Posted on

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.

Posted on

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.

Posted on

Kids Christmas Colour Book

Thinking of ways to keep the kids entertained over the Christmas break?

Why not give our free colouring books a go? You can print them off, get the colouring pens and pencils out and have a couple of hours away from screens and gadgets.

And we haven’t forgotten adults as we have created a colouring book for you too.

If you’d like one, or both of the books please message us with your email / address and we will send them across.

ClarendonPark@knightsbridge-estates.co.uk

Posted on

Your 6 Step Guide to the Conveyancing Process

Finding the house of your dreams in Leicester is exciting and your next step is to secure the property as soon as possible. But buying a new home can be a complex process, particularly when it comes to understanding the conveyancing procedure.

Here at Knightsbridge Estate Agents & Valuers we always endeavour to ensure your sale and purchase runs smoothly, with no surprises along the way. So, with this in mind, we have created a no-jargon guide to the conveyancing process to help you.

But, first things first.

What is conveyancing?

Conveyancing is the legal term for the transfer of home ownership between a buyer and seller. The process begins once your offer is accepted on your chosen property and completes when you have the keys in your hand on moving day! This conveyancing process is absolutely essential to ensure that all the legalities of your sale or purchase are covered and to make certain the transfer of ownership happens with as little stress as possible.

Who does the conveyancing?

Although you can do it yourself, we always recommend that the conveyancing process is undertaken by a professional solicitor or a conveyancer as it can be a multifaceted process. You’ll need to instruct a legal professional as soon as your offer on a property is accepted, so it’s wise to make enquiries and carry out due diligence so that you have several options ready and can start the process without delay. Once you have chosen and appointed a conveyancer or solicitor, they will draw up a draft contract and advise you of their charges.

The 8-step Conveyancing Process

Step 1: Initial contact is made between legal representatives

The first task undertaken by your solicitor or conveyancer will be to contact your seller’s legal representative to request a copy of the draft contract, the property’s title and other standard forms. Your solicitor or conveyancer will thoroughly examine these documents and raise any initial queries. They will also action a number of ‘searches’ to make sure there are no issues you need to be aware of that are not in plain sight. The most common searches are local authority searches, environmental searches and drainage and water searches.

Step 2: Mortgage and survey requirements are confirmed

At this point, if you need one, you should make sure your mortgage is in place as your solicitor or conveyancer will require a copy of your mortgage offer for the next stage of the conveyancing process.

You will also be required to get a mortgage valuation. This is carried out on behalf of your mortgage lender and is to satisfy the lender that the property is secure against the amount of money they are loaning you.

A necessary survey may also be required at this stage. Whilst not a legal requirement, whether you decide to instruct a survey on the property or not will depend on both the property and your specific circumstances.

Step 3: Contracts are signed

Once all the searches have completed, queries have been answered, you have provided your mortgage offer and are satisfied with the survey that has been carried out on the property, your solicitor will agree details regarding the transfer of your deposit funds along with a completion date. You will then be ready to sign the contract in preparation for exchange and completion.

Step 4: Contracts are exchanged

Next comes the exciting part! Exchange of contracts between buyer and seller. Your deposit will be paid on exchange and at this time you will be in a legally binding contract. The good news is that the seller can no longer accept another offer on the property and must sell the property to you. However, if you back out of the purchase at this stage, you will lose your entire deposit. There is usually a deliberate delay between exchange and completion to allow the deeds to the property to be transferred into your name.

Step 5: Finally, it’s completion day!

Completion is usually set for 12 noon or 2pm on the agreed date, however, in reality it can happen as soon as the sellers’ solicitor confirms that all monies have been received. You can then collect your keys to your new home from us – a moment that always makes us smile!

Step 6: The final legal work is completed

Whilst you move into your new property, your solicitor or conveyancer will tie up all the loose ends from a legal perspective. They will ensure stamp duty is paid on your behalf, send your title deeds to your mortgage lender and make sure you receive copies of your legal documents.

They will also send you your final bill for legal work undertaken.

Now all that is left for you to do is to unpack, settle into your dream home in Leicester and enjoy your perfect surroundings.

If you require further independent advice, help and assistance regarding the conveyancing process, the Knightsbridge Estate Agents & Valuers team are happy to help. Contact us on 07917 899 495 or email luke.stclair@knightsbridge-estates.co.uk.

Posted on

8 Questions You Must Ask When Viewing a Rental Property in Leicester

Let’s picture the scenario. You’re looking at properties to rent, and you’ve seen some nice potential properties in Leicester. They are near your work, near open spaces. There’s parking too. All looks perfect and just what you need.

But, aside from the property looking great when you viewed, what else do you need to know from a potential landlord or your letting agent?

Here, we outline the eight questions you should be asking.

1. Who Has Responsibility for What?

When you’re starting to rent a property, you should always get an understanding of what your responsibilities and your landlords’ responsibilities are. Whether that’s for furnishings, bills, maintenance and of course for sorting out any issues that may arise during your tenancy. Don’t rely on your memory, make sure everything is in the contract. This way, everyone knows where they stand, and you’ll have written documentation if needed in the future.

2. What’s Included?

Again, this should be written in the contract, but ask about what’s included in the monthly rent. Your property might be fully-furnished, or it might only have white goods such as a fridge and an oven. Some bills might be included. You need to know so that you can work out if you can afford it and to avoid any nasty surprises.

3. Are Pets Allowed?

You may have a cat, or a dog, or even a parrot, but if your prospective landlord doesn’t accept pets, then you won’t be able to rent the property. Some landlords may be strict about this, even putting it in contracts, but some might look at pets on a case by case basis. Be open if you do want a pet and discuss the possibilities beforehand.

4. Can I Decorate?

If you feel the magnolia walls in the property could do with brightening up, and the curtains are just not right for the space, ask the landlord or agent if there is scope to decorate. Most will agree, on the proviso that when you leave, you should return it to how it was when you moved in. If you are going to decorate or hang pictures, make sure it’s done to a high standard. You don’t want a landlord retaining some of your deposit on the grounds of a bodge job.

5. Where are the Gas and Electrical Certificates?

Safety is paramount when you’re renting, and you don’t want to live somewhere that could put you or your family in danger. Landlords have a legal duty to carry out a gas safety inspection and an electrical safety inspection too. You are entitled to see these and be satisfied that they have been done in line with regulations. Get permission to take a photo of the certificates so that you have them ready if ever needed.

6. Who do I Deal With for Maintenance, Emergency or Other issues?

Sometimes, when you’re viewing a property, you will deal directly with the landlord. Other times, it is a lettings agent. A landlord will sometimes manage the property but will ask an agent to find a tenant. Or, it might be that they ask the agency to handle finding a tenant and manage the property going forwards. Either way, you need to know who is your first point of contact should you need to speak with someone about the property. Tenancy agreements should have all the contact details for your landlord. Make sure you have the correct information should you need them.

7. What is the Length of the Agreement?

Most of the time, a landlord will like a tenant to stay in the property for a long time. It saves them time and money from having to find a new tenant every six or twelve months. But you may need to rent for only a few months, perhaps because of work. Check the agreement and if there are penalties should you want to end the contract early.

8. Can I Install WiFi and a Landline?

This sounds simple, but where would we be without WiFi, phones, and TV? Ask if your new place has all these services already, and if not, check whether your landlord will allow you to have a new service wired to the property.

These eight questions are useful as a starting point, and should all be asked. If you need help with finding a rental property, or if you are a landlord looking for a management service, simply get in touch with us. Email luke.stclair@knightsbridge-estates.co.uk or call us on 07917 899 495.

Posted on

Is Christmas a Good Time to Sell Your House in Leicester?

Did you know that the festive season can be a wonderful time to sell your house in Leicester. Yes, of course, many people are thinking about presents, Santa, food and drink, but it can also be a great time for you to consider selling your home.

Why? Well, we’ll explain in just a moment.

First though, if you need help deciding whether to sell or if you’re looking to buy a property in Leicester, whatever the season, then we can help you. Give us a call on 07917 899 495 or email luke.stclair@knightsbridge-estates.co.uk.

So, is Christmas really a good time to sell?

Christmas is a time when many professionals such as surveyors and conveyancers take some time off, meaning that the sales process can slow down. But it’s usually only for a couple of days, so if you’ve got all your legal paperwork lined up, efficiency should almost be maintained.

But paperwork aside, what about your property at Christmas?

Present Your Home in the Perfect Light

You may have more available time at Christmas to be able to stage your home ready for viewings. Presenting your property is one of the critical things to do to make prospective buyers picture themselves at home. Little touches showcasing your home as a fantastic, warm and joyful house can help sell the dream to a prospective buyer.

Add Festive Atmospherics

Turn on your outside lights, festive or otherwise. Similarly, some indoor atmospheric lighting works a treat to show how welcoming your home is. Don’t go over the top though! Choose subtle side lamps to cast a soft glow.

Sleigh Ahead of the Game!

Many people believe that Christmas is not the right time to put their house on the market….so they don’t. But fewer homes on the market means less competition, so actually, it’s a great time to be selling. Even if the process doesn’t gain momentum until the New year, you’ll still be ahead of the game.

Take advantage of this opportunity and make sure you’ve got everything in place should you accept an offer, and your buyers want to move quickly. It may be Christmas, but legal professionals will be available in the run-up to the holidays. Hold a conversation with conveyancers beforehand, and you’ll know exactly when they are working and how to get hold of them should you need to.

Family Time Leads Online!

Another thing to think about is that Christmas is often about family. But spending more time than usual with extended family can take its toll! Escaping online is common. In fact, housebuilders have reported that Christmas Day and Boxing Day are two of the busiest days for web traffic to their sites.

Families spending time together often prompts talk about the potential for moving to a new house. And, what about all those new phones and tablets received as Christmas presents! This presents even more opportunity for going online and potentially searching for properties!

There’s ‘Snow’ Time Like the Present

If you delay putting your house on the market, you’ll ultimately be postponing the sale of it. Based on our experience, we say take advantage and get it listed! Preparing the particulars takes time, as does the taking of photos and creating floor plans. So, if you set the ball rolling now, you’ve already made the first move. Wait until after Christmas, and you may find more properties coming to market, and your property won’t stand out as much.

New Year, New Move

Christmas can be a great time to move home, but there’s often a lot going on. Remember though, your move doesn’t have to happen straight away. Be patient, get your processes and planning done, and then by the time the new year comes around, you could be looking at getting the keys to your new home.

It can be a dream, but to make it happen, you need to set things in motion.

  • Plan how you will tackle packing for the move
  • Think about whether you can gift things or recycle items
  • Think about getting boxes ready
  • Talk to the conveyancers
  • Search for removal firms
  • Note down who you need to notify

In essence, simply prepare.

We are here to help guide you through selling your home in Leicester at Christmas. So, call our team at Knightsbridge Estate Agents & Valuers on 07917 899 495 and we will be more than happy to chat about your next steps.

Posted on

How to Rent Guide – December 2020 Update Released

The Government has recently changed its ‘How to Rent’ Guide.

Landlords should be aware of the change in this document and should be issuing this as part of the required documentation to provide to a tenant the outset of a tenancy ensuring they have documented and have evidence that this has been done should be required to be called upon later on.

We would also recommend re-issuing the ‘How to Rent’ Guide as and when it changes to your tenant(s) and keeping a record of how this was done.

You can click to the image below to download the December 2020 Release.

Posted on

6 Budget-Friendly Home Decor Ideas for Your Leicester Property

In these days of easy access to drool-worthy home decor inspo on Pinterest and Instagram, we’ve all suffered a case of design envy. Although these design ideas aren’t unachievable, many people get put off by the mere thought of how much redecorating their own home could actually cost.

As your local Leicester estate agent, we see stunning homes in Leicester every day and we’re here to tell you that it’s very much possible to create an envy-inducing home of your own without breaking the bank!

You just need to get a little creative and take a few risks along the way.

Read on for our top 6 home decor ideas that are easy on your wallet:

1. First, kick off with a deep clean

We know, cleaning up isn’t exactly a decorating tip. But, hear us out here. Our experienced team of negotiators at Knightsbridge Estate Agents & Valuers are all in agreement that a good decluttering session is the first step to transforming any room. By getting rid of all your clutter, you’ll get a much better idea of the space you’re working with. It also makes it easier to think of a coherent decor scheme, and you could get rid of some of the more dated design elements along the way.

The best part? Cleaning and decluttering doesn’t cost a thing.

2. Invest in some mirrors to open up a room

What’s one of the easiest ways to ‘add space’ to a room? Simply hang some mirrors.

Mirrors create the illusion of space by reflecting light, making smaller rooms instantly appear more spacious. Invest in some unique mirrors with interesting effects, and you’ll be adding style, light and space in one go.

And you don’t need to invest a lot. There are some great charity shops in Leicester  so head on over and upcycle old mirrors with a new frame or fresh paint.

3. Add some natural green

Amp up the style and the feel-good vibe of your home in Leicester by adding some cute indoor plants in quirky pots. Not only will they add some colour, but plants will also purify the air, and they’re known to boost your mood.

Plants aren’t pricey and can last for ages with care and love. Pop to the garden centre and buy local or check out online plant stores.

We’re not all green-fingered, so if you are worried about accidentally killing your plants, choose low-maintenance options such as jade or aloe vera that practically take care of themselves. Invest in a couple of statement pieces for the main living areas and dot smaller potted succulents around your bedroom and kitchen. Even your bathroom will benefit from a bit of green.

4. Style your bed

Yes, your bed is primarily for sleeping and lounging, and the occasional Netflix binge, but it can also be a statement style piece for your bedroom. And dressing it up won’t break the bank.

Get yourself some gorgeous new bed linen and an assortment of quirky cushions. Add a season-appropriate throw – furry for winter and bright/light for summer – to add a more cosy style.

If you’re feeling creative and don’t have a headboard, consider painting one on the blank wall behind your bed. It’s cheap and can easily be painted over whenever you fancy a change.

 5. Search for bargains online

Google makes bargain hunting a lot easier than it’s ever been, and home decor is a category where you can find some of the best bargains online. You’ll be surprised at just how many gems you can find on sites like eBay and Gumtree. If you’re prepared to go for second-hand or ‘pre-loved’ items, you can get your hands on quality furniture pieces for a lot less.

If you’re prepared to drive over for pickups, some online sellers are even willing to give away large items for free.

6. Give your walls a fresh lick of paint

Despite what some people may assume, you don’t need to be a DIY expert to paint a room in your home. Give any room a quick spruce with a fresh lick of paint. Or be bold and transform any space by painting a statement wall. This involves painting just one wall with a different colour or design, so it becomes the focal point of the room. You can also use wallpaper to create an interesting statement wall. 

A tin of paint or a roll of wallpaper is not expensive, and it’ll take just a few hours to make a significant style impact.

Once you’ve spruced up your property in Leicester, give us a call at Knightsbridge Estate Agents & Valuers and we’ll be delighted to give you a free valuation. We can be reached at luke.stclair@knightsbridge-estates.co.uk or 07917 899 495.

Posted on

From Mulled Wine to Mistletoe – Four Festive Customs Explained

In this quick read, we trace the origins of some of the sights, sounds, and smells of Christmas.

Christmas is a time of mistletoe and mulled wine, twinkly trees, and messages from the monarch.  

And in Leicester it seems like many people can’t wait for the festive break.

So, let’s explore the history behind the enduring Christmas customs many of us enjoy.

Why do we decorate Christmas trees?

In Pagan times, evergreens were placed in the home to ward off evil spirits and to remind people during the depths of winter that spring would return.

By the 16th century, devout Christians in Germany, who believed evergreen trees symbolised everlasting life, had taken things a step further. They decorated evergreen conifers with apples, paper roses, and candles (which they then lit) creating an incredible spectacle – and a terrible fire hazard.

King George III and his German wife Charlotte were among the first to adopt the Christmas tree tradition in England, and it was later popularised by Queen Victoria and her German-born husband, Albert.

Mulled wine

The Romans get the credit for introducing this tipple to Europe in the 2nd century. They heated their wine to ward off the cold and added spices (to promote good health) and natural sweeteners (because the wine tasted awful).  

Later, other countries devised their own variations. The Germans guzzled glühwein, the Swedes glugged glögg, and the Brits got through the Great Plague by knocking back “mulled sack”, which was safer to drink than the water.

It wasn’t until the 1800s that mulled wine became synonymous with Christmas. Charles Dickens mentions it his novel A Christmas Carol. The Victorian author namechecks Smoking Bishop, a mix of red wine, port, oranges, cloves, cinnamon, and ginger. We’ll drink to that, Tiny Tim!

Mistletoe mystery 

Historians are still not sure exactly how this tradition got started. What they do know is that the Greeks, Romans, and Druids all prized mistletoe as a source of healing, vitality, and fertility.

The plant is also associated with Frigg, the Norse goddess of motherhood and fertility, whose son was killed by an arrow made from mistletoe (doesn’t sound very Christmassy to us).

While this is all rather interesting, it doesn’t explain why servants in Britain began to “kiss under the mistletoe” sometime between 1720 and 1784. Perhaps someone below stairs got a bit lairy after one too many pints of mulled sack.

Royal message

We all know the Royal Christmas Broadcast as the Queen’s Speech, but originally it was the King’s Speech. George V delivered the first Royal Broadcast on Christmas Day in 1932.

Queen Elizabeth II’s grandfather gave his radio address from a small office in Sandringham at 3pm, as this was the best time for reaching most of the countries in the Empire by shortwave.

The Queen delivered her first Christmas message in 1952 and her first televised message in 1957. She’ll deliver her 68th Christmas message this year.