In this three-minute read, we look at how you can use your garden to make a staycation feel like you really are getting away from it all.

The last year has left many of us more in need of a holiday than ever. While things will slowly start getting back to normal, there remain plenty of valid reasons that may make you reluctant to travel anytime soon.

The good news is you don’t need to go far. Here are our top tips to make the back garden your next dream destination.

Prepare your staycation area

Think about the type of holiday you are trying to create when considering garden furniture and accessories. If you normally holiday by the sea, buy some deckchairs, or if you are used to a desert island, put up a hammock. Failing that, spread out a picnic blanket.

Recreate a serene spa break

What better way to look after mind, body, and soul? Create a relaxing zone in your garden and indulge in some luxury with a hot tub. There are options on the market to suit every budget, ranging from luxury options (and prices) to inflatable spa pools which you can pack up and put away after your staycation ends. The British and Irish Spa and Hot Tub Association can help you get started.

Put in an outdoor kitchen

An important part of any holiday is eating. More and more people are asking for kitchens to be incorporated into their garden design and they can include a fridge for drinks, work surfaces, and ovens. You can choose from a freestanding outdoor kitchen for over £10,000 right down to a much more affordable pizza oven.

Fire pit

Fire has brought people together for centuries and this will ensure you can enjoy your garden for longer when the sun goes down, keeping you warm and toasty for hours. Who doesn’t enjoy looking at a real fire? There are plenty of purpose-built options available online.

Don’t forget the kids

Any parent will tell you just how difficult it has been to keep their children occupied over the last 12 months, as well as keeping themselves sane. So why not turn the garden into a fun little getaway for them? No family holiday is complete without a few games and a hosepipe and water balloons can provide hours of fun on a hot day.

Create an open-air cinema

Instead of crowding round the telly, buy a projector – they’re easy to use outside. Connect it to your media source or speaker. For the screen, you can pin a white bed sheet to a wall or fence. Lights, camera, action!

With so much uncertainty around travel abroad and social distancing in the coming months, make the most of summer 2021 by holidaying safely at home.

From us all at Storeys, happy holidays and don’t forget to send us a postcard.

Ian
07501723253 / ian@storeysofcheshire.co.uk

Copyright 2021 Storeys

In this two-minute read, we look at how the pandemic has given us a greater appreciation for life’s little pleasures.

As tomorrow is the International Day of Happiness, let’s tune out from the negative headlines for a moment and reflect on a few positives.

The theme for this year’s event is Keep Calm. Stay Wise. Be Kind – a motto that chimes perfectly with the times.

Over the past year – and yes, it’s almost a year since we were told to Stay at Home – we’ve witnessed many examples of calmness and kindness and learned a few important lessons along the way.

Here are a few things we’ll take away from the past 12 months.

  • The importance of community. Before the pandemic, many of us were barely on nodding terms with our neighbours. Twelve months on, things have changed. From setting up food banks, to donating laptops and delivering medicines, kind-hearted folks have shown that charity really does start at home.
  • Enjoyment of nature. Spending so much time indoors has amplified the joys of being outdoors. Whether it’s sitting in the garden or wandering through Delamere Forest, we’ve realised just how blissful birdsong and fresh air can be.
  • Health matters. The link between obesity, smoking, and negative Covid outcomes really brought home the importance of looking after ourselves. As a result, many people have adopted healthier lifestyles by taking up a new sport (sales of bikes and running shoes have skyrocketed) or ditching junk food. Meanwhile, 300,000 Brits have quit smoking.

  • Home truths. The pandemic brought the issue of quality of life into sharp focus and prompted many to rethink where and how they live. As a result, many folks moved to gain more space, better WiFi or be closer to their family. Lots of people now have a clearer idea of how they want to live and have reorganised their lives to match these aspirations.

  • We savour the little things. Oh, how we miss popping over to a friend’s place for a cuppa, eating out at restaurants, and visiting the pub. We used to take these things for granted, but when we get back to “normal” and can do them, we’ll savour each and every experience.

From the team at Storeys, stay safe and keep smiling.

Ian
07501723253 / ian@storeysofcheshire.co.uk

Copyright 2021 Storeys

In this two-minute read, we reveal five steps to prepare your home for sale in spring (part two of a two-part article).

If you’re planning a spring move, get ahead of the competition by preparing your property for sale now.

You’d be amazed how a little bit of planning and elbow grease can influence the sale process.

Paying attention to detail can mean the difference between achieving a good price and top price. It can also play a part in the speed of a transaction.

Homes that “stick” – stay on the market for a long time – tend to be in a bad state of repair and poorly presented. (Yes, some buyers are interested in purchasing a doer-upper, but only if they can knock the price right down.)

Buyers like to know what they’re getting. They want to walk into a clean, light, and airy property and visualise themselves living there.

Here are five ways to prepare your home for sale (for more tips, check out part one of this series, published here last week. https://storeysofcheshire.co.uk/top-tips-for-selling-your-cheshire-home-this-spring

  1. Get the floors cleaned. 
    It’s tempting to hide those red wine stains under a rug, but eagle-eyed buyers will move furniture and floor coverings to find out what’s underneath. Get your carpets cleaned and if you have floorboards, polish them so that they’re gleaming.
  • Let the light in. 
    A key reason to sell in spring is to take advantage of the natural light. Clean the curtains and make sure you open them before a viewing to show your home at its best.
  • Clean the windows.
    Grimy, streaky windows are a turn-off and don’t show your house in the best light.
  • Get rid of animal odours.
    If you were one of the many to get a pandemic puppy, congratulations! We’re sure your furry friend is gorgeous, but it’s inevitable that your home now has a particular doggy smell. Wash the dog’s bedding and pack away all the chew-toys and squeaky toys. Also, invest in some scented candles.
  • Create a grand entrance. 
    Pay careful attention to your front door (does it need a lick of paint?) and hallway as buyers will form an opinion the moment they step over the threshold. Make sure all remnants of winter – muddy boots and heavy coats – are out of sight.

For more advice about selling your Cheshire home, get in touch with us here at Storeys.

Ian
07501723253 / ian@storeysofcheshire.co.uk

Copyright 2021 Storeys

In this two-minute read, we look at some of the milestone moments in British scientific history.

It’s British Science Week this week so let’s celebrate the pioneering men and women who have changed the world.

As science buffs in Cheshirewill undoubtedly know, Britain has a long tradition of invention and discovery. 

The list of breakthroughs made on our shores is long and impressive. We couldn’t possibly include them all here, so we’ve focused on six landmark moments.

Oxford AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine

There are several Covid-19 vaccines (and we celebrate them all), but the formula developed by Professor Sarah Gilbert and her team at Oxford University is unique for many reasons. It is much cheaper to produce than other Covid jabs, only requires standard refrigeration (making it easier to roll out), and can be manufactured worldwide. 

Penicillin

Scotsman Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin while working at St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington, London, in 1928 – and changed the face of modern medicine. His discovery led to the development of antibiotics, which have saved millions of lives around the world.

The first computer program

Mathematician Ada Lovelace worked closely on developing the world’s first computer, the “Analytical Engine”. During the 1840s, she wrote the algorithm for this machine and hence is known as the world’s first computer programmer.

The DNA helix

DNA was discovered in the early 1800s, but it wasn’t until the 1950s that Cambridge duo James Watson and Francis Crick identified its twisty double helix structure. Their ground-breaking work paved the way for a host of scientific breakthroughs in gene sequencing and forensics.

World Wide Web 

In 1989, English computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee told his bosses at CERN in Switzerland about a bright idea he had to improve information sharing. His managers were lukewarm about the proposal, but Tim (now Sir Tim) pushed ahead anyway and created the World Wide Web. His invention revolutionised the way we communicate, shop, bank, and date.

The steam engine

Devon-born engineer Thomas Savery patented the first steam pump in 1698. Over the next century, inventorsThomas Newcomen, James Watt, and Richard Trevithick all came up with refined designs. In 1825, the first steam locomotive to haul passengers on a public railway rattled its way along the Stockton and Darlington Railway. Father and son team George and Robert Stephenson built it.

Our team at Storeys are boffin like experts when it comes to the sweet science of helping people move successfully. Just don’t ask us about the theory of relativity (Google it if you must, we had to).

Ian
07501723253 / ian@storeysofcheshire.co.uk

Copyright 2021 Storeys

In this two-minute read, we look at ways to prepare your home for a successful spring sale (part one of a two-part article).

If you’re planning to put your home on the market in the next few months, now is the time to spring into action (see what we did there?).

Traditionally, the property market booms in springtime, with many buyers and sellers opting to wait out the winter and make their move when the days start to get longer and warmer. 

With spring just a few weeks away, we’ve compiled a list so you can prepare your property for sale.

This article covers the first five points (and stay tuned for part two next week).

Have a spring clean

Now is the time to have a good clear out. Prospective buyers are looking for a home that they can make their own and will find piles of bric-a-brac a turn-off. And don’t just focus on the living areas and bedrooms. Declutter the bathroom and remove cleaning and beauty products from view.

General maintenance

Is your home looking a little tired after a year of pandemic living? Freshen up the walls with a lick of paint and do all the odd jobs – like clearing the gutters – that you’ve been putting off.

Get an expert valuation

The property market has been the subject of all sorts of headlines during the past year. Until you speak to an expert, you won’t have a realistic picture of the Cheshire housing market and what you can expect to get for your property.

Think about presentation

Put yourself in the shoes of a prospective buyer and imagine how they might make use of your property. Perhaps the spare room you use for a home gym would be more appealing if presented as a home office? Speak to an estate agent for advice about how to present your home so you can maximise your asking price.

Get planting

More than ever, people are craving outdoor space and access to nature – so give them what they want! Plant colourful flowers at the front and back of your property for immediate impact. If you don’t have a garden, use plant pots to create interest.

If you’d like an update on the state of the Cheshire housing market, or advice about selling your home, get in touch with us here at Storeys.

Ian
07501723253 / ian@storeysofcheshire.co.uk

Copyright 2021 Storeys

As estate agents, valuing homes accurately is at the core of our business. We’ve got to price them at a level that attracts enough attention from buyers, while achieving the maximum sale price for our clients, and sometimes it’s a challenge – particularly when there’s not much to compare them to.

We value homes based on a combination of factors. We look at recent data, consider what we know about current market conditions, sprinkle in price per square foot, then use our expertise to judge how popular your particular home is likely to be with buyers.

While it’s relatively straightforward to value a home if a lot of similar ones exist, it can be much harder to put a price on a unique home. Deciding how much a particular view or architectural style is worth in a certain location is not an exact science, which is why it’s especially important to choose the right estate agent when your home is one of a kind.

Let’s look in a bit more detail at how we arrive at a market value:

Data on comparable homes

The first thing we need to know is the value of other homes that compare to yours – ones of a similar size, in a similar location, with similar features. While there are usually plenty of direct comparables for homes on estates or Victorian terraces, the challenge with unique homes, where there might be very little else like them, is getting as close as possible. The more unique the home, the greater the challenge!

We look at two types of data:

  • Sold prices: How much have comparable homes sold for in the last 3–6 months? If there aren’t many of them, we sometimes have to look back further in time, then calculate a likely current value based on average price increases. Sold price data from the Land Registry is the main source for surveyors when they make their reports for mortgage lenders, so it carries significant weight.
  • Current market prices. We look at similar homes for sale and consider:
  1. How long have they been on the market?
  2. What’s the current asking price?
  3. Has the price been reduced?

Generally speaking, we expect to agree a sale at within 5% of the asking price, but the longer a home is on the market, the less likely it is to achieve this.

Together, these two sources give us a ballpark price guide.

They’re becoming increasingly popular and can be useful if lots of similar homes have sold recently. But when it comes to unique homes, we find the results are often quite different to in-person valuations. There might only have been a handful of properties sold recently in the area that are even close to yours in size and style, and it’s almost impossible for a piece of technology to put an accurate value on a view or a one-off architectural feature. Data is certainly helpful in giving us a guide, but it’s by no means the whole story when it comes to unique homes!

One important thing for us to bear in mind is the ‘ceiling’ – the top price that comparable homes have sold for. If we value your home at more than this, there’s always a risk it might be too expensive, and when buyers think a home is overpriced, it tends to put them off. However, unique homes can often break through the ceiling and attract a higher selling price, simply because there’s nothing else like them.

Price per square foot

Not a commonly used valuation tool, but an invaluable one. It doesn’t take into account all the amazing amenities, like a stunning view, or even some disadvantages like a footpath right through a garden. Still, some buyers like seeing exactly how much they’re getting for their money.

Anything attached to the main home is included in the total price per square foot; however, most detached buildings aren’t, unless it’s an additional dwelling – a holiday home for example.

Price per square foot is different for each area. It provides a good general overview of what a home is worth. At least on paper.

Current market conditions

Prices depend on supply and demand. When there are fewer homes on the market, prices tend to go up as there’s plenty of competition from potential buyers. The best homes can often attract a ‘bidding war’ and end up selling for over the asking price. On the other hand, if there are fewer people looking to buy when more people want to sell, prices tend to fall. That’s because buyers have a good amount of choice and will be more tempted to try and get a bargain by making an offer below the asking price.

So, in order to put the right market value on your home, we need to know how many buyers out there are looking for a home like yours. Are similar homes selling quickly or is there an oversupply right now?

While unique homes are usually less affected by rises and falls in the market, it’s still important for us to know what’s happening, as it gives us a feel for how positive we can be with our valuation.

Our expertise

Taking all the above into account, we then have to judge how attractive your home is likely to be to buyers. We’ve got to look at the outstanding features and decide how valuable they are, then balance that with what we know about how much potential buyers are willing and able to pay. There might be lots of things that set your home apart, but would someone be willing to pay more for it than for its closest competitor, and how much more? This is where our experience really matters.

A lot comes down to how rare the features are, particularly when you’ve got a combination of them. For instance, if you have a beautifully refurbished Grade 1 listed home in a waterfront location, how many other homes like that are there in the area – more importantly, how often do they come up for sale? When a buyer knows that if they miss out on your home, they might not get another chance to buy something similar for another five or ten years, they’re usually willing to pay a premium. And it’s our job to know how much that premium is.

The final thing we need to consider is your own position. How quickly do you want or need to sell? If you’re not in a rush to find a buyer, we might think it’s worth being optimistic with the price, then we can always adjust it if needed. On the other hand, if you’d like to sell as quickly as possible, we’ll recommend a price that we’re sure will immediately catch your target buyers’ attention.

So, if you’ve got a unique home, choose an experienced local agent who’s got a track record of successfully selling one-off homes. Search online to see what’s sold locally in the past couple of months and take note of which agents have handled the more individual sales. They’re the ones who should be able to see the true value of your home, properly judge its market potential and then help you achieve the best possible sale.

If you’re ready to move or are currently on the market and haven’t yet had the response you’d hoped for, give us a call on 01606 339922 | 07501 723253 or email ian@storeysofcheshire.co.uk. We’ll be happy to chat through our tailored marketing approach for unique homes and, if you’d like to talk in more detail or have a valuation, we can arrange for someone from our team to visit you at home.

Ian
07501723253 / ian@storeysofcheshire.co.uk

Copyright 2021 Storeys

In this two-minute read, we look at how parents in Cheshire can help their children adjust to being back in the classroom.

After many long and draining weeks of learning from home, children across the UK are finally returning to school.

While weary parents may be glad to see the back of home-schooling, some children may find the transition from front room to classroom daunting.

After spending so much time at home, dealing with the hurly-burly of school life might prove challenging for young people.

Here are some back-to-school tips from the NSPCC and mental health charity Place2Be.

Sleep tight

  • If your routine slipped during lockdown (and let’s face it, almost everybody’s did), readjust your child’s bedtime so that they’re not tired when you get them up for school.
  • If your child has a tablet or phone, make sure that they’re not using it close to bedtime as this will interfere with their sleep.
  • Exercise and fresh air aid a good night’s sleep, so if your child is experiencing broken sleep or is feeling anxious, get outside in the great outdoors.

Talk and listen

  • Talk to your child about how and why some things at school – such as lunchtime, playtime and PE – might be subject to different rules. Children are remarkably adaptable, but it’s worthwhile being upfront about the unusual situation in which we find ourselves.
  • If your child struggles to express themselves, encourage them to draw, paint or write about what’s on their minds. Putting our thoughts down on paper can have a soothing effect and help put things into perspective.
  • If returning to the classroom is making your child anxious, arrange to meet one of their friends on the way to school so that the two can chat before they get to the gates. Most likely, they’ll be so busy catching up with their mate that they’ll forget their nerves.

Advice and support

  • If your child seems stressed, show them Childline’s Calm Zone and explore some of the relaxation tips, breathing exercises and games on offer.
  • If catching up on lost lesson time is proving difficult for your child and you’re considering hiring additional support, read the NSPCC’s safety tips for hiring a tutor before you do anything.
  • Talk to a teacher or school counsellor if you feel concerned. Some parents feel embarrassed seeking mental health support for their child, but it’s okay to ask for help.

Charities that can help

The NSPCC

Place2Be

Childline

From the team at Storeys, stay safe and take care.

Ian
07501723253 / ian@storeysofcheshire.co.uk

Copyright 2021 Storeys