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Beating the stamp Duty Deadline?

With the stamp duty holiday set to end on 31st March 2021, buyers should get a move on if they want to take advantage of stamp duty savings of up to £15,000…
 
In normal market conditions, most sales agreed before the new year will complete by 31st March. Only 54% of sales agreed in January will make the deadline, 17% in February and 3% in March.
Increased buyer demand over summer has led to 140,000 more sales in the system to deal with than usual (Zoopla). This has put huge pressure on lenders, valuers and conveyancers and is likely to cause delays in sales exchanging.
 
Homeowners and Buyers need to be well prepared if they want to make the deadline; to boost their odds they should find a great agent as soon as possible and get all their paperwork together.
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Lockdown Update for Sellers and Buyers in Leicester

We look at what the announcement on Saturday by Prime Minister Boris Johnson means to home sellers and buyers in Leicester.
 
On Saturday we received confirmation England will go into lockdown from Thursday, November 5 until at least December 2.
 
So, how will this affect people in the process of moving or thinking about selling in Leicester?
 
Well, firstly it’s good news from a property moving perspective because the Housing Minister Robert Jenrick confirmed in a tweet on Saturday evening & Sunday evening that the property market was still very much open for business.
 
QUESTION:
‘Can I still move home?’
 
ANSWER:
‘Yes – the housing market will remain open throughout this period. Everyone should continue to play their part in reducing the spread of the virus by following the current guidance.’
The Minister’s tweet linked to an information guide about the new lockdown which you can find at the bottom of this article.
 
At Knightsbridge Estate Agents, we continue to work hard for our sellers and buyers in a Covid-19 secure way, while strictly following the regulations laid out by the Government.
 
Yes we Can
We will still offer virtual tours and carry out video valuations. 
 
We can still conduct safety first viewings using PPE, hand sanitisers and social distancing.
We will continue to push hard to progress any sales that are currently going through.
 
And we will keep everyone we work with updated about any changes that may happen.
 
Here for YOU
We appreciate this is an anxious time for many of our clients and that’s why we want you to contact us if you have any questions, concerns or need to get a better understanding of what’s happening.
 
As we were in the first lockdown, we are 100 per cent committed and focussed on doing the right things for our clients, our colleagues, and our community.
Thanks for reading.
 
PS: Here’s the Government article:
https://www.gov.uk/guidance/new-national-restrictions-from-5-november
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How to make it a November to remember in Leicester

We look at four things that’ll help you make the most of next month.

The clocks have gone back, and November is just around the calendar corner.

Here are four fun things you can try next month.

Fireworks Evening

It’s undoubtedly going to be a different kind of Bonfire Night on November 5. Authorities across the UK are expecting a lot smaller, back garden, family events due to the Covid-19 restrictions.

To ensure you have a safe night, it’s worthwhile checking out the advice from The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (ROSPA). See the link at the end of this article.

Movember

The annual festival of the moustache takes place this month. Movember has grown rapidly (pun intended) since it started in Australia in 2004. It has its roots in Melbourne where two friends convinced 30 mates to go with the mo.

It’s a fun way to add some fur to your face and raise funds for men’s health charities.

Christmas Shopping Lists

Let’s face it 2020 has been a year to forget so any excuse to take our minds off things must be welcomed. And what better way to do that than to start making your Christmas lists?

You could even set yourself a challenge and see what is on your list that you can buy from local independent stores in Leicester.

Family Movie Nights

Now the darker evenings start at 4.30 pm and the weather’s getting chillier it’s the perfect excuse to get cosy on the sofa and watch a movie with your family.

And these ideas can help you make it even more fun.

  • Agree on a theme for the night. It could be sci-fi, western, horror or even romance.
  • Make sure you have plenty of cinema-style snacks handy like popcorn, tortilla chips, sweets etc.
  • Create your own tickets – Kids will love making their own cinema tickets that need to be shown to ensure a seat in time for the big movie.

There’s plenty to do across Leicester in November if we put our minds to it.

And people are still looking to move to make a fresh start in 2021.

Whatever you do, have fun, and say safe.

Talking of safety here’s the ROSPA link:

https://www.rospa.com/Home-Safety/Advice/Fireworks-Safety

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5 Reasons why Autumn is the best time to sell your Leicester house

If you’re in Leicester and are looking to sell your property, then autumn could well be the perfect time for you to sell up and move on.

Yes, spring is often seen as the best time to sell, and that’s undoubtedly true, but we at Knightsbridge Estate Agents & Valuers also find that autumn proves to be a buoyant time in the property market.

If you were thinking of writing autumn off, stop. Think about it. Autumn could absolutely be the season for you to show your house off to a potential buyer.

Here, we look at some of the reasons why. When you’ve had a read, give us a call on 07917 899 495 and we’ll be pleased to help you sell your property in Leicester this autumn .

1. Summer’s out, and Christmas is around the corner

During August, many people’s thoughts are preoccupied with lazing in the summer sunshine, or going away on holiday than they are about selling their home. But once holidays and school breaks are over, and people take a good look around where they are living, they often think about it being the time to move.

When people think about a move, they then look at timescales and realise that they could just about be in their new home by Christmas, giving them time to settle in and get the new place ready for the festivities.

So, it makes perfect sense that autumn is the ideal time to put your house on the market.

2. Seasonal scents

Setting the stage for a potential house buyer is crucial in making the right impressions. Remember, you’re not just selling a house, you’re selling a dream or a lifestyle.

That’s why autumn represents an excellent time to sell your house.

The changing colours of the leaves, light drizzle and cooling air make it a perfect time to prepare your home. Imagine someone coming in out of the crisp coldness into a cosy house, with autumn fragrances in the air and a display of cherry and brown leaves, fir cones and berries beautifully arranged on a table. Imagine the warm thoughts they will have if you set your fire on low, with perhaps a couple of table lamps casting shadows in a living room.

You should see autumn as a season of opportunity, knowing that someone will fall in love with your property.

3. Remove the stresses, lower the costs

It’s a fact that spring going into summer is traditionally the busiest period for the property sector. This means that all the professional help you need, including conveyancers and removal companies, will be exceptionally busy.

In summer, the market drops off, only to rise again in autumn, but not to the levels seen earlier in the year. This means that you are more likely to get the removal company of your choice and on a date of your choice.

There is some talk that removal businesses lower their prices in autumn to attract customers. This may well be true, so it seems you could reduce your moving costs too – and isn’t that a good thing when you have so much to think about and pay for.

4. Attract serious buyers

As we mentioned earlier, it is after the summer lull that people think about moving, and they consider being in their new home before Christmas.

We at Knightsbridge Estate Agents & Valuers see autumn as the time we see the more serious potential buyers getting in touch. These are the ones who will want to see properties to actually move to – they won’t be the tyre-kickers, just having a nose round to see what’s happening, with no real intention to buy.

After all, you don’t want to waste your time, you want to get moving. When we speak with potential buyers, we always ascertain how serious they are. We can’t always promise, but we do have many years of experience and knowledge so we can get a good feeling for people.

5. Stand out

If your property goes on the market in the autumn, it’s more likely to get noticed, compared to the traditional spring influx of properties to the market. This is particularly true when you see how our exceptional photography will show off your home to its best advantage.

We think it’s best to stand out from the crowd, and autumn is the ideal time to do that.

Our team at Knightsbridge Estate Agents & Valuers are always available to offer advice so, please don’t hesitate to call us on or email us at luke.stclair@knightsbridge-estates.co.uk. We will be delighted to offer our words of wisdom on all things property.

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Leicester homeowners, why your garden could be the key to your financial security in the future…

Your garden could offer you the financial security we all strive for. I’m not suggesting you start digging it up in search of treasure, oil or a similar source of a windfall.

No, it’s much less dramatic and easier than that – if you have a large garden it could have developmental potential worth hundreds of thousands of pounds.

That’s right your garden could be the answer to any money concerns or aspirations you have. Selling off part of your garden for development is often seen as unthinkable – until you are asked. What if you received a letter alerting you to “an opportunity available” due to

the size of your garden and its potential, would you really toss it straight in the bin without a second thought?

An increasing number of people across Leicester are realising that selling off part of their garden isn’t the property equivalent of selling their souls. Far from it. Selling part of your garden off to a property developer often secures your financial future, it also means that you don’t even have to move to enjoy the benefits of an unexpected lump sum. And if we are talking about your principal home, the gain from selling your garden is tax free.

If you went ahead would you become the neighbour pariah?

Imagine inviting the neighbours around for drinks and then gin and tonic in hand murmuring “by the way I’m thinking of having several houses built in my garden” Cue a potentially very awkward silence.

However, what if you said “Did you know, we might be sitting on a gold mine? If we got together we could parcel up a development site and collect £100,000 each. We could call the tune, put up discreet hoardings and take a warm weather cruise while the building work is going on. Shall we find out about it?”

Sounds slightly easier to digest now doesn’t it? But how do you find out if your garden offers an opportunity to change yours, and your neighbours lives for the better?

Easy. We’re exclusive local members of the Land & New Homes Network which has a network of experienced agents across the UK specialising in the development potential of gardens, commercial units and plots of previously unused land.

Which leads us on to what is logically your next question

– How much is part of my garden worth?

Land prices are established by understanding what will get planning permission, how much will any properties- built sell for and how many units will get built.

Developers will work back from the sale price of the houses they propose to build, deducting all likely costs and their profit to determine a figure they are prepared to pay for your site.

Therefore, developers offer different amounts as they will all have different ideas on how to maximise the potential of the land. This is an area that we have extensive experience in and can help you get the best price.

Finally beware of land scouts who are keen to take an option on the land without being specific about what will be built or when.

These options can make the house unsaleable.

If you’ve gone this far down the road into looking into your garden’s development potential, you should get expert advice from a Land & New Homes Network agency like us to make sure you are considering a specific contract covering every detail including the when by date for when an application will be submitted.

This must then be picked over by a solicitor who is an expert in property law and not just the local conveyancing solicitor.

There’s a lot to consider, but it’s a genuinely potentially life changing move when carried out professionally. And we’re here to help so if you have a large garden which you think has developmental potential please give our Land & New Homes Manager a call on 0116 274 5544 for a totally confidential, informal and no-obligation conversation.

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The haunted feeling a Leicester family experienced selling their home

In this terrifying three-minute true story, we reveal how a Leicester family endured a nightmare experience when selling their home.

In the beginning

The Thomas family were like many you’ll know in Leicester.

There was mum, dad, two young children and a black cat called Lucky.

They were popular with their neighbours and active members of the local community.

And that’s why people were disappointed to learn they were selling up and moving on due to Mr Thomas getting a new job in another part of the country.

Like many homeowners, the Thomases called in three estate agents to value their home.

The first two agents were both likeable, presentable, and knowledgeable.

Their valuations were similar give or take £2000.

The Charming Stranger

Everything seemed to be going to plan. Well, until the third agent turned up.

He was due to arrive at 3 pm but rang to inform Mr and Mrs Thomas that he wouldn’t be able to get there until later in the evening.

The doorbell rang at 8 pm, and Mr Thomas opened it. The agent, let’s call him Damian, stepped out of the shadows into the light, and the reflection from his pearly white teeth and shiny shoes momentarily stunned Mr T.

The next 20 minutes were a blur. Damian with the dazzling gnashers was devilishly charming and talked in an almost hypnotic way.

He gave a valuation of £20,000 more than the other two agents. He lowered his voice, which made the couple lean in and then he said, ‘I have dozens of people looking for a home like yours, it’ll be sold in no time at all.’

The Thomases signed a long contract on the spot instructing Damian’s agency to sell the property.

Looking back, Mrs Thomas said she had felt blinded by the smile, the shoes, and the promised sales price.

As Damian walked down the path whistling softly, a Black crow landed on the family car and stared soullessly at the Thomases. Was this an omen?

The Haunting

‘Something doesn’t feel right’ said Mr Thomas a day after the visit. ‘I know what you mean dad’ said Evie the couple’s 8-year-old. ‘That weird man didn’t have a shadow when he stood by our lamp.’

Mr Thomas ignored it as the workings of a child’s wild imagination, but then things began to get scary.

They never saw Damian again after that. His office always said he was unavailable when they called for an update.

But he wasn’t the only thing that couldn’t be found.

Due to the higher price scaring off buyers, the family home attracted very little interest.

It was sat in the wrong price band for a property of its type due to the extra £20,000 Damian had mysteriously added.

The poor communication from their agency and the lack of viewings was becoming a nightmare for the family as their move became ever closer.

Because they couldn’t sell, they couldn’t buy, this caused a horrendous amount of stress for mum and dad.

The moral of their story is be very wary of smooth-talking agents, who promise the earth and conjure up mesmerising market values for your home that make little sense.

A happy ending?

You may be asking why we are referring to the Thomas four (sorry, five, with the cat) in the past tense?

Well, thanks to us visiting them, accurately valuing their home, and creating an effective marketing plan for their property’s sale they have now successfully moved to pastures new.

Whatever happened to the mysterious agent?

Legend has it that he can still be seen around Leicester, still casting no shadow but leaving a trail of homeowner horror stories in his wake. The black crow is still believed to follow him.

Thanks for reading and Happy Halloween.

*The names have been changed to protect the innocent……. And the guilty.

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Take important steps to make your dream move in Leicester come true

So you’ve found the house of your dreams in Leicester. It’s on the right side of town, near a good school, parks are close by and your commute to work has been cut. Perfect. You know roughly when you’ll be moving and you’ve already started thinking about colour schemes and furniture.

But then…. You’re busy making big plans and you get a call from the solicitor who is handling your purchase. It’s a bombshell – your dream is shattered because the house move has fallen through.

To be honest, it’s heartbreaking. And while it doesn’t happen all the time, it does occur. According to recent research by Quick Move Now, just under a quarter of house sales in England and Wales “fell through” before completion in 2019.

So, it is certainly something to be aware of. But, did you know there are things you can do to help reduce the risk of a house sale falling through?

Four reasons why house sales fall through and what you can do to reduce the risk

1. Gazumping

Gazumping is when you’ve put an offer on a house in the Leicester area, it’s been accepted, but then someone else swoops in and puts in a higher offer. It seems unfair, but it is legal. After all, a seller may see the pound signs so why would they not accept more money?

And, actually, until you’ve exchanged contracts on a property, the deal is not legally binding.

Top Tip: Before you begin the process, take out Home Buyers Insurance. That way, for not a huge sum of money, in the event of being gazumped, you could recoup any costs you have paid out, such as fees for local searches or surveys.

2. Chain Breaker

In many cases, the purchase of your new home requires a chain of people to move out of a property and into another.

This chain can sometimes break, for several reasons. Perhaps a purchase elsewhere has fallen through, perhaps a mortgage offer has expired somewhere along the line, or maybe someone just decided they didn’t want to move.

Top Tip: There is often nothing you can do about a property purchase along the chain, but what you can do is make your link as watertight as possible. Make sure the conveyancers are in place, ensure your mortgage offer is ready and valid and talk to your estate agent to ensure they keep abreast of any potential issues. We do, by the way, and that’s why Leicester buyers and sellers trust us!

3. Finding Funding

When home movers start the process of looking to buy a house, it’s often a head versus heart process. Sometimes, before calculating what funds you have, or even getting a mortgage in principle, you might go and view a property, fall in love with it and then make an offer.

The missing part, of course, is the money. And that is why, although you may think that an offer is going to lead to a sale, it may not.

Top Tip: It may sound simple, but make sure before you accept any offer, that the buyer has funds in place. Ensure that there is evidence of money in the bank or a mortgage in place. These are reasonable questions to ask, and your estate agent and legal team should be making sure it’s all ready to go.

4. Communication Breakdown

Good communication is absolutely key to getting things right and keeping things moving forward. If you stop conversations, then chances are that the process will slow down and deadlines will be missed. In fact, communication breakdown is one of the key causes of house sales falling through.

Top Tip: It’s good to talk, as the old ad says, so make sure that all the parties in your chain are talking, or at least their representatives are. We at Knightsbridge Estate Agents & Valuers pride ourselves on the fact that we are on the case at all times.

We communicate with purchasers and sellers, and keep in contact on the legal side of things too. In fact, we’d say we are the experts in ensuring house sales complete!

Home and Dry

Unfortunately, you cannot guarantee that a house purchase or sale won’t fall through. As we’ve seen, there are a number of reasons why they do. But, there are things you can do to help prevent it.

If you need advice, get it from us in the very early stages of your property move. Call us or email luke.stclair@knightsbridge-estates.co.uk.Quick

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Don’t Be Blinded by Puppy Love in Leicester – Volunteer, Foster or Adopt Instead

Demand for puppies skyrocketed during lockdown, but with furlough ending later this month and the economy struggling, is the reality of pet ownership about to bite? 

Earlier this year, demand for puppies skyrocketed, with Google searches for “Puppies near me” increasing more than six times (by 650%) between January and July.

As a result, the price of popular breeds such Dachshunds, English Bulldogs, French Bulldogs, Pugs and Chow Chows shot up.

The asking price for a Dachshund, for example, increased from £973 in March to £1,838 in June (figures from The Dogs Trust).

But what happens when the novelty of owning a puppy wears off? The RSPCAThe Dogs Trust and The Kennel Club have all raised concerns about the number of people who bought four-legged friends on a whim during the lockdown. 

They fear a surge in the number of dogs dumped or abandoned as people struggle to pay for pet food and vet bills or exercise their pooch every day.

The Kennel Club’s Head of Health and Welfare Bill Lambert says: “We have concerns about those puppies which may have been bought on impulse, without owners doing their homework on how or where to get a dog responsibly, or fully realising a puppy is a new family member for life, not a short-term commodity.

These hasty decisions not only play into the hands of the opportunistic scammers and puppy farmers operating during the pandemic – but can also sadly result in puppies being rehomed if owners haven’t carefully considered how their dog will fit their ‘normal’ life.”

Due to this growing concern, the RSPCA has renamed October “Adoptober” (see what they did there?). The campaign urges people who are determined to get a dog to adopt, instead of buy.

By adopting a rescue dog, you will be giving an animal in need a loving home. You will also be able to rest easy in the knowledge that you haven’t fuelled the activities of overseas puppy farmers, who illegally smuggle dogs into the UK and sell them on the internet.

These dogs often have serious health and emotional problems as they are often kept in unhygienic conditions, are in poor health and are removed from their mothers too soon.

Dog welfare expert Dr Samantha Gaines says: “The message here is simple: do lots of research to help find the right pet for your family and don’t impulse buy.”

And if adoption isn’t for you, there are, of course, other ways you can do your bit for the canine community. Many animal charities are looking for people to foster dogs, providing pooches with a temporary residence until they find their “forever home”. 

Or you could consider volunteering your services as a dog walker to various charities around the country. Check out the work of the Cinnamon Trust and The Underdog.

We’d love to see your dog, whether it’s a rescue, fostered, owned, or adopted, so feel free to share photos of your four-legged companion with us here at Knightsbridge Estate Agents.

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Tips for Selling Your Home AFTER the Clocks Go Back

It’s tempting when the clocks go back (as they will do on Sunday morning) to think that it’s all downhill to Christmas but take our word for it: there’s still time to make things happen in 2020.

It’s mid-autumn and nine weeks until Santa visits – too early for us here at Knightsbridge Estate Agents to dust off our Christmas jumpers and reindeer ears. 

If you feel the same way, and recent events have prompted you to re-evaluate where and how you want to live, then there’s no time like the present. 

Autumn can be an excellent time to sell your home, and with the Stamp Duty holiday continuing until 31 March next year, there is a lot of interest in the Leicester property market.

When it comes to selling, some fundamental principles apply all year round: declutter, carry out essential repairs and maintenance and get the price right. 

But there are some specific things you can do now to maximise your chances of a good sale. Here are our top tips.

Viewings – Homes always look best when it is light and bright. As there are fewer hours of sunlight in autumn than summer, arrange viewings in the middle of the day, or on weekends. 

Lighting – Make the most of the natural light by opening curtains and blinds. Replace light bulbs that are on their way out, and add a few bright, warm table lamps. Don’t go overboard – you don’t want your home to look clinical. Aim for a warm, welcoming glow.

Heating – Make sure your home feels like a cosy refuge, not an Arctic igloo, before any potential buyers arrive. If you’re likely to be out before a viewing, use automatic settings to crank the heating up before a visit. And if you’re lucky enough to have a fireplace, make the most of it by lighting it before a viewing. You want viewers to imagine themselves relaxing by the fire with a hot toddy in hand.

Gardening – Sweep up fallen leaves and cut the heads off withered flowers. Add colour and volume to beds by planting winter bedding plants such as pansies, cyclamens and heather; these work well in pots too. Remove leaves from the guttering.

First impressions – Make sure that the first impression viewers get when they enter your home is a good one – you don’t want it to be damp and musty and smell like a PE changing room. Remove wet boots and damp coats from your entrance hall and put them out of sight.

2020 has been a year like no other for the housing market, with everything screeching to a halt with lockdown and then accelerating when the market re-opened. But with interest rates remaining low, and many people reassessing their priorities, it’s likely to remain busy for some time to come.

Here at Knightsbridge Estate Agents, we’re proud to say that in 2020 we’ve helped many people make the next important move in their life. If you’re ready to make a move, get in touch. We’re here to help.

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What Movers in Leicester Need to Know About the Tier System

This week we take a look at what the new tier system means for home sellers and buyers in Leicester.

The tier system announced by the Government last week to combat the increase in Covid-19 cases has caused some concern from home sellers and buyers who are looking to move.

The good news is that it shouldn’t.

This is because even in the highest tiered areas which the Government has said are at very high-risk, people can still move. Albeit with extra safety precautions which we’ve been practising since the lockdown.

In Leicester, we are currently in Tier 2 – which is described as ‘high alert’ and imposes several restrictions including pubs and restaurants shutting at 10 pm and no households mixing indoors.

But even in high alert areas, Government guidelines say you can still move home.

According to a statement on its website on Friday 16 October the Government advised: “You can still move home if you’re in a high alert level area. Estate and letting agents and removals firms can continue to work, and people looking to move home can continue to undertake viewings.

Follow the national guidance on moving home safely, which includes advice on social distancing and wearing a face covering.”

Our priority is your safety. And that’s why we have the following measures in place to allow us to show people properties they are interested in.

Here are six of our Covid-secure steps.

  • We wear masks on all viewings.
  • We wear disposable gloves on each viewing – these are only worn once then recycled.
  • We wear shoe coverings on each viewing.
  • We carry and use hand sanitiser before and after each viewing.
  • We will be the only people to open or touch handles or cupboards.
  • We will wipe down any surfaces touched after the viewing has finished.

Everyone has a part to play in helping us all get back to normal as soon as possible, and we take our responsibility to keep you safe very seriously.

So, we’ll be following the guidelines and updates daily. And we’ll continue to help people move home safely, securely, and successfully.

If you are a seller or buyer in Leicester and have any questions about what the tier system might mean to you, please get in touch.