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Dealing with home insurance as a first time buyer

 

You’ve secured the mortgage, paid the fees, and you have chosen your dream first home, but the work isn’t over once you move in. After the challenging experience of first time buying, insurance can often take a back seat. Here’s some helpful guidance on choosing home insurance and how it will protect your new investment.

What is home insurance?

Home insurance is often split into two parts – building and contents insurance. Put simply, building cover insures damage to your physical property (the bricks

house floodand mortar) from unfortunate and unforeseen events such as fire, flooding and weather damage. In places which have high risk of weather damage, such as flooding, your choice of insurance providers may be limited and premiums may be more expensive.

Contents insurance covers all of your belongings, from your laptop to your fridge, and protects them from potential theft, loss or damage.

Do I have to have it?

While you pay off your mortgage your home is technically still “borrowed” from your mortgage lender, therefore they will most probably require you to take out building insurance to protect their investment. However, you don’t need to use your mortgage lender to obtain your insurance. Shop around to compare coverage, there are plenty of price comparison sites such as Confused.com that can help guide you.

How much is my home worth?

It’s highly important to get the right type of cover for your home, so giving your insurance company truthful and accurate answers, when they ask you questions, is essential. Your insurance company will most likely ask you the rebuild cost of your home, which means how much it would cost in total to build your home from scratch again. Many people get a surveyor to help calculate this amount; however you can get an accurate estimate by using the Buildings Cost Information Service’s free online calculator.

Contents insurance is slightly easier; you just need to estimate the worth of all of your valuable property. Money Supermarket has a great online calculator to help you calculate the value of your property.

Do I need to update my insurance?

Planning on a fancy extension? Or dreaming of a spectacular loft conversion? You’ll need to have a chat with your insurer as any changes to your home may affect the rebuild cost. If you don’t change your policy to match any changes and you become underinsured, you may be left to pay the extra if anything was to happen to your home.

Are you a recent first time buyer and have any helpful advice on home insurance? Pop your tips in the comments below.

 

Image Credits: Wikimedia

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Understanding Stamp Duty

You hardly need reminding that it’s tough to to be a first time buyer. But one problem – and it just happens to be Britain’s oldest tax – has become easier.house

This is of course Stamp duty, originating in the 17th century and imposed to cover the cost of registering a change in ownership at a government office called the Land Registry.

This process requires a stamped certificate from Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs – the tax man to you and me – but HMRC will provide this only when the duty is paid.

So how is it easier?

Well, stamp duty used to be charged on a ‘slab’ basis. So buying a home for £250,000 meant you paid the old charge of one per cent duty on the full price, making it £2,500.

But if you bought, say, a £260,000 home you would have been in the old three per cent category applied across the whole price – so the duty would become a whopping £7,800.

This slab system was considered unfair and a disincentive for buyers. Therefore stamp duty in England, Wales and Northern Ireland is today levied like income tax.

Up to £125,000 it’s zero, and over £125,000 to £250,000 it’s two per cent. Then from over £250,000 to £925,000 it is five per cent.

On that £260,000 home you therefore today pay no duty up to £125,000, then two per cent above £125,000 to £250,000, and then five per cent above £250,000 to £260,000.

It adds up to just £3,000 and in this example saves you £4,800.

There are a few exceptions to stamp duty – but don’t raise your hopes.

There’s no duty at all on zero-carbon homes (but these are rare) while some Right To Buy properties, where tenants purchase their council home, have reduced duty. In Scotland, stamp duty doesn’t exist but there is Land and Building Transaction Tax which is roughly similar and means that north of the border, our £260,000 home would cost £2,600 in LBTT.

Across the rest of Britain buyers of almost all homes sold for above £125,000 have no choice but to pay stamp duty within 30 days of moving in.

In reality, it happens quicker because it’s handled by your conveyancer – that’s the expert you will have instructed to handle legal elements of the purchase.

Sometimes a mortgage lender may offer to add the stamp duty to the loan for the house. It sounds tempting but try to resist: saving for stamp duty may be tough but it will cost less than adding it to a mortgage on which you repay not just the loan itself but interest as well.

One final thing – it’s always buyers who pay stamp duty. That’s not really unfair because as you move up the ladder and sell up, so someone will pay duty to buy from you.

 As the saying goes ‘What goes around, comes around.’

Image Credit: Geograph

graham norwood

Author Bio

This article was provided exclusively to First Home News by Graham Norwood, a successful journalist who specialises in writing about residential property. Read Graham’s blog at Property News Hound or follow him on Twitter.

 

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Five top tips on how to update your living room

 

After years of enduring magnolia and off-white walls in your rented properties, you may find yourself overwhelmed with choice whilst deciding how to update your new living room.  It may seem like a daunting task, but we have compiled some simple yet effective tips that can help:

Discover new lighting
table lamp ikea

Different types of lighting can have a huge impact on the mood of the room.  Light that is too harsh and bright could make the room feel clinical and cold, whereas softer lighting will create a warm and inviting atmosphere perfect for cosy nights in.  A well lit room can be achieved easily by using lower watt bulbs, installing a dimmer, or strategically placing lamps to benefit the levels of light your room receives throughout the day.

You can find a wide range of affordable yet stylish lamps perfect for any modern living room in high street retailers such as Next, or John Lewis.

Paint in wonderful white

Choosing whitwhite walls e paint to redecorate with may not seem like a drastic change to your living room, but this classic look will never go out of style.   To  avoid a sterile feel to the room, make sure you use different textures in your room to give it a more homely feel, such as cushions or t  throws.

You could also choose a colour pallet to accent your room with, making future changes to the room more practical to deal with over the years.

 Writing on the wall

Personalising your living space has never been easier with a range of decorative wall quotes, words and letters to choose from.  Add words and  images to your wall using artistic vinyl graphics, or frame an inspirational or humorous quote to hang as a centre piece.  Online retailers such as Not  on the High Street or Etsy have some fabulous designs which can instantly transform your surroundings.

Change the dynamics

Change the dynamics of your room by moving around your furniture to create more space and making the most of the changing light conditions throughout the year.  You can also do this by changing the position of your radiator or removing a door to create more options whilst deciding where to place your furniture.

Go green plant

Add a splash of colour to your living room whilst also improving your mind and health, by introducing house plants and flowers.  This will create a fresh and natural feel to your room, instantly changing the atmosphere and bringing life to your home.

 

 

 

 

Image Credits: FlickrIkea

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How to make moving into a new home as stress-free as possible
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How to make moving into a new home as stress-free as possible

Moving into a new home is incredibly stressful for the majority of us, but it doesn’t have to be. This guide will walk you through the entire process and advise you on how to make your move as stress-free as possible. Why not print this article and use it as a checklist? Here’s to the easiest move you’ve ever had!

Prepare for the move at least a month in advance

Much of the stress that is associated with moving is feeling like you’ve left everything to the last minute. You can eliminate most of this angst by getting the process started early and by spreading out the work over several weeks.

  • An audit of your home should be done a month or so in advance. Sort through your entire house from top to bottom and decide which of your possessions you’d like to keep, donate or throw away (hint: be ruthless!)
  • If you plan on using one, begin to source your quotes for a number of different removal companies. Once you’re confident you’ve found the best deal, get yourself booked in. You’ll take great reassurance from knowing that this element of the move is all taken care of.
  • Begin to make your way through your cupboards full of food and only buy new food if you absolutely can’t make do with what you’ve already got in.
  • Keep an eye out for used cardboard boxes that you can get for free from local shops. You’ll also want to purchase a couple of rolls of industrial tape.
  • Arrange transportation for your pets, if necessary. If you’re moving abroad you will need to get a Pet Passport.
  • Create a floor plan for your new home and assign a number to each room. Later you can label boxes with the corresponding number to keep everything organized.

A couple of weeks leading up to your move…

  • Start packing items that you won’t need between now and moving day. Label the boxes with their assigned number and set them aside.
  • Request a final bill from your utility providers and give them a forwarding address to send the last bill to. You should also notify your bank, post office etc of your change of address.
  • Transfer plants to containers more suitable for moving. Clean out decorative pots and pack them.
  • Clear and pack items from shelves, wall hangings and curtain rods as well as all other decorations from around the house.
  • If you’re taking it with you, defrost the freezer several days prior to the move. Drain water from fountains and any other items that carry water and give them a few days to dry out.
  • Set aside the items you’ll need for moving day and begin packing everything else. Try to keep boxes with corresponding numbers together.
  • Disassemble furniture the night before moving. Keep all screws and tools packed together and labelled correctly.

Moving Day

  • Provide directions and a spare key for your new home to removals staff and give them a copy of the numbered floor plan you created.
  • Do one final check of your home to make sure nothing gets left behind. Turn off any necessary utilities. Give your key to the landlord or estate agent.

Enjoy your new home!

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Clearing out your new home
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Clearing out your new home

Whether you’re on the verge of moving, or you’ve arrived at your new home to find your posessions won’t all fit in your new cupboards, the upheaval of relocating can be the perfect catylist for a good old clearout. Clutter accumulates over the years, and in the process of moving, you’re likely to stumble across a world of hidden treasures and ‘tat’, making it the perfect time to have a declutter.

1. Clothing

No matter how many new items of clothing we buy, it always seems to be the case that old clothes are stored away. Whilst they might come in handy once in a blue moon when you to paint, for the most part, they’re just taking up unnecessary space. Whilst it might seem rash to throw away old items immediately, it saves them from handing in the back of wardrobes unnoticed. If they aren’t going to be worn, now is the time to get rid, and use your home move as a chance to really build up your wardrobe using items you actually will wear.

2. Odd-jobs drawer

We’re all guilty of this, and all houses have them; whether it is brimming with a collection of jumbled keys for old lost padlocks, that old phone charger for a Nokia 3310, or an assortment of local takeaway menus. The majority of the items in the ‘junk’ draw can be thrown away, and although it is handy to have a place to store keys and pens and other small items, make sure that everything you keep in there is usable.

3. Documents

Old bank statements, receipts and bills often carry an air of importance, meaning we feel they require storing on the off chance they’re needed for admin purposes. However, with online banking now commonplace, many of us don’t even need the hard copy statement delivering to us anymore. Whilst some documents are required for the purposes of tax for a number of years, it’s likely that most documentation can be shredded prior to your move. Don’t simply throw them in the bin, as documents containing bank details, or even your name and address need to be destroyed.

4. Spare bedding or towels

Living in a home, you’ll often replace items such as bedding and towels, however even though we buy in new items, it is often the case that we hoard to old ones rather than binning them. It’s likely that you have your best bedding in use most of the time, with a spare sat in a cupboard that is used from time to time. This is all you really need, and if you’ve got a third and fourth string set packed away on the off chance they’re needed then you need to have a clear out. Before the big move, ask yourself, when are you intending on using it? If you can’t envisage them being used in the next 6 months they ought to be left behind.

5. Outdated Technology

Whilst retro might be cool, and there are cases (like vinyl records) where an outdated technology enjoys somewhat of a renaissance, the chances of VHS videos, Gameboys and old PlayStation games becoming popular again are relatively slim. In many households, old electronics are thrown up into the loft and once out of sight, will probably remain up there until you move. With wires and chargers everywhere, your best bet it to throw them away, as the chances of their value increasing are relatively slim.

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When should I plan my move?

When should I plan my move?

No matter what day, week or month you decide to make your move, relocating is a stressful experience for all those who are involved. If you’re currently in the midst of a transition into your very first home, you might feel lost, so in order to allow yourself the best possible transition, timing is a key factor to consider in your plans. In order to help you with your move, we’ve put together a few tips, to help ensure you experience as smooth a transition as possible into your very first home.

Time of The Day

Moving house can be a very time-enduring process, particularly if you’re moving a considerable distance. Therefore, when it comes to the best time of day for you to begin your move, the earlier the better. By moving at the crack of dawn, you allow yourself more time to complete your move, unpack and settle into your new home.

Mid-Week

The majority of people moving house tend to do so on weekends. Whilst weekends are more conveniently suited for your working hours, it also means that moving companies are at their busiest time of the week. Therefore, in order to allow yourself the most available resources with the most available amount of time, it’s advised to make your move between Monday – Thursday. This allows you to relax and not feel any pressure from outside influences.

Seasons

Moving house in the cold winter months may not appear to be the most appealing time of year. However, this also means that very few people decide to make their move during the colder seasons. Therefore, this allows you to have full focus of your moving companies to suit your needs and still be settled into your home for the New Year.

Holidays

Statistics show that it’s best not to move house around busy periods of the year, such as Christmas and New Years. Moving house around the holiday period is often more expensive and rushed. Due to the harsh weather conditions there is also a higher likelihood of damages. Therefore, in order to make your move more beneficial to you, you will find that it is best to move during late spring to early summer.

Children

Timing is not the only factor to consider when moving house. Moving is a stressful experience, perhaps even more so when children are involved. However, in order to move at the most convenient time to suit your children as well as yourself, early summer appears to be the best. With six weeks of school holidays, your children are given the time they need in order to settle into their new home and neighbourhood with little distractions or interruptions.

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An easy breakdown of the home buying process
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An easy breakdown of the home buying process

The house buying process can be a complicated and hugely time consuming process. If you’re juggling it with your full time jobs and family commitments, it’s not hard to see why people begin to feel the stress. Whilst we can’t lighten the workload for you, we can give you a helping hand when it comes to understanding the whole process. If the strain of starting the home moving process is starting to feel like a burden, here is our simplification of the home buying process.

Get prepared

House buying is a big life decision, so it’s important that you don’t head into the process without doing a reasonable amount of research. Getting an understanding and background knowledge will be a big aid, and make the process of home buying much more straight forward. As with most things, having a greater understanding will allow you to make a more informed decision further down the line.

Find your mortgage

A crucial factor when buying a home is to ensure you get a mortgage that is well suited to your financial situation. Again, this will involve copious amounts of research and homework. If you’re unsure what types of mortgage are out there, it’s worth looking into, and getting the facts straight in your head before going out into the market.

Place your offer

Once you’ve got your mortgage lined up, viewed homes and are now ready to proceed, it’s time to put in an offer on what you want to be your new home. If you’re a first time buyer, you’ll have less constraints, as you won’t have an existing home up for sale slowing you down. Usually, you’ll put your offer in through your estate agent, as they will help your deal go through as smoothly as possible.

Source your solicitor

Now for the legal aspects, you’ll need to get yourself sorted with a solicitor, in order to handle the paperwork surrounding your impending move. It’s important that the finer details of your move are scrutinised ahead of signing your papers, so having a trusted solicitor on your side is an important addition.

Get it surveyed

Another crucial step is to ensure that you arrange for a survey of your new property to be carried out, to make sure that your new home has been thoroughly checked over and is valued at the price you’re paying. There are a number of different surveys and reports which can be carried out, from the cheaper condition report to the most comprehensive option of a structural survey.

Exchange contracts

Once your solicitor and surveyor are happy, it’s time to sign the contract and move ahead with the purchase. It’s at this point you’ll have to start the expenditure, as you’ll usually have to lay down 10% of the total price as a deposit. It’s important to know that once you put down the deposit, you’re committed to the sale, meaning that if circumstances change any you need to pull out of the deal, you’ll likely lose your deposit.

Finalise it

Upon completion, the property finally becomes yours. It’s time for you to get your keys and the deed to your first home. The completion of your purchase means you’ll now have bills to pay; the 90% of your home which you’re yet to pay for is transferred from your mortgage lender to your legal representative, and then on to the seller’s representative.

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Internet preparations for your new home
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Internet preparations for your new home

Moving home is never simple. From packing your belongings up, to letting your utility providers know about your new address, the numerous tasks involved in moving into a new home can quickly become very stressful if you don’t plan plenty in advance. Luckily, informing your internet service provider when moving and setting up your Internet connection at your new home is a surprisingly simple process.  Here, we give our tips on preparing for the move in a way that will make the whole process as simple as possible.

Are you satisfied with your broadband provider

Sorting utilities and services such as your internet during a home move can be a pain, however it also provides an opportunity to cut ties with your existing provider and hunt out a more cost effective or high performance service.

It’s often the case when settled in a home that, even when our service isn’t up to scratch, we simply ‘can’t be bothered’ with the hassle of doing anything about it. If you’re dissatisfied with your current broadband provider, and have constantly put it off, now is your ideal opportunity to compare the best deals on the market.

Broadband providers typically sign you into a 12 or 18 month contract when your service begins. If you change providers while moving house, you may be required to pay an early termination fee to your broadband provider. However, these fees have recently been capped, meaning you probably won’t end up facing a steep bill.

Moving fees

Even if you choose to stay with your current broadband provider, and simply want to transfer your service to a new address, you could still end up being charged a moving fee. Despite the threat of this, fees like these can often be avoided if you sign a long-term contract for 12 to 18 months of service prior to your big move. It’s worthgetting in touch with your provider beforehand to sort out finer details such as this, as the threat of you moving will, from time to time, lead to them providing you a better deal.

It’s also vital that you plan ahead and contact your service provider in advance as many services will need a few weeks of notice, depending on their company policy. Whilst it’s important to check your situation when it comes to moving fees, it’s definitely something that you need to overly worry about, as many companies won’t charge any more than £20 – £30.

What you’ll need

Decided that you’re happy with your service and simply want to switch it to your new address? It’s simple to make the move, and all you’ll need are a few key pieces of information. As we mentioned previously, give your provider plenty of notice, allowing around a month to be on the safe side, and make sure that you have your account information handy, including your account number, your new address, moving date and MAC code.

 

If you’re looking to move and are in search of your dream first home, check out what Keepmoat have to offer.

CC image via www.pexels.com

 

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The Pursuit of Happiness: Searching for the perfect first home.
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The Pursuit of Happiness: Searching for the perfect first home.

House hunting is a tough game. House after house, viewing after viewing and offer after offer – it can easily become a mind numbing cycle.

As a first time buyer, the pursuit of your perfect home can be daunting. There are tonnes of ‘how to’s’ and ‘top tip’s’ flooding the internet, but not to worry, we can lead you through the maze!

The first thing that needs to be said is try not to get too bogged down on looks. ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover’, ‘looks are deceiving’, ‘beauty is only skin deep’, we’ve all heard the sayings, but it’s true. Houses can be hiding secrets behind those perfectly painted walls; mould, damp… the list goes on. Falling in love with a home too soon can be a bad idea too; not only could the estate agent get a whiff and make you pay for it, but you could be setting yourself on the path for heartbreak. Ultimately, they do say location is everything. It’s always worth really grilling the estate agent to make sure you’re in the safe zone.

Speaking about the safe zone, have you really researched the area fully? Are crime rates low? A great website for this is crime-statistics.co.uk, it only takes a few moments to pop in the postcode and find out exactly what the surrounding areas are like. Asking neighbours or visiting at a different time of day is always a good idea to get a true feel for the area. Have you thought about what’s nearby? Trekking a mile for a pint of milk isn’t exactly ideal. Go for a look around to get a feel for the area, you might just find the perfect reason to stay!

So what if it’s a bit of a ‘fixer-upper’? No problem, just make sure don’t get yourself in too deep. If you’re a dab hand at DIY and have some cash left in your budget, turning that house into a home yourself is a great idea. But if you’re no good at this, a new build could be right up your street! This is where buying a newly built property can be a good idea.

So whether this is your first buy or not, just enjoy the hunt. It’s about the pursuit of a happy home after all.

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5 Ways to Prepare Your Home For Sale
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5 Ways to Prepare Your Home For Sale

When selling your home, it’s tough to know what compels buyers to take a liking to your house, let alone love your house enough to place a bid. Is it something as simple as the feel given off by your colour scheme,  the exterior vision your home exudes,  or even the raw potential of the space as a whole.  It’s impossible to know what will wow a buyer, especially when people have such different and ranging tastes. There are a few questions that creep into the mind of every homeowner when they decide to sell a home, and with so many doubts flying around your head, it can be tough to know that you’re concentrating on the right things when sprucing your home up to impress potential buyers. If you’re wanting to give it a go yourself, without the help of a home staging professional planner, we’re here to give you guidance.

 

CHECK OUT SOME OTHER TIPS:

Re-paint the walls with neutral colors
You may love the individuality of your pink walls and your kids may be crazy about green, but when it comes to buyers, it helps if they’re able to block out the individual style of the current owner and imagine what they’d love the home to look like. This is made abundently easier if  you utilise neutral tones, so give them a quick lick of paint, touch up any areas that are in need, and make the most of tans and whites.

Remove personal items
As mentioned above, it’s important to let your buyers feel what the home would be like for them. Buyers must be able to envision themselves into your home. So it’s better to remove everything that’s too personal like your personal photographs and individual sentimental posessions.

Have Proper Lighting
It’s show time, so make your home as enticing as possible through use of lighting. Open up the window areas and ensure you aren’t blocking out natural light.  Add floor and table lamps to all the areas where lighting is dim to ensure you aren’t leading buyers into a dingy home. Lights make your cheery room look bigger and welcoming.

Go Green
Green is the color of nature and symbolizes the growth, harmony, freshness, and fertility. So, use some potted plants or a few pretty looking buds in a vase to bring some energy into the space. Also, fill out the empty corners of the home. Make sure that plants are healthy.

Organize your closets
When it comes to home selling, storage space is a huge selling point, if your open spaces and storage areas are cluttered and overflowing to the brim, buyers will get the feeling that you don’t have enough space. Make your belongings look more organized and remove all the excess clutter.

It might seem like common sense, but these quick simple jobs can make the world of difference. If you aren’t sure whether your home is ready for a viewing, have a test run with a family member or close friend. They’ll have a fresh mind, meaning they’ll see your home in the same way a buyer would.

 

Author Bio:

This article was produced exclusively for First Home News by Lynelle Thompson, a proffessional blogger and former writer on Interior Design and Home Decor related topics.

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