, , ,

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

Read more
, , ,

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.

 

Read more
How to make yourself more attractive to lenders

How to make yourself more attractive to lenders

Getting your first mortgage is an exciting yet daunting journey; many people discover that the road to home ownership is more like climbing a mountain than taking a gentle stroll. With obstacles such as large deposits and rising house prices (to name but a few), we’ve compiled some handy advice on how to make yourself, and your situation, more attractive to lenders.

Check your credit
Your credit report is your financial history; the better your score, the more likely your lender will be to give you a mortgage. Improve your chances by checking your credit rating before you apply. Have you missed any payments in the past? Have you gone into your overdraft recently?

Another issue you need to be aware of is your partner’s or ex-partner’s credit score as this can greatly impact your mortgage application.

You can discuss your credit score with your bank or you can use popular websites such as Credit Expert, which will give you a free credit report if you sign up for a trial.

Register to vote
If you’re not already on the electoral role, get on it! Lenders often check it to ensure that you are being truthful about where you currently live and their decisions can be greatly impacted if you have yet to register. To sign on to the electoral role, or for more information, simply go to Gov UK.

How is your income?
How much you earn is extremely crucial to lenders as they use multiples of your total income (and joint income) to decide on the maximum that they will lend. It isn’t just about having a higher salary; you also need to ensure that you keep all important documents such as benefits letters or payslips (lenders usually ask for at least three to six months’ worth), as these will be analysed during the decision making process. Self-employed? You will need to provide three years’ worth of accounts instead. Have a lower income? There are plenty of schemes that may help you get on the ladder such as the new Help to Buy ISAs.

Stick with your work
Have you had several jobs for the past few years, or are you dreaming or a new career? While going through the mortgage process it’s best to put those plans on hold and stick with your current job (even if you hate it!). Not only do lenders need a regular amount of payslips, it is important for them to see that you are consistent with your income.

Clear your debts
Essentially, with a mortgage, you are about to commit to one of the largest debts of your life. Therefore, it is sensible to try and lose any outstanding debts that you may have. Lenders use any current debts, along with income and outgoings, to provide you with the maximum total that they can offer you. Although this might mean your dream of home ownership has to be pushed back a year or two, it will definitely benefit you in the long term.

 

Have you found that you have struggled to be accepted for a mortgage?  Let us know any other tips you found were useful for making the process a lot easier.

Image CreditWikimedia

Read more
, , , , ,

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

Read more
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.

Read more
Invigorating spring and summer colour schemes for your home

Invigorating spring and summer colour schemes for your home

It’s your home, and everyone loves the personal touch that decorating brings to your room. This summer, it’s all about the style statement, so don’t whimper out and opt for bland colours, take one of these striking colour palates and incorporate it into your home.

Black and White

It might seem like a simple and classic combination, however done right, the black and white palette adds real depth to a room, especially when utilised with a modern and contemporary twist. From incorporating the style into the wall decoration with a striped design, to adding furniture and decorations that complement the style perfectly, you have a whole heap of options when it comes to this colour palette. Here are some of our favourite room additions with this colour scheme.

Black and White Chevron Rug – Urban Outfitters, £69.

Chevron Lampshade In Black – Not On The High Street, £30

Bossenden Wall Clock – House Of Fraser, £40

Coastal Cool

With the sun baking down, and the mild breeze providing a refreshing cool as it calmly blows over the garden and into your home, you can be forgiven for allowing your mind to wander with daydreams of a beached coastline, with radiant heat beaming down and the cool ocean waves whipping at your toes as you stroll over the perfect white sands. It sounds idyllic, but for most of us, the majority of our summer will be spent at home, so now is the perfect time to implement those elements of coastal cool into your house. It gives your rooms a light, breezy feel and with cool vibrant colours, it provides plenty of energy. Colours to incorporate are vast, but mainly focus on aquatic blues and greens, sandy yellows and natural browns.

MissPrint Home Dashes Cushion – John Lewis, £28

Wooden Frame Tealight Holder – Laura Ashley, £22

The Ascot Rug – The Rug Seller, £75-£359

European Clean

In the summer, there’s not colour that emphasises the warmth quite like a clean crisp white. We see it time and time again in the world of sashion, expecially in the summer. Be it in a light and airy linen shirt for a man, or a striking dress or jeans on a woman, white is a colour that really comes into its own in the warmer months. Although it might not be the most practical of solutions, the colour will provide a refreshing and fresh feel. Use white as a neutral backdrop, and then accessorize with statement complimentary pieces in your favourite colors, or create a monochromatic design by enveloping the room in an all-white palette. Mix and match with tones from the coastal cool selection, to add a real touch of summer to your rooms.

Knitted Pouffe – Etsy, £65

Baby Betty Vases – Brissi, £24

 

This article was provided exclusively to First Home News by Kate Hobbs, who has a passion for home interiors and trends.

Read more
A beginners guide to a clever garden design
, ,

A beginners guide to a clever garden design

Summer is around the corner, however after a winter of abandonment, you might find that your garden looks more like a farmyard than a relaxing spot for you to enjoy the company of guests.  If you need to get your garden into shape this spring, here are some of our landscaping cheats.

How To Make A Garden Seem Bigger

If your garden is on the small side, then you may feel limited in what you can do; however with a few little tricks you can make your garden seem bigger than it actually is. Trimming and hedging those bushy borders or intrusive trees can really help to free up some much needed space, whilst retaining height and texture with foliage and trees can help you to keep your privacy from neighbours. Contrasting warm-coloured flowers in the middle of your garden with cool colours on the border can help to give your garden a real feeling of depth, while clever garden lighting and reflective ornaments can also play their part.

How To Create a Mediterranean Style Garden

Mediterranean gardens are often designed to evoke a real holiday-feel, where a warmer climate and sun-kissed colours are utilised. If you’re looking to incorporate a feel of Europe in your garden, features such as large seating areas and terracotta potted plants take precedent over grassy lawns, which are often hard to maintain in the heat of the Mediterranean sun. Paving stones and pebbles should be sprinkled around large plants pots, while ceramic tiles should be used to add a Moorish colour style. Walls should be whitewashed or painted in an earthy, sandy tone before vine-covered terraces are erected for a shaded dining spot. If space permits there should be different dining areas for a variety of outdoor living, with al fresco dining terraces complimented with simple benches and shaded spots.

How To Create a Cottage-Style Garden

Traditional cottage gardens are full of flowering plants and lush foliage which are planted in a purposefully informal style. Aiming to create a romantic and natural woodland feel, you can have free reign to plant all of your favourite flowers. There are no strict planting patterns or colours or scents to use, as texture, depth and variety are the king of the cottage style. Beautiful flowering archways and stepping stone pathways can lead to hidden garden areas, where a vintage hammock or tree swing are perfect for watching the birds fly overhead. Rustic water buckets and troughs are also great for an added character-feel and can often be found for a good price in an old junk yard or online.

How To Create a Chic and Sleek Garden Retreat

In contrast to a wild cottage garden, a sleek and chic retreat needs clean lines, formal plant designs and minimalist trees. Here, fussy borders are a thing of the past, as are fruit trees, unruly lawns and overgrown hedges. Lawns should be kept to a minimum and must be neat and weed-free at all times, while large flowerbeds should be replaced with sleek rockeries and simple water features. Patios and decking are often used to create a contemporary design, along with cool colours and sculpted trees.

How To Attract Wildlife

You don’t need to have masses of flowers and plants to attract birds and other wildlife into your garden. Even just a few carefully potted plants and hanging baskets can attract birds, insects and beetles into your garden with ease. Plants which offer nectar, pollen, seeds or sap should be prioritised first as these are important food sources for our feathered, furry and flying friends. Digging a pond or installing a bird bath or water feature can also help to create a welcoming habitat for the friends of the natural world.

 

Read more
Five ways the budget affects the first time buyer
, ,

Five ways the budget affects the first time buyer

The last budget has now passed before the 2015 general election and this is the time to gain support for what is promised to be an exciting few weeks in the world of politics. But what does this budget mean for the first time buyer? Below are five reasons why the budget is looking after those looking to get on the property ladder.

  1. Save £200 and the government will put in £50

Under new legislation from Wednesday’s budget, those who are looking to buy their first property now have the added advantage of a £50 government contribution for every £200 saved. The savings will have to be put into an ISA account, with persons aged 16 and over able to join.

  1. Up to £3000 to earn

George Osborne announced that the aspiring first time buyer can be in receipt of up to £3000 providing that they save £12,000. This is a massive help to those that really struggle to save for a deposit. The scheme essentially saves you a quarter of the time that it would of otherwise taken to save for a deposit.

  1. It’s tax free

The ISA account that you will be paying into is also tax free! The savings must of course go towards a deposit, but with the added advantage of not paying tax then you’re able to get to the chance to own your own home even quicker.

  1. The scheme can run alongside help-to-buy

Those of you who have signed up for the help-to-buy or the mortgage guarantee scheme need not fear as this proposal can run alongside the initiative. You will need £1000 to start the scheme and can be used for homes costing up to £450,000 in London and £250,000 outside of the capital.

  1. Anyone can join

The good news is that anyone who does not own a property can join the scheme and open an account. This essentially means that couples wanting to buy their first home can claim up to £6,000 when buying together. Therefore if two people are buying as a couple, they could own their own property twice as quickly as you otherwise could have without the scheme.

Read more
Boring to beautiful homes in 6 simple steps
,

Boring to beautiful homes in 6 simple steps

Your home is not only a place to lay your head, but a reflection of your individuality. Regularly updating the look of your home will help maintain a relaxed and comfortable atmosphere without running the risk of boredom. In order to achieve this, we’ve compiled our six top tips on how to transform your place from being boring into beautiful home, with little cost and minimal effort.

 

Wall Murals

Plain, dull coloured walls in a room can instantly add a sense of monotony when not used creatively. To brighten up lifeless walls around your home, design, create and paint your own mural. By choosing one singular wall as your focus point, adding a mural not only adds a sense of individuality to your room, but also saves on the expense of redecorating. For those of you who are less artistic, wall stickers are available for a quick fix to any room.

 

Storage Solutions

Untitled

Storage space is key when it comes to de-cluttering your home. Not only are storage boxes efficient, but they are also cheap. Store those rarely used belongings under your bed and inside your closet. By moving these items out of sight, focus is shifted on the remaining pieces of furniture in the room, whilst also giving the appearance of larger space. Alternatively, if you prefer to proudly display your collections, invest in some conventional storage shelves and cabinets to place around your home.

 

Accessorise

A patterned duvet is no longer enough to create that homely bedroom feel. By investing in cushions, throws and blankets, you are not only increasing the comfort of your bedroom, but also creating a more relaxed environment. Similarly, invest in contrasting cushions and throws for your living space in order to refresh the look of other rooms around the house.

 

Interior Lighting

light-51068_640

Lighting has a significant effect on the mood and ambiance within any room. Soft lighting creates a relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere, whereas bright, florescent lighting can be harsh. In order to achieve a relaxed atmosphere and sense of style within a room, invest in candles, crystal lampshades and fairy lights. Make sure you also make the most out of the natural light provided.

 

Improve your Exterior

Things-to-Consider-Creating-a-Good-Living-Room-Interior-Design-Nice-View

If the view outside your front room is not overly pleasing on the eye, distract yourself and visitors by making the view inside a more appealing one. With a variety of blinds, curtains and nettings, you can make sure the inside look attractive and stylish, even if the outside does not.

 

Personal Touch

personal

Finally, nothing says home sweet home quite like a display of framed family photographs. By hanging them along the hall, above the mantel piece or across the walls, the faces of your loved ones will brighten up any room within your home.

 

Read more
Home touches for the ultimate spring feel
, ,

Home touches for the ultimate spring feel

We might still be in February, but to the optimistic amongst us, Spring is just around the corner. With the warmer days  hopefully soon arriving on the horizon, despite cold temperatures, the sunshine is just beginning to peek through the clearing clouds. It’s never too early to shake off the misery of winter and implement spring into your home, so with that in mind, here are our top tips for getting an early start on your spring decor.

Kitchen: Cooking with Colour

Many kitchens sport drab matching walls and a spaghetti stained backsplash. A spot of paint can change that. Choose a paint colour like bright orange, yellow or sky blue for one wall or area. A streak of highlight will renew your faith in spring veggies and freshly baked bread. Take your update to the next level by purchasing a coloured mixing bowl, bright spatula, blender or toaster matching the colour of your freshly painted wall. Guests will appreciate your thought to go the extra step in contrasting your stainless steel accessories with a few coloured ones. Your kitchen is going to pop and you can revel in your mastery after just an hour with the paintbrush.

Bathroom: Appropriate accessories

No matter what colour scheme your bathroom is, throwing away the plastic accessories and updating them with rustic things from around the house will make your room a much more inviting space. Update the toilet paper holder with a wicker basket you’ve been using for random bits and bobs. Grab unused containers and fill them with all your cotton essentials. Take an empty vase and fill with freshly cut flowers or some bright artificial ones to provide a real feel of spring. And the ultimate trick for the ladies, a cake stand is the perfect way to show off and keep your makeup organised for a fuss free morning.

Bedroom: Perfect pillows

Decorate with a few spring coloured throw pillows to get your home completely revamped for the summer days. You can recover the old pillows with your own fabric or buy an entire new set. The bed is the staple item in the bedroom, so find your favourite comforter to snuggle up. Really tired of your old room? Cover the headboard with a bright or striped fabric to give off a plush new bedroom aura.

Living Areas: Recover your drab lamps

The simple task of changing a lamp cover will shake off gloomy winter nights and help you to embrace spring. Choosing one piece to change in a room is a quick fix and you’ll see a noticeable difference. Go to your local homeware store to see what colours could brighten up your room. Don’t assume popping pink is your only choice, but a light yellow, bold colour or fun new print could do your home the favour it’s been seeking. Don’t want to buy an entire new lampshade? Choose from hundreds of fabric choices at the craft store. With scissors, adhesive, a trim piece and a bit of patience, you’ll have yourself a statement new decorative item.

Outdoors: Get in the Garden

Plants bring life to a home in every way. The freezing temperatures of January and February have now passed and it’s time to dig up the weeds and leftover foliage of the winter. Spring geraniums, begonias, and pansies are all great summer plants that will continually bloom throughout the warmer months. Don’t have the luxury of a front garden or a home in the countryside? Make room for a few potted plants inside your home on bookshelves and the mantel piece, as will add a feel of spring to your home, even on the rainy summer days.

Photo Credit: jinkazamah via Compfight cc

Read more
© Copyright 2013 Keepmoat