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.

The traditional way to buy a new home would be to sell the one you currently own to fund the purchase. That’s probably the way they did in your parent’s day and their parents before them, but in the modern world, there are so many options.

You may not have to sell your existing property to fund your onward move; instead, you could rent it out. 

So, what does that entail, and is it a possibility? Let’s take a look.

 

Why Choose To Rent?

 

Owning more than one property is an excellent source of income. You should get enough to cover your monthly mortgage costs, and all the while, your property is increasing in value. If that happens, it’s a win, win.

Perhaps you have spotted a property on the market, or that dream home has suddenly come up for sale? The traditional route would take so long; that it could sell by the time you were in a position to make an offer. 

Renting offers that flexibility should you need to act quickly. Plus, you have no chain below you, effectively making you as attractive as a first-time buyer. 

Another reason why you might want to rent instead of buying is you have a job opportunity that takes you out of the area for a period, which means you need a short-term solution. Renting fills that gap, enabling you to earn an income from your property while it remains in your possession until you are ready to return.

Perhaps you want to try the suck-it-and-see approach where you are moving to a new area or even abroad, and you are unsure whether you will like it. Renting allows you to sample a slice of your new life without committing completely to see if it is what you want. 

If you decide it’s a no, you have a home to return to. If you want to make the move permanent, you can continue renting or sell your property to fund the new purchase. 

 

Does It Make Financial Sense?

 

Before making the first step towards renting, it’s worth speaking to a mortgage specialist to see if you can financially achieve your goal. Speak to independent advisors like the experts at Beals Independent Lettings Agent, who can provide you with all the up-to-date knowledge and industry information. 

The big question is one of affordability. Can you actually afford to keep one house to rent out while raising the finance to make an onward purchase? It also affects several things other than affordability. You should consider capital gains tax, stamp duty, income tax and the costs of that second mortgage.

You also need to consider what happens in void periods or if the tenant fails to pay the rent. Can you afford to cover mortgage payments on the property if the tenant loses their job?

There are also the legal costs to consider should you need to take court proceedings to evict a tenant for non-payment of rent. With so much to ponder, while renting may seem like the magic pill to cure all ills, it is not without risks. 

 

Will My Mortgage Lender Give Me Permission?

 

While you may think you own your existing home, the lender has the final say on whether you can rent the property out until the mortgage is paid in full. It could affect the rate you pay because you are changing the nature of the agreement between you and the lender as initially set out. 

It might be that you took advantage of a special rate that no longer applies when you rent the property out. It might be that the lender agrees to let you rent the property out but ups the monthly costs and places specific demands on you. 

And then there is the mortgage lender on the property you want to buy to consider. As we said earlier, renting your home out is not without risks. And your new lender will consider this when offering you their most competitive rates. 

 

Can I Reduce The Risks?

 

There are schemes and service packages that letting agents offer to minimize your financial risks. Speak to Beals Independent Lettings Agents to get expert advice tailored to your individual needs. 

When you rent out your property, you will be offered several levels of service ranging from tenant find to Rent Guarantee. Tenant find is the entry-level service, which means the agent finds and references the tenant and then hands the day-to-day management and rent collection to you.

This is the cheapest option, but you should choose it with caution. If you are a seasoned landlord, who understands the legalities and procedures, this might be suitable. However, it is safe to assume you are probably new to renting if you are reading this. 

If that is the case, you might want to consider the next couple of service levels up, starting with rent collection. This package entails the lettings agent finding the tenant, referencing and collecting the rent. However, you will still need to maintain the property and undertake legal paperwork should the tenant fail to pay the rent and need evicting.

The most comprehensive service levels are the fully managed service or the Rent Guarantee Package. Rent Guarantee takes all of the risks away, guaranteeing you get your rent paid on the same day every month regardless of whether the tenant pays or not. 

 

What Are The Costs of Renting?

While you make money from your tenants, there are other costs to consider when renting out your property. These costs will determine whether you rent or decide to sell your home. Here’s what you need to consider:

 

 

Also, don’t forget that the money you make from your rental property gets added to your yearly income thresholds for tax purposes. Any additional revenue may push you from one tax bracket into the next one up. 

If your income is just below the 40% tax rate, be aware that the increase in earnings will push you into the higher bracket and increase your tax burden, which could leave you worse off. 

However, there are some expenditures that the Government allows you to offset. These include:

 

 

Selling vs Renting: The Pros and Cons

So, if you are thinking about renting instead of selling, you will need to know how the two compare. Which is the better route forward, and what are the pitfalls?

Selling Pros

 

 

Selling Cons

 

 

Renting Pros

 

 

Renting Cons

 

So, you can see that renting is a great option for increasing your property portfolio and getting you moved into your dream home sooner, but it is not without risks. 

 

At a Glance: The Steps To Renting Out Your Home

If you have read the above and think that renting is the perfect route to take, you’ll need to do some leg work before you actually start to make an income. Here is the at-a-glance guide: 

 

 

FAQs

 

Can I rent my home with my existing mortgage lender?

You can as long as your current lender agrees. But suppose they impose restrictions and try to charge unreasonable interest rates. In that case, it might be worth speaking to an independent mortgage advisor to see if there are other more competitive mortgage deals out there. 

This is advisable when you conduct your research into renting, especially if you are no longer locked into a fixed rate period. 

What is equity?

Equity is the difference between the value of your home and what you owe. Should you sell your asset (your home), what you are left with is the equity once you have paid back what you owe.

Is landlord’s insurance compulsory?

It is entirely your choice if you decide to take out landlord’s insurance, but it is highly recommended that you guard against theft, damage and tenant issues. 

 

Is renting out your house complicated?

Unless you have rented out property before, it can be a bit of a minefield in the hands of the less experienced. Luckily, there are letting agents on hand ready to advise you at every step of the way. With over 400+ rules and regulations and hefty fines, if you don’t follow the correct procedures, it’s good to know there are people who can help. 

 

It’s the dead of night, all is quiet in your world, and you are about to drift off to sleep when suddenly, you hear a scurrying sound in the attic. It can only mean one thing: household pests!

It’s every homeowner’s worst nightmare because once you get a family of unwanted guests, they are hard to remove; plus, more are likely to follow once a few get in. So, what can you do to stop unwanted critters from entering your home? 

We have some top tips to prevent unwanted guests, but here are some interesting stats before we get into the detail. 

So, let’s take a look at each critter by type, ask what the tell-tale signs are, and what you can do to prevent the problem in the first place. 

Rodents

Rats and mice are among the most common animals taking up residence inside our homes. They like to live in dark cavities behind walls and beneath floors. Surprisingly, there are millions more rats than humans, yet they are difficult to spot among us, even though we have lived side by side for thousands of years. 

Rats and mice rarely enter our homes in the warmer months because heat and food are plentiful, but when the mercury starts to drop, they go in search of warmer nesting spots. 

What Are The Tell-Tale Signs?

If you spot a lot of shredded paper and cardboard, typically in dark spots like attics and cellars, it could be a sign you have an infestation. Rats and mice chew the paper for mulch bedding. Look for concentrations of droppings, paying attention to underfloor areas and behind cavities.

Check cardboard packets in your larder for signs of spilt contents as rodents often gnaw at corners and edges of dried packet foods like cereal and porridge oats. 

How To Prevent Rodents Moving In

Before reaching for the phone and dialling a pest control expert, there are some things you can do to prevent that invasion in the first place. Plus, you want to adopt a humane response rather than extermination. 

Check for Gaps

Keep an eye out for gaps and holes on the exterior of your property. A loose brick, cracks in stonework, split wooden door frames, even gaps where guttering and downpipes run are all open doors to rodents. 

And don’t be fooled into thinking that the holes have to be mouse-sized for them to fit; a mouse can squeeze into a gap just half an inch in diameter. 

If you see any suspicious-looking spots where our furry little friends can get in, fill them in. Prevention is the best cure.

Remove Bird Feeders

Rats and mice love grain, so the seed mixtures in your bird feeders are an irresistible lure for your average rodent. Once they know there is a ready food source on tap, they keep coming back until they set up home. 

It’s a bit like you moving into the flat above your favourite restaurant!

Plant Peppermint

Furry rodents hate peppermint, so planting it at the base of your home should be enough to repel any unwanted intruders. 

While we are on the subject of plants that deter rodents, spices are known to be an effective method of keeping critters out. Mice and rats hate garlic, chilli, cinnamon and cayenne pepper, so mix a spoonful in a water solution and spray it around locations where you think they might try and gain entry. 

Secure Bin Lids

First, rats have teeth that never stop growing, so the only way they can control their size is to grind them down with continuous chewing. Plastic rubbish bins are not going to protect your waste material from rats if the contents are left to spill out. Rats have a great sense of smell. 

The best solution is to get a bin with a lockable lid and not overfill the container so the lid won’t close. The same goes for wheelie bins. 

Use Ammonia

Soak a rag in ammonia and place it inside a container. Next, find the concentration of rodent dropping and stand the container next to where you think the rats have been. Rats hate the smell and will leave. 

The only downside is that ammonia is also repugnant to humans, so don’t use this technique near any space in the home where you are living, eating and sleeping.

Lay Traps

Laying traps in the spots where you see droppings is an effective way of catching your intruders. However, there is still the question of what you do with it once you have trapped it? Mice and rats live in close family units, so it’s nailed on that should you release it, it will come back. 

Poison

If you go down the extermination route, and many people do, you can lay specially impregnated corn seeds laced with a deadly poison that is irresistible to rats. However, prepared for the rat to take the poison back to their nest and infect the rest of the family unit. 

If this happens, they die somewhere deep within your home, untraced, which means first comes the decaying smell as they decompose, and second, the flies who lay their larvae in the carcasses of the rats. 

You might even get maggots inside your home. So while you think poison is the answer to all your problems, it could be the start of a triple whammy of infestations. 

Birds

Birds are relatively clean animals, but their faeces could contain contaminants that cause salmonella and histoplasmosis, a lung disorder caused by inhaling spores from bat and bird droppings. 

In extreme cases, it could lead to avian flu, but this is rare. There are 3 types of diseases transmitted by birds. 

What Are The Tell-Tale Signs?

Birds like to make nests in lofts and eaves, so look for entry holes. If you have wooden facias, unless you maintain them, the wood rots, giving flying pests the incentive and the means to peck their way through to make a nest.

Another way to tell if you have a birds nest in your home is to look at the ground for signs of feathers, straw, faecal matter and other detritus scattered about. You might also notice an increase in the number of flies around your home because birds attract them. 

How To Prevent Birds Moving In

Remove Food and Water

Everyone likes an easy life, and that includes birds and other animals. If they have a ready supply of food and water, they have no incentive to move on. Remove bird feeders and birdbaths to reduce the incentive for them to set up home in the first place.

Remove Hiding Places 

Dense foliage, tall grass and dead trees offer ample opportunities for birds to hide while they feed because they like to stay hidden. Removing tall grass and undergrowth exposes the space, making it more difficult, and they move on. 

Instil Some Fear 

You can buy sonic devices that emit sounds like bird distress to scare them away. Think of it as an electronic scarecrow. Some even mimic the bird calls of predators to keep unwanted winged guests from landing. 

Keep The house Maintained

Try and keep up with maintenance to keep the threat of unwanted visitors to a minimum. Fascias and soffits should be sanded and stained to protect them against the rain, wind and sun. 

Rotten wood should be replaced, or you could opt for a maintenance-free route and fit PVC fascias to avoid the threat of them rotting. 

Spray Some Garlic

Just like rodents, birds dislike the scent of garlic. Liberally spraying areas where birds might take up residence deter them from moving in. Crush a couple of garlic cloves and pour them into a spray bottle and fill it with water.

Give it a shake, and leave the garlic to infuse the liquid for a couple of hours. You now have a smelly deterrent to spray on your potential entry points. 

Bird Spikes

If you want to go straight to DEFCON 1, you could glue strips of anti-bird spikes. They aren’t sharp enough to impale our flying friends, but they deter them from landing. 

Fake Birds

Often, when a bird sees another bird, especially a predator species, they are less likely to take the risk and land in your garden. This works to a point, but sometimes the birds realise that you have a plastic model because it never moves, so take the time to position it in different places in the garden.

Netting

Netting is a solution but not one we like. Bird netting covers the areas where they try and gain entry, and it prevents them from landing. That’s the upside. The downside is they become entangled and can’t escape, with many dying as a result. 

This deterrent should only be used as a last resort where you have so many bird problems that nothing else works. 

Wasps, Bees and Hornets

These special little stinging critters like to stay hidden, so you often find their nests in lofts, crawl spaces, ducting, under decking and behind fascias. Some species make their nests in the ground, burrowing down into mounds of mud and between tree roots. 

Unlike wasps and hornets, bees are more universally loved because they don’t sting unless they have to. Plus, they are a dwindling species and so vital for crop and food growth across the world. So, when you discover a nest in your home, it can be challenging to balance the need to preserve bee life and protect your family. 

Typically, a sting from one of these insects results in mild pain, swelling and discomfort, which goes within a few hours and can be treated easily at home with antihistamines. Still, for some, it can be a life-threatening experience. 

When it comes to infestations of this type, we would always recommend calling in the professionals.  

What Are The Tell-Tale Signs?

Look for small holes or chewed wood or fascia boards. If you see a lot of flying insects in a particular part of your home, it could be a sign of an infestation. While you are in the garden, often you will see stinging insects flying about aimlessly, but their flight movements are different when there is a nest nearby. They come and go with more purpose, and it is easy to spot. 

How To Prevent Wasps, Bees and Hornets Moving In

Keep On Top of Maintenance

Like most critters, bees, wasps and hornets look for opportunities. They seek out ideal nest sites, and if they spot gaps and cracks in your fascias, sidings and decks, it entices them to move in. 

A rigorous yearly maintenance program not only keeps your house looking good but also prevents invasions of the stinging kind. 

Keep Food Covered 

Stinging bugs love sugary food. It’s like a drug, so if you have anything that might attract unwanted attention, cover it over and put it in a cupboard or refrigerator. 

Tree Sap

Removing trees close to your property could be another way to reduce insect infestations. Tree sap is sweet and attracts wasps, bees and hornets, so keeping them to a minimum could be the answer. 

Keep a Lid On It

When storing your food waste, try and keep the lid on your wheelie bin closed. Wasps, bees and hornets are attracted to the food inside, and they are more likely to appear if the cover is open or ajar. 

Decoy Wasps 

It is believed that wasps won’t build a new nest within 200 feet of an existing one, so deploying a few paper wasps around your garden might be enough to deter them. 

Bugs

For the sake of convenience, we are using the term “Bugs” as the generic name we for the household critters we battle every day. They may be small in size, with some even microscopic, but they are high in numbers and can cause all sorts of havoc. 

Here are the most common:

Ants

Don’t leave sweet foods and drinks in view of open windows and doors, and avoid gaps and weeds in your patios, paths and driveways. Keeping on top of maintenance is crucial if you want to win the battle. 

There are a few weapons at your disposal: coffee grinds, lemon, vinegar, and spices all top the list of an ant’s most hated things.

Fleas

You could treat a flea infestation with powder scattered on your floors and soft furnishings, but it is often too late at this stage. It should start with outdoor maintenance. Fleas like to lay their larvae in tall grass, so get out the strimmer and cut everything back. 

Sunlight and wind are deadly to flea larvae, so cutting back the shrubs and grass leaves them vulnerable.

Cockroaches

In the event of a nuclear war, the only things left roaming the earth are zombies and cockroaches, or so the urban legend goes. So, how on earth do you get rid of a critter that a nuclear warhead can’t kill?

The easiest way is to keep a clean house. Cockroaches are attracted to crumbs on the floor and food waste in easy-to-reach locations near windows and doors.

They carry bacteria and get in through small holes and cracks in woodwork, brickwork and other entry points. They hate catnip, peppermint, garlic and even bay leaves. 

Bed Bugs

These creatures are microscopic, and you may not even know you have them. They live in mattresses and bedding, feeding on human skin cells that naturally fall while you sleep. If you spot rusty brown marks on your sheets or mattress and you can smell a musty odour, it could be a sign of bed bugs. 

Regular cleaning with a vacuum cleaner and covering the mattress in plastic sheeting might be the best way to protect your bed.

It’s All About Maintenance

You might have noticed a familiar theme running through this article? It’s all about maintenance. Keeping on top of faults and issues relating to your home will drastically reduce the instances of insect and animal infestations because if they can’t get in, they can’t set up home. 

Also, with good maintenance, prevention is better than cure. 

 

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

How to boost your kerb appeal from estate agents in Southsea

We all know how important kerb appeal is when it comes to putting your house on the market and actually getting a sale. Not only does it boost your chances of selling, but it can greatly increase the value of your home too. By not taking care of the exterior and everything that surrounds your house, you could be losing a great deal of money from the final offer. 

You want to make the best first impression on your potential buyers - give them a reason to say "wow!" and be excited to look inside. It doesn't have to cost a fortune to upgrade your exterior and there are plenty of ways to boost your kerb appeal that can be done DIY-style. But if you did want to take it that bit further, you have all the trades to choose from that could give your house a new lease of life.

Here are some tips on how to boost your kerb appeal from estate agents in Southsea.

Fix broken gutters & fencing

This sort of job often gets put to the bottom of the list when you're living somewhere you've been for a while. They can be a pain to sort out but can make a great difference to any potential buys who are viewing your home.

Firstly, it can be a safety issue. Buyers with pets or children are going to want to ensure the property is secure and safe when they have people or pets running around outside. Any broken gates could be a deal-breaker for family units especially. Also, leaky guttering or cracked pipes running outside the house will make it look unkept. Water can drip down onto the grass or pavements below, causing water damage like cracking or rotting. To stop the  knock-on effect of a broken gutter, make sure they're cleaned and repaired if needs be.

Broken fencing can also be a privacy issue. If they know it's been broken in the past, it's clear that it could happen again. Whether it was simply due to wear and tear, or other circumstances, it can decrease the value of the property as well as affecting the privacy you once had. Any missing fence panels or cracks and holes open up the garden and other outside spaces to nosey neighbours and passers-by. This can be off-putting for potential buyers. A lick of paint and repair work or new fencing altogether are both great options to avoid decreasing your house's value from broken gutters and fences.

Freshen up your front door

Being estate agents in Southsea, we know how appealing it can be to live in a coastal town. For a lot of people, you've got beaches and sea views right on your doorstep. This can be a great selling point. But whether you live on the coast or in the city centre, have you taken into consideration what your actual doorstep looks like? 

First impressions can make or break your property sale. As they walk up to the front door, you want guests and viewers alike to feel welcomed. An easy way to do this is to give your front door a lick of paint. Weathering and general use can leave it looking sad and dull, so without breaking the bank you can invest in a welcoming colour of paint and brighten up the front of the house. Don't forget to clean the windows if there are any on there, and get rid of those pesky cobwebs and watermarks around the frame too!

If you're looking for a more dramatic result, you could invest in a brand new door. It's a way of modernising an older property and is going to make a striking impression when people turn up. Also, if you're tight on space out the front this could be a new time to involve some potted plants or new decor right at the front door. It creates a seamless transition from outside to inside and leads you into the pristine interior!

Keep your windows spick and span

This is a low-cost way of boosting the kerb appeal of any property. These days, most window frames we see are white which get dirty very easily. They can quickly become dull and make the whole house look dingier than it should. If you don't want to spend money on this, a simple cloth and warm, soapy water would suffice. Wiping the frames and window sills down will immediately seem brighter and more inviting. However, if the dirt or rust is more stubborn - you can always repaint and freshen them up even more.

The windows are leading people to look inside, so if they're not inviting your potential buyers might not even want to look inside at where you've spent so long making a home. Don't forget the glass itself though. Especially if you're used to sticky fingers and/or wet noses around the house - you don't want the windows looking smeared and dirty. Make them sparkle and you'll notice the difference right away looking from the inside out as well as your viewers will from the outside in!

Pristine pathways

Kerb appeal is all about making your house's exterior attractive for potential buyers. This doesn't just mean everything that's attached to the house. As estate agents in Southsea, we often see people who have revamped the brickwork and cleaned the gutters but have neglected the front garden or pathways leading up to the house. Having an unappealing entrance can take away all the hard work done on the property's exterior and interior.

To start with, a good weeding session and power wash will make all the difference. We're all guilty of neglecting the weeds and from time to time but you'll probably find your driveway is a whole different colour underneath! Also, have a think about replacing any cracked or missing paving as it will make the entrance far more accessible for people with pushchairs, wheelchairs or mobility issues. Not only will the repairs be beneficial for kerb appeal, but for safety too.

Give your garden a makeover

We understand that not everyone has garden spaces. But if you do - it's important to maintain it in order to aid the value of the property. 

A neglected garden can transform a tidy, modern home into an unkempt, uninviting building. If the outside of your house is well looked after, it will reassure people that the inside is just as lovely! Now if you want to hire a landscape gardener it will usually make the biggest impression. However, it's not necessary to boost kerb appeal if you're working with a budget. There are ways you can improve your garden little by little to make a big impact.

We're going to mention those pesky weeds again. By tackling them at the start of the season, you can get there before the roots grow too much and they become stubborn tenants. Also, trimming overgrown plants and shrubs will open up the space, make it look bigger and much tidier. If you do this regularly it will also keep the plants looking healthier and won't be such a big job each time! 

It's surprising how much difference a freshly cut lawn can make too. Keeping the length down makes it look flatter and healthier. Invest in some grass seed if you're noticing dead patches - it will finish off the garden nicely. You don't have to have a green thumb to maintain your garden well. Just make sure any plants you do have are trimmed and watered so they stay healthy and keep it as tidy as possible! 

Exterior transformations

Depending on how old your property is, it is going to determine how much work may need to be done to make the most impact here. There are lots of tricks to transform the exterior for all different house types, budgets and capabilities. Firstly, touching up any brickwork with some masonry paint will freshen it up and get rid of the weathering effects that are unavoidable. You don't have to stick to the house's original colour either. We'd suggest steering clear of any outlandish colours, but something new could help modernise the building. 

Although they aren't common, if you have external shutters on your windows, they make for great character and even if you don't use them they are nice decorative elements. So these can always have a fresh coat of paint too to match the new and improved exterior. 

If you're looking to spend more to really change up the property, you could consider a complete recladding of the outside. This will set you back a few thousand pounds so it's definitely an investment but will almost certainly see a big impact on the value of the house afterwards! This decision also means you can work the design around the interior if you wish and make the whole property flow. 

Sell your house with kerb appeal

It goes without saying that the interior of a property is where most people prioritise when buying or selling. This is where you'll spend most of your time and it's the parts you'll be looking at most often. However, if the house isn't comprehensive as a whole, you could lose your potential buyers as well as value. 

Whether you're on a DIY budget or looking to completely revamp, there are plenty of ways you can maintain and upgrade your home to appeal more to buyers. Having the exterior looking smart will encourage people to carry on inside and reassure buyers that you've looked after it. They'll know they have something well-loved and cared for.

Beals: Your independent estate agents in Southsea

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.

When selling your home, there are a lot of high street estate agents to choose from. And, with the rising popularity of online agents in recent years, the decision on who to sell your property with has become all the more difficult. On the surface, each seemingly offers the same service - and if your home is sold as a result of who've you've chosen to partner with, surely the outcome is the same? 

Increasingly, however, we are favouring the independent - the local groceries, the stand-alone boutique and thus, the independent estate agent. The benefits associated with this may not seem significant at first glance, yet on reflection, it can secure you not only a higher price for your property but a quicker sale too. So, in this article, our Beals team will be highlighting how an independent estate agent can work with you on your property sale...

Local knowledge

Nothing is more beneficial to the sale of your property than local expertise. When viewing a potential home, house-hunters will likely have an array of different questions with the expectation that the estate agent showing them the property will have the answer. Varying from the best local coffee spot and nearest public transport link to school catchments areas, an estate agent must be well equipped to handle such enquiries. 

Should your estate agent fail to provide relevant information, a potential buyer may look elsewhere meaning you'll be missing out on opportunities to secure your asking price - or even higher offers! Plus, if your estate agent is not proactive in staying up to date with the local area (or simply reads of Wikipedia!) this could be an indication of poor quality, which could have a detrimental effect on the completion of your sale later down the line too. 

Community relationships 

Another factor you should consider when selecting your estate agent is how involved they are in the local community. Are they an established, core business within the area? If so, they are likely to be recommended to those seeking a new home in the neighbourhood and thus, your home may be sold quicker. Potential buyers will trust and feel confident in the ability of the independent estate agent if they are well established in the community - people will take notice of new listings posted over rival competitors. 

The key to selling your home is visibility and certainly, word of mouth is not to be overlooked as an unnecessary marketing tool. We have over 25 years in the local areas we operate within, and each of our Beals team members live locally themselves, positioning us at the very centre of the community, instilling confidence in both our buyers and sellers. We've built a solid reputation as the estate agent with unparalleled success due to our unique approach and excellent customer service. 

Did you know? At Beals, we've always been proud to give something back, understanding the importance of community values. Our support for schools, sports teams and local charities including The Rowans Hospice and Naomi House has raised over £120,000 to help them carry out their compassionate and vital work within our communities. We know the success of any company is hinged on its support for the community.

Dedicated support

Independent estate agents are more likely to provide you with dedicated time and focus, allowing you to relax in what can be a highly stressful life event! Often, online or nationwide agencies will have specific targets to achieve alongside a wider property portfolio. In contrast, a local estate agent will typically have an in-depth understanding of your property, able to identify house hunters that are most likely to make you an offer. Usually, you'll also be able to pop by their offices should you have any concerns; dedicated to listen to you and validate any worries you may be having, whilst a large scale firm could, unfortunately, brush you to the side. The same goes for prospective buyers, they'll be able to quickly pop by the local offices to talk through any worries, sort paperwork and progress the sale. 

You want to feel as though you matter to the estate agent - each home and individual is unique, and it's vital this is recognised to streamline the overall process. 

A tailored marketing approach

As we've already touched upon, marketing is one of the most crucial aspects to consider when selecting an estate agent - maximum exposure can ensure your home is sold far quicker. Nowadays, an independent estate agent will utilise the exact same property portals as the 'big boys' on the market, typically Rightmove, OnTheMarket and Zoopla. This, of course, is essential with over 80% of all sales beginning on one of these three sites. So, you can be sure you aren't missing out on vital opportunities.

In addition to these portals, a local estate agent will likely also utilise a window display along with potential newspaper spots which can act as another excellent marketing tool you would have otherwise missed out on. These additional marketing tactics may not seem significant in a world dominated by digital but, they can appeal to passers-by or the more elusive house-hunter. 

Proactive customer service

An effective estate agent will be able to match a prospective buyer to the right home, understanding the house hunter's requirements and ensuring viewings will not waste the time of either party involved. An independent estate agent will have the additional benefit of a local branch that buyers can walk into - face to face contact guarantees the continuation and builds solid relationships that enable this kind of house-matching. 

Whilst a phone call can be successful, it's often a bit of pot luck on who a buyer ends up speaking to and this could have an impact on how quickly your property is sold. And, excellent customer service could see questions over asking prices subdued as the estate agent instils confidence in the buyer.

Understanding the current local market

Whilst general housing trends typically span across the nation, understanding the market in a specific area is a huge advantage to your property sale. When selecting your estate agent, research their current listings and ask important questions such as what they know about the area, recent properties they've sold, how long their houses are usually on the market for and so on. 

A local estate agent should have a thorough knowledge of how the housing market currently is in your area, and how it may differ from those across the nation. Furthermore, they will likely be able to value your property more accurately than larger firms. It's important you don't underestimate the importance of a reliable valuation as the correct positioning in the market can again, secure you the best possible house price and a quicker sale. 

Choosing your estate agent

There are several different factors to consider when selecting your estate agent and though it may not seem like it, the decision you make will affect the whole process. Selling your home is often considered one of the most, if not the most, stressful experiences the majority of us will go through in our lives, but having the right estate agent by your side can significantly reduce unnecessary pressures. 

Not only should you utilise a local agent for their expertise and a solid reputation in the area, but also their unique approach to selling homes. Likely this will differ considerably from the large firms that operate across the UK and focus on selling homes quickly for any price they can achieve. 

Remember, your estate agent should recognise your individual value rather than thinking of you only as another house on the books.  

Beals: Your independent estate agent

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

When it comes to selling your biggest asset, it’s all about maximising the value. You could close your eyes, cross your fingers and hope for the best, but that would just be leaving it to chance. 

The truth is if you want to increase the value and saleability of your home, you need to put in some effort. It needn’t cost the earth, and there are many small things you can do to increase your chances of selling for the top price. 

So, let’s take a look at the things that make a difference between success and failure.

1. Think About Kerb Appeal

It’s time to dress to impress. No, we aren’t talking about your clothes. We are talking about how your house impacts potential buyers from the roadside. If they don’t love what’s outside, they won’t love what’s inside. 

The first thing to do is to take a step back and look at your house. What do you see? Is the garden neatly trimmed, with stripes in the lawn and the hedges manicured? 

If the exterior of your home looks like it needs some love and care, what message are you giving about the interior? Think of a viewing like a job interview: you would never dream of turning up in your jeans and a t-shirt if you wanted to make the right first impression. Likewise, your house exterior only gets one chance to impress

One of the easiest ways to improve the outside of your home is to plant new shrubs and flowers. It gives an immediate impact and doesn’t cost a small fortune to achieve. 

Moreover, if you see peeling paint on the porch and window frames, it’s time to get your overalls out and get to work. 

Another way of enhancing your kerb appeal is to paint your front door. And try not to choose the same colour as your near neighbours. Remember, it’s all about standing out, not blending in. 

And the colour you choose makes a difference too. When your viewers sit down that night to discuss the houses they’ve seen, they will often use visuals as a way of picturing it: “Oh. was that the one with the red front door?” and “I really loved the colour of the porch.” 

Another neat trick is to give your house a name. It could be your surname or a local landmark that you choose, but it’s a great way to capitalise on standing out from the crowd. It will give your home a slightly upmarket appeal without breaking the bank. 

2. Declare War On Clutter

Why spend all that effort getting the outside right if the inside lets it down? Nothing shrinks a room like clutter. People like to see straight edges and clean lines, but they find it hard to visualise a space when their attention is drawn to your mess.

Plus, it also gives the wrong impression. It informs the potential buyer that if you make no effort to sell your home, what else have you neglected?

We understand that not everyone lives in a show home, and the house has to have a degree of that lived-in feeling, but it should be managed carefully. If you have kids, scattering a few toys creates the right impression, but emptying the entire contents of the toy box is overkill.   

The same can be said of pets. You are trying to create mood, atmosphere and homeliness. People buy houses, not homes. Once they move in, the homemaking begins. It’s the colours, the scents, a carefully placed plant, a picture hung on the wall. 

These are all the triggers that make us feel safe inside our homes because they are stamped with our personality. 

Step out of the room, close the door and count to five. Then, re-enter the room and take stock of what you see. If you think something looks out of place, it probably is. Another way to look at it is to imagine the Queen is coming to lunch. 

Is your home presented in a way that you feel comfortable receiving Her Majesty? If the answer is yes, pat yourself on the back and wait for that invitation to the next garden party to land on your doormat. 

If the answer is no, you have some work to do before the Queen pops round. A great tip is to make a list of the must-have things and the not-needed items. This should help you reduce your clutter by at least 50%. 

Another top tip is to ask yourself when was the last time that you used an item. That way, you quickly learn which things you need around and which items can be stored away. 

If you have a garage, buy some cheap storage boxes and start packing things away. If anyone asks, you can say you are preparing for the house move by being efficient.

Also, when you declutter, you might discover problems you didn’t know existed. Piles of belongings can easily disguise spots of damp. Mould and mildew hide behind the mess. You only spot them when it’s too late after the buyer makes the discovery and decides it’s not the house for them. 

Catching these issues early is the key to rectifying them, and no one needs to be any the wiser. 

Last on your list is smells. Bad odours come from all directions. Drains can smell, carpets and curtains allow dirt particles to cling to them, and if you have pets, your home might already be a bit pongy. 

We once had a seller fry bacon just before a viewing to get rid of the smell of three sweaty giant poodles. It might have been better to open some windows and use Febreeze rather than cover up sweaty dog odours with sweaty bacon. 

3. Deal With Repairs

Minor repairs can become tomorrows significant task if they are left unchecked. If you see cracks in tiles, splits in door and window frames, and missing roof tiles, get them repaired. Nothing quite says “disrepair,” like a potential buyer opening a kitchen cupboard and it comes off the hinges, or the handle falls off. 

A five-minute fix is the difference between your potential buyers thinking your home is well maintained instead of full of defects. 

It could also affect your property value. Buyers view your home with a critical eye. One simple handle repair in the kitchen is cheap and quick, but to your buyer, it means the entire kitchen needs replacing. What should be pennies to repair has now just cost you thousands. 

And when your potential buyer costs up a new kitchen or bathroom, they are not working to the same budget as you. These are all weapons to get you to lower your price. 

Some jobs are simple DIY tasks that most people can handle, but others may require the services of a professional. A good example of this is when you get clouding between the panes of glass on your double glazing. 

Even if one window has faulty seals, your buyer sees that as a warning sign that every window in the house needs to be replaced. What might be a £100 repair is now running at thousands inside your buyers head.

By taking care of these repairs, you are ensuring the maximum return on your investment. 

4. Focus On The Rooms That Count

They say the kitchen is the heart of a home, so focusing your energy on making that room the best it can be should be a priority. Likewise, the bathroom has the potential to be another “wow” room. 

Time and again, these two rooms have been proven to be the reason for securing a quick sale. They are among the most heavily used rooms in the home and the ones that buyers connect with the most. 

This is partly due to the high expense of replacing a kitchen or bathroom, but also because they buy into the dream of owning your fantastic kitchen. 

You don’t need to rip out the old kitchen and replace it with a new one to create impact. Some simple things can make all the difference. Replacing the worktops could be the answer, or slapping some white paint on dark, or dated kitchen doors can lift a space and brighten it. 

The same decluttering rules apply to your kitchen as they do to the bathroom. Clear away any surfaces, storing things neatly in the cupboards. Give everything a thorough clean to remove streaks, limescale and dull metalwork like sinks and drainers. 

If you have tiled splashbacks, check the grout for mould and mildew and replace it if necessary. Fill a bowl with fruit and place it on the kitchen work surface, and fold some new fluffy towels and place them strategically in the bathroom. 

What you are trying to create is the idea of “lifestyle.” People often buy into the concept of “lifestyle” as much as they do the practicalities of your home. Try and think of it like buying a new car. No one gets excited over the brakes or the seatbelts, but they do when it comes to gadgets like BlueTooth and rear parking cameras. 

5. Embrace The Light

No one likes dark spaces unless you are a vampire. If Count Dracula is coming to view your house, ignore this advice. But for the rest of us mere mortals, getting as much light into our homes is crucial. 

If your windows need a clean, get them sparkling to let the light in. Remove net curtains as they significantly reduce the amount of light inside your home. If you have heavy curtains, make sure you tie them back, so as much light enters the room. 

If you have blinds, pull them up, so they don’t restrict the light coming through the window. If you are selling your house in mid-winter, sometimes the weather may be dreary, limiting the amount of light inside your home. 

You can counteract this with some carefully placed lamps or by replacing your dull bulbs with newer, brighter ones. How you use artificial light in your home can make a huge difference. Have you ever heard the term “mood lighting?” It’s something you hear designers talk about a lot. 

Strategically placing lamps in a darkened corner illuminates and helps create an atmosphere. It can transform a dull room into a warm and inviting space. 

If money is no object, you could consider fitting skylights. They provide instant light and help to brighten the darkest rooms. 

Show Your Home Some TLC

If you want to achieve the best price for your home, these tips can make all the difference. When you invite people into your property hoping they see the value of living there, you are trying to convince them that it is the perfect place. 

You are not only selling your home, but you are also selling the dream, and to achieve that, you need to put in some hours to increase the saleability of your property and to maximise the value.

Keeping your kids safe is your number one priority. It’s tricky enough at the best of times, but imagine the stresses of ensuring a safe environment during a renovation. Children may be small and harmless, but they sure know how to find trouble, even when it might not be obvious to the adults in the room. 

The best advice we can give you is to get on your hands and knees and scan the room to get a child’s-eye view. What can you see? Can you spot any gaps that your children can access? Have you covered all your bases? Are there trip hazards and trailing cables?

You could move the family to a relative's home or a hotel, but the reality is most families undertake a renovation while they live in the house. 

So, with that in mind, we need to find solutions to help you childproof your home during a renovation. Let’s take a look at some suggestions you might find helpful.

Use Stair Gates 

Power tools are part and parcel of any home renovation. Saws, drills, sanders, you name it, they are probably being used in your home as part of the ongoing work. The best way to keep your kids safe is to fit stair gates to block their access to the areas where danger lurks. 

Most kid’s toys consist of switches and pulleys, lights and funny sounds for cognitive development, so it isn’t hard to see why a misplaced power tool might look appealing to a small child. To them, it’s just a toy.  

The contractors need to be left to get on with the job without the need to pack their tools away whenever they stop using them. It would slow the renovation and potentially spoil the working  relationship between you and the professionals. 

The only thing you could do was insist that they pack all the tools away to make the space safe for your children at the end of every working day. 

Establish Safe Zones

Divide your home into safe zones and working zones. That way, you know where your children will be safe. Once you’ve established which rooms are off-limits, you can set to work making the protected areas as comfortable as possible. 

Stair gates will help you block access to these hazardous areas, but you also need to keep the safe zones as interesting to your children as possible. Don’t pack away all their favourite toys and try and keep the living environment as normal as possible. 

Also, the house will be full of strange sounds and people. Your secure zone should be a barrier to all the upheaval. Of course, all of this depends on their ages, so smaller children will find it more challenging to cope. 

Have a conversation with your contractor before they start the renovation, establishing the safe zones in the house and why. The more you communicate with the builders, the more they understand what you want, which minimises misunderstandings. 

If you can, make the safe zone a room or two with outside access. This stops the contractors from using the same entrance as you, preventing them from walking through the protected area. 

Dealing With Dust and Air Quality

We spend so much time dealing with the physical dangers to our children during a renovation that we seldom give much thought to the air quality. 

Dust and other particulates circulate throughout your home, causing your children to inhale possibly hazardous material. Air pollution is such a problem in our daily lives, so the last thing you would want to do is expose your little ones to more harmful pollutants. 

You could cover all surfaces with dust sheets and install plastic sheeting over doorways between the working space and your safe zone to minimise the spread of the dust. If you're renovating during the summer, encourage the contractors to open as many windows to let the dust escape. 

If your renovation is happening during the winter, encourage the contractors to close as many doors to slow the dust from spreading inside your home. 

You could also invest in an air purifier and set it running 24/7 to remove all the impurities in the atmosphere. If you can get one with a HEPA filter, it will remove 99.97% of all dangerous particulates to a size of 0.3 microns. To put it in laymen’s terms, that is microscopic.

Just remember that with an increased level of dust, your filter will need regular replacement or cleaning, depending on the model you buy. 

Keep Everything Covered

During a renovation, dust spreads to almost every surface, including carpets, curtains and soft furnishings. Protecting your children doesn’t stop after the work is done. By covering high-traffic areas of the home and all the hard and soft surfaces, you are ensuring that you minimise the danger further down the line. 

Kids like to crawl and touch things, and just like any inquisitive creature, they like to use their mouths. You’d be amazed how much dust you will still be lifting months after the builders have packed up and gone home. 

Investing in a good quality vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter should help you clean up, but the best way to deal with the problem is to avoid dust settling in the first place. 

Seal Off Sockets

Small fingers find tiny holes, so to avoid any injuries, use socket covers that snap into place to stop your little ones from finding electrical outlets. Likewise, keep an eye on loose wires and cables. These are usually coloured and so may look attractive to young eyes. 

Try and encourage your contractors and electricians to cap off the wires and use insulation tape when performing any electrical tasks. It is unlikely that any professional worth their salt will leave your electrical system live while there are exposed wires, but mistakes do happen. 

A Tidy Worksite Is a Safe Worksite

While we accept that building sites are haphazard and full of dangers, the tidier you encourage your contractors to be, the fewer dangers there are. Screws, nails, saw blades and other sharp implements are commonplace, even after the builders have gone home for the night. 

If a contractor knows they are working on a project for a month, they will soon establish your home renovation as a place to store all the tools and equipment they need. All you can do is make it clear that you have to live in the house with young children when they leave at night, so keeping a clean workspace is helpful. 

However, we wouldn’t encourage letting your child have free reign in the areas where the home remodel is taking place. But as realists, we understand that occasionally mistakes happen, so if they do, at least you’ve minimised the risks.

Renovating Is Stressful

The truth is no one likes living in the middle of a building site. It’s hard enough staying sane without taking into account the needs of your little ones. Holding down a full-time job and trying to raise a family while renovating your home is a balancing act. 

However, keeping your child safe is the single most important thing you can do when you are in the middle of a renovation. So, if you want to undertake a major building project in the near future, start planning the childproofing now. 

Ever had a conversation with your fridge or washing machine? We thought not, but believe it or not; modern appliances do talk to each other. It’s a connected world! Computers, watches, mobile phones and servers all communicate with each other. 

We have Apple and Google devices to tell us the news, the weather, and even our favourite recipes. What was once science fiction is now a science fact. 

So, what if you could harness this smart technology when it comes to protecting your home?

Let’s Talk About IoT

You’ve probably heard about the Internet of Things. It’s the generic term used to describe appliances and electronic gadgets that communicate with each other via a wireless connection.

The whole concept of IoT is to make your life easier. It’s a super-modern way of streamlining everything so that you are in total control. 

Fridges can alert you when you run out of milk and even place online orders for you. Cars can connect with a central diagnostics service and report problems to the manufacturer, and they can even send out software updates to keep your car’s computer systems protected. 

When you actually sit and think about it, the possibilities are endless, especially when we talk about home security.

Types of Smart Security

Essentially, there are four types of smart security. 

Smart Locks

These devices are controlled via an app on your smartphone. They can communicate with you remotely, alerting you to any security breaches. You can even lock your front door from the other side of the world. 

Imagine a scenario where one of your kids gets home and forgets their key. One quick call to you at work, and you can remotely let them in without any hassles. 

Video Doorbells

Even when you are out, the doorbell can alert you to someone at your property, and you can communicate with the house caller via your smartphone. It gives the illusion that someone is in. Also, it will record faces so that you can play it back, should you have any issues.

Smart Cameras

Smart cameras communicate with your tablet or smartphone to alert you to any intruders. And you can also control them remotely via an app.

Window and Door Sensors

If a sensor detects the protective security seal is broken, it will alert you remotely. You can also programme your cameras to work in conjunction with the sensors for maximum security.

But What Are The Risks?

You may think you have every corner and angle covered, but there are always weak links in any defence system. Your home security could be put at risk by your washing machine or your fridge-freezer. 

Who would suspect that your smart blender was the route for hackers to breach your security umbrella?

Often, innovative technology requires clever thieves to thwart your plans. As technology has moved on, so have the criminals, and they know that targeting the weakest link in the chain is the way through the gate. 

These appliances are way down the security pecking order, but they are part of the same IoT umbrella and give cybercriminals the most accessible point into your security systems. 

A well-documented case in 2015 saw Netflix, PayPal and Spotify fall foul to hackers who harnessed the collective power of hundreds of thousands of minor and insignificant devices to launch their attack. 

To put it simply, if your washing machine is connected to the same home hub as your security cameras and locks, you could be vulnerable. 

The Advantages of Smart Security

Excellent Deterrent

Smart security places you virtually in your home no matter where you are in the world. It can appear to the criminals that you are home and safe, deterring them from gaining entry. You can see who is calling at your front door before you’ve even left the comfort of your sofa. 

If you are home alone and don’t like the look of the caller, you don’t have to open the door. You can even turn on lights using your home hub to enhance the illusion that you are home and there are people in the house. 

This is especially useful when you are away and want the house to appear occupied. Thieves often watch properties, and if they see a light go on, they will assume you or someone is there and move on. 

Convenience

What could be more convenient than answering the door via your video doorbell? You can even answer the doorbell from the comfort of your sunlounger on a sun kissed beach on the other side of the  world. You can also relax knowing that your locks are active and there are no breaches. 

Anytime, Anywhere

Imagine having total control of your home security 24/7 and 365 days of the year. Switch on the lights, close the garage door, pull the curtains, all with a press of a button from anywhere in the world. 

Never Forget To Lock Your Home

Picture the scene: you're at the airport, about to jet off on holiday, when you check your smartphone and realise that the front door is unlocked. With the press of a button, the lock is engaged, and you can travel away without a care. 

You would have needed to contact someone with a spare key in the old days and get them to pop around to lock the door. 

Prevention Rather Than Reaction

Smart technology exists as a means of preventing a break-in. It is there to ward off any would-be attackers. Once a crime has been committed, it is irrelevant whether you have smart technology or not. 

However, with internet connectivity, you can prevent a crime from happening in the first place.

Gives You a Wider View

All this video technology gives you the ability to see the perimeter of your home, keeping you safe before anyone attempts to enter. Some smart doorbells have 25 feet night vision ranges and 1080 resolution. You also get 180-degree wide lenses that pick up any suspicious people before they step foot onto your property. 

The Disadvantages of Smart Security

The Risk of Being Hacked

Someone will always find a way through, especially if you place all your trust in smart security. Remember we talked about the weakest link in the chain as an access route into your system, well IoT devices are by no means perfect, and there are ways and means of breaking the security wall to gain entry. 

Worse still, once the criminals have access to your smart devices, they could keep on attacking whenever they choose. 

Power Cut

It would be tragic if your entire security system rested on a steady and reliable supply of electricity. If the power went down, how would the technology cope? Is there a backup battery to keep your lock working, and how long does it last?

These are all valid questions that should have you on alert that the IoT is not a magic bullet to solve all your security problems. 

Losing Your Smartphone

We keep everything on our mobile phones these days: photos, contacts, passwords and even the controls to your home security system. If you were to lose your phone or have it stolen, you are vulnerable to a security breach.Even a mugging might be a trigger for a bigger crime. 

Virtual Crimes

Imagine being robbed without anyone entering your home. Hackers could tap into your devices and steal the contents of your bank account without breaking a sweat. 

Portable and Wearable Devices

Nothing gives away your current location like a smartwatch, phone or fitness device. Hackers can find out where you are without too much trouble and know that when you answer your video doorbell claiming to be in, you are actually miles away. 

Watching You, Watching Me

If someone is smart enough to gain access to your security system, who would know if they turned the tables, using your cameras and doorbells to spy on you. They could track every move you make, and you’d be none the wiser. 

Improve Your Smart Security: Our Top Tips

Name Your Router

Criminals look for and spot generic codes and manufacturers names. Give yours a name that nobody would possibly suspect to make it harder for the thieves. 

Change Passwords and Usernames Regularly

Change the passwords and usernames for every device because switched on criminals will recognise the generic names and codes of specific products. 

In addition, try not to be obvious about the name you give it. Avoid things like “Pete’s fridge” or “Blender 1234.” Try and think of words that have no connection to you, the address or the product. 

Have a Guest Network

When people visit your home and ask to connect to your router, how do you know if their devices are secure? Setting up a guest network is easy, and it means they are not compromising your home security. 

Keep Software Updated

How many times have we ignored software updates until it is too late? Manufacturers regularly update their software to stay on top of bugs, fixes and issues that arise. Download them whenever you see a software update. It could be the difference between strengthening your security and compromising it. 

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