With Christmas fast approaching, the season of spending is upon us. With this in mind, we thought now might be a good time to look at ways to give your household budget a money makeover. We’ve covered several areas where you could be making small changes that could deliver some big savings.
Useful to have for spreading the cost of big purchases and an almost essential way to build a good credit score, our plastic friends can offer the first way to save money.
If you have a balance that you are servicing each month on your cards then look for ways to transfer this sum to a zero-interest rate account. If you have a balance of £1,000 and are paying the minimum repayments then you could be saving yourself £15-£20 each month in interest charges.
And many credit cards that offer this zero-interest rate balance transfer also offer the incentive to switch by giving you a period of 0% when you spend.
Always check if there is a balance transfer fee before switching
We’ve never had more access to great entertainment streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Apple TV, BT, Sky and other platforms all offering us an almost unlimited amount of television.
However, we’re so keen to have it all that we often don’t look at what we’ve already got before we commit to spending more.
Did you know that if you are an Amazon Prime customer that you can get free access to 1000s of free TV shows and movies through Prime Video? Combined with Freeview On Demand which gives you 20,000+ hours of TV do you really need Sky or Virgin Media? What about Netflix? For just £5.99 a month, you could be looking at 1000s of great box sets, movies and original series.
Take a closer look at the cost of your current entertainment package and then think about what you actually use it for. If the answer is just one channel, like Sky Sports then you could save money by getting a Sky Sports Pass for Now TV. At just £5.99 a month vs £25 a month (minimum) for a Sky TV package, you could be saving over £200 a year!
Broadband and Telephone
Of course if you want to stream TV then you’ll need a decent broadband connection and the Wokingham area has plenty of choice when it comes to providers. Most of us will stick with the company that we chose when we moved into our homes but there are big savings that you can make by switching. And, there is usually no physical changes required to your existing telephone lines to do so as its all done remotely.
You can save as much as £300 a year by switching your telephone and broadband provider. Use a service like uSwitch to see what you can save.
We all know that we can save money by going to budget supermarkets yet most of us are stuck in a rut when it comes to the places we shop for our weekly groceries. This might be because one store is closer than another or we prefer certain brands. Whatever the reasons, we have some good advice that could see you save hundreds of pounds on your annual food shopping.
Firstly, consider getting a delivery instead of actually going to a supermarket. The reason that this is a good idea is that:
- You can opt for a cheaper supermarket to deliver your basics. Beans are beans and money is money. Supermarkets like Asda are often far cheaper than more ‘premium’ supermarkets like Waitrose, Sainsbury’s and even Tesco.
- If you pre-plan your weekly shopping then you are less likely to be swayed by an impulse purchase and there should also be less food-waste if you only buy what you know you are going to use each week.
A delivery charge is usually only a few pounds but you will not only save yourself the time in doing it this way but you should also see some big savings in your pocket.
Lastly, if you’d still prefer to hit the shops yourself then do take a look at those supermarkets that are typically considered budget stores. Aldi and Lidl have both opened stores in Wokingham over the last few years and, if you’ve not been, then you may be surprised by their food range. You’ll certainly be pleased with their prices.
The average family car takes around 50 litres to re-fuel and this can often be on a weekly basis. The difference of just 10p per litre can soon add up.
In fact, finding a cheaper fuel station could save you over £200 per year.
Fortunately, you don’t need to drive around town looking for the lowest costs as there is a convenient app which has done the hard work for you. Petrol Prices can give you an at-a-glance look at where the best fuel costs are in your area.
Of course, there is another way to save some money on your fuel bills and that’s to walk more often. At this time of year, it might not be an inviting prospect to ditch the car in favour of a stroll to the shops but it does kill two birds with one stone when you are looking at ways to boost your step count post-Christmas bingeing!
Insurance cover is a fact of life when it comes to owning a car or property and you can’t go far these days without being told how much you could save by comparing prices on sites like MoneySupermarket, Compare The Market or Go Compare. After all, we have meerkats, opera singers and Dave the epic strutting businessman to remind us!
Annoying as these adverts might be, they are right.
Whether it’s your pet insurance, car insurance, buildings or content cover, you could save more by comparing the market than by simply accepting the renewal with your incumbent provider.
Oh, and according to the latest industry news, you should switch your insurance around three weeks before your renewal date to maximise the savings you can get.
Annual savings vary depending on the level of cover you need, the number (and type) of policies you have plus your existing personal profile. However, it is not uncommon to see customers reporting annual savings of at least £400 by switching their insurance provider.
Switch Energy Supplier
Talking of switching, gas and electricity costs are also a great area for cost savings. It is estimated that if you have never switched before then you could be lowering your energy costs by around £500 per year and even those customers who like to play the field could still lower their annual bills by up to £100.
At very least, you should make this an annual exercise to go to the market and see what savings you could secure by switching.
Here at Property Assistant, we know the value of money which is why we work hard to make sure our fees are competitive and that all of our clients get exactly what they pay for. Whether you engage us as a lettings agent or to help you sell your home, we work hard to give you our best performance.
To find out more about why our clients say we go the extra mile, call us today on 0118 912 2370.
The reasons for moving house are many and varied but the most common reason we find when we value clients homes is because families have, quite simply, run out of space. That three bedroom dream semi-detached home may have been perfect for a young couple but, before you know it, you have two children and not enough room. The answer may be simpler than putting your house on the market and many families are looking at the alternatives; converting the space you already have.
In this feature, we take a look at the prospect of extending your home by converting your loft or garage. We cover issues like planning permission and building regulations approval as well as considering the costs and benefits of extending your home.
Why Extend Your Home?
There is a saying that we, as estate agents, hear a lot; ‘Don’t move, improve’. It’s a phrase that was coined by architects and home planners in response to the growing problem that homeowners face when reaching a space limit in their existing homes yet unable to afford that next step up on the property ladder. It’s become such a popular mantra that the BBC even produced a daytime television series to champion the idea of renovation over moving.
The simple facts are that space in a home is at a premium and realising the useful potential of any underused area in a property can not only add value but also increase the usability of your home. In the right circumstances (and done well), it’s a win-win situation that can offer property owners a few more years in their current home before they move on and release some additional equity in their property.
How Much Value Does a Loft or Garage Conversion Add To Your Home?
Whilst converting the space offered by a loft or garage does diminish the storage capacity of your home and/or remove a useful parking facility, this kind of project can increase the amount of useful utility and/or living space. As a result, there is a potential benefit to you as a homeowner in terms of increasing the value of your property.
A special report by the Nationwide in 2014 concluded that by adding a double bedroom and a bathroom via a loft conversion could add more than 20% to the value of your home. In fact, just by adding an extra bedroom could increase the value by as much as 10%.
In terms of a garage conversion, adding usable space to your property by 10% could increase the value of your home by up to 5%.
With an average house price in Wokingham currently being £505,740, this means that:
- A bedroom/bathroom loft conversion could add up to £101,148 to the value of your house.
- A bedroom loft conversion could add up to £50,574 to the value of your house.
- A garage conversion could add up to £25,287 to the value of your house.
These figures are based on the initial report issued by Nationwide and may vary depending on the size of your existing home, the additional space converted and the quality of the finish. There is also some fluctuation by postcode.
What Planning Do You Need To Extend Your Home?
If you are considering a home extension by converting either your garage or loft then you will need to ensure that you have the appropriate planning permission and building regulations approval. Failure to comply with both of these constraints can invalidate your home insurance and you could face prosecution. In addition, trying to sell a house that has undergone building works without these documents in place is almost impossible.
So, what planning constraints are there for these two home improvements?
A loft conversion is generally considered to be a permitted development and may not require planning permission so long as the plans for the new space do not breach any of the following conditions and limitations.
Loft conversions should only require planning if they:
- Consist of materials that are significantly different to the existing appearance of the house.
- Extend further than the existing plane of the largest elevation of the slope of your roof which fronts the road.
- Extend above the highest part of your house.
- Overhand the outer face of the wall of the original house.
- Have balconies, verandas or other elevated platforms.
- Increase the roof space by an additional 40 m3 (terraced houses) or 50 m3 (semi-detached/detached houses). This includes any prior extensions undertaken by any previous owners.
All windows that face to the side of the property and/or offer a view over a neighbour’s land must be obscure-glazed with an opening set 1.7m above floor level.
Most garage conversions do not require planning permission as long as you are not extending the space in your home or materially changing the façade of your property. However, some plans may require the permission of the local development office and may also require you to ensure that your property retains adequate parking provision. It is worth checking with your local planning office to ensure that your plans are not likely to require permission.
As long as the design for either of your conversions falls into the above approved development constraints then the only thing you need to obtain is building regulation approval. However, it is always worth double checking with the development control team at the local council to ensure that your plans are okay to proceed with before starting any work. This is important in case there have been any changes in legislation or with local planning bylaws of which you may not be aware.
You should also bear in mind that some residential areas have additional constraints in place when it comes to home improvements as do buildings that hold a listed status with National Heritage. Check if this applies to you before starting any conversion work on your home.
Building Regulations for Home Extensions
Whether you require planning permission or not, you will need to obtain building regulation approval. This means that you will have to pay a fee to the local council planning development team to submit your plans for approval.
Your plans will need to detail all of the alterations being made along with the method(s) being used for the construction.
You will need to prepare these documents with a professional to ensure that your plans make it through the planning stages. Along with details of how the new space is to be heated, damp-proofed and ventilated you will also need to ensure that any and all electrical works are to be carried out by a Competent Person.
After your plans are approved a Building Notice Application will be issued and then you will need to accommodate site inspections made by the council during the construction phase. These site visits will ensure that your builder is following the plans as submitted.
Once the work has been completed, a final site inspection is carried out by the council’s building control office and only when they are satisfied that everything is in order will a Completion Certificate be issued.
How Much Does a Loft or Garage Conversion Costs?
The cost of a loft or garage conversion very much depends on what kind of room(s) you will be creating in the space and the size of the area you are working with. Other factors which may influence the cost of your project will be the level of ‘finish’ you are hoping to achieve as well as any existing constraints that you may be working within. For instance, a loft conversion where a hot water storage system needs to be moved/replaced/altered will bring additional costs.
However, a rough guide to the costs involved are:
- A 20 m2 standard loft conversion – £10,000 to £13,000
- A 20 m2 deluxe loft conversion – £20,000 to £25,000
- A 30 m2 standard loft conversion – £12,000 to £15,000
- A 30 m2 deluxe loft conversion – £22,000 to £27,000
- A single garage conversion – £4,000 to £8,000
- A double garage conversion – £5,000 to £10,000
Property Assistant: Should You Move or Improve?
The choice of whether to extend your home by converting an unused space comes down to many factors; whether you can afford the initial capital costs involved, whether you believe the extra space will be sufficient, whether you think that you can cope with the building works and whether or not you can get the necessary planning.
Property Assistant is able to offer you a free and no-obligation valuation of your existing home as well as our professional opinion about what additional value your investment is likely to add. Armed with this information you can make an informed decision about whether to move or improve.
Call us today to book your free property valuation on 0118 912 2370.
As property professionals, we are called upon a lot to make valuations for people who are looking to sell their home. And, as part of this free, no-obligation service, we are often asked why some houses are being valued at a different price to that of the valuation we have provided.
In this guide, we hope to answer this common question and clear up a few facts about the difference between a marketing price for a home and a sale price.
What is a Marketing Price for a Property?
Also known as the ‘asking price’, the marketing price is the value a property owner decides to place upon their home for the purposes of advertising. It is usually based upon a valuation figure that an estate agent or other property professional has given a home.
You can find out more about how an accurate valuation is calculated in our feature guide, ‘How to Get an Accurate Property Valuation’.
In short, an estate agent should come up with a value for your home based on actual and recent sales figures for your area which is adjusted for market trends and the accommodation offered by your home in comparison to those that have sold.
Once a valuation has been prepared, it is ultimately down to the homeowner to decide what figure to use for marketing. Often, if an estate agent has provided a guide figure of (for example) £450,000 to £460,000, then it is likely that the homeowner will opt to use the higher figure for marketing purposes.
What is the Sale Price for a Property?
The sale price, often referred to as the ‘achieved price’ is the actual figure that your home is sold for. It reflects the value of the transaction as recorded by the Land Registry and is the figure which is used by sites such as Zoopla and Right Move when you look up the historical property price details.
Why is There a Difference Between a Marketing Price and Sale Price?
There are plenty of reasons why there may be a difference between the price for which a home is marketed at and the eventual price for which it is sold.
At one end of the scale, it is not uncommon for some estate agents to overvalue a property with a view to securing the business because a homeowner wants to secure the highest value for their house. In these circumstances, it is typical that a house will languish on the market for some time before the price is inevitably reduced and sold for far lower than the initial ‘valuation’.
This kind of practice is not recommended and ultimately leads to delays in the sale of your home and even the estate agent may lose out themselves in the long run.
Sometimes, a property owner who has been on the market for some time may ultimately accept a lower offer on their home in order to proceed with a sale. This can happen if they have found another property and don’t wish to lose it. In these circumstances, a cash (or chain-free) offer that is lower than the asking price may be more tempting than waiting around to realise a greater profit on their home.
At the opposite end, there are some circumstances when the marketing price may be exceeded by the sale price. This is more likely to happen when homes are valued accurately and a property is viewed, and liked, by several potential buyers. In a situation where there are multiple parties interested in a home can result in a bidding war.
What Price Should You Market Your Home For?
Whilst every property owner wants to achieve the best sale price for their home, this does not always mean that the price your home has been valued at is what it is actually worth.
It all boils down to the trust you are placing in that magical figure that has been offered to you by a property professional.
It is always recommended that you seek a second (and even third) opinion on the value of your home before you decide to settle on a marketing price.
What Price Should You Sell Your Home For?
When it comes to accepting an offer, the homeowner is once again in the driving seat and there are many factors that can influence what price you accept for your home.
If you have placed an offer on another property then a quick sale of your own may be the motivating factor over what price you take.
Likewise, it is worth having access to an estate agent who can guide you on the current (and predicted) market conditions for your area so you can judge for yourself how fair an offer is. Property prices fluctuate all the time and if your home has been on the market for several weeks (or months) then the offer you get may well be fairer than you initially think.
At the time of writing this feature, Land Registry records and Zoopla listings data reveal that homeowners could expect to receive an asking price of 96.3% of the marketing price over the last 12 months. However, this figure was higher in 2018 and varies by region.
If your property is listed in London, for example, then the prices accepted versus the original asking price could represent a disparity of more than 5.5%. Whilst in Edinburgh and Glasgow, the reverse is true and homeowners can expect to achieve a sale price of over 6% and 5% respectively.
Selling Your Home With Property Assistant
Whilst Property Assistant prides itself on providing accurate valuations for clients, we welcome the opportunity to compare this with other professionals in the area. We know that our fees and services come highly recommended so that you can put faith in our ability to secure you the best sale price in the shortest period of time.
Ask us for a free and no-obligation valuation of your property today and let us provide you with an accurate (and achievable) price for your home. Our clients know that we put their interests first so let us help you get moving today. Call us on 0118 912 2370 for further information.