As we get used to the ‘new normal’, we take a quick look back at how people’s habits dramatically changed during the lockdown—a 2-minute read.

Recently The Sunday Times published a fascinating collection of statistics around how the lives of people in the UK transformed during lockdown.

We’ve broken it down into four sections – Health, wealth, happiness and of course, homes.

These national trends have been reflected across Cheshire.

*Figures are comparing April with March 2020 and sourced from John Lewis and the Office for National Statistics unless stated.


Health

With gyms closed and time on their hands people turned to exercising at home.

300% – The fitness app Strava saw a massive leap in usage.

72% – Rise in sales of sports shoes.

496% – The purchase of gym equipment surged.


Wealth

60% – Drop in withdrawals from ATMs.

£16.2 billion – Rise in household savings in April.

200% – The share price of video conferencing app Zoom rocketed this year. (Up to May 31).


Happiness

To keep our minds off you know what, we turned to:

240% – Board games and jigsaws proved hugely popular with soaring sales.

18% – An increase in online chats recorded by dating app OkCupid.

50% – Increase in sales of rose wine. *Source Majestic Wine.

76% – Rise in sales of sherry. *Source Majestic Wine.


Home

With more time spent at home, people have been turning to DIY and splashing out.

480% – Argos reported selling out of hot tubs, and eBay reported a massive spike in demand.

18% – On May 27 property portal Rightmove recorded its busiest ever day, up 18 per cent on the previous year.

74 % – Of households carried out some form of DIY during April and May according to Comparethemarket.com

At Storeys of Cheshire we’ve seen a surge in interest as the lockdown relaxes and people want to get moving again.

Of course, the most important and heart-breaking statistics during and after lockdown are the number of people who sadly lost their lives to this terrible illness.

Our thoughts are with their families and loved ones.

Thanks for reading, and if we can help you in any way, please get in touch.

Thanks,

Ian

07501723253 / ian@storeysofcheshire.co.uk

Ian
07501723253 / ian@storeysofcheshire.co.uk

Copyright 2021 Storeys

A feelgood Friday property special – A 2-minute read.

Eggs-citing design

Architects have designed a floating chicken farm. Yes, really. The three-storey creation will nestle on a concrete pontoon in a Rotterdam waterway, in The Netherlands. It will house 7,000 hens, an egg processing plant, and a cress farm.

So, what do the neighbours think?

As the chicken farm will go next to an existing floating dairy, we don’t expect them to have any beef with the plans.


Market rebounds

New figures from the Zoopla Property Index show house prices are on an upward trajectory.

Zoopla found house prices were up 2.4% year on year in May. It also predicts property prices in the next quarter will grow by between 2 and 3%.


Micro homes for rough sleepers

Six “micro homes” have been built on church land in Cambridge as part of an innovative project to help the homeless.

As well as getting a roof over their heads, rough sleepers who move into the self-contained pods will receive counselling and support.

The micro-homes, which are easy to relocate, will stay on their present site for three years.

After this time, they could be moved to a new location. Let’s hope we see more being done to help the homeless.


Coastal dreams

New research from Rightmove shows that Whitby in Yorkshire is the most in-demand seaside location in the UK – up in popularity by almost 5% in a year. The figures are based on inquiries for properties available for sale in the area.

Whitley Bay, Tyne and Wear, was second, followed by Troon in Ayrshire, Scotland.

The most expensive seaside destination though remains Sandbanks, in Poole, where the average cost of a home is £1,243,364.


Back to business

Another positive sign that we’re all getting back to normal is that the Scottish housing market will reopen for business next week. Lettings and estate agents can open their doors from Monday (June 29). Viewings can also take place as long as social distancing measures are observed.

This follows the partial reopening of the housing market in Wales. Viewings can now take place at unoccupied Welsh properties. House moves can also go ahead providing the property has been vacant for 72 hours.

The world of property is emerging strongly after the lockdown, which is good news for anyone looking for a new home.

We want the people of Cheshire to know that we are optimistic about the future and determined to continue to serve our community.

Whatever your property needs are, we’re here to help.

Thanks,

Ian

07501723253 / ian@storeysofcheshire.co.uk

Ian
07501723253 / ian@storeysofcheshire.co.uk

Copyright 2021 Storeys

In this three-minute read, we look at how best to prepare your property perfectly for those all-important marketing photographs.

If you’re putting your house or flat on the market for sale or rent, there is one thing you can do to make an immediate impact.

To maximise your chances of securing the best possible deal, spend time preparing your property before it is photographed for promotional purposes.

You wouldn’t turn up to an important job interview wearing an old tracksuit and a stained vest (we hope).

The same rule applies when you market a property. You want to show your home in its most flattering light and reveal its full potential.

This is because first impressions matter.

They have always been important, but in our digital age, they are more influential than ever.

Before arranging viewings, most people pore over property websites and rank their favourites.

They expect to see images of every room and are suspicious if you omit photos of some spaces.

Before they’ve even stepped inside a property, viewers have formed definite opinions about it.

A prospective property must be clean, well presented and clutter-free. If it looks untidy and unkempt in photos, people will assume that:

  • It will be even grottier in real life and need some serious bleaching and scrubbing.
  • The owner is lax on maintenance, and all sorts of unforeseen faults and repair work could be needed.

Here are some top tips to prepare your property for a marketing photo shoot …

Clear the clutter
People want to see the property, not your personal items. That means no washing left out to dry (in the house or on the line outside), no shoes in the hall or phone chargers in sockets.
Every excess item left lying around, including magazines, flyers, and remote controls build up to create an unattractive look.


Let there be light
Open all curtains or blinds to let as much light in as possible. If rooms have connecting doors, open them to make the space look bigger.


Kitchen clear up
Clear all work surfaces and tables of the reminders of domestic life.

Tea towels, cleaning products, dishes, fridge magnets and pet food bowls all need to go.

One bowl that can stay though is the fruit bowl – just make sure you fill it with fresh fruit.


Bathroom blitz
Declare war on mould and any other unsightly stains. Move all shampoos, conditioners, soap items, towels, and mats out of sight. Remove items off the back of doors.

People don’t need to see the dressing gown nana gave you for Christmas (although we’re sure it’s lovely). Also, put your toilet lids down, please.


In the bedroom
Opt for neutral bed linen, and avoid deep reds, purple or browns. If you still have a teddy, we’re okay with it, but put it away for now

Slippers, personal photographs, and exercise equipment should go too.


Children’s bedrooms
Pack clothes and toys away and remove any items that feature your children’s names, along with photographs.


Living areas
Remove TV remotes, games consoles and paperwork. Make sure the TV is switched off. In this room, you can also add something fresh – a vase of colourful flowers looks great.


Front of house
Cut the grass and any hedges/bushes. Remove weeds and bins and invest in a few pot plants to add colour.

If you have a driveway, don’t park your car on it.

And if you’re on good terms with your neighbours ask them (nicely) to move their vehicle too, as often photographers have a wide-angle lens.


Gardens or courtyards
As with the front, get rid of weeds, leaves and any junk that is lying around.

If you would like more advice on how to prepare your property for sale or rent, get in touch with us here at Storeys of Cheshire.

We’re happy to help and promise to keep you firmly in the picture.

Thanks,

Ian
07501723253 / ian@storeysofcheshire.co.uk

Ian
07501723253 / ian@storeysofcheshire.co.uk

Copyright 2021 Storeys

In this three-minute read, we look at what lies ahead for landlords in 2020.

If you had to sum up 2020 in one word (without using “unprecedented” because it has been overused) what would it be?

Weird? Abnormal? Or what about unheard-of? Okay, maybe that is two words, but you catch our drift.

Whatever adjective you choose, it is a safe bet that you will not forget the first six months of 2020 in a hurry.

But as things slowly edge towards getting back to normal, it is worth taking a moment to look beyond the pandemic.

As we gear up for the second half of the year, there are other issues specific to landlords that are also important to consider.

Legislative changes
It is vital you stay on top of any new rules or regulations that might have come into place over the past few months – or indeed may be on the horizon.

The situation with Covid-19 understandably absorbed most of our attention, but in the background, lots of other things have been going on.

Make sure any important legal changes do not slip under your radar.

Breach the law and the excuse “I was busy watching the daily press briefing” will not cut it.

In England and Wales, for example, check up on the changes to Minimum Energy Efficiency Standard (MEES) that were introduced in April. The MEES now applies to all private lets meaning that if your property has an energy rating of F or G you cannot rent it out (the fine for doing so could reach £4,000).

If you want to feel reassured that you have got a handle on all your legal requirements, get in touch with us. It is our job to know when new guidance is published and when laws are introduced.


Tax changes
A change which came into effect in April while we were all adjusting to life in lockdown relates to changes to tax relief.

These changes have been phased in over several years, but the final stage kicked in on April 6. Landlords will now receive a tax credit based on 20% of mortgage interest payments.

This is different to a few years ago when they could deduct their mortgage interest from rental income before calculating tax.

Changing tenant priorities
If you are looking to let a property in the next few months, take time to reassess its major selling points. Do you need to change your marketing strategy?

Whereas, once proximity to public transport may have been the top drawcard, now the sunny courtyard or the large living area could be the real winner.

Even though many people will be returning to offices soon, flexible working is here to stay.

Expect more people to work from home at least some of the time – hence where they live will be more important to them than ever.

So, consider how you can make your property more appealing to someone who works from home.

Are there small changes you could make inside or out that would make it more marketable?

Ask us for advice about trends in Cheshire.

A quick note
Last week the government finally released guidance on the finer details of the Electrical Inspection Condition Reports (EICR) system, which is due to start in England and Wales next month.

This was then promptly withdrawn due to “inconsistencies”. We’re keeping our eyes peeled for a revised version of the guidance any time soon.

Here at, Storeys of Cheshire we want to help landlords get through the rest of 2020 and thrive in 2021 and beyond.

If you have any questions about the rental property market in Cheshire, get in touch.

Thanks,

Ian

07501723253 / ian@storeysofcheshire.co.uk

Ian
07501723253 / ian@storeysofcheshire.co.uk

Copyright 2021 Storeys

In this two-minute read, we look at the similarities between tennis and how we deliver exceptional service for people in Cheshire.

Next Monday the All England Lawn Tennis Championship was set to start.

Wimbledon’s hallowed courts were to welcome the very best players on planet Earth.

But like many of the sporting, social and cultural events across the UK, it’s been cancelled.

While we can’t sit back and watch the likes of Federer, the Williams sisters, Nadal, and the Murray brothers, we can explore why great estate agency shares many things with tennis.

Service – The power and accuracy of a player’s serve can elevate them to the highest heights. And when people instruct us, they can expect a level of service that’s friendly, expertly delivered, and fast. But not as fast as big-serving American Taylor Dent who fired across a record-breaking 148 MPH serve at Wimbledon in 2010.

Rallies – According to the Wimbledon Tennis Lawn Museum, the longest rally in the tournament’s history saw the ball fly over the net 643 times. A tennis rally is not dissimilar to the back, and forth that happens during a property negotiation. We know what it takes to hit a winning shot that seals deals.

Tantrums – John McEnroe had legendary on-court tantrums, and it’s not uncommon for players to vent their frustrations at the umpire/line judge/ball boys and girls / their racquet. And over the 15 years, we’ve been helping people sell and buy property in Cheshire we’ve often been a calming presence and sometimes a shoulder to cry on.

Aces – The most aces in a match at Wimbledon was 113 by John Isner during his 11-hour marathon against Nicolas Mahut. At Storeys of Cheshire we have a team of our own champions who love what they do and the positive difference they can make to our clients’ lives.

Love – We promise you’ll love the experience of us working for you. We can’t say the same for poor John Hartley who was defeated by three sets to zero in just 36 minutes in the 1881 Wimbledon final by William Renshaw.

Game Set & Match – From the warm-up right through to winning the game we’re by your side every step of the way when it comes to your property journey.

Our job is always to ensure our clients get a result they are delighted with.

If you want to know the value of your home in this current market, please feel free to give us a call.

Thanks,

Ian

07501723253 / ian@storeysofcheshire.co.uk

Ian
07501723253 / ian@storeysofcheshire.co.uk

Copyright 2021 Storeys

Clapping for the NHS

We Brits are usually quite reserved, so it was quite something to see so many people out on the streets clapping, cheering, and banging saucepans for the NHS. The first Clap for Carers took place on Thursday, March 26. It went on to become a regular fixture at 8 pm every Thursday for ten weeks.

Pandas finally mate

In early April zookeepers at Ocean Park Zoo, Hong Kong, excitedly revealed that after ten years of “trial and learning”, resident pandas Ying Ying and Le Le had finally mated. The notoriously shy creatures did the deed while the zoo was closed to the public. Staff now hope to hear the pitter-patter of little panda paws later this year.

Captain captivates the nation

Captain Tom Moore won the nation’s heart by walking 100 laps of his garden in mid-April to raise £37 million for the NHS. The Army veteran was later made an honorary Colonel and knighted for his efforts. In a sign of just how much he captured the public’s imagination, the all-around true gent received 150,000 birthday cards when he turned 100 on April 30.

Making something of a situation

We marvelled at the crafty types who rallied during the height of the PPE shortage and made all manner of useful items. A network of sewers called Scrub Hubs created hospital scrubs for NHS staff. Meanwhile, a group of 3D printer owners formed the 3D Crowd and made thousands of face masks for GPs, pharmacists, and paramedics. Blue Peter eat your heart out.

Down to earth volunteers

While we might have been in lockdown, nature wasn’t – leaving a Scottish environmental charity in a quandary. Trees for Life had 100,000 trees, all grown from seed in its Dundreggan nursery, ready for spring planting. But with the workforce out of action, this had to be put on hold, leaving the native plants at risk of drying out and dying. That was until six people volunteered to isolate together on the remote Glenmoriston Estate to look after the trees.

Pressing engagements

We felt for supermarket worker Mandy Hamling, who had to postpone her wedding due to Covid-19. Thankfully when she turned up to work at Asda in Leckwith, Cardiff, on what should have been her wedding day, her colleagues made one almighty fuss of her. They presented her with a veil and sash and cheered her on as she walked down the (supermarket) aisle to Chapel of Love. Nice work guys.

Random act of kindness

Thumbs up to the mystery man who washed the windows of 700 properties in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, for free. Apparently “Scott” wanted to do his bit for the local area by sprucing it up a little bit.

Lockdown trends

To keep busy while staying at home many of us turned to listening to the radio, getting out on our bikes, and doing the odd jigsaw. During the lockdown, listening figures for the BBC rose by 18%, cycling rose by 200% (on weekends), and demand for jigsaw puzzles rose by 43%. Let’s hope the enthusiasm for these activities doesn’t wane too much now that the shops are open, and the Premier League is back in action.

Community spirit

It’s been heartening to see, so many people across the country pull together to help those who are less fortunate. In one small part of north-west London, for example, charity Mutual Aid Willesden provided aid for 1,687 households over 12 weeks. This was delivered by way of parcels of food and other essentials, and books and toys. Fantastic work, but what’s even more amazing is there are thousands of similar groups out there making a difference. That’s true community spirit.

The power of kindness

New research from Harvard University has found that the benefits of volunteering are far-reaching. As well as strengthening communities it helps protect against loneliness, depression, and ill health. A study of 13,000 people over 50 found that those who volunteered for two hours a week had a reduced risk of death, less chance of developing a physical impairment and a greater overall sense of well-being.

The past few months have been unprecedented, and surreal at times, but we’re still standing and positive about the future.

Remember at Storeys of Cheshire we’re here to help and proud to serve the people of Cheshire.

Thanks,

Ian

07501723253 / ian@storeysofcheshire.co.uk

Ian
07501723253 / ian@storeysofcheshire.co.uk

Copyright 2021 Storeys

In this Fast Thursday 90-second read we share eight things you can do to add a bit more joy into your life and your home.

The past three months have been a challenging period for all of us.

With soaring levels of anxiety, uncertainty, and loneliness, it feels as if a lot of joy has been sucked out of our lives.

The good news is there are some simple things we can do to put a fresh spring into our steps and improve the way our homes feel.

Try these ideas.

For you:

Get a good night’s sleep – see the bedroom tip below.

Ditch the tech – switch off your devices for a day and feel the difference it makes.

Drink more water – being dehydrated can negatively affect your mood.

Give back to your community – studies have shown volunteering increases feel-good endorphins.

For your home:

Do some spring cleaning – you’ll feel better for it.

Create an ‘around the home’ to-do list – research has shown that ticking off tasks makes us happier.

Organise your bedroom – A clutter-free space leads to better sleep.

Make your bed – An easy way to bring daily order to your life (unless you have teenagers!).

As with many things in life, it’s often the little things which make the biggest difference.

At Storeys of Cheshire, we’re confident happier times are on the way, and we remain here to help our community and clients.

Thanks for reading.

Ian

07501723253 / ian@storeysofcheshire.co.uk

Ian
07501723253 / ian@storeysofcheshire.co.uk

Copyright 2021 Storeys

In this four-minute read, we look at the eviction ban extension and explain why now, more than ever, landlords need a property partner who has their back.

Whether you’re a veteran landlord with years of experience, or a rookie still finding their feet, now is not the time to be going it alone.

After all, Starsky had Hutch, Cagney had Lacey and Mulder had Scully (yep, we’ve watched lots of old crime shows during lockdown).

Cheshire landlords currently find themselves in a unique situation, one that won’t be back to “normal” soon. This was made clear by the Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick last week when he made two announcements.

Minister’s announcements

You’ve probably heard the first one already: the ban on evictions has been extended in England and Wales by another two months. It will now end on August 23, effectively creating a five-month moratorium on evictions. This will create an almighty backlog for the court system and prove particularly nightmarish for landlords with anti-social tenants, or tenants who are perpetrators of domestic violence (a little bit more on that in a minute).

More guidance is on its way

The second part of Mr Jenrick’s announcement got a lot less attention in the mainstream media but is still enormously relevant to landlords. The government is preparing “guidance” for the courts concerning evictions. This is to ensure that when things get back up and running “rules are in place to assist the court in giving appropriate protections for those who have been particularly affected by coronavirus – including those tenants who have been shielding”.

While we don’t yet know the finer details of this, the government has said it expects landlords to exhaust all other options, including flexible payment plans, before instigating eviction proceedings.

What are the implications of all this? And how a letting agent can help

Now more than ever, you want to avoid the eviction process.

Before Covid-19, the eviction process was stressful and took at least six months. Add in a five-month backlog and an increase in cases due to Covid-19, and it is clear things will become even more drawn out. If you’re having difficulty with a tenant, you want to pursue all other avenues first.

A letting agent can help you with this. They can take the burden off your shoulders and contribute different ideas and strategies to deal with tricky situations. In these unusual times, flexible and agile thinking is the order of the day.

This is no time to wing it

If you’re relatively new to the lettings market, firstly hello and welcome! Secondly, a word of advice now is not the time to wing it.

Even in “normal times” (don’t they seem like a long time ago?) there were plenty of potential pitfalls for landlords around deposits, maintenance, regulations, and tenant checks. But right now, things are more complicated than ever. You must ensure you meet all your legal obligations (the fines are enormous if you don’t) and stay on top of any new announcements. Having an expert to help you do this will save you time and money in the long run.

Old pros are in new territory

If there’s a word that sums up 2020, it’s “unprecedented”. A few others that we won’t forget in a hurry include “lockdown”, “furlough” and “shielding”. Even the most experienced landlords are dealing with a host of issues for the first time. Good letting agents are keeping abreast of the changing situation and talking to industry bodies and colleagues in other parts of the country and sharing best practice. Make your life a little easier and utilise this expertise.

A quick note: As we mentioned above, there is concern about the eviction ban, particularly concerning dealing with anti-social or violent tenants. The National Residential Landlords Association is pushing for these cases to be fast-tracked through the courts. In domestic violence cases, for example, landlords often end a tenancy agreement and start a new one with the victim but without the abuser. Many worry the lengthy delay in dealing with these cases is trapping victims of domestic violence in unsuitable tenancies. We’ll keep you updated on the progress of this campaign.

Here at Storeys of Cheshire, we are committed to supporting our community through these difficult times.

Our experienced team is on hand to help the landlords and tenants of Cheshire.

Thanks for reading.

Ian

07501723253 / ian@storeysofcheshire.co.uk

Ian
07501723253 / ian@storeysofcheshire.co.uk

Copyright 2021 Storeys

In this 2-minute read, we unveil how Covid-19 has changed people’s property priorities.

Space may well have been the final frontier for the crew of the Starship Enterprise in Star Trek, but it’s also made the news recently much closer to home.

According to a BBC report based on data from property portal Rightmove the Covid-19 induced lockdown has changed people’s priorities when it comes to buying or renting a new home.

Indoor and outdoor space has always been a big draw for home searchers. But it’s now top of most people’s lists as the article suggests.

These new desires may end up being temporary, but they do make for interesting reading.

The findings also highlight that due to the rise in home working, having a spare room which can be used as an office or workout area, is increasingly popular with property seekers.

As is good wi-fi, a pet-friendly home and having parks or a natural environment nearby.

Number two on the buyers wish list is having a garden. With many of the 4000 potential movers surveyed saying it was what they desired most from a home.

Flats have dropped out of the top five wanted list for buyers according to Rightmove’s research based on the number of enquiries per property of each type.

Record-Breaking Weather

May was the sunniest UK calendar month on record according to the Met Office.

And it’s possible that all that good weather played a part in another trend the article covered – a rise in demand for properties in coastal areas.

Here’s a list of the most significant changes in home searchers desires:

Access to a garden

A bigger home

Access to a garage

A better home workspace

Live closer to parks

A pet-friendly home

At Storeys of Cheshire we have 15 years of experience working within the Cheshire property market.

We’ve seen its ups and downs and observed the changing trends and priorities of sellers and buyers over the years.

So, if it’s a new home and space you’re looking for we’ll help you boldly go where you haven’t gone before.

Thanks for reading.

Ian

07501723253 / ian@storeysofcheshire.co.uk

Ian
07501723253 / ian@storeysofcheshire.co.uk

Copyright 2021 Storeys

Here’s a two-minute dose of good news to lift your mood.

Pedal Power

The number of Brits cycling has skyrocketed. New official figures reveal a 100% increase in people cycling on weekdays and a whopping 200% rise on weekends during lockdown. The trend has been welcomed by environmentalists, fitness campaigners and bike shops – where sales have gone through the roof. Such is the demand that bike stocks are running low, prompting some to say, “bikes are the new toilet paper”. Not one of our favourite expressions, but we know what they mean.

Toy story

You could be forgiven for thinking the nation’s little people have spent the whole of lockdown glued to screens. But new market analysis from a data collection company called NPD shows strong demand in recent months for old fashioned toys. Demand for puzzles and jigsaws rose by 43%. Meanwhile, outdoor toys, like sandpits and waterslides, were a hit in May when the glorious sunny weather arrived, creating a 31% spike in sales. Building sets like Lego increased by 17%. (Figures cover January 1 to May 23 this year, compared to the same period in 2019).

Ingenious invention

Two resourceful brothers have invented a mobile handwashing unit to help stop the spread of Covid-19 in Ghana. Richard Kwarteng Aning and his brother Jude Osei built the Solar Wash from an old barrel and items bought at their local market. The nifty solar-powered basin has a sensor-triggered soap dispenser (so no need to touch anything) and an alarm to ensure you wash your hands for 25 seconds before rinsing. Solar Wash units will be rolled out to communities in Ghanaian cities so people with limited access to freshwater can keep their hands clean.

Canine companions

A yellow Labrador called K9 Raider is in the running to be named America’s top dog. K9 Raider is a Courtroom Therapy Dog who sits with young victims of serious crime when they give evidence. He provides a calming presence during what can be a traumatic experience. Another frontrunner in the American Humane Hero Dog Awards 2020 is Dolly Pawton, a Labrador who can detect when her owner’s blood pressure or heart rate drop and raise the alarm. Then there’s MacKenzie, a Chihuahua born with a cleft palate who now spends her time cuddling up to young, abandoned animals at a New York shelter.

We want our community in Cheshire to know we are here to help you as life slowly gets back to normal.

We wish you all a safe, happy, and enjoyable weekend.

Thanks,

Ian

07501723253 / ian@storeysofcheshire.co.uk

Ian
07501723253 / ian@storeysofcheshire.co.uk

Copyright 2021 Storeys