Hello again folks and thank you in advance for continuing to read my blogs. I always try to find topics that are of general interest to everyone but it does get difficult sometimes to write about some of the topics as they are not always the most riveting of subjects. That being said, let’s talk about insulation (yawn, yawn and another yawn).
We have all seen the adverts on the television with regards to all forms of property insulation. They all claim to be great investments in your property that will, in the end, save you money and add value to your property, THIS IS NOT ALWAYS TRUE, in fact quite the opposite, some forms of insulation can in fact damage your property, down value your property and quite possibly make you property un-mortgageable.
The first form of insulation is the external type that is attached to the outside of your property. If your property is listed this will not be an option for you. There are some forms of this external insulation that are subject to EWS1.
An EWS1 certificate is an External Wall System Fire Review certificate. They come into play when a leaseholder is buying or selling or re-mortgaging an apartment in a multi-storey multi-occupied residential building. It is not a building safety certificate or a legal requirement. It is a mortgage valuation tool – An EWS1 survey is only required if: buildings over 6-storeys where there is cladding, curtain wall glazing or vertically stacked balconies. buildings of 5 or 6-storeys where there is a significant amount of cladding (25% plus of the whole of one elevation).
As with anything in life, these issues are here for the greater good, but seem to have a huge negative impact for home owners that fall into this category, as their properties are either un-mortgageable or they usually have to bare a huge cost to have this cladding removed. Not all forms of insulation are covered by this “Lenders Law” but there really is a large amount out there that fall prey to this new condition for lending.
The other adverts that are becoming increasingly irritating are the ones for “Spray Foam” loft insulation. The claims that they can add value to your home by reducing your heating bills are FALSE, they might well indeed reduce your heating bill whilst you are living at the property but the negatives far outweigh the small financial gain.
The installation process for this spray foam seems to be very easy but even if your roof has a physical membrane between the rafters and the roof tiles, spraying this expanding foam shifts and lifts the tiles and allows for water ingress as the foam itself is not waterproof.
Secondly, again we look at mortgage lenders, applying this spray foam insulation renders your property un-mortgageable. The foam itself also forms a barrier to the roof timbers and has led to some of these timbers beginning to rot due to the moisture that either comes in through the newly formed gaps in the tiles or comes from the foam solution itself. Currently, there are many hundreds of cases going through the law courts for these very reasons and also now include cases where it has been proven that the fumes given off by some types of this foam insulation materials can be seriously hazardous to your health.
A claims management company (CMC) is in the process of helping with more than 500 claims from homeowners to get refunds for inappropriately installed spray foam installation. This law firm, which helps recover money paid for mis-sold home improvements, said it is helping people on a no-win-no-fee basis who have had mortgage offers withdrawn and lost sales after surveyors spotted spray foam insulation.
The chief executive of this law firm said homeowners think they have done the right thing by opting for spray foam insulation in the roof, as it is often sold as saving more energy than traditional ways to insulate the home. He also said “Spray foam insulation is the cancer of home improvements”.
There are several hundred claims for homeowners who have been refused equity release, mortgages or that have had mortgage offers (AIP, Agreement In Principle) retracted after the surveyors spotted spray foam insulation in the loft areas.
There may be as many as 250,000 homes with spray foam insulation in the loft, and the guidance being offered is to adopt a highly cautious approach. The final recommendation is the removal of the spray foam in almost every case.
Now I am guessing that after reading this you may be feeling very conflicted about how to insulate your property but if you ask me, the original, tried and tested, way is to use the rolls of insulation that you can buy from your local DIY stores. Loft insulation is typically sold in batts or rolls, made from mineral wool, fibreglass, or sheep’s wool. All three of these products are non-flammable, requiring a high temperature to melt. Mineral wool, sometimes sold as rock wool, will only melt at temperatures hotter than a house fire, making it safe to use.
The only reason that I am writing this blog is because, here, at Cross Keys Estates, we have had a few properties that have fallen foul to this new negative and we just want to bring it to our clients’ and friends’ attention alike.
Hello everyone, it’s been a few months since my last blog and lots of things have changed. I finally got married and luckily just before I turned fifty. We won the “Best Estates Agent & the Best Letting Agent” in Plymouth again for the fifth year on the run. We’ve refurbished our Stoke Office to a brilliant standard that puts us right at the forefront of our industry and back in the heart of Stoke Village, but probably the best change for everyone is the change of seasons since spring is here again, banishing the long, cold and dark evening to history for another year at least.
Looking at spring makes me want to be back out in my garden again, which is where I find my solace and calm, pottering around, seeing the shoots of new growth on the plants that I have planted over the last two years, primroses coming up, daffodils in flower, camellias budding and colours beginning to come through all the greenery and also looking forward to getting back to the garden centres to see what I can buy for the garden this year.
People often think that being an estate agent is either boring or very exciting and not much in between, but let me tell you this, there is nothing that we love more than being right in the middle of this and right in the middle of the community. I bet you didn’t know that Cross Keys Estates sponsor a community garden in Stoke. We are extremely proud to be the sponsor of The Rectory Community Garden and love seeing the locals finally get to enjoy this piece of ground that has been overgrown for so many years.
Jill & Rob moved to the area after Cross Keys Estates sold their previous property over 10 years ago. Since becoming residents, Jill & Rob have helped sort out lots of community events and now enjoy looking after the community garden along with other resident volunteers. Jill has also joined “The Gardening Club” a Facebook page that I set up during the second Covid 19 lockdown as I got frustrated with all the other pages that were online, my thoughts were, people simply can’t get angry when looking at fabulous gardens and beautiful plants and I was right. We now have nearly 1,500 members, not only from Plymouth but now from all around the world.
Now that we have our fantastic new shop front in our Stoke office, it seems that refreshing the village is catching on. The old toilet block that was by the entrance to Mount Pleasant Recreation Ground (The Blockhouse) have finally been demolished. It has been a very long time in the making as the toilets were due to be demolished nearly 20 years ago. In their place will be a spanking new garden. I must admit that I am more than a little excited that we will finally have something beautiful to look out on to instead of an old toilet block that was never used, just simply abused or used as a fly tipping area.
So, with gardens and gardening as my theme to this blog, I want to move on to the importance of all outside spaces when it comes to your properties and putting it on the market.
If the Covid pandemic taught us anything, it taught us the value of outside spaces and how much we really do need them. I think a lot of people underestimated how much we love our parks and green spaces until we were not allowed to use them. Now they have become more important than ever, and every spare inch of outside space should be cherished and used.
I have been out valuing so many properties since the new year, some apartments, some terraced houses and some magnificent, detached properties, the one thing that was in common with nearly all of them was how fantastic their outdoor spaces were. Balconies with pots and baskets, waterfront properties with terraces brimming over with coastal climbing plants, terraced houses with stunning courtyards and even some growing their own veg in raised boxes to detached residences with wrap around gardens and beautiful floral borders. No matter what size property or what size outside space you have, there is no reason not to make it beautiful with plants, this will definitely add to the saleability and also, it’s desirability to more buyers.
If you are looking to sell your property and want to know if now is the right time to consider putting it on the market, give Cross Keys Estates a call and see if our truly professional, premier service and competitive fees are what you have been looking for.
2023 HAS CERTAINLY STARTED WITH POSITIVITY
We are not even four weeks into 2023 and we have been out to or booked to see more than 60 properties wanting to come to the sales market. We already have 19 (yes that’s right 19!) properties, as at the third week of January, either signed up and on the market or waiting for their professional property brochures. We have also already agreed sales on 17 properties making Cross Keys Estates the right agent for you.
If you have been looking to move this year and you need to sell your own property, PLEASE PLEASE do not make the mistake of leaving it too late or choosing the wrong agent. CHOOSE Plymouth’s award winning NUMBER 1 estate agent – CHOOSE Cross Keys Estates!
If you are on the market since last year with the same agent but feel that they are not doing enough to get your property sold, maybe a fresh start is what you need. Our average time on the market is less than half of many of our competitors, meaning we sell your house quicker and usually achieve higher selling prices as well. Just check out our glowing customer reviews on www.AllAgents.co.uk
To give yourself the best chance of making the right decision, call the Cross Keys dream team today on:
Plymouth Sales: 01752 500018
Plymouth Lettings: 01752 500099
We are delighted to announce that Cross Keys Residential Sales and Lettings have moved into our flagship office located in Devonport Road in the heart of Stoke Village. Ahead of this exciting new chapter for us we have extensively refurbished our Stoke office, including a new shop front. We have also implemented changes in our building refurbishment and working practices which will see a reduction in our carbon footprint.
Our move back into the heart of the Stoke community has coincided with the end of our lease term at our Manamnead Sales hub. As such this has prompted the closure of our Mannamead Road office with immediate effect.
The Sales market in the City has dipped in recent months, for obvious reasons and it goes without saying that there is a lot of uncertainty as to what will happen in the first quarter of 2023. We are incredibly pleased that despite the current challenging climate we continue to sell and market homes to the highest standards and with successful outcomes.
Our intention is to continue to invest in Cross Keys Estates in our flagship office, where we can secure the long-term future of the Company, without having to make any of our valued staff redundant or to negatively affect our award-winning customer service.
Since our current Directors, Jack & Craig, started the Company in 2003, Cross Keys has seen some fantastic growth and has become an integral part of estate agency within the Plymouth area. Several years ago, the Company acquired the freehold to our iconic building in Stoke Village and this is a factor in our financial security going forward.
Cross Keys Estates is committed to continuing to sell and let properties throughout Plymouth and beyond for many years to come and we hope you will join us in celebrating this new era.
Here we are again. Parents are buying school uniforms, holidays have been and gone and dare I say it but “Yes” we are on the countdown to Christmas, please don’t hate me for pointing that out but facts are facts.
I have been very busy lately, not only as Plymouth’s Premier estate agent but also planning a wedding. What has this got to do with anything? I hear you say but during the course of booking entertainment, caterers, venue and all the odds and sods that go with it, I have really started to see that absolutely everything has gone up in price. Everything that I had budgeted for has turned out to be nearly double the expected costs. As a result of this, I have tried to make sure that all the contractors that are being used for this wedding are local as if you are going to be spending money, I think that the most you can do is try to keep it within the local economy.
I think that we all will be having a more pared down Christmas this year due to the current cost of living. We have rising inflation, rising interest rates and rising energy bills with the new cap that has been introduced. At the pumps, petrol is still relatively high in spite of the fact that oil is at one of its cheapest rates per barrel that has ever been.
Everywhere you look prices are on the up, but not the housing market! The price for property did not increase July or August. Average UK house prices fell in August 2022, their first drop this year, according to the latest market data from Rightmove, however the property portal’s latest house price index showed that property values dropped by 1.3% month-on-month since July – equivalent to a fall of £4,795 on average. While there are tentative signs of a slowdown in activity, with a dip in the number of mortgage approvals for house purchases in June, the effects did not come in to effect until July and have now been reinforced by August figures from the office of national statistics.
In my last blog I commented on what I thought would be the issue with the property market after the Christmas period, I still think that the latest figures coming from all the property professionals shows that the housing market buzz has or will end very very soon.
Yes, I know that you want to hear positive news or get some good advice, so here we go with a few:-
- If you are looking to sell your property, now is the right time to achieve the best possible price.
- If you are looking to save money, use Cross Keys Estates as we are the most competitively priced agent in Plymouth.
- If you are looking to increase your rental portfolio, wait until march 2023 where you will see better prices for you to buy in at.
- If you have been quoted a “package deal” by your agent, do not be fooled. It is cheaper to instruct your own solicitors than to use one supplied by the agent as part of a “deal”.
- Deals offered by new home builders are not necessarily the best deals around, look carefully at the detail and check with prices elsewhere.
- If your agent tells you that if you want to buy the house that they have on their books, but you’ll need to list your house with them in order to get it – this is illegal and any agent doing this needs to be reported to the ombudsman.
- Look at which agent shows you proof of their valuation and how they came to the property value. Do not just accept a figure plucked out of thin air, it may just be a ploy to get you to sign with them.
- Zero-week contract should mean ZERO weeks – not a 28-day notice period, which is in effect a four-week contract.
- If an agent spends more time talking about themselves rather than your property, then you know how much time they’ll put in to selling the property and how much time they will spend on just promoting themselves.
If you are looking to sell a property then now is the right time to consider putting it on the market.
Give Cross Keys Estates a call and see if our truly professional, premier service and competitive fees are what you have been looking for.
We have been experiencing some truly barmy weather these last few months, rain and hot sunshine all in the same week sometimes. Record breaking temperatures all across the United Kingdom saw packed out beaches with everyone trying to keep their cool, hot sticky nights leading to sales of electric fans and ice cream sales going through the roof, unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the housing market.
I thought I would try to write an upbeat piece for this article and keep it positive and say that everything is just fine but the truth is the market has changed from the madness of high prices, gazumping, record levels of viewings and offers from the spring. As I am sat here writing this, I am wondering how to put a positive spin on it, should I sugar-coat it, perhaps soften it as to not start readers worrying if house prices are about to start falling. The honest answer is “No”, I am not going to change the type of person that I am, nor start to mislead people by telling blatant untruths.
We started to see a change in levels of activity around the beginning of June, at first, we thought it might be because summer was here and that potential sellers and buyers were now concentrating on their holidays and outdoor living rather than possibly moving property, but as the weeks went on, we saw that the levels of internet enquiries, viewings and telephone calls were continuing to decline.
Estate agents do not speak in foreign languages (despite common opinion) but we do know the secret codes that are sometimes spoken between each other, so when you have at least four other local agents ask “So how are you finding the market?” you absolutely know that what they are really saying is “are you struggling with the market at the moment?” and we also know that this means that THEY are struggling with the current market conditions.
Now in order to understand why the residential sales market is changing, we need to look at what is happening not only here in the UK but everywhere. Inflation is rising from Sri Lanka to America and all across the world. Interest rates are rising and are set to continue to rise into early next year with current plans as they are. Usually this means that the value of property would normally start to fall to compensate for this, but as there are a lot fewer properties coming to the market at the current time, property values are holding their own.
As we get nearer to Christmas, on the other hand, and everyone starts to spend their money on the festivities, I predict that we will see more and more people heading in to deeper financial difficulties due to the rise in the cost of living and the fact that absolutely everything is going up in price.
This may be starting to sound like doom and gloom but it is simply another adjustment to bring economies in to line and under control.
If the demographic of people, that I suspect, start finding themselves in financial distress, then these will be the first section of society to start selling off their assets including any properties that they own. Depending on what level of distress they are in, will mean that they may be prepared to sell at lower prices than necessary in order to stem their financial insecurities. That is when we will more than likely see property prices start their downward trajectory.
Governments all around the globe are trying to put things in place to ensure that this is not another recession but unless inflation is brought under control and soon, we may well see the UK head in to recession once again. Inflation in the US rose to 9.1% last month, driven by higher prices for gasoline, food and accommodation. That is well above the federal bank’s 2% target – and the fastest rate since 1981. CPIH, which is the measure of inflation published by the Office of National Statistics, including the rising cost of housing, is officially running at 8.2% in the 12 months to June 2022. However, Truflation’s newly launched UK index shows CPIH running at 13.8% in the 12 months to 24 July – nearly two-thirds higher and 6% more in real terms.
In conclusion to this article, all I can say is, if you are currently borrowing finance, you may want to get them locked in at their current rate for a suitable period to avoid the cost of borrowing becoming unaffordable. If you about to take out a mortgage, personally, I would be looking at a fixed rate product. If you are looking to sell a property then now is the right time to consider putting it on the market as tomorrow’s market will not get you the same price as selling today.
Here at Cross Keys Estates, we are currently seeing levels of new instructions to the market remain steady, but we are always looking to keep the status quo, so please give us a call and see if our honest, nonsense, no faff approach is what you need to help you sell your property and ensure you do not find yourself caught up in the situation outlined above.