viewings in the evenings and at weekends when other agents are sitting down for their dinner. 

That’s why we are so flexible. We fit in around clients, not the other way around. 

11. Getting that offer agreed

When an offer is received, we put you in the picture, from the situation with the potential tenant and the amount they have offered. We can advise you, but ultimately, the decision is yours. 

Once you agree to an offer, we do the following regardless of whether we manage your property or not:

We can also carry out the following services for an additional fee:

Where appropriate, we will hold the deposit as a stakeholder and register it with the Deposit Protection Scheme. This results in a speedy deposit release at the end of the tenancy, removing unnecessary delays.. 

Landlord fees will apply.

12. Completion 

On completion, the keys are either handed to the inventory clerk or the tenant. For managed properties, we give your tenant the contact details of their dedicated property manager. 

Your property has now been successfully let. Congratulations, and here’s to a great working relationship. 

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