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It’s Feelgood Friday: Time to Focus on a Little Bit of Good News…For A Change

In this two-minute read, we share three short stories to make you smile.

 

We may be in the middle of a winter lockdown, but there are still plenty of reasons to be cheerful.

 

Here are a few upbeat stories from around the world to lift your mood.

 

Animal adoptions on track

A campaign to promote animal adoptions has been a hit with Moscow commuters.

 

Thirteen of the city’s animal shelters joined forces to turn a standard Metro train into the Tails and Paws train.

 

The Tails and Paws’ interior is plastered with photographs of cats and dogs living in animal shelters in the city. Next to each image is a QR code that people can scan to read a profile of the animal and decide if they want to adopt it.

 

In just one week, 22 animals featured in the Tails and Paws train found forever homes. Pawsome.

 

Kind gift for Max

The incredible story of Max Woosey, the Devon lad who has been camping in his garden since March, got even better this week.

 

During the first lockdown, Max vowed to sleep in his tent until the Covid-19 crisis was over.

 

The 11-year-old has stuck to his word and nine months later is still sleeping outdoors – a feat that has so far raised £128,000 for North Devon Hospice.

 

This week we learned Max is braving the elements with the help of a specialist sleeping bag, donated to him by the mother of a fallen soldier.

 

Lisa Snow of Cheshire was so moved by Max’s efforts that she gave him her late son’s sleeping bag. 

 

Joseph Berry, a former Scout who was mad about camping, died aged 21 while serving in Afghanistan.

 

Max told the North Devon Gazette: “I feel so happy that I remind Lisa of Joe. I am so proud to say that I will be using a soldier’s sleeping bag because I’m just a boy sleeping in a tent while he was brave and served his country.” 

 

 

Wildlife discoveries

2020 was tough on the health and economic fronts, but it proved to be a boon for bio-scientists who discovered hundreds of new animal species.

 

Among the newly identified creatures was a beaked whale, spotted in Mexican waters, and a cute little primate called a Popa Langur that looks like it’s wearing white eyeliner.

 

Meanwhile, in northern India, a new species of emerald green viper has been named Trimeresurus Salazar.

 

Harry Potter fans might recognise that this is a reference to Salazar Slytherin, the cunning founder of the House of Slytherin. Slytherin’s mascot is a snake, and its house colour is green.

 

That’s all from all of us here at KNIGHTSBRIDGE ESTATE AGENTS, thanks for reading. Be nice, be kind, and stay safe.

 

COPYRIGHT KNIGHTSBRIDGE ESTATE AGENTS 2021

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Leasehold Reforms: What You Should Know about the Government’s Changes

In this three-minute read, we look at England’s new leasehold reform package.

What will the new leasehold reforms, announced last week, deliver for leasehold property owners in LEICESTER? Here’s what we know so far.

Now, ‘leasehold reform’ may not be the sexiest of subject matters, but if you are one of the 4.3 million people in England who owns a leasehold property, don’t doze off as these changes could significantly impact you.

Background

England’s medieval leasehold laws are loathed by leaseholders who have dubbed them ‘fleecehold’ laws. Key gripes include:

  • The cost of lease renewal or freehold purchase. This can be tens of thousands of pounds, or even more. If negotiations with the freeholder break down, the leaseholder can go to a tribunal, but this takes time and can be expensive.
  • Escalating ground rents. In the worst cases, the ground rent on a leasehold house doubles every ten years, leaving the leaseholder with an ever-growing bill and making it impossible to sell the property.
  • Exorbitant service charges for maintaining communal areas and gardens at apartment blocks.
  • Freeholds being sold off to a cash-hungry third party.

Here’s a rundown of the proposed reforms.

No 1: Owners of leasehold homes or flats will be given the right to extend their lease by a maximum term of 990 years at zero ground rent. (Currently, leaseholders of houses can only extend for 50 years with a ground rent while leaseholders of flats can extend as often as they wish at a zero ‘peppercorn’ ground rent for 90 years.)

Benefit: In theory, the change would provide security and eliminate ground rent. However, it’s not yet clear how much it would cost to secure a 990-year lease so it’s impossible to do a cost versus benefit analysis.

No 2: Owners of leasehold flats in apartment blocks will be able to shift to a Commonhold Agreement model.

Benefit: Flat owners could take control of the upkeep of their building, ending rip-off maintenance charges. Getting all the relevant parties to agree to move to a Commonhold Agreement may be difficult though.

No 3: Introduction of an online calculator to simplify determining the cost of buying a freehold or lease extension.

Benefit: This would take some of the hassle out of the negotiation process but much depends on the formula used to calculate costs.

No 4: The abolition of ‘marriage value’.

Benefit: ‘Marriage value’ is a rather cumbersome rule that has probably caused a few divorces in its time. It means that if a lease falls below 80 years, the cost of renewing it shoots up.

When will these changes be introduced?

Legislation regarding change No 1 will be brought forward in the upcoming session of Parliament. The rest will take longer to realise. (If you’d like to be kept informed on the progress of these reforms, we’ll be monitoring the situation closely, so please get in touch with us here at Knightsbridge Estate Agents.)

To learn more about the leasehold changes and how they could affect the value of your property, get in touch with us here at Knightsbridge Estate Agents.

Copyright 2021 Knightsbridge Estate Agents

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Businesses in Leicester Encourage to Help Keep Local Children Learning

A local estate agency has bought 120 computer tablets for schoolchildren affected by the latest lockdown.

Knightsbridge Estate Agents, which has three offices across Leicester, were compelled to help after hearing news reports, many local children do not have access to laptops or tablets.

This means they cannot easily access online lessons which educational experts fear will hinder their potential.

Knightsbridge Director, Luke St Clair, said: “We want to do something positive to help children who through no fault of their own, or their schools, may be missing out on learning. We’ve dubbed the idea Computers for Kids.

“We’ve bought 120 new tablets to donate to schools, and we’re encouraging local businesses to join the appeal and donate equipment if they can. We’re happy to collect and deliver the items to the schools if necessary.

“We need to invest in our future generations, especially during this pandemic. Just one device that gives a child a chance to keep learning during lockdown is invaluable.”

If businesses or individuals would like to donate new laptops or tablets to the Computers for Kids, appeal contact Luke on 07917 899 495

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NEWSFLASH – Lockdown Update for home movers in Leicester

The Prime Minister announced at 8pm this last night that people in England will be going back into lockdown tomorrow following a surge in Coronavirus cases.

The tighter restrictions include schools shutting until the February half-term for most pupils. People must now work from home if they can, and only essential shops can remain open.

Which leads us to how these new measures will affect people wanting and needing to move home.

According to the Government’s latest advice issued on its website, people CAN still move home as long as they follow the guidelines in place.

At the end of this article, there is a link to the information the Government issued this evening.

The section which addresses the property market states.

Moving home

You can still move home. People outside your household or support bubble should not help with moving house unless absolutely necessary.

Estate and letting agents and removals firms can continue to work. If you are looking to move, you can go to property viewings.

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

We’re Here for Our Community

We will be available to take calls and respond to any property related questions you may have about this latest twist in what’s been a traumatic time for many of us.

But unlike the first lockdown hope is now on the horizon.

We will get through this together. Remember ‘it’s always darkest before the dawn.’

All of us at Knightsbridge Estate Agents are committed to ensuring our clients, colleagues and communities remain safe. We will do everything in our power to play our part in the fight against this awful disease.

Here is the link to the Government’s latest Coronavirus guidelines. Page 17 features the Moving Home advice.

https://tinyurl.com/yynh94ug

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10 Resolutions People in Leicester are Making in 2021

We look to share some resolution ideas to bring some hope in 2021.

99.9 per cent of us cannot wait to see the back of 2020.

And what better time to draw a line under this ‘unprecedented’ year than the opportunity to welcome in a new year. And one which brings new hope.

Below are 10 of the most common resolutions people have made over the past five years, according to polling website You.Gov.

  • Exercise more.
  • Eat more healthily.
  • Lose weight.
  • Budget finances better.
  • Learn something new.
  • Spend more time with friends and family. (Fingers crossed).
  • Get more sleep.
  • Reduce stress.
  • Travel more (here’s hoping).
  • Focus on spiritual growth.

And here are five of the most common resolutions we hear home seekers in Leicester make.

  • A home with more room.
  • A home nearer loved ones and/or good schools.
  • A home with a room or space enabling working from home. (A new one for 2021).
  • A home with a bigger garden or easy access to open space.
  • A home with friendly neighbours.

At the heart of people’s resolutions is always a sense of hope.

And hope is something we’ll all be holding onto as we enter 2021.

And at Knightsbridge Estate Agents we’re hopeful the next 12 months will be much better than what we’ve endured in 2020.

Finally, we’d like to thank all our clients, colleagues, and our community for your support this year.

Here’s to hope, happiness and to happier times ahead.

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Making the Switch: Changing Estate Agents in Leicester – How to Choose Wisely

Choosing the right estate agent in Leicester is key to you being happy when you come to selling your home.

Moving home is a stressful time, and we won’t lie – it can be hectic. There are so many things to do, so many plans to make, and then there’s the number crunching to do.

It can be a tough time, even though you know that at the end of it you’ll be starting a new chapter in a new home with your family.

One of the key things to do is to choose the right estate agent at the start of the process. Sometimes though you may need to switch estate agents because you’re simply not happy with the estate agent you initially chose.

This is not the best position to find yourself in! So, here are our top five tips to help you choose the right team to sell your property.

1. Why Change Estate Agent?

So, you think you need to change the estate agent who is selling your property? You may well be right, but take time to think carefully about why you want to change and make sure it’s for the right reasons.

Ask yourself the following:

  • What is it that makes you want to change?
  • Are you being patient?
  • Have you spoken with your agent, or are they oblivious to your thoughts and feelings?
  • If you have had that conversation, have they tried to rectify things?
  • Have they failed to attract viewings?
  • Have you got unrealistic expectations?
  • Do they communicate regularly with you?

Top Tip: Before changing agent, you should always speak with your current agent to satisfy yourself that there is nothing more they can do for you. Changing agents can be done, but make sure it’s for the right reasons. Make lists of the pros and cons and consider very carefully.

2. Check Your Paperwork

This is crucial, and we can’t stress this enough. You may be unhappy with your current estate agency and want to change, but the agreement you signed up to may prevent you from doing this immediately, or it may come at a cost.

You may be tied into an agreement whereby the estate agent is the sole agency allowed to sell your property during a specific period. This sole agency clause will mean that you can’t instruct another estate agent during that period. It might also mean that you are tied into an agent for a specific time and will need to be patient.

You may be able to break the agreement if you pay a fee, as some agents do charge a fee even if they don’t sell your property.

Top Tip: Make sure you read the paperwork and are happy with it, including the small print, or at least are aware of it and its implications, before you sign it!

3. Take Your Time

When you have decided to move, it’s easy to get carried away with things – after all, it can be an exciting time.

But, slow down. Take the time to choose the right estate agent for you. And, this is the case whether you’re choosing an estate agent for the first time or are wanting to switch.

Do some research about your intended agent.

  • Search online to see what others think of them.
  • Look at their reviews.
  • Are they friendly and approachable?
  • Do they have good knowledge of the local area?
  • Are they prominent in the local community?
  • How well do they market themselves and their properties?

Top Tip: In an online world, customers leave reviews all over the place – on websites, social media and Google! Use these as part of your decision when choosing an estate agent in Leicester.

4. The Right Agency for You

You will find several estate agents in Leicester all of whom operate in different ways, but who all should have the same objective – to sell your home!

At Knightsbridge Estate Agents & Valuers we may not be the cheapest, nor the largest agency, but we will always do our absolute best for you, and we believe that our local knowledge and expertise counts for a lot! We want to make sure that we are the right fit for you. We will ensure you feel comfortable with our team and of course, we will market your property effectively so that you get the offer you deserve.

5. Making the Switch

If you do make the decision to switch estate agent, check your contract as a priority, so you are aware of any potential issues. Then, when you’ve chosen your new agent, be upfront and clear with them and explain why you’ve changed, as this will help them going forward.

We will be delighted to act for you and use our experience and skill to help you sell your property. Give us a call on 07917 899 495 or email luke.stclair@knightsbridge-estates.co.uk and we’ll get the conversation started.

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Five Fun Festive Activities You Can Do with the Kids

We look at five Christmassy things to do with the kids that won’t break the bank.

Covid-19 has put the kibosh on big family gatherings and trips to the panto this Christmas, but there are still plenty of ways you can get into the festive spirit with your little ones. 

Here are five low-cost activities that will bring comfort and joy to your children during the holiday season.

  1. Go on a Christmas lights walk/drive

Kids love a bit of razzle-dazzle so take them on a night-time tour – either by foot or car – of the most bling light displays in your area. Make an event out of it by taking along a flask of hot chocolate, and a few Christmas treats to nibble on as you marvel at the inflatable Santas, luminous reindeers, and flashing penguins on show.

  1. Get crafty

Turn pine cones into mini Christmas trees with this easy-peasy craft project. The first step is to source your pine cones (from either the floor of your local woods or a craft shop). Give each pine cone a coat of green paint. Let them dry and then paint the edge of each pine cone scale white to represent snow. Add splodges of red and gold paint for lights, and glue on pom poms for baubles.

  1. Make a festive video

If your children are more tech-savvy than you, let them take the lead on this project. They’ll relish the chance to show you how clever they are. For your video, you could dress in Santa hats and mime to a popular Christmas tune, or write your own mini script. Most mobile phones come with an app (such as iMovie or FilmoraGo) that will allow you to create a professional number in no time. Share your video with grandparents and family friends and then bask in the rave reviews.

  1. Create a grotto at home

If you can’t go to Santa’s grotto this year, bring it to you by turning a spare room, loft, shed or cubby house into a cosy Christmas cave. Block out any light by pulling the curtains or taping black cardboard to the windows. Drape red, green, and gold fabric and hang fairy lights, paper chains, snowflakes, and candy canes. Go OTT; the kids will love it.

  1. Bake

Christmas tree meringues make great festive sweet treats. Mix up a standard meringue mix and add green food colouring and a dash of peppermint extract. Then pipe (you’ll need a piping bag, star-shaped piping nozzle, and a steady hand) the mixture onto a tray lined with baking paper. Start with a circle about 8cm in diameter and continue upwards in ever-decreasing circles. Add sprinkles as baubles and then bake in the oven. Delicious.

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Small is Beautiful: Tiny Room Ideas

Just because a room is small, it doesn’t mean it can’t be stylish or practical. Many people have homes that are smaller than average, or rooms that are tiny or an awkward shape, yet these spaces can soon be transformed into a comfortable, Instagrammable space.

Here are some tips when decorating or furnishing a tiny room.

Draw Up A Floorplan

Once you’re standing in the room, it can be difficult to find a way to make everything fit. One way you can design a room is to draw up a floorplan, then measure your furniture and see where it might fit. This can also help you decide what’s essential in the room and which pieces you can do without.

Find Furniture with Hidden Storage

When you furnish a tiny room, smaller pieces are always going to work better, for example, cuddle couches rather than three-piece suites. Even better, look for furniture that has hidden storage, as this will make it much easier to organise your room. Stores such as IKEA are good for finding storage solutions, and they sell bed bases with fitted wardrobes or chests of drawers. While you may not have used one since you were a child, cabin beds are also very handy in small rooms, as lifting your bed off the floor gives you plenty of extra space. Some beds open up to reveal hidden storage, which can be useful for storing spare sheets, shoes, or even books. You can also find sofa beds that include ottomans, which allow you to store your duvet and pillows during the day.

Save Your Floor Space Where Possible

The problem with tiny rooms is that you often have to go through an obstacle course to get around them. Any floor space that you can save will make the room feel more spacious and make it more practical to use. Avoid things like bookcases and big wardrobes, opting for shelves and hanging rails instead. In very small spaces, you may even want to look for solutions such as a pull down bed, which will fold into the wall when you’re not using it.

Keep Things Simple

If a room is tiny, then nothing is going to make it huge and spacious, but you can make the most of the space by keeping things simple. Choose neutral colours with a few pops of pattern or colour to draw the eye in. If you think neutral looks too plain, then add some textures in similar tones, which will give the room a luxe look.

Use Light and Mirrors

Mirrors are convenient in small rooms, as they fool the eye into thinking the room is bigger. Light is also very important. Never block a window, even partially, as this will make a room feel gloomy and claustrophobic. You should also make sure the room is well-lit, but don’t use huge light fittings or floor lamps. Wall-mounted lights take up less space, and up-lighters can draw the eye upwards.

Choose the Right Shape Furniture

Tiny rooms are often awkwardly shaped, so you need to find furniture that fits into the room nicely. For example, if you have an area with a sloped ceiling, find an L-shaped corner sofa that fits into that nook and create a living area. If your room is long and thin, place a sofa that fits snugly into the width of the room, which will make it feel wider. While it may sound expensive, bespoke furniture can be a good solution for tiny rooms, as it allows you to design something functional and just the right size. Look online for some furniture designers in your location, and you may be surprised that they’re not as pricy as you think.

Switch Rooms Round

When you move into a house, don’t feel like you have to keep the same layout as the previous tenants or owners. If a bedroom is far too small, for example, you may want to turn the dining room into a spare bedroom, then have a combined kitchen/diner. Tiny rooms often work better for nurseries, home offices, and spare bedrooms, rather than somewhere like a living room or adult bedroom, so think about switching around if possible.

A tiny room doesn’t have to compromise on style. Many people now live in smaller homes and have less space, so many new design solutions have been created to help. From adding storage space to removing bulky furniture, there are many ways to make a small space work efficiently for you.

For no-obligation advice on buying or selling a home in Leicester please contact our expert property team at Knightsbridge Estate Agents & Valuers on 07917 899 495 or call in and see us. We look forward to seeing you.

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Making a Difference to Kids in Leicester

We are delighted to announce our free giveaway of a sold-out children’s book and the difference it is making to young lives.

Breaking news ……We’ve teamed up with a children’s author and are giving away digital versions of his fast-selling book, Spot the Different.

Jerry Lyons originally wrote the book for his then seven-year-old daughter as a bedtime story to show that being different is something to be proud of and to embrace.

It tells the story of a young girl called Lucy, who is being bullied at school. She meets a magical ladybird called Spot, and he takes her on an adventure where they meet an array of unique animals.

These include Freddie the Flea who doesn’t jump, Charlie the Camel with no hump and Cassie the Crow that doesn’t like flying.

Andy Willard, a talented artist, wonderfully illustrates the book. It is currently sold out in print format, but we’ve gained permission to share digital versions of it with families across Leicester as a Christmas gift to younger members of our community.

Jerry Lyons said: “I want to get Spot’s message of inclusivity, diversity and being proud of yourself into as many young hands and minds as possible. And thanks to the generous support of Knightsbridge Estate Agents, we are doing exactly that by offering the digital version for free.”

We are delighted to be playing a small part in spreading the book’s message, and if you would like to get your free E-book, please click the link below

Remember folks sharing is caring, so if you know a young person who would enjoy reading a digital copy of Spot the Different, please share this article on social media and tag a friend or forward it to them.

Thanks for reading.

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5 Amazing Lighting Tips to Help You Sell Your Home in Leicester

There are so many different tasks to take care of when selling your home in Leicester, from getting all the paperwork done to packing your old home up, to finding the right estate agent to help you sell it. Just when you think you’ve got everything covered, you find something else that needs taking care of. 

Selling a property requires some effort on your part! After all your hard work into preparing your home for sale, you don’t then want your work to be sabotaged by the one little detail that so many people overlook: the lighting in your home. 

When you’re trying to sell your home, first impressions make all the difference. Homes that are poorly lit and dark are less appealing to potential buyers. Low lighting makes the space look and feel smaller, colder, uninviting, and dingy, even if it isn’t. It can also look as though you are trying to conceal some kind of flaws in the shadows, which can be a huge turn off for buyers. 

Good lighting is crucial, but if you don’t have the time or the budget to overhaul the lighting in every room of your home, have no fear. You can still improve your lighting situation and in turn, increase the likelihood of your home being sold sooner. 

Here are five great lighting tips to help sell your home. 

1. Audit each room’s lighting

The first step to take is to check out how each room in your home fares when it comes to it’s current lighting. Open all the blinds, pull back the curtains and turn on all the lights, then do a walk-through of every room in your home. You also might want to do this at a few different times during the day since viewings can happen from day right through to the evening when it’s darker. Try it in the morning with the morning sun, in the afternoon in full sun, in the evening at sunset, and then once the sun has completely set. It’s also a good idea to try it on rainy or cloudy days. 

While you’re conducting your audit, put yourself in your potential buyer’s shoes and think about what they would think if they were walking through. Take note of any areas that are lit very well and any areas that need more lighting. If it helps, use your phone camera to take photos to highlight which spaces need some work. 

2. Remember exterior lighting

Don’t forget about your home’s exterior lighting! Your home’s kerb appeal is important no matter what time of day. Consider that potential buyers could drive past your home at any time, or evening passers by could see the ‘for sale’ sign in your front garden. You want to make a good impression on these people, so keeping the exterior of your home well lit is crucial. The front porch and path leading to the door should be lit well to make your home look warm and welcoming. If you have a garden or patio, it should also be lit to help make the space look inviting and to highlight any features that are worth seeing. 

3. Upgrade your current fixtures

Most home buyers are willing to accept that there will be some improvements needed once they move in, but the more work you’ve done for them, the more appealing your home is. This includes any dated light fixtures or fittings that don’t work anymore. 

You also may want to consider upgrading your lightbulbs to LED lights which have less of an environmental impact, generate less heat, and allow you to get longer use out of your bulbs. 

4. Use tricks to help brighten dark spaces

Sometimes your lighting may be fine but wall colours or decoration dark, making the rest of the room feel gloomier and smaller than it actually is. To combat this, you can address those problems directly by repainting and changing the colours. If you don’t have the time or the budget to go that far, you can take a few other steps that are quicker and easier. 

Strategically placing mirrors to help reflect light can help the room seem brighter and more open, especially in rooms with small windows or windows that don’t actually offer much natural light. Additionally, adding bright or light coloured cushions, blankets, pictures, or rugs can help brighten up your space in an instant. 

5. Add more lighting if needed

When all else fails, adding extra lighting in dark spaces will be sure to do the trick. Table lamps and desk lamps can be stylish ways to bring more light into the room while adding accent lighting can help create or highlight an existing focal point. If you want to take it to the next level, under cabinet lighting, tread lighting for dark stairways and track lighting for shadowed ceilings will definitely brighten up the whole space.

If your property is for sale or you are thinking of selling your home, why not try some of these lighting tips today and ensure you create a lighter, brighter space ready for viewers. For further property related advice, contact the team at Knightsbridge Estate Agents & Valuers on 07917 899 495 and we will be delighted to offer you professional guidance.