Now is the time to prepare your home for a cold winter

If the winter this year is anything like, last then you need to ensure that cold-weather checks and repairs are carried out before winter takes its toll on your home.

Our homes which are probably our greatest asset become vulnerable to snow, rain and freezing temperatures. Boilers seem to know when the freezing weather is imminent, breaking down just at the point when we are bracing ourselves for the onslaught of winter.

Hopefully, you have household insurance to claim on, if need be, however premiums have a habit of rising after a claim has been made so I thought I would take you through a few simple things that could help you to avoid costly repairs later on.

Service the boiler

It is every homeowner’s worst nightmare, waking up on a freezing morning only to find the radiators are cold and you have to wash in icy cold water. A broken boiler is not only inconvenient but also costly – replacing the boiler can cost upwards of £1500.

Therefore, I would always recommend booking a full check and service of your boiler with a certified engineer. This should highlight any issues before they become a real headache.

Plumbing

Frozen pipes are a major safety issue, so it is a good idea to add insulation to any external pipes, which will help to stop them from freezing during cold weather. If you are intending to leave your house unoccupied at all this winter, do not forget to set your heating on a timer for a few hours each day to stop the pipes from freezing over.

Gutters and drains

Gutters and drains may become blocked during autumn with leaves and moss. While you may not notice they are blocked in autumn, come winter time gutters and drains play an essential part in keeping your house dry. When they become blocked, rainwater will escape to other parts of your roof and walls. If left untreated, the resulting damp and leaks could cause serious structural damage, which can be costly to repair.

Clean the chimney

Do you love snuggling in front of that open fire on a cold winters evening? Well a dirty chimney is a major fire and safety hazard so remember to sweep and inspect the chimney before you light it for the first time. It is important to find a qualified professional, so check your sweep is registered with either the National Association of Chimney Sweeps or the Guild of Master Chimney Sweeps.

These few essential bits of maintenance should make your home ready for any British weather.

As OAP’s set to rise to 1 in 4 of Tamworth’s population by 2037 – Where are they all going to live?

With constant advances in technology, medicine and lifestyles, people in the Tamworth area are, on average, living longer than they might have a few decades ago. As Tamworth’s population ages, the problem of how the older generation are accommodated is starting to emerge. We, as a town, have to consider how we supply decent and appropriate accommodation for Tamworth’s growing older generation’s accommodation needs while still offering a lifestyle that is both modern and desirable.

In 1997 in Tamworth, around one in every nine people (11%) were aged 65 years and over (and the local authority area as a whole), increasing to more than one in every five people (18%) in 2017 and it is projected to reach one in every four people (26%) by 2037, meaning..

Over the next 19 years, the growth of the over 65 population in Tamworth will grow by 44.4% – whilst the overall growth population of Tamworth is expected to decrease by 1.0% over the same time frame.

In fact, the number of those over 90 is expected to more than double in our local authority from 495 (0.6%) in 2017 to 1,394 (1.8%) by 2037.

And looking at the proportional percentage changes over those years..

Looking at Tamworth and the local authority as a whole, there is a distinct under supply of bungalows and retirement living (i.e. sheltered) accommodation. The majority of sheltered accommodation fit for retirement is in the ex-local authority sector whilst the majority of private sector bungalows were built in the 1960s/70s/80s and are beginning to show their age (although that means there is often an opportunity for Tamworth investors and Tamworth buy to let landlords to buy a tired bungalow, do it up and flip it/rent it out).

In the medium to longer term, we need to build more bungalows and sheltered accommodation and, if we do that, that won’t only be of benefit to the elderly population of Tamworth – it will have a direct knock-on effect to the younger and middle-aged population by unlocking those family homes the older generation homeowners live in.  

There have been 17 Housing Ministers since 1997. No one ever seems to stay in the job long enough to create a consensus and direction in Government Policy on the vital issue of the country’s housing shortage, yet the sound bites and White Papers seem only to focus exclusively on first-time buyers when there is an even more severe and disregarded shortage in suitable housing for the older generation.

This scantiness affects both mature homeowners trapped in unsuitably big family properties, unable to find smaller bungalows or suitable retirement apartments, whilst the waiting list for Council sheltered accommodation is putting a strain on other aspects of social care. In both circumstances, policy coming (or not coming) out of Government is repressing the supply and type of accommodation mature people desire, need and want, whilst at the same time, increasing the cost (and taxes) for social and NHS care.

Maybe we need tax breaks for people to downsize or planning permissions that stipulate bungalows only. Whichever way you look .. There are challenging times ahead for us all.

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Tamworth First Time Buyers Need 7.1 Times Annual Salary to Get on Housing Ladder

welcome to Tamworth
welcome to Tamworth

What is it to be British? Our stubbornness, long-suffering stoicism, our vexation at injustice, our obsession with football and rugby, we are weather obsessed external awkward noncommittal modest people whilst underneath seething like a volcano because someone jumped the queue….. and our No.1 obsession is with the property ladder.

This ‘love affair’ with owning our own home has been both good and bad for the UK as a whole. This has given people financial freedom in their later years whilst also reducing the quantity (and quality) of housing provision whilst adding the extra pressure of a ‘them and us’ society. Strong words I know .. but let me explain more.

I honestly believe that most Governments since the end of the 1970’s, Conservative and Labour, have attempted to nourish our addiction to home ownership (to keep the housing market on track) with the Council House Right to Buy sell off in the 1980’s, tax relief of mortgages, relaxation of the mortgage rules in the late 1990’s/early 2000’s and most recently, the Help to Buy scheme.

But the Brits haven’t always had this obsession.

Roll the clock back 100 years and, in 1918, just under a quarter of all Brits owned their own homes and the other 77% rented. Go back 50 years to 1968, and only 46% of people owned their own home, the rest rented. This homeownership thing is quite a recent phenomenon.

According to my research, anyone looking to get a foot onto the property ladder as a first-time buyer in Tamworth today, AS A SINGLE PERSON, would need to spend 7.1 times their earnings on a Tamworth first time buyer property.

Using the numbers from the Office of National Statistics (ONS), the average value of a first-time buyer property in Tamworth today is £139,000, compared to £116,000 in 2007. If we divide those property values by the average annual earnings of first time buyers – in 2007, that was £17,281 pa and that has risen to £19,673 pa .. giving us the ratio of 7.1 to 1.

However, what must be remembered is that these are raw statistics from the ONS and don’t take into account other factors, like most people buy their first home as a couple. Also, mortgage rates are at an all-time low and who can remember mortgage rates of 15%+ in the 1990’s, meaning borrowing today is relatively cheap. Also, 95% Loan to Value first time buyer mortgages have been available since the end of 2009  (i.e. you only need to save a 5% deposit) and first time buyer rates of 2.19% fixed for 5 years can be obtained (correct at time of writing this article)… it is cheaper to buy than rent .. fact!

I believe there has been a mind-set change to owning a home. Home ownership was the goal of the youngsters in the latter half of the 20th century. Britain is changing to a more European model of homeownership, where people rent in early to mid-life, wait to inherit the money from their parents when in their 50’s and then buy.. thus continuing the circle – albeit in a different way to the last Century.

This means the demand for privately rented accommodation will, in the long term, only continue to grow. If you would like to know more about where the hot spots are for that growth in Tamworth, then one place would be my property blog www.tamworthpropertyblog.co.uk or if you want to drop me an email or telephone call, feel free to pick my brain on the best places to buy (and not to buy) in Tamworth to ensure your rental investment gets you want you want. The choice is yours!

If you are thinking of getting into the property rental market and don’t know where to start, speak to us for impartial advice and guidance to get the best return on your investment. For more information about other potential investment properties that we could introduce you to, or to ask about our thoughts on your own investment choices, call us now on 01827 425195, you can always email me on Lorraine@hallandthompson.co.uk

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