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A Guide to Shared Ownership

For those house hunters looking to take their first step on the property ladder, Government backed schemes are an increasingly popular route. The Help to Buy Equity Loan is one such scheme which is much discussed – a Government five-year interest free loan to help first time buyers buy a new build property by boosting their deposit. But what about the lesser-known Shared Ownership scheme?

 

Shared Ownership is a scheme whereby house hunters part-buy and part-rent a property. Buyers purchase a certain percentage of the property (usually between 25-75%) to begin with, and then can buy more as and when they would like. But what about the rest of the property? Until the time (and desire) comes to buy the whole property, buyers simply pay a subsidised rent on the rest.

 

There are, of course, certain criteria which must be met in order to be eligible for Shared Ownership. The first limit is income – the maximum annual income you can have as a household combined is £80,000 per year. Those looking to take advantage of Shared Ownership must also prove that they are British citizens who do not own a home anywhere else in the word; and that this is their first home purchase ever, or first after a relationship breakdown.

 

The benefits of Shared Ownership are that you only have to pay a mortgage on the part of the home you buy, leading to smaller monthly mortgage repayments overall – which also means that you don’t need a large deposit. Finally, there is no pressure to buy the whole of the property – if you decide to move or simply stay paying the same and owning the same percentage of the property, that’s your choice.

 

But what about if you decide that you want to own the whole property? This can be done through a process called ‘staircasing’ – whereby you pay more for ownership of the homes, leading to less being paid in rent. The first step is get in contact with the housing association who co-own your home, and to a financial advisor who will help organise the higher payments – this is usually done through borrowing higher amounts from your existing mortgage lender or re-mortgaging.

 

Should the housing association agree for you to staircase, your property will need to be re-valued, in order to determine the value of your additional payments. Those looking to staircase their property should be aware that it is not only the costs of additional payments they must factor in – they must also cover the costs of the RICS accredited surveyor, conveyance with the solicitor and financial advisor, as well as Stamp Duty. Finally, any rent arrears under the lease agreement must be paid to your housing provider upon completion.

 

If you’re a first time buyer and would like to know more about how you can get your foot on the property ladder, whether through Shared Ownership or otherwise, get in touch with our team of experts today.

Best Interior Design Tips to Help You Embrace Autumn

It’s that time of year again, the time where we all ask each other where the summer went!

As the nights draw in and the air gets nippier – we’ve put together some interior design tips.  From reclaimed wood and house prints to textures and a nod to the 60s – we’re sure we’ve got ideas for everyone.  Read on if you’d like some autumn interior design tips…

Velvet is set to be a major trend for autumn 2017 – from velvet cushions to velvet furniture, you can choose how you want to introduce this soft and luxurious fabric into your home.  Autumnal colours that represent fallen leaves would be a great way to embrace this season: we’re thinking yellows, browns, deep reds and purples would be perfect colours for your autumn velvet.  This trend is adaptable to other seasons as well, as you can simply brighten up your deep red velvet sofa with some bright cushions.  If you’re opting for a velvet sofa or armchair, complete the look with a colourful chunky-knit throw for cosy nights in, during the autumn.

Best Interior Design Tips to Help You Embrace Autumn

Speaking of cosy, the turn of the new season is certainly a time to invest in a new bedspread.  Think of mulled wine when you’re picking out your colours – burnt oranges and cinnamon.  Whilst you’re thinking of ways to channel a mug of mulled wine, why not decorate with cinnamon sticks, either on window sills or shelves – Pinterest have plenty of DIY tips.  The autumn DIY doesn’t stop there, we love the idea of a pine cone arrangement for your dining table.  All you need is a large bowl, around 20 pinecones and a hurricane vase to put a candle in.  Next step, prepare for all the compliments you’ll receive for this autumnal centre piece!  If you were feeling extra creative you could dry out citrus fruits to add to your decorative pieces and it’ll make your house smell amazing.

Here in England, we don’t always see the sun – but that doesn’t mean we can’t create plenty of natural light in our homes and have the scents of autumn wafting around the house.  Yankee Candle have a great selection of autumn candles, as well as room diffusers and wax melts – you can choose whatever suits.  If you’re not sure about open flames in your house, glass lanterns are a great alternative, particularly geometric copper styles.

Bringing the outdoors in is still in season – adding greenery to your interior is the last touch to making a house a home.  There are so many options, from succulents and a low maintenance cactus to creating your own mini terrarium.  Add a splash of colour with bright orange Phalaenopsis orchids – lovely autumn favourites, as well as sunflowers and yellow yarrow.

Best Interior Design Tips to Help You Embrace Autumn

 

We hope these tips will make you excited for the autumn months ahead, regardless of the chilly weather!

If you’re looking for a Cheshire property to settle into this autumn, get in touch with our team of property professionals to discuss what type of home you’re looking for.

First Time Buyers: What To Look For

There are few times more exciting than finally getting your foot on the property ladder. After years of hard saving and financial consultancy meetings, when you have your AIP (where your mortgage is agreed in principle), you can finally start properly looking for your first ever home. But what exactly should you be looking for in a first time buy? Of course, everyone has unique tastes and criteria for their dream home – but there are certain features which are worth keeping an eye out for…

First Time Buyers: What To Look For

Location, Location, Location…

One of the most vital aspects to bear in mind is the location. A property may be exactly what you’re looking for, but those rose-tinted glasses may fade when you’re having to face long commutes to work, or find yourselves unable to face the long drive to visit friends or family as you live in a different area!

Apart from the practical logistics of distances to offices and your social life, there’s also local amenities to think about. What do you value living near? For some, it’s a decent supermarket or corner shop to make food shopping easier, for others it’s a good local pub, bar or restaurant. Some people adore the hustle and bustle of being in a town centre, others crave the calm of being near a river or quiet park. Create a list of factors that are an absolute must for you in a new area – and stick to it!

 Leasehold vs Freehold

When house hunting for your first home, it’s vital that you understand the difference between freehold and leasehold properties. In short, if a property is freehold you will own the dwelling and the land it stands on; and if a property is leasehold you will own the dwelling, but not the land it is built on. Usually houses tend to be freehold, whereas flats tend to be leasehold (so that one flat owner does not own the land which all others are also built on!)

With a leasehold property, there will be an external party who does own the land, and the property will be sold on a ‘lease’ – a legal document which says how long you are allowed to live in the building. When the lease is up, the freeholder technically has the right to revert to ownership of the entire property, should they wish. But don’t be put off a leasehold property! Usual leaseholds are 125 years, with some being 999 years – which means the end of the lease could be hundreds of years away, so there’s no way the freeholder can take the property back. All you need to do when viewing leasehold properties is to ask how long is left on the lease – if it’s longer than the time you plan to live in the property, there will be no issues.

Finally, with leasehold properties, you will have to pay what is known as ‘ground rent’ and potentially maintenance charges to the freeholder. These are (usually nominal) fees which cover the costs of maintenance of any communal areas in the building, and a rent to the freeholder to rent the land which your property is built on.

 The Great Outdoors

Gardens: they’re a big deal! For many, the size and quality of a property’s outdoor space is just as important as the interiors. Properties with gardens will, usually, come with a higher price, so it’s definitely worth considering whether a garden space is something which you consider a ‘must’.  If you’d like a garden, but would prefer not to pay more for one, instead look at properties which are a walking distance to any beautiful local parks or green spaces.

If you’re looking to buy a flat, check if there are any communal outdoor or green spaces for the building – not only are these a perfect place to relax at the end of a day, but they also present a great opportunity to get to know your neighbours and build a community.

If you’re set on a garden, the next thing to think about is the type. Are you looking for luscious lawns and deep beds to put your gardening skills to use, or would you prefer a more low-maintenance garden with some space for entertaining guests? When viewing properties with gardens, the most important question to ask yourself is whether you would genuinely have the time to maintain it? The last thing you want is to come home to an overgrown, untidy garden!

 

Locations, leases and lawns – these are only a handful of the huge number factors to consider and decisions to be made when hunting for your first home. If you’re a first-time buyer and would like expert guidance from proven property professionals, get in touch with out friendly teams today.

Back to School: A History of Chester Architecture

It’s back to school season, so we thought we’d share a little history on the impressive architecture of Chester.  The picturesque city of Chester is unique compared to other cities in the North West as it was originally founded as a Roman fortress all the way back in the 1st century A.D.

The city has permanent reminders of its founders from the Roman walls made of local red sandstone, stretching around the centre to the amphitheatre that stands just outside the perimeter of the walls.

One of the most distinct architectural features of Chester must be the two-tiered medieval galleries, better known as ‘the Rows’ – a two-tier shopping experience that often draws in tourists from around the globe.   According to reports, they have existed since the late 13th century and were originally constructed with multiple flights of stairs.  By the 14th century, we’re sure the locals were delighted as the galleries were linked to form continuous walkways.  No more stairs to walk up and down to get across the rows!

Back to School: A History of Chester Architecture

Another interesting feature of Chester is its topography (arrangement of natural or physical features in an area) as the build-up of materials from collapsed Roman buildings caused the ground level to rise.  With an excess of bedrock, the architects had no choice but to design the first storeys of the Rows to be higher.  The Rows were so popular that merchants would compete for store-front space.  Perhaps a strange concept to us now – having exposed wood beams in your shop carved or shaped would be a sign of wealth and prestige.

During the Civil War, Chester suffered a siege between 1644 and 1646 that damaged not only the city, but the economy too.  It took years to rebuild, but by the 17th century Chester was revived and a bustling social centre.  Landed families began to rebuild their old town houses and in some cases the Rows were deemed as architecturally unfashionable – quite ironic considering the Rows are a top feature of Chester today!  In 1643, Sir Richard Grosvenor petitioned to enclose the Row of his town house in Lower Bridge Steet – now the Falcon pub.  His request was, of course, granted as he was a leading Royalist commander.  The stone columns that used to support the upper floor in his house and the original shop front at Row level can still be seen in the Falcon – a real window into the past.

When thinking of the architecture in Chester, our minds are drawn straight away to the black and white half-timbered buildings that are dotted around the city.  Although this style was very much alive during Tudor times – it was also used during “revival” periods.  The style of architecture is well preserved and certainly a main feature of Chester.

Back to School: A History of Chester Architecture

With the Tudor housing, the frames would vary based on how much you could afford.  The most basic would be a cruck frame, made from a tree with a strong outgrowing branch.  Can you imagine the roof of your house being held up by a tree?  The angle between the trunk and branch would create an inverted ‘V’, like this: /\ and you’d have these either end of your house with a ridge rafter joining them.  If you had money to burn in the Tudor times, you’d have a rectangular box frame which would have a triangle frame on top – usually built on stone and later, timber-framed buildings would be encased in brick.

At Wright Marshall, some of our fantastic Chester properties showcase classic Cheshire architecture.  Field House, located in Hoole village, is believed to have been built for the Earl of Shrewsbury in the first half of the 17th century.  In 1890, it was redeveloped by a renowned Victorian Cheshire Architect, John Douglas.  He added a second floor to Field House using the revived Queen Anne architecture style and Dutch gables, creating an aristocratic feel to the property.

Back to School: A History of Chester Architecture

Another Chester property called Church Manor, in the Conservation Area of Old Waverton, was also designed by John Douglas – during the late 19th century.  Some of the original features have been retained throughout, from the sandstone mullioned windows, pitch pine staircases, feature fireplaces to the moulded ceiling in the reception rooms.  Originally a part of the Grosvenor Estate, it’s safe to say that Church Manor is truly magnificent!

Back to School: A History of Chester Architecture

If you want to live in a city that’s rich with history and stories – get in touch with our team!