The most popular new home amenities in 2016

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Being an architect in the housing industry can present quite a few challenges, the biggest of which is probably being able to predict what home buyers are going to be looking for in the upcoming year. It’s difficult to design a new home unless you know what consumers want, but once you have a handle on the market, your job is as good as done. It’s then only a matter of working the wants of home buyers into blueprints for homes being developed by the builder. Here are a few of the home amenities house buyers are looking for in new homes this year.

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Amenities by neighbourhood

One of the things which developers look at when constructing a new development is the area surrounding the new sub development. Over-improvements aren’t limited to home repairs and home remodelling jobs so it’s important that they don’t get carried away with amenities that won’t add value to the home. There are, however, some élite developments such as the Texas neighbourhood of Belterra in Dripping Springs. These are trendy homes in an upper middle class neighbourhood with amenities suitable for this lifestyle.

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Popular amenities currently trending

Developers looking to draw up plans for homes in a new development would be wise to see what amenities are currently trending first. According to realtors around the country, some amenities are popular no matter in which region of the country the home buyers were polled. The top amenities in 2016 include:

  • Great rooms – These are like a family room, living room and kitchen all rolled into one
  • Central island in the kitchen – This is where much prep work is done and to take this up one level, a central island with butcher’s block tops is in even higher demand
  • High ceilings on ground floors
  • Windows rated as Low-E (Energy Star)
  • Integral 2-car garage
  • Granite or marble counter tops in the kitchen
  • Smart gadgets – programmable climate control, lighting etc
  • Large front porch
  • Walk in wardrobes
  • Linen cupboards in all bathrooms – especially in the master bathroom

Knowing that these are high on the list of amenities, builders can now request their architects to design as many of these into their blueprints as possible. Oddly, bonus rooms, pools and spas are no longer trending as strongly as they had been in the previous decade.

Whether you’re an estate agent looking to match a buyer with a seller or a developer looking to keep up with trends, being able to match these amenities with a prospective buyer’s needs can make your job a whole lot easier. With the economy on a steady incline and jobs more readily available, the property market is beginning to boom. Since this is the beginning of a seller’s market, it’s vital to give buyers something in order to close the deal – that would be the above-mentioned trending amenities. You can sweeten the deal by offering exactly what they want, making it easier and quicker to close. Now that is sweet!



Simple ways to add value to your home

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Do you want to add value to your home and make it a more comfortable place in which to live? This is the wish of many home owners around the country, but many of these people are not willing to take the necessary steps to achieve this goal. It’s not as difficult as it may seem to add value to your home and the following tips are some of the easiest ways in which to do this.

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Replace old windows and doors

A large number of older homes still have the same windows and doors that were fitted when the house was originally built. The technologies used to manufacture modern windows and doors have come a long way in recent years. Energy efficient windows and doors ensure that homes are warmer and look more stylish. Attractive and secure garage doors also add value to a home and are provided by suppliers like the Garage Door Company Ltd. You can check out their site to find a solution to suit your type of property.

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Install insulation and a new heating system

Every home owner wants to live in a warm, cosy home. However, older heating systems were often not as efficient as modern heating systems. If you feel the cold in your home during the winter, you have a heating problem that needs to be fixed.

In most cases, installing a new boiler, radiators or other types of heating systems will make a huge difference to the temperature inside your home. To ensure that this heat does not escape, it’s important to check how well insulated your property is as well. If it’s not up to the necessary standard, it’s wise to install additional insulation in the wall cavities and in the attic space.

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When you’re attempting to add value to your home, not all changes take place inside the property. Most people enjoy spending time outside in a well-kept garden. However, many gardens leave a lot to be desired and are not inviting places to in which to spend time.

Hiring a professional landscaper to inject some life into your garden has the potential to add thousands of pounds to the value of your home and make it an attractive area for family and friends to relax, especially during the summer.

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The floors in a home suffer the most from wear and tear. This is particularly true in high traffic areas of the home such as corridors and entrance ways. Replacing existing flooring products with high quality carpets or wooden flooring will instantly transform each of the rooms in your home.

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Clean and paint

It’s amazing how fresh a home can look by simply cleaning it and giving it a coat or two of paint. Once a home owner sees the difference this can make, it often inspires them to make other changes that will greatly increase the value of their home.

Some people make changes to their home so that it becomes more comfortable to live in, while other home owners want to increase the value of their property so that they can sell it profitably in the future. Either way, making the changes above will ensure that both of these objectives are achieved.


Why selling fast doesn’t mean selling for less

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When we put our homes on the market, we’re met with a mountain of administration to tackle, estate agents to wrestle with and a never-ending cycle of anticipation, offers and fall-throughs. But what if you could speed up the process? And what if you could do so without losing money? It’s certainly possible…

The majority of us sell our homes using estate agents. However, estate agents can cost sellers a lot of money, charging anything from 0.75% to 3.0% of the agreed selling price, plus VAT. So, using the national average charge, selling a £250k home could result in you owing an average fee of £5,400 – all going directly into your estate agent’s pocket.

But, is this a bad thing? Not necessarily. A good estate agent with strong local knowledge, effective communication skills and an ability to negotiate could mean that their fee is money well spent. But, sadly, that’s not true for everyone. Many sellers report feeling dissatisfied with their estate agent’s services, finding that communication often breaks down and that their processes are frustrating. If you feel this way or want to avoid the cost of using a traditional estate agent, there are a number of other routes you could can go down to sell your house fast without losing money…

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Using an online estate agent

Firstly, new homes, old homes, small homes, flats (or any other home for that matter), can be listed on sites such as House Simple, an online estate agent. Due to the fact that online providers like this have fewer overheads than traditional agents, they tend to charge much smaller fees. They’re also able to tap into a huge number of potential buyers, promoting your property across a large marketing network including sites such as Rightmove and Zoopla.

If you’re happy to show potential buyers around your home yourself, and are able to answer questions directly rather than relying on an agent as a middle man, you might be able to sell your house fast, and at a high price. House Simple currently helps sellers achieve 99% of their asking price and find that properties listed through their services take an average of 25 days to sell. Just be sure to research this option thoroughly by reading the small print and using a reputable online vendor – not all online agents are professional or able to secure you a good price.

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Becoming a DIY agent

Alternatively, you could sell your house quickly and cheaply by acting as your own estate agent. Use your local knowledge and take advantage of advertising, social media and word of mouth, photographing your home professionally and listing it on websites like Tepilo or Gumtree before showing prospective buyers around your property. It’s a more labour-intensive option than hiring an estate agent and involves lots of administration and paperwork, and requires excellent negotiation skills… but if you’re good at it, you’ll have full control over the speed of a sale and will be able to save yourself lots of money.


5 Ways to prepare your home for selling

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When it comes to selling your home, there are some simple strategies that can help generate more interest from potential buyers. The following 5 suggestions are easily implemented and guaranteed to keep any prospective purchasers engaged from the outset, rather than turning them away to purchase elsewhere.

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1. A well-maintained garden

Make sure any garden or outdoor area is well-maintained and manicured as this will make a great first impression and arouse curiosity as to what may await beyond the front door. Many potential buyers will drive by to get a sense of the property and if they see a garden that is overgrown and unappealing they may never bother to arrange an initial inspection with the real estate agent. They will likely assume that the same level of disregard applies to the condition of the rest of the property.

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2. De-clutter

Create a light and airy atmosphere and increase the sense of available space by de-cluttering the property before placing it on the market with eMoov, the online estate agents. Environments that are messy and claustrophobic are unappealing and can be psychologically intimidating. It’s a kind of territorial marking that makes ones space personally meaningful, however a buyer will be trying to imagine how the space would look furnished with their possessions. Make this task easier for them by reducing clutter and providing room for their imagination to soar.

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3. Paint & repair

A few coats of paint are a minimal cost compared to the figures involved in selling a home. If the walls are looking drab and dirty, or the existing colour scheme is dated, unusual or just visually jarring then taking the time to spruce things up is well worth the effort. Most decorators recommend using neutral colour schemes so that potential buyers can more easily visualise their own belongings in the house. Colours that reflect the present owner’s unique lifestyle and tastes may be unappealing to other people.

View the property with a critical eye and notice any obvious defects that are in need of replacement or repair. Cracked walls, rusted guttering, stained carpets or broken windows will ring alarm bells for a prospective buyer and cause them to wonder what else may be wrong with the property.

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4. Clean & tidy

Make sure the house is clean and tidy when buyers come for inspection. Although it can be a hassle to continually stay on top of the cleaning it is an effort that is worthwhile. First impressions really do count and ideally the prospective buyer ought to be able to easily imagine living in the property. Not many people picture their dream future as living amongst filth and grime so leave nothing to chance and attend to the basics by increasing the charm and appeal of the property.

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5. Consider renting furniture

If your furniture is old and dated, consider leasing high quality furnishings to provide the wow factor to potential buyers. The cost of leasing can be surprisingly affordable and any leverage you can get in your favour to help sway a buyer is certainly worth the investment.

Preparing your home for selling is not a complicated affair and hopefully, with these easy tips put into action, a sale will soon be on its way for you.


Why cities like York offer a great investment opportunity

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Our post about investing in property outside of London generated a huge amount of interest. It seems that many of our readers were interested in the idea of avoiding the extraordinarily high property prices of the capital and wanted to look into investing in other places. This prompted us to do a bit more research and expand on the subject.

Here we’re going to look at investing in other city locations using York as an example. We’re in regular contact with several letting agencies in York, so know already that the city is a good place to invest. In addition, the latest statistics indicate that rental rates in the city have recently risen by over 20%. It’s a great example of somewhere outside of the capital where property investments have really paid off.

Several cities in the UK have the potential to take off in the same way as York. Below we take a closer look at why York has become such a good place for people to invest in property.

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York is a university city

Demand for student accommodation is definitely growing in the UK. Up until this year, the number of students each university could take was capped. This limited the number of people who could study in the UK, but despite this cap demand for student accommodation outstripped availability everywhere. Now that the cap on student numbers no longer exists, demand for accommodation in university cities can only increase even more.

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York is a tourist city

The city of York is a big tourist destination that is becoming more & more popular. This year visitor numbers are up by 10% and that’s the 5th year tourist numbers have gone up.

Increasingly, visitors to the UK are rejecting hotel & bed and breakfast accommodation. Many are opting instead to rent houses or flats and tourists are now renting individual rooms in people’s homes.

This has created another pool of potential renters for both home-owners and landlords in the city. Tourists visit the city of York all year round and they pay well for accommodation, so it easy to make a profit leasing out holiday properties in the city and the surrounding area.

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York has a growing population

Property prices and rent have risen so much in the South East that many people can no longer afford to live there. People are increasingly moving further north and York is proving to be one of the most popular destinations for people looking for a new place to live.

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York has fantastic amenities

York has great links with the rest of the UK. London is just a two-hour train journey away and Manchester is just an hour and a quarter away.

The fact that it is a student city and a tourist destination means that there is no shortage of things for people to do and see in the area. This makes it very attractive as a place to live for young people who cannot afford to set up home in the South East.

Several other cities in the UK tick the same boxes as York. Edinburgh, Oxford and Coventry are just three of them and all of them offer great value for money when it comes to investment property.


10 ways to help your home sell faster

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You’ve made the decision to move on – and now the hard work begins. You may have great memories of the property where your children grew up or you progressed in your career, but to the home-buyer that means nothing; their memories are still to be created. Here are ten quick ways to help your home sell faster and boost your chances of moving to your next abode.

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De-clutter for visits

If you’ve made the decision to move, then your personal effects will need to be packed up at some point – so why not start now? Pack away the personal photographs and travel memorabilia, wall certificates, photographs and kids’ paintings, with the aim of creating a canvas onto which a visitor can mentally stamp their authority.

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Let other people love your home

Garish room colours such as dark reds, purples and blues might be perfect for your lifestyle, but for a potential buyer it represents redecoration at best, and rejection at worst. Regard it from the viewpoint of someone coming into the home fresh, with new ideas for rooms, which they’ll visualise more easily if they’re pastel colours.

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Get those jobs done

The niggly, nasty little jobs that you’ve been putting off for months or years need to be done if they’re a real barrier to the sale. Guttering upgrades, crack repairs, and broken windows might need professional help, but replacing doorknobs and skirting boards could be done in a day or so by the owner and could tip the balance in a buyer’s eyes.

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Update the kitchen

Alongside the bathroom, this is the one room where old age can’t be hidden easily by removing items for the photographs. Dirty units and old-fashioned trimmings will drag down the overall picture of the house; while a modern, clean kitchen might catch the eye. We’re not talking big money – just enough for it to become a positive talking point for the estate agent.

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Leaving behind?

Transporting some items is more hassle than benefit; sheds, integrated TVs, cookers and the like are the types of furniture that might not add value to your home, but might a) give a good impression, b) look nice and prevent disruption and c) enable the buyer to sell their own counterpart items.

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Get recording

You’ve got a mobile phone or a small video/DSLR camera, so make use of it. A walk through your lovely home is one thing, but why not go further by taking potential buyers on a leafy tour through the local amenities, pubs, shops, leisure facilities, parks and other attractions. If they’ll agree, enlist neighbours and friends as well.

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Go online

The quick house sale and online estate agency markets are booming, with much of the donkey work such as photography, floor plans and advertising on property portals like Rightmove and Zoopla done for you through sites such as It’s certainly worth a look if time is of the essence – for example, if one needs to move to start a new job.

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Utilise social media

That video should not only find its way to YouTube and Vimeo, but other social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. Accompany it with lovely pictures, a PDF of particulars for downloading and contact details. The trick is to make something that’s interesting enough for friends & followers to share, encourage and positive comments.

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Don’t forget the exterior…

The external walls and the garden are part of your home, and a spot of weeding/raking to the latter and painting of the former – and therefore protecting it from sun, wind and rain for future owners – could be worth it. Keep a tin of the paint and the receipt if completed by a professional decorator, to prove the job has been done recently.

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…and additional space

According to the Royal Horticultural Society (as reported in The Independent) three times as many front gardens are now completely paved over compared to a decade ago, for reasons such as people can’t be bothered with gardens and need parking spaces. If your property boasts its own parking space make sure this is highlighted, and emphasise that it is near to any attractions (if true). A happy medium would be a combination of parking and grassed area, of course; shout from the rooftops if you possess this treasure.