Thursday, 16 April 2015

Help to Buy ISA

The Help to buy ISA will be introduced by Autumn this year, available at bank and building societies. Each provider will be able to apply there own ISA stipulations e.i interest rate and withdrawal rules but normal transfer rules will be in place to ensure savers have the flexibility to transfer to accounts with better rates. 

There will be a maximum monthly saving limit of £200 for every £200 paid in the Government will contribute £50, the top up will be capped at £3000 and tax free meaning the maximum about of savings from the buyer is £12,000. The ISA is available 4 years from the initial scheme starting, once the account is open there is no time limitation on how long a person can use the ISA or when they claim the contribution. 

To ensure the Governments contribution is used correctly the funds will be released when the property has been purchased. The great thing is the ISA is available one per person not one per household and up to £1000 can be deposited into the account as the first payment. The property purchase cannot be for buy-to-let purposes, only for first time buyers who will be living in the property and their only residence. In London the the purchase value can be up to £450,000 other areas in the UK price must not exceed £250,000. The top up can be claimed at any time as long as there has been a minimum of £400 government contribution.

So first time buyers.....what are you waiting for!

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Alarms

Landlords will soon be required by law to install working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in all their tenanted properties, this is expected to be in place from October 2015. The smoke alarms will need to be installed on every floor of the property and tested at the start of a tenancy. The carbon monoxide alarms will be required in high risk rooms, for example where a solid fuel heating system is installed. During the tenancy period it will be the responsibility of the tenant to maintain and test the alarms and to report any faults. 

The fire service are on hand to support private landlords on meeting the requirements and new responsibilities. Grant funding from the government will enable landlords to claim free smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, the allocation of funding will be announced in due course. 

Landlords who fail to comply are at risk of facing sanctions and be landed with a bill of up to £5,000 civil penalty. 

The new compliance will bring property up to standard on current building regulations, new builds are required to have hard-wired smoke alarms installed. 

It is a simple safety procedure that will save lives and a simple understanding for both landlord and tenant as to where their obligations lie on installing, testing and maintaining.

Make sure your property is up to standard!

Beth Alexandra Property Specialists 

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Energy Performance Certificate

Energy Performance Certificates (EPC) were originally introduced as part of the Home Information Pack (HIP) required to market your property, since the HIP was suspended in May 2010 the EPC was to remain a mandatory requirement. When putting your property up for sale or rent you must have an up to date Energy Performance Certificate and it is required for any property with a tenancy commencing on or after 1st October 2008.

Visually the EPC is the colour coded chart you see on property details listed by estate agents, it is usual practice for your estate agent to make the arrangements for the EPC to be carried out with your instruction. The chart is split into 'Energy Performance Rating' and 'Environmental (CO2) Impact Rating' both rated A (most efficient) to G (least efficient). Also included in the certificate document is information on the property's energy use and typical cost along with recommendations on how reduce energy use and save money. It is valid for 10 years unless any changes are made that can effect the rating i.e insulation, double glazing or a new boiler.

Having this information readily available is all well and good, providing that extra bit of information for potential buyers and tenants on the energy efficiency of a property. But I have often wondered why there has never been a requirement in place for what rating the property should be at or above, especially for rental property. Then what was released a couple of weeks ago....

As of 1st April 2018 all rental property must have a minimum rating of at least an E. This new stipulation means that any property rented out with a rating of F or G is illegal. This could be a costly rule to adherer to for most landlords so my advice is to put a plan in place now to budget for any work that needs carrying out to bump up the EPC rating to an E or above. Don't leave it too late or it will cost you more in the long run!

If you need an Energy Performance Certificate please contact us Beth Alexandra Property Specialists 01344 771278 or email

Monday, 16 February 2015

Choosing The Right Conveyancer

Do you already have a conveyancer in place? It is surprising how many vendors and buyers don't, when an offer is accepted both parties should be ready to hit the ground running. It can be a negative start to spend the first 1 - 2 weeks on researching and retrieving quotes from solicitors. This eats away at precious time in which the selling process should be well under way, no one likes to be kept waiting. The key to choosing a solicitor is knowing they are going to be proactive, efficient and keep in touch with you every step of the way. A common occurrence between a conveyancer and their client is lack of communication. My motto is, make sure your file is top of the pile! 

If you have the benefit of knowing a solicitor and had recent experience with which was it was a positive one then I strongly advise you go back to them. Most likely they helped you to buy the property you are now selling! If you find yourself in a position with no solicitor then the first port of call is your estate agent. They should always have a panel of conveyancers who will take on your case. The benefit of using a firm the agent has recommended is not only for the reassurance but they will have a fantastic professional relationship with one another. Both agent and conveyancer are aware of each others processes and routine and will work as a team to get you moving. 

An easy mistake to make is opting for the cheapest quote, the price maybe great but will the service mirror it? Understandably moving house is a costly process but what you are dealing with is the most expensive asset you own, you cannot afford costly mistakes. Don't be afraid when looking into different firms searching outside your area. A number of soliciting firms now use online portals which you the client can log into and view the progress. This can actually be less time consuming than waiting for a meeting or a phone call with your conveyancer. 

Whichever route you take be one step ahead and begin the research early, leaving it too late can lead into a rushed decision so be prepared.

At Beth Alexandra Property Specialists we will guide you every step of the way. 

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Real Interiors UK - New Year New Home

Whilst diets and promotions top many New Years’ resolution lists, January is also the perfect time to make the changes to your home that have been bugging you for months.

Shirley Goodgroves from Real Interiors is a ‘Home Staging’ expert with a sharp eye and a creative touch.  She uses her experience and vision to look beyond clutter and mess and turns tired homes into attractive options that appeal to potential buyers.

Whether you are looking for a haven in the chaos of family life or want top dollar in the estate agent’s window, Shirley’s fail-safe tips will make you a property guru in 2015.

  • Your house is worth more when it’s tidy according to a recent survey by Big Yellow Self Storage and 22% of buyers won’t make an offer on a property if its too cluttered.  Have a big sort out in January and then try to keep on top of it a bit at a time.
  • Be realistic! Your home was created over months and years so you won’t transform it in an hour.  If it’s all too daunting, spend 10 mins clearing out a kitchen drawer and once you start seeing results you’ll want to continue.
  • If you’re thinking of putting your home on the market this Spring, assess what buyers might think of it.  Have an evaluation done by a property professional and consider staging to maximise your property value before you call the agent.
  • Forget your personal taste, buyers are looking for neutral but not bland properties so its essential that this is what you offer.  You can introduce colour through accessories rather than paint.  A properly dressed bed, vase of flowers and well placed mirrors and pictures will transform your home into an attractive investment.
  • Remember all those little jobs that you’ve been meaning to sort out but never got around to?  Now is the time to fix the dripping tap, change the cracked tile and rehang dropped doors on cupboards.
  • Its true that wafts of baking bread and freshly brewed coffee create the perfect ambience for buyers but be warned – they are put off by smells of animals, damp and cigarette smoke.
  • If you do nothing else, ensure your house is clean.  Sparkling windows and dust free skirting boards will show a buyer that this is a property which is well cared for and looked after.

For assistance on staging your home for sale, decluttering when it’s all become too much or simply to feel happy with the home you’re in, call Shirley at Real Interiors on 07866 566141 for a solution that’s perfect for you.

For more information go to