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fireworksWhilst selling your house might be the last thing on your mind at the moment, one of the busiest times of year will soon be here - the new year rush. Every year after Christmas (even as soon as boxing day) people turn their minds to moving house for the new year. Calls to estate agencies and visits to property websites such as Rightmove spike just after Christmas, with Rightmove receiving 31 million visits on Boxing day 2015. By the 30th of December, they were receiving 44 million visits daily.

What does this mean?

This means it's important to get your property on the market as soon as possible - if you wait until the new year you are missing out on millions of people looking for property.

Get on the market as soon as you can to avoid disappointment, and be the first property these people see. Contact your local AP Morgan branch and get your property valued, launched, and ready to sell in time for the rush.

planning blueprintsWhen homeowners are thinking about selling their home, one of the first things that is considered is what they can do to improve and add value to the home. Some may just put a new coat of paint on the walls, or redecorate the living area, but if you decide to go further, such as getting an extension, your efforts could be rewarded.

Planning rules

In the past few years the government has relaxed the rules of how without planning permission, so if you’re thinking of extending, take advantage of this whilst you can. These relaxed rules give you a bit more flexibility in order to improve the value of your home.

How much value will it add?

It is incredibly difficult to say exactly how much value an extension will add to any property due to varying factors such as the type of extension, the type of property, the location of the property, etc. However, research done by Nationwide shows that an average three-bedroom house with an extension adding an extra double bedroom with an en-suite can add up to 23% on to the value of your property, with any extra rooms increasing value on top of that. Considering the average extension costs £19,750 according to research from Zopa, the average return on investment from an extension was 71%.

The above figures are of course averages and will vary depending from property to property. You should always consult a property professional e.g. an estate agent and find out the current value of your property before going ahead with the build, and what the estimated value would be after the changes have been made. Your estate agent should also be able to advise on what kind of extension would provide the most value – does it have to be a bedroom, or would a garage be a more worthwhile addition to the property?

Perhaps one of the most important things is finding a reputable, trustworthy architect and builder to complete the build. The all because someone is the cheapest or the most expensive doesn’t mean they are the best, so shop around and find a team that will work best for you.

For more information on how an extension may benefit your property, contact the team at your local AP Morgan branch in Redditch or Bromsgrove and book a free, no-obligation valuation with one of our estate agents.

Small kitchen designsA kitchen doesn’t have to be huge in order to look fantastic. With clever design ideas and strategies, you can make a small kitchen look stylish, practical, and bigger than it already is.

Whilst most of us might desire a massive kitchen with enough room for guests to comfortably socialise in, and to sit down at a large dining table, but the reality is sometimes these properties are just unrealistic. Here are some design ideas to bear in mind when looking at a property so you aren’t put off by the size of the kitchen or lack of space.

Clear away the clutter in open cupboards.

Large, overbearing wall cabinets can use up a lot of space and make your kitchen feel enclosed and claustrophobic. By getting rid of large cabinets and instead replacing them with open shelving you can create a much more open feeling. Just be sure to limit how many shelves you use and put up, and what is stored on them.

If there is too much stuff taking up space on the worktops, consider space-saving ideas such as wall-mounted knife strips, rails to hang pots and pans, and spice racks. Also take some time to consider what you need to regularly have to hand, and what you might be able to pack away until as and when it’s needed.

Keep your design scheme simple

One of the easiest way to make a room seem larger is simply using the right colour scheme. Keep the design of the room clean and contemporary with simple white walls, mirrored materials, and open, minimal designs.

Integrated appliances

By being smart with your planning, you can integrate any appliances into the cabinetry of the kitchen in order to keep the space looking sleek and compact.

kitchen sinkThe kitchen is the one room in the house that most people want to invest in the most – any money that you or your estate agent manage to save during the house buying and selling process often goes on doing up a perhaps worn-out, outdated kitchen in a new home.

Function over form

When you’re planning out the layout of your new kitchen, there is no ideal shape of the room – but you should always put function first. Plan for your sink, fridge, and cooker to form a triangle with no length longer than 6 feet. This means that the three main utilities in your kitchen will always be nearby and within reach.

Plan for storage

Always plan enough room for storage, but make sure not to make the space too cluttered. Make use of as much space as you can, use open shelving up to the ceiling instead of cabinets with a space on top that will only gather dust.

By opening up the space with open shelving, you’ll already create better lighting in the kitchen. Another option is lighting directly over the worktops, underneath any shelving or cabinets. A big lighting problem in many kitchens is that overhead, central lighting is one of the only sources of light in the room – this means when you’re using the work surfaces it’s casting a shadow over where you’re working.

Fittings and power

Check fittings, power sources, and space available for appliances well in advance. Check beforehand that your property has the right kind of power sources for new appliances, or if you’re only moving the current ones, that they will move/reach. Also make sure that the actual space you’re placing the appliance has enough room to function correctly e.g. make sure the dishwasher has adequate room for the hose so it can drain properly. When considering reusing appliances that have been left by the previous owner, consider how they will look in your new kitchen – if the rest of your kitchen is in a different style, then the old appliances will stick out like a sore thumb.

Counter space

You can never have too much counter space. Kitchen counter-tops come in loads of different kinds of materials, the amongst the most popular are tiles, stone, stainless steel, and laminate. Choose one that is suits the design of your new kitchen, but also make sure it suits your needs. Some surfaces, such as tiles, require a lot of maintenance to keep clean, whilst surfaces such as stainless steel are very easy to clean, but will scratch very easily.

Packing boxesMoving home can be difficult at the best of times. When young children and pets are thrown into the mix it can be even more stressful. Here are some tips to help you deal with it.

Before the move

Try to sit your children down and explain why you are moving in very simple terms so that they understand. Get them excited about the move by making discussing it part of their daily routine.

Take your children to the house and the surrounding area so that they don’t get anxious about the move, as they’ve been there before. Find a nearby playground or park so they can play and feel excited about moving closer. Take them around the property so they can get familiar with the layout of the property itself. You could even get them involved in planning the layout, paint, and decoration in their new bedroom.

During the move

Let your children pack their own box with all of their most important bits. This also gives you a great opportunity to clear out their bedroom to have a fresh start in the new house. Put their boxes into your removal van last so that you can take them out first at the new house and get your kids ready with their toys whilst you offload the rest of the packing. If possible, you may want to get a family member or friend to look after your child whilst you get on with the bulk of the unpacking.

Make sure all of the essentials for everyone are ready as soon as you get to your new property. The last thing you want to be doing is digging through boxes trying to find toothbrushes or pyjamas for that first night. Get all of their comfortable, familiar items around them so they aren’t anxious about sleeping in their new home.

After the move

Once you’re all settled in and unpacked, plan a welcome party so your kids can invite all their friends over and show off their new home. As sooner as everything is back to ‘normal’ for them the sooner they will be able to comfortably settle down into life in their new home.