2016 - Vivo

With recent figures stating that Londoners are increasingly choosing to leave the Capital, getting the right commuter spot has never been so important. This is after The Telegraph announced that 74,000 homes were bought by Londoners outside of The Big Smoke in 2016, an increase of 11,000 from 2015. With the affordability of London property becoming an ever growing issue, most Londoners are now preferring to buy homes in southern England instead, fuelling the ever growing commuter culture.

As a result, in the latest of our London Commuter Towns series, we take a look at the southern county of East Sussex. Similar to its neighbouring Kent, this county is blessed with coastal retreats and vast areas of green space and natural beauty. Furthermore, property in East Sussex tends to be more affordable than its West Sussex counterpart, and as a result, it makes it an attractive location to buy a house within a commutable distance to London. While the railway services may not be as efficient as other commuter counties, some of these beautiful towns make the journey completely worth it, starting with Brighton.

Brighton

Population: 281,076
Distance from Charing Cross: 52 miles
Commute Length: 1hr 9mins to London Victoria
Annual Train Ticket: £4,172
Average House Price: £369,480
Interesting Fact: Brighton is home to Britain’s oldest cinema – Duke of York’s Picture House.

London Commuter Towns: Brighton seaside in East Sussex

As one of East Sussex’s most popular destinations, we have already written about how much we love Brighton with our top 7 seaside destinations guide. Brighton seems to have escaped the decline of many British seaside destinations and is a trendy, lively and cosmopolitan city. This has definitely been helped by the fact that you can reach central London by train in just over one hour, which has enticed many people to commute from this area. Brighton is a fantastic location if you are looking to leave the expensive side of London behind but do not necessarily want to live in a quiet town or village. It has plenty of cultural activities, including the famous Brighton Festival. In addition, there are plenty of interesting restaurants and sociable pubs and bars to keep you entertained. Brightonians seem to love their city, and its strong community feel is helped in part by its famous independent shopping area called The Lanes. In spite of the array of amenities at hand, housing is still very affordable at the popularly dubbed ‘London-on-Sea’, with the average house price at £369,480. Furthermore, Brighton is a very environmentally conscious place with plenty of eco-homes if that is an important house purchasing factor for you.

In terms of raising a family in Brighton, children would enjoy a far more outdoor lifestyle living by the sea and away from the pollution that London naturally lends itself to. In terms of education, Brighton has three highly acclaimed independent schools – Brighton College, the Rodean School and Bellersby College.

Lewes

Population: 17,297
Distance from Charing Cross: 44 miles
Commute Length: 1hr 10 mins to London Victoria
Annual Train Ticket: £4,184
Average House Price: £452,572
Interesting Fact: Wealdan Hall House in Lewes was given to Anne of Cleves by Henry VIII as part of her divorce settlement from the reigning monarch.

London Best Commuter Towns: aerial view of Lewes in East Sussex

Lewes is a fabulous town that is growing in popularity with commuters from London. The town itself is charming and medieval in design, fronted by its Norman castle, and the town is blessed with an abundance of historical architecture and quirky winding streets, full of independent shops. Furthermore, what further adds to the appeal of Lewes is that it is encased in beautiful countryside, being so close to the chalk hills of the South Downs and with the River Ouse close by. Overall, Lewes is a picturesque town that is quintessentially English and provides commuting residents with a dramatic escape from the hustle and bustle of London. However, this serenity does come at a price, with the average house costing around £452,572, making it one of the most expensive areas to live in East Sussex. Nevertheless, if this is within your budget, it would be a lovely place to raise a family, with the Lewes Old Grammar School having a fantastic reputation too. In addition, if a child (or anyone) wishes to extend their knowledge, Lewes is home to a 15th century bookshop which we’re sure would be of use! In summary, Lewes provides its residents with a completely unique environment and a complete detachment from the travails of London.

Uckfield

Population: 14,493
Distance from Charing Cross: 38 miles
Commute Length: 1 hr 27 mins to London Bridge
Annual Train Ticket: £3,844
Average House Price: £379,109
Interesting Fact: As a popular stopping point for pilgrims, Uckfield is home to ‘Pudding Cake Lane’ which featured a public house that travellers would frequent for a rest and slice of pudding cake.

London Commuter Town: Uckfield in East Sussex park area

If you’re fed up with the ever rising costs of living in London, Uckfield may be a good choice to relocate to in Easy Sussex. The town grew to prominence as a resting point for pilgrims going to Canterbury, so it naturally lends itself well to being a commuter town! Another motivating factor to reside here would be its affordable house prices. In 2015, the average house price was around £379,109, far cheaper than London and the more expensive areas of East Sussex such as Lewes. Annual train ticket fares are also not as expensive as others in this county, priced at £3,844. However, commute times are around 90 minutes each way but residents can opt instead to do a short drive to Haywards Heath train station where trains take under an hour. One of the many benefits of living here is that Uckfield is very close to many nature reserves and green spaces, particularly the lovely Sheffield Park and Garden (pictured above) which is part of the National Trust and has over 250 acres of woodland space. This place is great for families, and If you are considering raising a family here Uckfield Community Technical College is rated as the best in town.

Polegate

Population: 8,586
Distance from Charing Cross: 49 miles
Commute Length: 1hr 26 mins to London Victoria
Annual Train Ticket: £4,588
Average House Price: £285,738
Interesting Fact: Ovenden’s Mill (pictured below) was built in 1817 and is now a working museum.

London Best Commuter Towns: Polegate in East Sussex's windmill musuem

Close to Eastbourne, Polegate is a small town that is perfectly situated on the cusp of the South Downs National Park. It would be a fantastic place to live if you are looking to leave London for quieter climes and raise a young family in peace. Furthermore, with the average house price coming in at 285,738, you could get a serious bargain if you decide to commute to work from now on. While Polegate certainly is one of the more affordable places to live in East Sussex, its transport links are slightly lengthy with a journey to London Victoria taking just under 90 minutes and annual train tickets costing £4,588. However, with the savings you would be making on a house purchase you would still be getting great value for your money. Perhaps the biggest attraction to relocating to Polegate would be the rural lifestyle you would be able to lead. Being so close to the South Downs would massively increase your quality of life and provides so many safe, outdoor activities for you and your family. On a quirkier note, the ‘Cuckoo Trail’ passes through the town which is a fourteen-mile public footpath along picturesque countryside!

Rye

Population: 9,041
Distance from Charing Cross: 53 miles
Commute Length: 1hr 07 mins to London St Pancras
Annual Train Ticket: £5,424
Average House Price: £319,257
Interesting Fact: As a medieval port town, Rye was infamous for smugglers, especially in the 18th century when the Hawkhurst Gang who would meet up in The Mermaid Inn.

East Sussex Commuter Towns: Rye street

Situated two miles from the sea and close to three rivers, Rye is a quaint harbour town full of old England charm. With Victorian and Georgian buildings lining the cobbled streets, it’s difficult not to fall in love with this attractive town. House prices are very reasonable here too, with the average property selling for £319,257. A big attraction to Rye is its abundance of independent shops coupled with a weekly farmer’s market, if you are after a major supermarket you will have to drive to nearby Eastbourne instead. Therefore, Rye is a perfect escape from the heavily commercialised Capital with its traditional, seaside feel. The place is not completely sleepy however, it was once famous for smugglers in the 18th century particularly in the art of ‘owling’ which is the smuggling of wool. This town has its own castle museum too and is also well documented in literature from the likes of Sir Robert Naunton and Daniel Defoe. Moreover, American novelist Conrad Aitken formerly lived in Rye as did Sir Paul McCartney – who sent his children to the local schools. On the topic of education, there are some well-esteemed schools just outside Rye such as Benenden School in Cranbrook and Battle Abbey School. In terms of commuting from London, you can catch the high-speed train network and get to St Pancras in just over an hour which is mighty impressive considering Rye’s coastal location.

Overall, East Sussex has several different options if you’re interested in a commuter lifestyle changes. As part of the Home Counties, East Sussex has a quaint, rustic feel at an affordable price range that people who live in London just love. Looking at all the combinatory factors, we have awarded Rye as our number one commuter town from East Sussex! The town encapsulates all the best features of the counties’ many commuter towns, such as picturesque views coupled with small, cute and historical town centres. In addition, it has plenty of affordable housing but living here does not make you feel disconnected to the Capital with the high-speed train network. Brighton was a close second, but it has already established itself a popular commuter town, we feel that it’s time for Rye to shine!

If you would like to read more of our commuter town guide, here are our takes on the wonderful Home Counties of Surrey and Kent!

What are your next steps?

While most of our customers choose to sell their house fast to us for convenience and peace of mind, we have also recognised that we’re a great solution for those going through a difficult time, particularly when a property has been inherited.

We understand that selling an inherited house isn’t an easy thing to do and we’re very sensitive to this topic. At Vivo, we’re proud to offer a personal service where you get to talk directly to us (your home buyers). There are no frustrating and impersonal call centres and there isn’t a high pressure corporate “close a sale at all costs” culture with Vivo.

We’ve found previous clients enjoyed these benefits for selling their inherited property to Vivo rather than the open market.

  • Losing someone is hard enough as it is. Selling a property in any situation is a stressful thing in itself. A combination of those two is understandably very unwelcome. Many of our clients prefer it to be dealt with in good time without any hiccups.
  • Often inherited properties are not in the same area as our client’s hometown, making it difficult to find a good local agent and maintain the property whilst waiting for a buyer.
  • Most people don’t have the extra time available to deal with more admin work and maintenance work which a property brings along.
  • In many situations, a property has been inherited by several siblings or other family members. Issues such as who looks after the property, who deals with the financial side of things, who is in charge, can create a lot of friction which is a real shame.  A quick sale is often desired to avoid all this.

We would encourage you to also seek out quality and impartial advice elsewhere online. Inheritance tax rules have changed over the years, so we would always suggest starting at the Citizens Advice which will direct you to the relevant and importantly, up to date Government pages and advice. The Money Advice Service also have a great guide on understanding inheritance tax and how to reduce your tax bill.

It’s unfortunate that rows over inheritance are becoming more common and we hope that’s something you’re not experiencing. It normally comes as a surprise, but nearly two-thirds of the UK population do not have a will. Every family and inheritance situation is different, but if you are currently selling an inherited property and feel like we can help, then feel free to call us on 0800 773 4922 for a no obligation friendly chat or complete a quick form below. If you’re still not sure, we even built a handy quiz which can help you decide if Vivo Property Buyers is right for you.

Whatever you decide, we wish you the best of luck.

 

For our latest piece of property advice, we look at the potential of downsizing, and why Vivo may work for you if you are looking to relocate to a cosier abode. But firstly:

What is downsizing?
In the property industry, ‘downsizing’ is the act of moving from a large property to a smaller home. Here we have outlined how downsizing your house doesn’t have to be difficult.

Why would I want to downsize?
Downsizing is a common, natural and logical move to make for most people in the UK, particularly when homeowners are nearing the age of retirement. Another motivation for downsizing is when homeowners’ children have ‘flown the nest’ leaving them with a large property or ‘empty nest’, one that no longer suits the needs of its occupants. Living in a property that is noticeably large can also be lonely and distinctly unhomely too. People often find themselves only living in certain areas of the house, leaving substantial sections of the home unused, such as additional bedrooms and large gardens. However, homeowners still have to pay for the areas of the house that they no longer use (such as general utility bills) and spend time maintaining the property which can be tiresome. Ultimately, you want your property to cater to what is important for you, and more often than not a smaller, cosier home reflects this, than a larger, family home.

cosy and small lounge of a downsized home

7 benefits of downsizing your home include:

If you feel that selling your home to Vivo is the right choice for you, get in touch with us by filling in the short form below and we can make you an offer in under an hour. If you want some inspiration for really smaller properties, read our Tiny Houses Guide!

George wanted to downsize but didn’t feel comfortable having lots of people view his house. We made an offer George was happy with and once we were all agreed and our solicitors were instructed, George started looking for another, smaller property to buy.  We agreed with George that he was welcome to stay in the house until his new purchase completed. This way, George had the guarantee of having enough money to buy the new place, and still had a place to live in the meantime. Once his new purchase was ready to complete, full funds were released and George moved into the new apartment.

Here’s what George had to say about selling his home to Vivo Property Buyers:

I am extremely pleased with the whole thing because the people I dealt with where honest & kind and made me feel comfortable in all aspects of the sale. Many thanks to them.

In the next part of our London commuter town series, we take a look at the top places to live in the beautiful home county of Surrey. Despite being a primarily rural area, with large spaces of open greenery and picturesque beauty, Surrey is deceptively close to London – something all commuters crave for! In addition, it is in close proximity to two major international airports in Gatwick and Heathrow which sees Surrey have fantastic transport options and accessibility to major arterial roads. The desirable combination of rural living with great connections to the wider world has made Surrey one of the most attractive and affluent commuter counties in our series. Overall, there are some amazing places to live here, plus there are a few surprisingly affordable areas of the county which may be perfect for you if you’re looking for somewhere to live within commuting distance of London.

Staines–upon-Thames

Population: 18,484
Distance from Charing Cross: 18 miles
Commute Length: 37 mins to London Waterloo
Annual Standard Train Ticket: £2,484
Average House Selling Price: £376,841
Interesting Fact: Staines-upon-Thames is twinned with the rather exotic location of Grand Port, Mauritius.

 

Surrey Commuter Towns: Staines-Upon-Thames

 

 

Based in the borough of Spelthorne, Staines-upon-Thames is a post town which actually contains a few villages including Wraysbury and Stanwell. Being just 3 miles from Heathrow Airport, Staines makes for the perfect commuter spot if your commute regularly includes international trips as well as travel to London. House prices in this area are relatively affordable in comparison to some other towns in the Surrey commuter belt, which makes it a popular choice for first time buyers. This area was popularly known as the home of Sacha Baron Cohen’s fictional character ‘Ali G’, which generally gave rise to a misguided view of the town. Therefore, in 2011 the local council voted to change the name of the town to Staines-upon-Thames to promote its proximity to the river and attempt to boost the local economy. Overall Staines is a wonderful area with plenty of parks and playing fields, as well as beautiful walks and views due to its positioning on the River Thames. As well as this, the small, pedestrianised town centre is host to a market every Wednesday and Saturday for you to pick up some delicious fresh produce or clothing and support the local businesses. Staines-upon-Thames is also home to a number of quality schools, including the highly commended Sir William Perkin’s Independent Girls School in nearby Chertsey and The Magna Carta School – a good state school situated in Staines itself.

Walton-on-Thames

Population: 22,834
Distance from Charing Cross: 17 miles
Commute Length: 33 mins to London Waterloo
Annual Standard Train Ticket: £2,332
Average House Selling Price: £574,844
Interesting Fact: Walton-on-Thames was the backdrop for a number of Monty Python sketches as well as being the birthplace of Dame Julie Andrews.

River view of Walton-on-Thames, a surrey commuter town

 

Walton-on-Thames is an attractive town set alongside the River Thames. The town is home to a number of beautiful green spaces including Ashley Park and Elmgrove Recreation Ground which offers a football pitch, tennis courts and bowls; perfect for any sport enthusiasts. Walton is also very well established when it comes to shopping, particularly with the new retail complex, The Heart. This makes the town a perfect location for families who desire a ‘green’, outdoor lifestyle in combination with modern facilities. Furthermore, primary schools are abundant in Walton, with a number of independent ones including Danesfield Manor School and Westward School, as well as state schools such as Walton Oak primary school and Ashley C of E Primary. Overall, Walton-on-Thames is a quiet and enjoyable town with a fantastic location that really comes to life in the sunshine with its wonderful riverside location being home to some lovely pubs and restaurants such as The Anglers. While it is not as affordable as Staines-upon-Thames, it is a truly pleasant location that offers a high quality of life to its residents without the price tag of its neighbouring town, Esher.

Esher

Population: 6,743
Distance from Charing Cross: 15 miles
Commute Length: 31 mins to London Waterloo
Annual Standard Train Ticket: £2,044
Average House Selling Price: £886,521
Interesting Fact: Famous former residents of Esher include The Beatles’ George Harrison and Maurice Gibb from The Bee Gees.

Esher in countrside, a surrey commuter town

Set within a 30-minute commute from The Big Smoke, Esher is an idyllic rural town, making it a highly desirable location to call your home. While residents may have the best of both worlds by living in the affluent Esher, this does come with a noticeable price tag, with the average house selling for nearly £900,000 in 2015. However, most properties in this town are detached, which gives you plentiful space to enjoy time away from London. Therefore, if it is within your price range, Esher offers you a fantastic quality of life, whether you would enjoy walks in the National Trust Claremont Gardens or Horse Racing at Sandown Park, there are lots of activities to enjoy. The town itself has lots of independent shops and places to purchase local produce. When it comes to schools, there are a number of fantastic options; Hinchley Wood School is a highly commended comprehensive academy graded as outstanding by Ofsted, whilst Claremont Fan Court School in a fantastic option of you are looking for an independent school for children from 2 ½ up to the age of 18. Therefore, while Esher may come at a price, it is a fantastic place to live and a complete escape from the hustle and bustle of working in The Big Smoke.

 

Woking

Population: 62,796
Distance from Charing Cross: 25 miles
Commute Length: 30 mins to London Waterloo
Annual Standard Train Ticket: £3,080
Average House Selling Price: £457,936
Interesting Fact: In War of The Worlds by H.G. Wells, the Martians first land on earth on Horsell Common, which is where Well was residing at the time. The town centre has erected a Martian tripod statue to commemorate this.

town photo of woking, a surrey commuter town

Located in the north-west of Surrey, Woking is a beautiful town just a stone’s throw from London based around the River Wey. The town has a generous offering when it comes to dining and shopping, with a lot of money invested in its regeneration including a new public space called Jubilee Square. Home to an award-winning gallery called The Lightbox, as well as The New Victoria Theatre which often has some of the West End’s biggest shows, Woking is the perfect commuter spot for enthusiasts of the arts. Its rapidly growing culture and arts centre have made the town a great location if you wish to commute from London without moving to a quiet pocket of Surrey.

Interestingly, the town is the birthplace to a wide-range of notable people, such as former British Rowing Olympic Gold-Medallist James Cracknell, TV Personality Harry Hill as well as culinary favourite Delia Smith – therefore it may be a wise decision to start a family in Woking! As well as all of this, the schools in the area are also fantastic. If you are looking to send your children to a comprehensive school, St John the Baptist School has been deemed outstanding by Ofsted. Alternatively, if it’s an independent school you’re in search of, Ripley Court School offers exceptional education for children of all ages.

Redhill

Population: 18,163
Distance from Charing Cross: 20 miles
Commute Length: 41 mins to London Bridge
Annual Standard Train Ticket: £2,696
Average House Selling Price: £372,510
Interesting Fact: Britain’s oldest windmill is situated just 15 minutes from Redhill, fully functioning and set in beautiful grounds.

Redhill, A commuter town in surrey

 

Set at the foot of the North Downs, Redhill is a bustling town with the perfect mix of both old and new in terms of architecture. The town offers a fantastic shopping scene, with a number of major retailers as well as independent shops and restaurants. Furthermore, it is slightly more affordable than Woking and Walton-on-Thames, so it could be a great investment. The main attraction of Redhill is that it’s located on the doorstep of rolling countryside, plus it has a number of water sports activities available too! This makes Redhill a great place to live if you find London a bit stifling and crave space and the great outdoors. For schools, Redhill has a number of offer. The Hawthorns School is an independent day school for children ages two to 13 with successful programmes in sport, music and design. Alternatively, St Bede’s school offers high-quality education for those looking for a comprehensive secondary school.

 

The towns and villages of Surrey are ideal areas to live if you are commuting, offering the suburban/country lifestyle so many of us yearn for, but within such close proximity to London. Whilst a number of the areas live up to the expectation that Surrey is an expensive county (Esher, for example), there are a number of areas which offer affordable living without compromising on the area. It is for this reason that we have chosen Staines-upon-Thames as our number one commuter location in Surrey. Lately, this town has gone through an impressively extensive regeneration project and has so much to offer people of all ages and interests. Plus, there is a fantastic sense of community, ensuring that it will feel like home in no time!

If you want to find out more about commuter towns in other counties, why not check out our East Sussex or Kent Commuter Guide!

Your bathroom is your oasis. Given the choice, this is a space we all want to enjoy a luxurious setting to help us unwind. While I’m sure we’d all love to have a full size Jacuzzi bath, waterfall shower, sauna and maybe even an inbuilt (waterproof) media system, most of us will either lack the space or the funds for such extravagance.

However, if you only have a small space in which to play with, don’t worry! To make the most of your small, but perfectly formed bathroom we would recommend picking a theme to make it stylish and fresh. Not only will it improve your home appeal, but it is likely to add some value and of course, improve your quality of life (unwind time!).

Here are some of our favourite décor ideas around nautical, modern and classic British styles.

Nautical

If you can get hold of some reclaimed or old wood, these anchor style hooks (£38.00) will be a perfect nautical match for hanging up towels – we love it.

hooks

 

To add a small feature piece, why not store a couple of your bathroom products in this distressed wooden boat which can be wall hung or put on a shelf for £18.95.

 

vlelvw-2

 

Top the bathroom off with this fun square rope door stop for just £9.95. If you have a cat, then this door stop may not stay put… but we think it’s a great way to finish the room.

rope-stop

 

Modern

Ikea is a great place to find well-priced minimalist designs. Add this glass shelf for just £12 to your bathroom; the tempered glass has high impact resistance and load bearing capacity.glass-shelfThese bamboo bathroom accessories also from Ikea are only £11 for the pair. The clean lines and neutral colours should go with any modern bathroom.

 

bamboo-pair

 

For an upmarket and subtle addition, try a backlit and demisting mirror. Mirrors with added tech are becoming increasingly available with a few ‘smart mirrors’ already integrating TV, apps and news and weather reports. We think this Hudson Reed mirror at just over £100 is modern enough to achieve the minimalist look and feel little high tech, without breaking the bank. A motion sensor will switch on the backlighting keeping your hands free and will probably surprise any guests!

 

mirror

 

Classic British

Union Jacks can feel a little overpowering, but this London bus art by Edies Junebug on Etsy has a more neutral British feel to it. It can be yours for £12 in an A4 size including frame.

 

poster-bus

 

This John Lewis Water Hyacinth Magazine Rack for £25 will never go out of style. Made with woven water hyacinth this attractive, trunk shaped magazine holder adds a natural touch. It has two handles and three compartments for your magazines or books.

basket

Which leads us on to our next suggestion. We cheated slightly here as bamboo isn’t British, but it’s from John Lewis and it looks great. Get this rubberised bath bridge rack for £28 to extend you bath times with a chilled glass of wine, your favourite book or anything else you might need!

 

bath rack for a small bathroom

Getting more from your space

Remember what we said about Jacuzzi ‘s and media systems? Well, hold that thought, because there might be some alternatives which can get you similar results for a fraction of the cost and space!

Listen to your music via any Bluetooth device (smartphone) easily over the sound of the shower. Bluetooth speakers have come a long way in the last 5 years in terms of cost and performance. This JBL Flip 3 is splash proof, has a 10-hour battery life and gets a full 5/5 stars from What Hi Fi? Shop around and you can get one for around £55 and they come in range of colours to suit any bathroom.

 

jbl

 

Okay, this might have been slightly obvious, but this image really makes a point on how you can squeeze a two in one shower bath combo in the right size bathroom. If your budget stretches you could get a Jacuzzi bubble feature but, we thought the option of a shower or bath in a small room would be enough of a selling point here. Opt for one which has a bulge in the shower end and this won’t feel like a cramped shower compromise which you often get in rectangular tubs.

 

 

bathtub-and-shower

 

Hopefully, with our three theme suggestions, Bluetooth speaker and bath/shower combo we’ve shown you really can squeeze luxury and style into a small space. Keep this in mind next time you renovate or see a new property with a small bathroom; with the right furnishings and accessories you can turn a small bathroom into a tranquil and stylish space- even on a small budget.

Want to find out more about upgrading your home on a budget? Check out our 6 cheap and chic ways to upgrade your kitchen!

In the first part of our London commuter towns series, we take a look at the popular commuting county of Kent. With idyllic medieval towns and vast areas of green, open space and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Kent is popularly referred to as The Garden of England, which sounds ideal if you are looking to relocate out of The Big Smoke. Here we take a look at five potential commuter towns that may be right for you if you’ve decided that you want to sell your London home.

Sevenoaks

Population: 29,506
Distance from Charing Cross: 21 miles
Commute Length: 38 mins to London Charing Cross
Annual Standard Train Ticket: £3,980
Average House Selling Price: £564,564
Interesting Fact: The Beatles’ promotional film for their songs ‘Strawberry Field Forever’ and ‘Penny Lane’ were shot in Knole Park in Sevenoaks.

A field in Sevenoaks, Kent

In many ways, Sevenoaks is a microcosm of Kent’s itself. The historical town is a pleasant blend of quaint medieval architecture and modern shopping areas yet it is surrounded on all fronts by rolling hills and striking countryside, including the spectacular North Downs, plus the High Weald of Kent. This has resulted in Sevenoaks becoming a popular London commuter town as it offers residents a superb balance of an urban and rural lifestyle. In addition, Sevenoaks is well known as the home to Knole House, which is one of Britain’s largest private residences. Set in a 1,000-acre deer park, this 600-year-old residence is open 365 days a year and is a fantastic family day out. Furthermore, the town’s affluent character lends itself to having several strong school options (both private and state) such as Sevenoaks School (which dates back to 1432) and is part of the G20 Schools group. Another notable school is Walthamstow Hall, which is an Independent Girls School. Therefore, while Sevenoaks may not be the most affordable commuter town in Kent, it certainly can provide a family-focussed, outdoors lifestyle amongst stunning natural beauty.

 

Dartford

Population: 97,365
Distance from Charing Cross: 19 miles
Commute Length: 52 mins to London Charing Cross
Annual Standard Train Ticket: £2,400
Average House Selling Price: £282,744
Interesting Fact: During Medieval times, Dartford was a popular waypoint for pilgrims on their way to Canterbury and Europe.

 

An aerial view of Dartford, Kent with its famous bridge

 

With close links to London, Dartford is increasingly becoming a popular commuter town, helped in part by its affordability. Its housing and travel prices are modest for Kent with the average house selling for around £282,000 in 2015 according to Zoopla. The town rose to prominence during the Industrial Revolution, being home to England’s first paper and iron mills. Recently, there have been great efforts in regenerating the area and boosted by its proximity to Bluewater Shopping Centre, Dartford is rapidly becoming an exciting up-and-coming area if you are looking at moving out of London. Despite the industrial nature of the town, it features Dartford Heath which covers over 312 acres of open space. Nevertheless, the area has three major rail lines to London as well as plentiful major roads such as the M25 and M20, which makes it an ideal commuter location. Properties in Dartford are also one of the fastest selling in the UK, so it is becoming a wise decision for families to invest here, especially with a strong education base with Dartford and Wilmington Grammar Schools.

 

Canterbury

Population: 54,480
Distance from Charing Cross: 54 miles
Commute Length: 54 mins to London St Pancras
Annual Standard Train Ticket: £5,172
Average House Selling Price: £298,290
Interesting Fact: ‘The Canterbury trot’ was the name given to the swift way pilgrims rode their horses in order to reach the city before nightfall. This is where the verb ‘to canter’ originated.

Kent Commuter Towns: Canterbury's canal scene

 

 

If you’re looking to sell your home in London but still enjoy a city lifestyle, Canterbury may be your ideal commuter spot. A small city of immense historical significance, it is filled with cultural events and places of national heritage such as its world-famous Cathedral. It may be slightly further away from London than other commuter spots in Kent (although closer to its lovely coastline), but travelling from Canterbury West station allows you to reach Charing Cross in under an hour with its high-speed train. Furthermore, this distance from the Capital is reflected with its good value housing prices. Last year, the average semi-detached sold for £267,280, this figure rises to £427,877 if you are looking at to buy a home in the aforementioned Sevenoaks. Another pleasant feature of this Medieval city is its pedestrianised centre which features a multitude of modern shopping options along its narrow streets and timber framed houses. Furthermore, it has a youthful population thanks in part to having two Universities ( the University of Kent and Canterbury Christ Church University) close by. Canterbury’s educational system extends to its strong schools too, which includes The King’s School Canterbury and Simon Langton Grammar School For Boys.

Royal Tunbridge Wells

Population: 57,772
Distance from Charing Cross: 40 miles
Commute Length: 59 mins to London Charing Cross
Annual Standard Train Ticket: £5,068
Average House Selling Price: £419,058
Interesting Fact: In October 1895, Tunbridge Wells hosted Britain’s first ever motor show. It featured five vehicles.

Green scenery in Royal Tunbridge Wells, Kent

 

Royal Tunbridge Wells is a largely affluent area in western Kent, surrounded by green, open spaces, such as Dunorlan Park and the Chalybeate Spring. Perhaps the stand out outdoor feature of this location is its proximity to ‘The Seven Wonders of The Weald’ that features seven Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty within a 30-minute drive of each other. From the Tudor Chiddingstone Castle to Biddenden Vineyard, it’s a wonderful area to reside in, so much so, the town earned its ‘Royal’ prefix when it became a holiday favourite of Queen Victoria. The town itself is well known for its Georgian style shopping area known as The Pantiles which was designed by architect Decimus Burton in the 18th Century. Frequently ranked as one of the best places to live in the UK, it has an array of quaint shops as well as a regular farmer’s market. For families, the town is blessed with quality schools such as The Skinners’ School and Tunbridge Wells Grammar School For Girls. This area may not be cheap but it definitely a beautiful area to live close to London.

Gravesend

Population: 51.560
Distance from Charing Cross: 21 miles
Commute Length: 25 mins to London St Pancras
Annual Standard Train Ticket: £3,328.00
Average House Selling Price: £281,320
Interesting Fact: Gravesend is the final resting place of Pocahontas.

A group of boats in Gravesend, Kent

 

Gravesend has recently been popping up as a favoured London commuter town, especially since it is part of a high-speed train service which allows you to reach central London in under half an hour. Despite its proximity to The Big Smoke, Gravesend has its own unique identity and charm, its coastal location sees it having the world’s oldest surviving cast iron pier which features an array of restaurants and shops. Another big attraction to Gravesend is its affordable housing. Last year the average house sold at £281,328 while the average semi-detached house was sold at an average of £318,978 which is far cheaper than the average cost for the same property type in Royal Tunbridge Wells (£424,313), making Gravesend one of the most affordable commuter towns in Kent. The town is also currently undergoing a £120-million-pound regeneration project, creating new homes which are sure to attract London homebuyers. Despite the changes afoot, Gravesend is already a sound education centre with quality schools such as Mayfield Grammar School and Gravesend Grammar School. Gravesend’s affordability may not last forever, so it is definitely a great area to invest in today.

 

Overall, the county of Kent has a fantastic array of potential commuter towns. Whether it is the rural beauty of Royal Tunbridge Wells and Sevenoaks or the surprising affordability of Gravesend and Dartford, you have plenty of options to suit your individual needs. There are numerous benefits of relocating to a commuter town too, the gentler pace of life and cleaner environment often markedly improves your quality of life – plus you can really save some money! With the speed that you can reach London now ever improving, you can now afford to live further away and get out of the ‘rat race’ and avoid the rising rent prices found throughout London. It is for that reason that we have chosen Canterbury as our No.1 Commuter Location in Kent. While not strictly a town, Canterbury is a wonderful cathedral city that has fast transport links, quality schools plus it has a unique culture of its own – you won’t miss London at the weekends either! This package in combination with its surprisingly affordable house prices is reason enough to sell your London home and commute from Kent!

If you want to find out more about commuter towns in other counties, why not check out our other London Commuter Town Guides in Surrey and East Sussex

Person exchanging keys with a fast property buyer

In order to sell your house fast, it is becoming an increasingly popular choice for homeowners to use fast property buyers such as Vivo, especially if their house sale has fallen through. There are many online house buying companies and selecting which one is right for you may be quite confusing if this is the first time you’ve used a house selling method such as this. So, if you have decided that a fast property buyer is a right route for selling your house, you must make sure that you carry out all of the right due diligence to ensure that the company you choose is trustworthy and has a good reputation.

To help you on the way to picking the right property buyer to sell your home fast to, we have put together our top tips to avoid companies which could give you a bad deal or not treat you well:

  1. Check they are accredited – to ensure you are protected you should make sure that the property buyer you opt for is part of The Property Ombudsman and The National Association of Property Buyers. These boards have been established to regulate the fast property buying industry and have regulations which companies must abide by.
  1. Check their reviews – a good company should be proud to showcase their reviews, so go and check out the testimonials on their website, as well as from third-party review sites such as Trustpilot to ensure the onsite ones aren’t false. As the highest rated fast property buyer on Trustpilot, you can check out our wonderful reviews here.
  1. Get a few offers– make sure you talk to a few companies to source the best offer for your home. This will also give you a chance to get a feeling for how the different companies come across, for example, were they friendly and empathetic or distant and unhelpful? Investigate a property buyers’ set of ethics which will help you get a feel for the company you are working with. Just be aware that any professional fast property buying company needs to make a margin to be able to run their business. For this reason, if any of the initial offers are greater than 85% of the current market value it is highly likely that they will significantly drop their offer later down the line.
  1. Meet someone from the company – once you have selected the fast property buyer you wish to sell to, make sure you know who you are dealing with by meeting with someone from the company. Many fast property buying companies have an impersonal service as they are nationwide making it impossible to visit every one of the properties they buy.On the other hand, smaller companies are much more likely to be able to meet you in person as well as providing you with a bespoke service which accommodates all of your needs. We visit every one of the clients who accept our initial offer so we can get a better idea of your situation and ensure that you are 100% comfortable with our processes.
  1. Get everything in writing – as with anything as important as selling your home, you should always get everything in writing to avoid any confusion or forgotten promises. If you have a phone call with the property buyers, get them to send you an email (or vice versa) to make sure that it is documented and you can prove any agreements.
  1. Don’t sign until you’re sure – again, a rule for life, but make sure you read through everything they send you and, most importantly, the contract before you sign or agree to anything. Any good property buyer will give you the time and space to sign the contract and would be happy to answer any questions you have. Also, be aware that up until exchange of contracts, apart from your instruction documents to the solicitor, you should not be asked to sign anything at all. This is imperative as certain companies may tie you into a contract whereby they do not hold their end of the bargain and you are unable to sell to anyone within a certain time frame (usually 6 months to 1 year).
  1. Don’t rush – Finally, although fast property buyers are there to help you sell your house quickly, don’t rush anything; make sure you do it at a speed you’re comfortable with. The option to sell fast is part of the convenience and flexibility fast property buyers offer you, however, there should not be any pressure to do so.

If you’re considering the fast property buying root to sell your home quickly, please feel free to get in touch using our form and we can answer any of your questions. We always endeavour to give you the best price possible and will respect any decision or timescale you want to work towards – we’re here to make the process a simple and enjoyable one!

Handing over keys after a relocation house sale

It may have come out of the blue or is something you have always dreamed of, but relocating is a major life event, one full of adventure and new opportunities. Whether you’re upping sticks and moving abroad, retiring to a quieter area of the UK, or perhaps you’re moving to a new job which requires you a quick relocation house sale, Vivo Property Buyers are here to help you.

While any new move is bound to be exciting, it can often be quite a stressful period of your life. Often one of the biggest challenges you face when relocating is what to do with your property? There are a few options that you may want to consider:

Selling your home on the open market

Rather than the hassle associated with being a landlord, most homeowners relocating permanently prefer to sell their homes outright. Hiring an estate agent to conduct the sale can take some work off your hands, however, for any relocation house sale, it is likely that you need a quick turnaround and the traditional open market route can often be slow.

Thus if you have a set date which you need to move by, for example, you may be starting a new job at the beginning of the next month, selling your home can be very tough and extremely stressful when time is not on your side. The slowness of selling on the open market can also be quite expensive as you wait for a buyer and continue to pay utility bills (don’t forget council tax) for a property you no longer require to live in.

If you have already moved to a new place, this means your bills can double, plus you may have to travel back-and-forth from your new area to your former property to negotiate deals and house viewings. Overall, it can be quite exhaustive and expensive.

 

You could rent out your property…

If you need to move quickly and don’t want the uncertainty of an open-market sale, you could rent out your home as a temporary measure. Interestingly, there has been a rise in the number of accidental landlords in recent years, with homeowners being forced to let their properties due to the sluggish housing market. If you decide that this is the option for you, ensure you meet the legal requirements with your mortgage and insurance. Once that is settled, there are several property apps to help you speedily find tenants, however, handling the property and any tenants’ concerns may be difficult when you are relocating to a different county let alone the country!

An alternative is to use a property management company to manage the day-to-day operations. While this will certainly take care of your new additional responsibilities, it can be costly and you may lose the sense of ownership as well as a reduction in your profits from any rental property.

A clean break is often more preferred

Despite this, the most preferred option may be to sell your home outright – releasing valuable funds to start your new life.  However, this can be an extremely tricky situation when relocating. This is because the open-market is notoriously unreliable, and deals can often fall through and break down at many stages in the property chain.  This is not what you need when you face the uncertain (albeit exciting) prospect of relocation.

Overall, by selling your house quickly to Vivo, you can get a swift release of funds which is vital when you are preparing to relocate and start your new life. We can erase the uncertainty of a house sale, helping you to settle faster into your new home. Have a read of this article, highlighting the rise of house buying companies, and how we can help you. Furthermore, having a guaranteed house sale can be invaluable when you are looking to buy your new home in a different environment. By quickly wrapping up your former properties’ sale, it means that you are ready to buy and won’t miss out on your dream home due to circumstances elsewhere! Now you’re ready to look for your new home, you’ll want to make sure you have a house viewing checklist.

Relocating can be one of the most exciting but stressful moments of your life and career but a quick house sale to Vivo Property Buyers can help reduce the stressfulness of the situation, allowing you more time to enjoy your new life. Get in touch with us and we can make you a free, no-obligation offer for your house in 24 hours, so take your first step in selling your home fast!

If you are considering selling your house due to relocation, find out whether your new area has been voted as one of the top 5 places to live in the UK.

As a nation, with an ever-growing population and the competition for space becoming increasingly fierce, we are being forced to reassess our traditional conception of property design. This is because many of the millennial generation are simply not in the financial position to buy a ‘big house with a garden in the suburbs’ and will struggle to get their foot on the property ladder unless something dramatically changes.

 

Interestingly, the ‘tiny house movement’ is beginning to gain momentum in the UK as the country looks for solutions to its housing shortfall. Recently, the UK housing minister Gavin Barwell has shown an interest in this “private sector innovation”, looking into getting spacing standards to be relaxed, claiming that it will help first-time buyers get on the housing ladder.

 

Arguably, it can be viewed that we’re already doing this. In Europe, we’re known as a nation of tiny houses as this graphic from the Telegraph shows:

Graphic displaying that the UK builds the smallest houses in Europe

 

However, while making property smaller is a controversial move, there may be some unrealised benefits to this approach. Firstly, tiny houses, with the right design, can look fantastic and the reduction in space for the property often results in an innovative and forward-thinking design. Plus, these spaces require less upkeep than larger properties which often incur expensive running costs. Thus, if you’re a career-driven person with few commitments and a hectic lifestyle, then a tiny house might be a good choice for you.

 

Around the world, there has been a movement towards prefabricated factory built housing. This approach can reduce build time, increase quality and lower costs compared to traditional house construction. Here are a few examples of tiny house done just right:

 

Estonia

 

KODA is a movable prefabricated tiny house prototype from Estonia and has been shortlisted for a prize at the World Architecture Festival 2016. It is a free-standing house, which allows it to be re-assembled endlessly. This type of housing may be a forward-thinking approach as your home can adjust to your needs.

Koda Tiny House Design, Estonia

 

Image source: http://www.kodasema.com/

Japan

As a country known for its tight spaces and tech/design innovations, it’s no surprise we’ve featured this incredible Japanese tiny house from Fujiwarramuro Architects in Nada Hyogo. Measuring in at under 40 square metres in size, its use of natural light and clean building materials really enhances the perception of space. This minimalist approach is not only incredibly stylish but functional too.

Outside of japan tiny house

Aerial view of Japanese tiny house

 

Image source: http://www.archdaily.com/345709/house-in-nada-fujiwarramuro-architects

 

 

 

 

 

USA

 

With skyrocketing rent prices, many major cities have their own housing crisis and New York is no exception. An award-winning architecture firm nArchitects has now built its vision for the future; Carmel Place in Kips Bay. Costing $600 dollars a month rent, it’s an absolute bargain for a Manhattan property. These units also feature several amenities that are usually more associated with luxury builds such as a gym, lounge, community room, storage facilities and roof terrace. You can enjoy a communal lifestyle while your own private space is cosy and personal. The best of both worlds?

 

Ney York tiny house New York Tiny house living room

Image source: http://narchitects.com/work/carmel-place/

 

Finally

 We have been impressed by the new designs cropping up in the luxury mobile home industry. This ‘Alpha Tiny Home’ has been made by New Frontier Tiny Homes and features beautifully charred wood skin, transformable furniture and has 240 square foot of living space. The flexibility of the design is reinforced by the fact the property is fully transportable too.

Mobile Tiny House

view from tiny house

kitchen of tiny house

Tiny house bedroom

Image source: http://www.newfrontiertinyhomes.com/tiny-house/#alpha-page

Overall, a tiny abode may also help you understand what is really valuable to you. The theory goes, the more possessions you have, the more you have to worry about and we’re sure that we can all think of things that we haven’t used in years. Perhaps small houses will help us declutter our lives? We’ll just wait for the car boot sale boom…

If you are seriously considering moving to a cosier home, why not check out our downsizing guide or find out how you can sell your house fast to Vivo Property Buyers.

When we reach the colder, wetter months of the year it is really important that we make sure our homes are as flood proofed as possible to avoid extensive destruction. Whether it is flood prevention or mitigation of its effects, follow our tops eight tips below on how to prevent flooding from damaging your home and contents. Furthermore, we also recommend you carry out these three autumn home maintenance checks too.

Get Sandbags

Sanbags protecting a house from flooding

When you think of flood protection, the chances are most people will instantly think of sandbags. This is because they can be very effective in stopping flood water entering your home for short periods of time, crucial when flash floods occur. Furthermore, their use prevents all of the silt found in flood water from getting in and damaging your home. Whilst they are the ‘go to’ flood prevention method, they are not always 100% effective, as they often allow water to slowly seep through. Thus, it is recommended that you place large, heavy duty plastic bags in between the sandbags and your property’s walls to reinforce your flood defence.

Despite this, sandbags are still a worthwhile way to flood proof your home, particularly when used in conjunction with other preventative measures listed below.

Invest in door and window guards

Door blockers outside a house that is at risk from flooding.

For when the flood is unexpected, for example when sudden summer storms occur, easy-to-fit guards for your windows and doors can be clipped on quickly, helping to stop the flood water from getting in through the gaps. The cost of these protective guards can range from £10 to over £500 in price depending on the level of protection you require, but they are a worthwhile investment.

Look into ventilation brick covers

A ventilation brick helping to protect a house from flooding from exterior walls
Often these bricks go unnoticed and can be easily forgotten about when you are trying to protect your home from a flood. However, it is vital that any vents may allow water into your property are addressed. There are a number of options here; you can buy brick covers to stop the water from getting into your home or, alternatively, you can fit a water resistant air brick at a slightly higher cost, but it means you don’t have to remember to cover it every time there is a flood threat.

Check your valves

Person performing a valve check to help prevent from flooding

Sometimes during a flood, water gets back up through the pipes and into toilets and sinks causing flooding to affect your home. Fitting “non-return” valves to your drainpipes will prevent this from happening and, at less than £500 in cost, it is a good measure if you reside in a flood prone area or a location with a high water table.

Seal your floors

Living room with sealed floors that will help mitigate flood damage

As water can easily get in through your floors, it is vital that you ensure that any wooden floors are properly sealed as a preventative measure. Another long-term option is to replace your floor with a damp proof concrete and seal around where the floor and walls join. If you are on a flood plain, consider having tiles instead of wooden floors and have rugs instead of carpets which can be easily stored away in case of a flood.

Upgrade your skirting boards

Person adding in plastic skirting boards which help absorb flood water more than wooden skirting boards

To help mitigate the effects of flooding in your property, a quick method is to varnish any existing wooden skirting boards prior to the event happening. This inexpensive solution is a great way to protect the skirting boards from water if your budget cannot stretch to installing water resistant plastic skirting boards. The plastic option may not look as aesthetically pleasing as their wooden counterparts, but they are less absorbent meaning that if flood water enters your property it is likely to result in less damage to your home.

Protect your appliances

Turning person off electrical device

Electrical sockets can be easily damaged by household flooding, so it is beneficial to raise their location on the wall as well. As a precaution, it is advised that they are placed at a height of 1.5m or above. While this is not always a preferred location for them, damage to them may cost more than the outlay of this move (around £1,000-£4,000). Furthermore, protect your household appliances by moving them away from the ground floor. If that is not possible, stand them on plinths where they are located.

Seal exterior walls 

Exterior wall for house, flooding can occur through this method

It is not just ground water that may affect your property during a flood. With heavy and constant rain, damage may arise from flood water seeping through exterior walls too. To remedy this, apply sealant to the exterior walls. This will cost around £500, but damage to exterior walls from flooding may cause internal damp in bricks if they are in a bad condition. This can damage your property’s structure and even your health. When applying the sealant, check the condition of the exterior walls, looking for small gaps and holes, particularly those at a level that could be breached by flood water.

We hope these tips have been useful if you are in a situation where a flood may affect or has affected your property. If you wish to move away from a flood-prone area and are struggling to sell your property fast, why not get in touch with us and we can make you an offer in one hour.

Recently, we ran a nationwide property survey hoping to explore people’s perceptions of the fast property buying industry and the house selling process. With respondents all across the UK ranging from Scotland to the Home Counties and Greater London, we’ve had some remarkable results, as we have listed below:

Keeping it local

When asked what the preferred method of selling a house was, the majority of respondents indicated that they would like to do it via a local estate agent. Many underlined this desire with the perceived notion that local estate agents’ ‘local knowledge of the area’ would help them sell their house.

Bar Chart Showing what method people would rather use when selling their house

It is not surprising that the most traditional method of selling a property is the most preferred. However, many comments suggested they were put off estate agents due to their amount of fees they would be paying them and the slowness of the housing market, something that has heightened in the aftermath of the Brexit vote. This slowness is a reason why fast property buyers such as Vivo came into the market to offer a fast alternative and an easier way to sell your home. The fast buying industry has had many hiccups; as newest industries would have. Some new businesses took advantage of vulnerable house sellers and an early period of no regulation which gave fast property buyers a bad name.  Luckily, organisations such as the Property Ombudsman came into play to regulate the industry and protect consumers. Here are our top tips and advice for when you are thinking of selling your house to a fast property buyer.

Still, unfamiliarity breeds concern. It’s human nature to be suspicious about new things. Hopefully regulated fast property buyers will soon be seen as equals to estate agents. Sellers can make their choice as to how they would like to sell but at least they have several options as opposed to only one option in the past. If you want to find out more about the differences between selling your home to a fast property buyer and estate agents, check out our comparative article here.

Average time to sell a house

The results of the survey revealed that 55% of the people asked estimated that the average time to sell a house is between 3-6 months. As a company that can buy your house in 7 days – we certainly found this interesting! Often it can take longer than this on the open market with problems arising from breakdowns in the selling chains. Plus, with the extra amount of time you have to wait to sell your home, the utility bills can really add up! Sadly, it often takes over 6 months to almost a year to sell your home on the open market. Hopefully, the manners in which to sell your home is ever expanding, so the traditional way may not be your only option from now on.

A Pie Chart indicating what people in the uk think it takes to sell a house

The highest price myth

The survey also asked people what their most important factor was when they are selling a house. ‘Getting the highest price’ was ranked the most important while ‘Speed’ came second. We believe that herein lies the conflict what the stresses of selling a house as they often conflict with one another. The biggest issue with ‘the highest price’ is that a property is worth what someone is willing to pay for it. Nobody has the correct answer for what a house is worth and how much it will sell for. This leads to a delay in the house selling process – where a person waiting for the ‘highest price’ will have to pay the monthly mortgage payment, council tax and utility bills which often will eat up their margins. The benefit of prioritising a guaranteed sale means that you can get a cash offer and sell your house fast. This reduces turnaround time and saves you money and stress, allowing you to start your next adventure.

A bar chart showing the most important factor for people when selling their home

Selling a house most stressful life event

Perhaps the biggest finding of the survey is that people found the prospect of selling a house to be the most stressful life event. Respondents were asked to rank five life events in order (1 being the most stressful) of ‘stressfulness’ in which selling a home was determined to be more stressful than having a baby, buying a home or starting a new job. As fast property buyers, we completely emphasise with your situation – this is the reason we started Vivo Property Buyers in the first place! To give sellers an alternative to the pitfalls of the open market which is often long, daunting and prone to breaking down. Moreover, your home is generally your biggest asset and renders a large emotional attachment, plus it is not something you will do regularly so it can be quite daunting. Hopefully, by selling your house fast to Vivo it will give you the peace of mind of a guaranteed sale combined with a huge amount of flexibility.

We aim to make selling a house an enjoyable, stress-free experience.

Chart showing that people find the prospect of selling their house as the most stressful

 

And finally…

While not strictly related to the property industry, our survey also found out that men find the prospect of having a baby more stressful than women. Respondents were asked to rank the aforementioned six life events in order of how stressful they thought they were. Interestingly men ranked the prospect of having a baby as the most stressful while women position selling a house as the most stressful life event, with having a baby only third. We were surprised at this fact, especially as men ‘having’ a baby may be somewhat different to women! Perhaps this is an indication of the modern men’s growing role in raising a child…

 

We would like to thank everyone that took part in our survey and it was great to find out so many insights into the property industry. If you are looking to sell your home fast in a flexible, stress-free way, why don’t you get in touch with us and we can make you an offer in under an hour!

 

In this day and age, new, problem-solving inventions are abundant, particularly when it comes to kitchen gadgets. To save you trawling the internet for the most amazing kitchen gadgets you never knew you needed, we have shortlisted some of our favourites below.

  • Defrost your food faster with ThawTHAT!

Have you ever got half way through the day and realised you had forgotten to take the chicken out of the freezer for dinner? Well ThawTHAT! Is going to solve all of your problems. This nifty board thaws food up to two and half times faster than traditional defrosting without using any electricity, making it much more eco-friendly than the microwave!

Check out the ThawTHAT!Deluxe here.

  • Get the perfect steak every time with a smart thermometer

With smartphones and other gadgets rapidly evolving to help us with everyday tasks, it wasn’t going to be long before we would be able to cook a meal from our phones. Range is a smart thermometer which allows you to cook your food to perfection; there are pre-sets for meat and sweet making and you can receive notifications when your food is done!

smart food thermometer

Get the Range smart thermometer here.

  • Get the perfect pie crust with an adjustable rolling pin

It wouldn’t be a list of kitchen gadgets without at least one mention of Joseph Joseph. This super handy wooden rolling pin has four ring sizes to pop on to the ends, ensuring you get the exact thickness you need – no more undercooked pie lids!

adjustable rolling pin kitchen gadget

Roll your way to perfect crusts here

 

  • Slice your avocados in no time

Many of us have probably been in the situation where getting the stone out of an avocado is an impossible task. This handy kitchen gadget by OXO solves that issue! Not only does it help with removing the stone, it also has a plastic blade to cut through the skin and a fan blade to perfectly slice and scoop out the avocado.

3 in 1 avocado slicer kitchen tool

Get yours here.

 

  • Chill out with this instant wine chiller

We all know that feeling when you go to the fridge for a nice cold glass of wine after a long day at work, only to discover that you forgot to put it in the fridge. Well, now there is a solution! This instant wine chiller gadget slots onto the wine bottle and chills it as your pour, meaning no waiting and no messy ice bucket. All you need to do is keep it in the kitchen freezer and it will do the job for an entire bottle of wine or 60 minutes.

Instant wine cooler gadget

 

  • Perfect risotto without the arm ache

Quite often recipes require you to dedicate a huge chunk of time to stirring. Well, not anymore; this automatic stirrer is adjustable to fit most pots, has different speed options and lets you sit down whilst it does all of the hard work. Relax your way to perfect risottos, porridge, stews and more!

automatic pot stirrer gadget

Get this nifty kitchen gadget here

If you’re a kitchen connoisseur, check out our top 6 cheap and chic tips to upgrade your kitchen on a budget!

 

Decision on a house sale

Selling your home can be tough and there is often a lot of hidden costs with house sales. Up until recently, there has been only one way to sell your home – via an estate agent. However, with the growth of online services, there has been a shift in a property buying, which is great if you are looking to sell your home fast! Here, we look at two different methods of selling your property (estate agents and fast property buyers) and hopefully afterwards you’ll have a clearer idea if you’d prefer to go via the traditional route or sell your house fast to Vivo.

Finding you a buyer

Estate Agents: one of the main attractions of using an estate agent is that they have access to a large database of eager house hunters as well as local knowledge to help find you a buyer. They are well trained in property marketing and know how to ‘sell’ a house to the audience. They will take it on themselves to help arrange and conduct viewings of your property.

Fast Property Buyer: rather than finding you a buyer, we are your buyer. Selling to Vivo removes the entire house selling process – which helps you to sell your house quickly. Furthermore, rather than a long chain of communication between agents and potential buyers, you can have a direct correspondence with your buyers (us) and a guaranteed sale (selling via an estate agent also carries the threat of a deal collapsing). Lastly, as we buy your property directly, there isn’t a long house viewing process or an invasion of your privacy. Plus, at the speed with which we can buy your home, you won’t even have time to put up a ‘for sale’ sign!

Selling price and fees

Estate Agents: they will work hard to get you the highest price for your property even though most buyers tend to offer under the market price. Estate agents will use their attuned negotiation skills and knowledge of the local property market to get you a house sale that you will be happy with. For their services (including photographs, floorplans etc), estate agents tend to charge between 1-3% (+20% VAT) of the selling price of your home as well as any legal fees.

Fast Property Buyers: as a general rule we tend to make a cash offer for your property at a 15% discount to its market value. While this may seem like a reduction, we do not charge fees like estate agents. Plus, rather than wait 3-6 months to sell your home in the traditional way, we can buy your property quickly in as little as 7 days. Therefore, you will be saving around 6 months’ running costs such as council tax and utility bills, which certainly adds up. Furthermore, we buy sold-as-seen, so there will be no costs added to renovating your property in preparation for a house sale or emergency fixes if a house survey reveals an underlying problem with your property. Often in the house selling process time equals money.

Time

Estate Agents: if you are in no rush to sell your home quickly, the estate agent may be the preferred choice for you. As previously mentioned, it takes around 3-6 months to sell your home via this method (but could be much longer) which may be ideal if you have yet to find a suitable property. The downside of this route is if you are looking to sell your home fast; you have to account time for house viewings as well as the agonising wait to see if the chain holds up.

Fast Property Buyers: one of the main benefits of using this method is that you can sell your house fast. Vivo Property Buyers specialises in buying property quickly and you can sell to us in as little as 7 days. This is perfect if you desire a quick house sale, whether you are relocating, have inherited a property or want a quick release of funds. There is no delay with the Vivo way.

Trust

Estate Agents: as this is the traditional method to sell your home, estate agents tend to be seen as very trustworthy. Often such agents have a long running history and have been part of the local community. In addition, many house sellers want to establish a relationship with the person in charge of selling their home and feel secure in having an office that they can visit if they have any issues.

Fast Property Buyers: this route has certainly had image problems in the past, with a couple of companies taking advantage of vulnerable house sellers. However, organisations such as The Property Ombudsman now help to regulate this industry and protect consumers. Furthermore, at Vivo, we’re contactable 24/7 and are always here to help.

Overall there has been a huge growth in the way you are able to sell your home in recent years, and we think it is great for house sellers to have a variety of options in order to make the best choice for themselves. Using a fast property buyer like Vivo may not be for everyone but is also ideal for many others, here are our top tips for using this route.

Therefore, if you do want to sell your house fast, get in touch and we can give no a no obligation offer for your house in 24 hours, helping you get a fast property sale.

Alternatively, if you are still unsure take our short quiz to find out what route is the best for you.

As property buyers, we help people sell their house fast. And because of this we view a lot of properties, therefore we have a trained eye to spot any potential property pitfalls and hidden house dangers. People looking to sell their house quickly may try pull the wool over your eyes for a fast house sale, so it is important you prepare and have a plan when you go look at potential new homes and be aware of typical estate agent jargon phrases. It can be very easy to fall in love with a ‘home’ before you have inspected the ‘houses’ fully.  Thus, whether you’re looking for a 1-year rental or a house to raise a family in, read our house viewing checklist below so next time you inspect a property, you’ll be able to see the full picture.

Research (part one)

Before you physically view the house, it is important to do some online research; find out what similar properties in the area are selling for to see if you’re getting a good deal. Has this property been on the market for a long time while other houses are selling quickly? Furthermore, check out rightmove.co.uk for a comprehensive view of an area’s local information such as schools and property statistics.

Research (part two)

When you have arrived at the property, check out the local surroundings. Is it in a pleasant area you would like to spend time in or opposite a pub that may cause rowdiness during later hours? We always recommend visiting the property and its local area during several different times of the day to get a good understanding of your potential new environment. This is especially relevant if the area is particularly busy during certain times in the day and there is no off-road parking. In addition, look to see whether any building work is likely to happen nearby which may be a disturbance initially, but can be a sign that the area is up-and-coming, which will add value to your property further down the line. Finally, look at the location’s proximity to services you value (schools, doctors, supermarkets).

Couple look around the neighbourhood

Orientation

Look at what way the house is facing, for example does it have the desirable south facing back garden? If so, it will give you plenty of natural light to brighten winter mornings and emphasise summer afternoons. Most iPhones have a compass setting if you don’t have your own to use, and as light makes such a big difference to our mood it’s a vital thing to check.

garden

Roofs and guttering

Another important point to add to your property viewing checklist is to examine the state of the property’s roof. Firstly, examine the condition of the roof tiles – are there any missing or rotten? This may result in roof leaks which are notoriously expensive to fix. Secondly, beware of flat roofs – they have often been implemented as they are quick and inexpensive to assemble but frequently have poor drainage systems, leaving ponding water which can cause damp and are prone to leaking. In addition, check to see what conditions the guttering is – are there any damp patches beneath them or blocked drains? These are all problems which will need to be fixed and can cause additional problems inside the house.

Ponding water on flat roof

Windows and doors

The two features can say a lot about a property’s overall state as they are ‘breaks’ in the building’s structure. Look for cracks in the frames and well as rot and ensure that they are able to open smoothly and are draught proof. They should be functional and structurally-sound. Plus, any cracks in the ceiling or walls should be inspected as they could be a warning not to buy as they may indicate severe structural issues.

Water from windowframe

Water, heating and light

These are very simple things we often take for granted in our own homes but it is important to examine them in a new place. Make sure taps are working effectively and that the shower pressure is not going to leave you out in the cold – it can be a sign of plumbing problems too! Test the central heating’s effectiveness and whether the house is efficient at retaining heat. Turn on the boiler and work out how long it has been since it was serviced. Also ensure that all the electrical switches work well and determine whether the property has enough power outlets for your needs.

working lightbulbs

Damp

It’s a horrible thing and hard to deal with. Be aware of black mouldy areas around windows, corners and skirting boards. Look to see if any rooms or areas of the property looked poorly ventilated as this is the biggest cause of dampness. Often when staging a house for viewing, homeowners will paint over damp areas, so look for newly painted rooms and if you suspect anything, quiz the seller. Having a damp property will definitely make you miserable and can seriously endanger your health. Tell-tale signs are often omnipresent so make sure you don’t miss them on your visit. Even if you cannot physically see them – trust your nose for its unwelcoming scent.

Damp houses may be why owners are looking to sell their house fast

Ask questions

It is important that you shape you view of the property with as much information as possible. Therefore, quiz the letting agent and house seller to get the biggest picture possible. You can always start off slowly before asking the bigger questions. Go in softly with 3G availability and internet speeds but eventually move onto reasons why they are selling the property. It will say a lot about the house if they are looking to sell it quickly. Enquire about any recent renovations or work which may uncover underlying issues. During your viewing – we recommend bringing a friend or loved one, someone to give you impartial advice and support when asking specific and interrogative questions.

What’s included?

Ask what aspects of the property (white goods, curtains, carpets etc.) are included in the price. It can certainly affect how much or little you bid and may even give you a sweet surprise or unwelcome guest.

Take your time

One piece of advice we cannot stress enough is to take your time. Do not make a decision of this magnitude in a matter of minutes based on first impressions. It can be easy to fall in love with a house rather than focus on the practicalities of the property. You may have found your ‘dream home’ but it is a long term investment so take photographs, compare notes and discuss the realities and possibilities of any move. Being over eager can cost you thousands in repair bills.

We hope this house viewing checklist will help you secure your dream home in the future. If you have found your next property and want to sell your home fast, get in touch with us and Vivo can buy your home in as little as 7 days!

Much to everyone’s displeasure, summer is sadly over. So farewell to the days of flip flops and shorts, barbecues in the garden and counting sheep with those lovely, long summer nights. With the return of the rainfall and the temperature dropping week on week, it’s now time to bring back the thick duvet, switch on the heating and set the hibernation mode on.

Just to make sure you make the most out of this autumn/winter, award-winning property maintenance experts aspect.co.uk have put together a list of seasonal property checks – and they are an absolute breeze. Plus, these small tips are also useful if you’re looking to sell your house fast too

leaves on gutters

1. Clean out gutters

With the leaves falling off the trees, the wind getting stronger and the rain heavier, it’s important you know how to keep your home’s guttering obstruction-free, allowing rain water to flow and avoiding mould, mildew, leaks and even flooding. To prevent this from occurring, just follow these four simple steps:

  • Check that the roof itself has no leaves, debris or dust to avoid these being washed down to the gutters and potentially blocking them.
  • Sweep the roof tiles – a clean roof makes it easier for the rain water to flow.
  • Collect all leaves and debris from the guttering pipes, sweep them and take out as much dust and debris as possible.
  • With a hose, test the water flows freely down the gutters and downpipes.

With all debris swept and the water flow tested, we can tell that the guttering system is in good condition. However, do keep an eye on them regularly in case dust and debris stack up quickly!

Radiator for heating

2. Check radiators are in good working order

One of the most essential seasonal checks this autumn is finding out if your radiators need to be bled. This is easy to tell: if the top of the radiator is cold but the lower half is hot, it means that trapped air has been building up over time and your radiator needs to be bled. Thankfully, anyone can learn how to bleed radiators and make sure they are ready to keep the house warm. This is how you do it:

  • Once warm water has entered the radiator, switch off the heating system and find your ‘bleed key’ – a tool that is usually supplied with the radiator to help open and close its valve.
  • Insert this key into the valve – normally situated at the top of the radiator. Open the valve slightly, just enough to slowly allow air to be released. If water comes out of the radiator, you’ve opened too much. IMPORTANT: have a towel at hand and always protect your hands with a cloth, as hot air and water may flow out.
  • As the air comes out, you should hear a hissing sound. When you see the first drops of water flowing out, it means the radiator is now bled and you can tighten the valve again.
  • Finally, switch back on your central heating system and double-check the radiator is fully operating.

This is a really simple but effective check that you should perform this month. It will ensure that your heating is energy efficient, saving you money on your heating bills – which is vital when the truly cold days in winter happen.

Fixing gap in windows

3. Fix draughty windows

One of the biggest causes of heat wastage this time of year is caused by cracks and gaps in windows. Not only does this put extra pressure on your home’s heating system (and your bills!) but can also be the source of potential damages to your property should rainwater infiltrate. A quick, simple and effective fix is sealing any gaps with caulk – a resistant filler and sealant. Just follow these three easy steps:

  • Buy the right caulk. There are many alternatives out there, go to a trusted supplier and choose the caulk that best suits your window’s material. Tip: for long-lasting results, look for the waterproof and flexible caulk!
  • Clean the surface where the caulk is meant to be applied, removing all dust and loose debris.
  • Apply the caulk on any cracks or spaces and smooth it until it matches the window’s surface. IMPORTANT: always read the product’s instructions and safety advice!

Having sealed your draughty windows, do regular checks to ensure there aren’t any new gaps and that the applied caulk has not cracked. If drafts keep reappearing, it may be worth thinking of replacing the window with a newer one. This last tip is really important if you are looking to sell your house or attract property buyers.

Now that gutters are cleaned, radiators are bled and draughty windows are sealed, all that is left is to get your duvet back in place and put your PJs on. Happy hibernating!

If you feel unsure about performing any of the above tasks or simply prefer an expert to get their hands dirty, do give aspect.co.uk a call on 0844 273 0920 and their experienced team of trade-accredited engineers will be more than happy to help.

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Vivo Property Buyers is the trading name for Potrell London Ltd, The Ashridge Business Centre 121 High Street, Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, HP4 2DJ.

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