Top tips to finding your perfect home
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Top tips to finding your perfect home

Buying your first home is a hectic, but exciting time in your life. On one hand, there is nothing like finally taking that prized ownership of your own personal space. On the other hand, it is stressful because in many respects, as buying a home can leave you in a financially tight situation, and provide you with a lot of work. While it isn’t uncommon for homebuyers to make  negotiation errors during the process of buying a home, these mistakes are easily avoidable. If you’re on the hunt for your dream first home, here are out top mistakes that you should avoid.

 

Get it checked

One of the biggest and most serious mistakes that homebuyers can make during the buying process is to opt out of getting a professional to provide a thorough property inspection. When purchasing a home, you’re likely to allocate funds towards remodelling rooms and new furniture. However, without a pre-purchase home inspection, you could find yourself unaware of any number of  structural issues  or deficiencies in the home. You can avoid this issue by hiring a professional to conduct a pre-purchasing home inspection.

 

Pricing

Another common mistake that homebuyers make, especially when purchasing without an estate agent, is that they will easily overpay for a home. While not doing a pre-purchasing home inspection leads to overpaying, so does not reviewing the pricing of homes in the area. Therefore, to make sure you aren’t being overcharged, do some research and review the prices of homes in the area. It will give you an idea of range you should be paying in and give you negotiating power when talking with the seller.

 

Don’t get carried away

Don’t fall into the trap of growing too fond of a property before having a full research and view of properties. Try to stay relatively neutral throughout viewings,  whilst you want to make it clear you have an interest in the home, showing over exuberant enthusiasm for a property during a viewing or the negotiation process can spell trouble. Usually, the seller will notice your feelings and gain the upper hand, which will result in you paying more.

 

Why is it for sale?

One trap that many homebuyers fall into is to not question why the seller has put their home in the market. While in some cases, the seller wants to move elsewhere, it can also be the case that there are other issues. Therefore, in order to protect your investment and add to your negotiating power it is a smart move to ask why the seller has their home on the market.

 

Keep Your Options Open

Sometimes, home sellers notice when a homebuyer is desperate to buy a house. This scenario immediately increases the seller’s power, and reduces your negotiating chances. Also, you do not want to put all your hopes into one home. Thus, when searching through homes, it is best to keep your options open. Look through a number or properties and make a list of your favourites. This will help you keep calm when facing negotiations with a homebuyer and increase the chance that you’ll get the property that you want for a fair price.

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Key information for choosing a removal company
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Key information for choosing a removal company

Moving home is a big step, and likely to be one of the first large scale experiences of your adult life. Such a large event needs plenty of planning, to make sure your move goes through without a hiccup. If you’re unsure what process to go through when looking for a removal company ahead of moving day, here is our guide.

 

BAR

A key starting point is to ensure that your shortlist of candidates are members the British Association of Removers as it shows they’re willing to be held up to a minimum standard. BAR members have minimum standards of conduct for membership which will be in your interests such as legal, licensed vehicles, protection for your deposit and arbitration or free conciliation and in the unlikely event something goes wrong. Don’t run the risk and hire someone cheaper that isn’t going to leave you fully covered.

BAR membership means that removers should pride themselves on customer experience, so firms that don’t invest in holding themselves to high standards probably also lack the funds to invest in their vehicles. Poorly maintained, unlicensed or unsuitable vans are not only a hazard on the journey, but will not be a comfortable environment for your possessions.

They might seem like the cheap and cheerful option, but you’re opening yourself up to a whole world of potential disasters if you opt for the smaller, ‘man in a white van’ firms.

 

What do you need to know when choosing?

It’s important when researching firms to ensure you have all the information you require to make an informed decision. If you’re unsure what details you need to know, check out these key questions.

  • Insurance is key – make sure you know level and type of insurance cover is offered
  • As mentioned above, cover yourself by going with a BAR member
  • Check out the history of the company to make sure everything is in order.
  • With regards to your move, get timings, crew numbers etc.

These are the key questions that will give you a good feel for the company, however it’s also important that you use common sense to make an informed decision. The most important piece of advice is often to make sure that you feel reassured that the company will deal with your move effectively and efficiently.

 

Timings

We understand that with full time jobs, children to look after and other commitments, it can be tough to find time outside of the weekends in which you can carry out your move. However, if possible, avoid moving on a weekend – it’s a premium time to move and prices are costed accordingly, meaning that if you can carry out your move through the week, it will save you financially.


Preperations

You’ll likely think that the abundance of possessions in your home will turn your removal into a huge project, however over the years, you’re likely to have build up quite a collection of clutter and rubbish in your home. Use the move as a fresh start, it should provide you with an opportunity to have a major de-clutter and throw stuff away that you won’t require in your new home.

Do some pre, arranging, even if you do have a removal crew sorting everything on the day. If you’re boxing up yourself, make sure you do it in a logical order, packing like items together.

Finally, don’t forget to be thorough in areas used for storage, like garages, lofts and sheds. You’re likely to spend less time emptying them than you are indoors inside your home, so just make sure you’re vigilant in all areas and don’t miss anything vital. Don’t forget the loft and the shed – all sorts of horrors might be lurking for the unwary there.

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Moving home the smart way

Moving home the smart way

You’ve found the perfect new property for you and your family and have taken the plunge and made your purchase, however don’t be fooled that the hardest part is over. While it’s definitely true that you have done a lot, the truth is that you still have a job on your hands, which often turns out to be one of the most stressful events involved in a move- the day of relocation itself.

We aren’t looking to put you off, but be prepared; there are a number of things that can go wrong if you haven’t made thorough plans. There are so many hidden dangers that could flare up over the coming weeks of your move, so with that in mind, here are some ways to get your move heading in the right direction.

Put everything down on paper

You may be impressively organized, and able to juggle copious amounts of information in your head; but don’t run the risk of forgetting something. When moving, you simply must put everything down on paper.

Make sure you’re scrupulously organised, as you’ll need to figure out details such as how much time you have, how many days you will need to move and when your new furniture is being delivered. You need to measure everything in your new place, checking what you can and cannot move.

Hire movers

Many people believe that hiring movers is a simple waste of money. How difficult can it be to move a fridge, a few chairs, a table and a sofa? When it comes to actually carrying out the moving process, you’ll find it incredibly hectic, and hiring removal assistance could prove to be a god send.

When you hire professional movers, you may be paying them but they’ll be doing a great service to and for you. Before you see those guys in action, you’ll have no idea how incredibly  efficient and quick they are. Of course, you’ll want to hire a reputable moving firm who boast a reasonable amount of experience, along with the highest quality packaging supplies.

Decorate before you move

One of the best things about the empty space that you’ll be moving into (unless you rented something that was already furnished) is that you can do pretty much everything you’d like in your new space. The smart thing to do is to decorate before you move in. There is nothing clumsier and less comfortable than decorating around the boxes that you have already brought in and odd pieces of furniture lying around our new place.

Decorating your new place when it is empty will also give you a much clearer picture of what you will be able to do with the choice of colours, the details and the new furnishings that you will most probably need and want to buy.

Above everything else, it is absolutely essential that you keep your cool and that you absorb all the problems that will inevitably crop up at some point. Make sure you don’t lose your head and remember that this is, after all, a positive and exciting time in your life.

If you’ve recently moved and can impart some top tips and handy knowledge on your fellow readers, we’d love for you to get in touch. Just drop us a comment below.

 

 

Photo Credit: CC image sourced via en.wikipedia.org

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The home buying process explained
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The home buying process explained

If you’re looking to purchase your first home, it’s a daunting time. The home buying process can be complicated, so heading into it with no prior knowledge is scary. In order to relieve the worry, we’re here to provide a definite guide to the process, perfect for those taking the plunge for the first time.

Prepare yourself

Buying your first home is a huge life decision, so it’s important that you don’t head into the process without having done plenty of research for yourself. Getting yourself that background knowledge will really help, 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.

Get the right mortgage

One of the most important factors when buying a home is to ensure you get a mortgage that suits your financial and living 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.

Make 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

Sort your paperwork

Next up, you’ll need to get your solicitor 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.

Carry out a survey

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.

Complete the deal

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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Sorting your council tax ahead of moving house
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Sorting your council tax ahead of moving house

When moving home, as we’ve mentioned previously, you’ll have a lot on your plate, particularly when it comes to informing your local authorities and utility suppliers. However what many people struggle to understand is the way in which you’ll need to organise your council tax when moving.

If you’re well prepared, and plan plenty in advance, then the process of paying your existing council tax requirements and closing the account associated with your old home is a reasonably simple process.

Getting in touch

If you’re moving locally and your new home is within the same local constituency, then it might be as simple as switching your old address for your new one. If your new home isn’t located within the same district, setting up your new account simply requires you to make a quick and easy call to your new council and make sure they’re well aware of your new address.

Online

You can even notify them of your change of address online. All you need to do is search for your local authority’s website and find the change of address form in the section of the website that is focused on Residential matters. Obviously, it’s crucial to know that your old council will continue charging you until they’re notified that you’ve left the area. Avoid paying more council tax than you need to by informing them of your moving date ahead of time.

Timescale

This is the reason you don’t want to leave this task until the last minute, as it can take several weeks for your old council tax account to be closed. It depends entirely on the processing queue at your local council, however it makes sense to ‘get your house in order’ ahead of your move. Avoid paying any bills you receive for at least four weeks following your account closure to make sure you don’t overpay. If you’ve overpaid your council tax account, your local council can transfer the credit to the account for your new home. Alternatively, your balance can be refunded and used to pay the council tax at your new property.

What information do I need to provide?

It’s important to make sure you have all relevant details when carrying out this process. You’ll need to provide detailed information on your account and living situation in order to close your council tax account. In order to close your existing council tax account, you may need to provide the following information.

What will my new council tax be?

Council tax is divided into eight bands, from the cheapest A band, to the most expensive homes, which fall into the H band. Similarly to stamp duty, it all relates to the size of your home, so it’s worth bearing in mind that, should you move from a smaller premises to a larger dwelling, your council tax bill will probably increase.

Photo credit: CC image via Gary & Anna Sattler

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Extra fees to be aware of when moving home
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Extra fees to be aware of when moving home

When planning a home move, it can be a costly period of time. With home buying fees and organising your removals, it can take a big chunk of both your budget, and your savings. If you have an impending move, and you have a tight budget to stick to, you don’t want to under cost the value of the jobs at hand, and end up being stung by additional fees. In order to prepare for your move, here is what to look out for.

Legal fees

When buying a new home, it’s likely you’ll need to hire a solicitor or licensed conveyancer to handle the legal areas associated with the move. It’s important that for aspects such as transfer of ownership/funds that they’re done by a professional. Legal fees typically cost anything between £500 and £1,000. It’s easy enough to find the right person or organisation for you, and often can come down to a good word-of-mouth referral.

Stamp duty

Most homebuyers have to pay Stamp Duty Land Tax on home or land purchases over a certain value amount. If you buy property for more than £125,000, you pay Stamp Duty Land Tax of between 1% and 7% on the whole purchase price.  If you’re unaware, Stamp Duty is charged at different rates according to the price of the home or land. The rates rise incrementally in brackets, which are set by the government and can be found online.

Valuation/survey

Before being approved a mortgage, it’s highly likely that your bank or lender will insist a valuation is carried out on your new home to ensure that  it’s worth the price you’re willing to pay, giving peace of mind to both yourself and the lender that  the property is a reasonably sound purchase. As valuations are the cheapest type of survey, you may want to spend a little more and have a more thorough check carried out. Whilst they might be a more expensive option, they do provide further insight into any potential problems a home may have.

Buildings insurance

Insurance is hugely important, especially when it comes to a property, and it will be required as a mortgage condition in most cases. Obviously, the policy will need to take effect from the date of exchange (when you take possession of your new home).

Contents insurance

Another piece of important insurance you’ll require is for your home contents. It’s important that both old and new items are covered at your new address, and means that should any disaster strike, your belongings won’t be in jeopardy.

Removal firm/van hire

One expense that is an optional one, is that associated with hiring removal services for your big move day. When it comes to shifting your belongings, the budget option here is to do the removals yourself, in which case the only real expense you’ll encounter is van hire and fuel costs. However, if you’re not so keen on the idea of taking all the responsibility in your hands, and want the experts in to take control of the situation, a removal firm should be more than willing to accommodate most of your needs.

Utilities

Whilst you might get away without doing this through the summer, in winter, you want to avoid moving into a cold, dark home. To make sure your new house is habitable upon arrival, make sure that the gas and electricity is connected before you move in. The seller will probably have informed the utilities companies of a change of ownership, but it’s important to remember that you’re not in any way obliged to stay with the same providers.

Council tax

This one is sadly unavoidable, with this payment going towards local council services such as  your rubbish collection, policing and other municipal costs. It’s divided into eight bands, from the cheapest A band, to the most expensive homes, which fall into the H band. Similarly to stamp duty, it all relates to the size of your home, so it’s worth bearing in mind that, should you move from a smaller premises to a larger dwelling, your council tax bill will probably increase.

 

Image credit: CC image via Alan Cleaver from flickr.

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Top tips for moving in winter
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Top tips for moving in winter

Moving home at any point of the year can be a stressful time, however moving over the coming months, as we move towards winter, can throw up a range of tougher problems.

Organisation when moving is key, however winter weather conditions can wreak havoc with any pre-made plans. If you’re planning to move in the heart of winter, removal vans can struggle to cope with the icy roads and conditions. If it’s through the late autumn period, you’ll likely have heavy downpours of rain to contend with, and even if it does stay dry on the day of the move, you may have to work through gusting winds, which may cause potential issues when moving furniture.

Back-up plan

If the weather is against you on moving day, make sure you have a backup plan organised, just in case. Removal vans can find it hard to transport heavy loads if there are heavily flooded or snowy roads to navigate. The last thing you want to do is get stranded mid-move, especially if you’re in the middle of a lengthy journey. Make sure you plan well ahead and are able to deal with every eventuality, should the worst strike.

Get your car serviced.

Ahead of the impending move, make sure that your car is running well and has been recently checked over or serviced. This is especially important if you’re travelling a long distance to your new home. The last thing you want to happen is for your journey to be interrupted by a breakdown, leaving you stranded between homes in the cold weather.

Dress warm and have extra clothes in the car

It’s highly likely that, in preparation for your move,  you’re going to be packing  plenty in advance. When it comes to packing your clothes, make sure you leave enough unpacked to cover every eventuality, come moving day.

Set off early

The winter weather and early nights mean that the sooner you can get out on the road, the better. No one wants to be arriving at their final destination late at night, with the dark evenings and cold weather to contend with; so ensuring you’re well organised early in the day is essential.

Take supplies

You might have a well organised plan, with your belongings being transported ahead of you. Make sure that in your car, as you follow in tow, you have all the supplies you need, from maps and navigation systems (in case you get lost), to snacks and food if you’re taking a particularly long journey. Keep all your important documents in a file and ensure it’s in your vehicle, should it be required at any point during the move.

Make sure you have heating and lights.

Ensure that once you arrive at your new home, you have the basics up and running. The cold and dark nature of winter means your new home is unlikely to seem welcoming upon arrival, however having a prior recce and ensuring that your new home has both heating and lights ready for your arrival will help you to immediately settle in.

Quieter season

Despite having to deal with the weather, moving in winter does have positives. The winter season might not seem like an ideal time to be up-heaving your life, but the season does also have a few benefits, as the market is fairly quiet and the reduction in demand can lead to financial savings.

Be friendly with your movers

For the duration of day, the tough aspects of your move will be handled by your removal men; meaning it’s important you keep them on your side. Treat them as an extension to your family for the day, as their help and assistance will make your move much easier. From making coffees in the cold to keep them warm, to offering them food and relief in your new home upon arrival, it’s likely that the more generously you treat them, the happier they will be to carry out all the little tasks that make a move niggly.

Have you experienced a winter move before? If so, we want to hear from you! Make sure you comment below with your top tips, and pieces of advice.

Image credit: Commons image sourced from en.wikipedia.org

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Key contacts for an impending home move
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Key contacts for an impending home move

The home moving period is a hectic and busy time, and for many, there will be things which are forgotten or cast aside in the hectic preceding months. In this article, we will examine the key contacts required when moving home, looking into contacting utility suppliers, phone and broadband suppliers, and even local government establishments.

Services
Prior to your move, it’s important to make sure that all your service providers are informed that you’ll no longer be living at your current address. You don’t want to continue being billed for services you’re no longer utilising after having moved, so make sure companies such as your gas, electricity and water providers are all informed of your impending move. Also, your telephone, broadband and satellite TV provider may be able to transfer your information to your new home, given a reasonable amount of notice. If you have a satellite provider, such as Sky, make sure you take all your equipment to your new home (with the exception of your satellite dish) to make sure your programmes and channels move with you.

Finance
Financial security is something which plays an important role throughout life, so at a time of mass upheaval in your life, it’s important to ensure your finances are well in hand.  Everyone has worries about financial security, so it is hugely important that all your bank and credit card companies are kept in the loop regarding your move. The last thing you want upon arriving at your new address is for key information and correspondence falling into the wrong hands. To make sure that all information sensitive post reaches you, the Post Office offer an easy to set up service for the redirection of all mail addressed to your old residence.

Also falling under the finance category, insurance companies will all require to know your change of address. Home insurance is crucial and will need to be transferred to your new address, so be sure to get in touch with your providers in plenty of time.

Authorities
It’s important to contact all authorities, such as the DVLA, who need to be informed of your move for any issues that may crop up concerning your driving licence. Other possible authorities you’ll need to get in touch with could be HM Revenue and Customs, the local authorities

Healthcare
Moving house also means a change in where you go for your healthcare. Your dentist and doctor will need to be contacted, and then once you settle in to your new home, you’ll need to find your new local doctors and dentist. Make sure you don’t forget, because the last thing you need the next time you fall ill is to have no local GP to visit.

Do you have some top tips for informing key contacts of your recent move? If so, drop your top pieces of advice into the comments section below.

 

CC image used courtesy of Lauren.

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Packing tips ahead of moving house
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Packing tips ahead of moving house

Moving house is always hard. Whether it’s organising belongings, trying to coordinate removal men, or even just getting your keys for the front door, moving day is up there with one of the most stressful days in anybody’s diary. Here are our top tips for making sure that packing for the big day is as easy and stress free as possible.

Have a clear out before you start

There is no point packing, moving and then unpacking lots of old belongings that you never use and don’t have space for. Take on one room at a time and throw out everything you’ve not used and no longer need. Not only will it make your packing a lot easier and lighter but it will help when getting everything into your new home. Be prepared Make sure you have enough supplies well before you start packing. You will always need more boxes, more tape and more bubble wrap, so being prepared always saves time in the end.

Make lists

Know where everything is at all times. Yes, it takes time at first but when you need to access something, its a lot easier and saves a lot of time to just look at a list and know exactly which box it is in. Numbering each box and having a list of what’s inside  and where it should be going also makes unpacking in your new home much easier.

Don’t throw out your newspapers

This is a cheap trick to save you the expense of buying bubble wrap. Old newspapers can be used in a similar way to bubble wrap, but are a lot cheaper. Use them to protect plates, glasses, vases etc.

Pack like for like

It makes it easier when unpacking if all books are in the one box and all shoes are in another. Also try not to over pack each box as it causes them to break and then you’re left in even more of a mess.

Have a schedule

It doesn’t have to be strict and you don’t have to stick exactly to it, but knowing what time and where you have to pick up your keys, then what time the removal team are due eases stress tremendously. Always keep contact details close to hand as well just in case there are any timing or location issues.

Have an essentials box/bag/suitcase

Having all the things you will need to hand is much easier than having to sift through all the boxes when you need a cup of tea at the end of the day. Keep things like a change of clothes, batteries, small first aid kit, small tool kit, some cleaning products, a torch and some cutlery and a few plates and cups all close to hand as these are essential to getting you through the first night.

Following these tips will hugely aid your packing process, and although it’s unlikely to make moving your favourite of tasks, it will help ease the stress and help you enjoy the first few moments in your new home.

Have you recently moved? If so, why not give your fellow readers a few tips by leaving your advice in the comments box below.

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Reducing new home clutter through storage
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Reducing new home clutter through storage

It’s often looked upon as a highly unorganised and dysfunctional time, however when moving home, it’s  the perfect opportunity to have a thorough sort through your possessions. Moving your life from one house to another doesn’t mean that you have to move your clutter along with you. Whilst it’s the perfect opportunity to have a good clean out, not all unwanted items need to be thrown away though, as some pieces might just not fit with the style of your home, or could have other sentimental value. Rather than filling your storage space in the new home with items that you don’t need, storage is a great way of retaining items but keeping your house free of tat. Although self storage might seem like the best option, here is our advice on making sure your prized possessions are safe in the hands of professionals.

Insurance

For our storage we comprehensively insure your goods for up to £50,000 as part of the price – it’s that simple. Using self-storage companies, they often expect you to pay further costs to insure your goods. Even if you use a company that allows you to insure your own goods, it’s a pricey process, and before you know it, the cost could go through the roof.

The ‘loft’ analogy

We’re all guilty of it, hoarding items in the loft only to come back across it years later having forgotten it existed. Having peace of mind that all your items are secure and close to hand is something that Robinsons can offer, with nationwide storage locations, you can de-clutter some of the objects you don’t need in your home, whilst keeping them close by should you want to access them at short notice.

Facilities

Each of our storage centres

are security alarmed, making sure that all of your goods are as secure as can be. Each location is also clean, dry and free from pests with regular control checks. Each facility has its own fully automatic fire detection and reporting systems for additional peace of mind.

Accessing your goods

Should you need to access your goods, you are welcome to view or collect items at any time during normal office hours. If you want to remove items from storage, that isn’t a problem, we can even arrange return delivery and unpacking at a time that suits you!

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