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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?

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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…

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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!