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Buying and Selling Your Home Over the Christmas Period – The Pros and Cons

Selling your home or purchasing a new property throughout the festive season can be tricky, and there are pros and cons for buyers and sellers alike. Regardless of the season, there are certain measures that should be taken and research that should be conducted before entering into any financial or legal agreement. At Christmas however, there are a few additional factors that come into play that you should be fully aware of.

What to expect if you’re selling a property:

The property market is surprisingly kind to sellers around Christmas time, and this is because there are typically fewer properties available for purchase throughout the festive period. People tend to postpone listing their house until the New Year, and luckily for you sellers, that means that buyers have less choice and fewer properties to compare against.

People searching for property around Christmas time are likely to be serious about finding their dream home or investment, and therefore as a seller you’re less likely to come across timewasters. You can secure a quick sale throughout the festive period as buyers will be eager to move in before the New Year commences, and they will do their upmost to make the process as quick and smooth as possible.

Buyers often tend to have more flexibility when it comes to viewing times around Christmas as they don’t have to plan things around strict working hours, which means that you don’t have to spend late nights and weekends showing prospective buyers around your property.

It’s not all sunshine and rainbows for sellers around Christmas time however, as it can be a manic time that is only worsened by the stresses of selling your home. Estate agents, solicitors and the council all take time off for Christmas so you must communicate with them prior to their time away from the office and make sure all paperwork is signed and ready.

Prospective buyers may also take a break, and the number of enquiries about your property could decrease as a result. Buyers who are still active within the market could then use this to their advantage by trying to bag a Christmas bargain and negotiate at a lower price.

What to expect if you’re buying a property:

Good news for buyers at Christmas time as there is less competition on the market, and you’re less likely to have to battle with other prospective buyers to secure your dream home. With less activity amongst buyers, you will have more time to explore properties during your viewing, allowing you to get an authentic feel for the house.

If a property is still up for sale during the festive season, then the chances are that the seller hasn’t had a huge amount of interest in the months leading up to Christmas. In light of this, you may be able to negotiate a lower price and spend the money you’ve saved on extra special Christmas gifts for your loved ones.

If you’re a buy-to-let investor, then you can prepare for the busy rental demand in the New Year by purchasing property throughout the festive season and expanding your portfolio.

Don’t be fooled however, as buying property at Christmas is not without its complications. Typically there is a shorter supply of properties on the market throughout the winter months, and in areas where property is in high demand, competition is fierce and sellers can demand higher property prices.

Again, solicitors, surveyors and other industry related professionals will be taking some well deserved time off to relax and indulge in a few sweet treats – so make sure that your mortgage in principle is completed and your solicitor is aware of your current position, and as the festive break comes to a close you can smoothly and quickly secure your sale.

Whether you’re a buyer or a seller, it is important that you weigh up the pros and cons of being active on the market throughout the Christmas period. There are benefits to buying and selling around the festive period that cannot be taken advantage of throughout the rest of the year, making it an attractive option for both professional investors and homeowners.

Indlu are hybrid estate agents in Monton, Manchester, offering a no sale, no fee service from only £995 + VAT

Making Your House Exterior Look Beautiful For Resale

Kerb appeal matters and it pays to freshen up the house exterior ready for resale. Find out the easiest ways to make the outside of your house look lovely for selling.

Even the most beautifully kept houses need a little tweaking in order to make sure they are as presentable as possible for sale. Whilst all of the decluttering, painting and touching up is occurring inside the house, the exterior of the property can often get overlooked. This can be quite the problem as kerb appeal is very important, and buyers driving past could write your property off as a potential purchase based on first impressions of the outside of the property alone.

To help you prepare the exterior of your property for sale, follow these tips to ensure you’re presenting kerb appeal to all of those important potential buyers:

Tame The Plants

Whether you have a tree on the front of your property, a lawn, or some well chosen shrubs, they should all be tamed and tidy. Overgrown plants not only obscure the features of the property, but they just scream ‘hard work’ to a potential buyer. If you have ivy growing up your property that is another story altogether. Ivy can actually damage brickwork and be a nightmare to control so, if you can, get rid of it or at least tame it right down.

Sort Out The Path

A path with broken tiles will make the entire front of the property look messy because we naturally look down when we walk. If your potential buyer trips, they will instantly register ‘death trap’ before they walk into your home. Get those tiles fixed if you can for a safer, better looking lead up to your home or consider replacing them with up-to-the-minute exterior porcelain tiles.

Brighten It Up

If you can get any wooden parts of the front of the house brightened up, do. It makes such a huge impact on kerb appeal, especially if the current colours are drab or faded.

Clean Those Windows

Windows which are covered in cobwebs and dirt do not present a house well. Instead they make a house look like it will be just as dusty and dirty inside. They can also make a house look creepy! Get all the front windows professionally cleaned, along with the frames, so that it gives the impression the whole house is shiny and well cared for.

Fix The Gate/ Wall/ Fences

If you have fences or a gate or a wall lining the front of your front garden, you’ll want to ensure those are in good condition. Paint them or, have any missing bricks or tiles fixed, and ensure the gate actually works.

Jetwash The Drive

Your drive might need repairing, but it is a lot to redo and probably isn’t the first place you would spend your money when doing up the house for resale. Instead, giving it a good clean should make it look ten times better, for very little money and time.

Clean The Garage Door

Having a garage is a real selling point, so you’ll want to highlight it. Get that garage door sparkling clean with a bucket of hot soapy water and a sponge. You’ll be surprised at how much of a difference it makes to the presentation of your house.

Remember, kerb appeal matters so it is worth your time and attention to get your house looking beautiful for selling season. With just a few tweaks you’ll be getting a lot more enquiries and you’ll have that house sold in no time!

Eco-Friendly Moving Tips For The Conscious Homeowner

Find out how you can lower your impact on the environment when you move house, with useful tips and tricks.

These days, most people care about being environmentally friendly as the effects of pollution and environmental damage become apparent in the media. There are lots of areas of life that can be more eco-friendly than they are now, including moving home. Moving home can take a real toll on the environment for all sorts of reasons like excessive vehicle use and packing materials. If you want to ensure your house move is as green as can be, the following tips will help provide you with plenty of planet-friendly inspiration:

Pick Recycled Packing Materials

Packing materials can be really heavy on landfill, but they don’t need to be. Instead of buying newly made boxes, you could ask local supermarkets for boxes. Banana boxes especially are very strong and often come with lids on. Just don’t forget to recycle them when you’re done with them! Bin bags you might use can be made from recycled materials if you don’t mind paying a bit more, and recycling bags you use for shopping bags make good moving containers.

Choose Eco-Friendly Cleaning And Decorating Materials

When you move you will do a big clean of your house and your new house, as well as decorating your new one and possibly touching your current one up for sale as well. Cleaning products and decorating materials like paint can be heavy on chemicals, which is not good for the environment. Leading supermarkets now offer cheap eco-friendly cleaning products that are effective and smell lovely. With decorating materials, there are lots of eco-friendly companies selling paint and other products, and some well-known home product shops also sell eco-friendly decorating items too.

Cut Down On Vehicle Use

Using larger vehicles for moving means more fuels and emissions. If you can, go back and forth with a smaller vehicle to move items, or perhaps only use the van to move items into a self storage unit local to your new home, then you can back and forth when you need to, moving items in slowly. Cutting down on large vehicle use is a really good idea regardless of how you do it.

Paper Usage

A lot of paper can get used in moving in the way of notepads, labels and paperwork. With companies you work with, try to ask if information can be emailed rather than mailed. You might also want to use apps instead of notepads, and look at purchasing recyclable or recycled labels to use on your boxes.

Throwing Things Away

Although it is easier to just throw away items you don’t intend to use any more, that you don’t want to take to your new house with you, sending items off to landfill is really bad for the environment. So much plastic especially is ending up in landfills and seeping into the sea. Declutter, yes, but do it mindfully. What can you donate, upcycle, recycle or sell on? What can you gift to friends?

The environment needs our protection and with a little consideration and thought, you can easily have an eco-friendly house move that benefits your family, and the planet.

Higher Apprenticeships – What Are They All About?

The image of a typical apprentice doing some form of manual labour is fairly well-ingrained in our national psyche and might be one that is slow to alter but more young people than ever are choosing this route into a professional career. “Non-academic” apprenticeships might immediately spring to mind but there is a new generation of Higher Apprenticeships for a new generation that can lead to degree-level qualifications.

A university degree has traditionally been viewed as essential to progress in certain careers and the percentage of graduates in the UK has been rising steadily this century – from 24% in 2002 to 42% in 2017 according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

However, there have been significant changes recently that could see this trend change.

Apprenticeship Levy

There is also now a very real alternative for young people to gain degree-equivalent qualifications (along with highly marketable business skills) without going to university at all and incurring the financial burden of student debt. Instead young people can embark on a Higher Apprenticeship scheme such as a Project Management Apprenticeship without the debt and without the uncertainty of satisfactory employment afterwards.

With the introduction by the UK government of the Apprenticeship Levy, large organisations now have a financial incentive to take on and train young people on a Higher Apprenticeship scheme and many are already doing so. This means there are many more opportunities for young people at the start of their career to become qualified, gain valuable real-world experience, earn money while training and avoid student debt.

The Increasing Burden of Student Debt

The increasing burden of student debt is coupled with new graduates finding it harder and harder to get a job once they are qualified.

Of course, plenty of people would argue that student debt is a price worth paying for the higher lifetime earning potential that you would have as a graduate, but even that trend has been bucked by research conducted for the Sutton Trust which showed that higher apprenticeships can, in fact, lead to greater lifetime earnings than undergraduate degrees from certain universities.

I don’t think anyone would argue that a degree from Oxbridge or any other Russell Group

University would be a sure way to a higher salary but those universities only comprise 24 out of a total of 130 universities in the UK. That leaves over 100 from which graduates have no more certainty of higher lifetime earnings than someone with a Higher Apprenticeship. In fact the Sutton Trust research showed that in some cases those with higher apprenticeships earned £100,000 more in their lifetime than others with degrees from non-Russell Group universities. When looking at average lifetime earnings across all universities higher apprenticeship earnings are the same as for graduates.

What Could The Future Hold?

While it might be premature to talk of schemes like the Project Management Apprenticeships being something of a revolution in the business world they will change the environment surely and steadily as more and more companies look to offset their Apprenticeship Levy by investing in training project managers of the future.

As that change starts to happen, hopefully, there is also a change in perception by the wider business world and young people themselves of how they regard higher apprenticeships compared to degrees. For them to be truly successful, higher apprenticeships must be perceived to be as good as if not better than certain degree qualifications.

Does Your Recruitment Agency Fit in Today’s Labour Landscape?

There has been a seismic shift in the employment landscape over the last few years. This has also impacted the roles and functions recruitment agencies in such a way that only the best equipped can tap into the brightest pool of candidates for most sectors or industries. To ensure that your recruitment agency is positioned for success in today’s labour landscape, here are four things you should do.

Deploy best practices for recruiting Millennials

From SMEs to multinationals, a greater proportion of the clientele for any recruitment agency will always need new and younger generation of talent. Retaining the old methods of recruitment today, could mean missing out on top talents. In the past, probing interviews and stressful tests were deemed normal in most recruitment circles. However, modern-centric recruitment agencies now place more emphasis on ensuring a pleasurable candidate experience. The company or brand being represented is portrayed in good light as the perfect work place environment, without losing sight of the end goal which is to establish the competency of the individual.

To attract top talents in the millennial generation and those in the generation Z, modern recruitment agencies need to shake up their candidate sourcing process, the interview process, up to the background checks method to ensure a pleasant and user-friendly experience at every level.

Embrace Collaboration and Outsourcing

From recruitment finance to management of online presence, your recruitment agency can get closer to achieving set KPIs by working together with experts in various fields. A recruitment agency with a shabby online presence will most likely be ignored by bright prospects. Similarly, a recruitment agency struggling with finances may be unable to attract new business or launch concurrent recruitment drives.

Put Modern Technology to Good Use

It is common to hear fears about technology taking away jobs in various sectors including the Human Resources sector. However, top recruitment agencies are more concerned with looking for ways to combine technology and human intelligence to ensure better outcomes. Today, it is more cost-effective to hand over high-volume application reviews to artificial intelligence. Such technologies can also be used to provide aid for candidates taking part in a recruitment process (think chatbots).

When you use artificial intelligence to whittle down prospect lists to a manageable number, you can proceed to use human insight to make a decision on the suitability of the remaining candidates.

Use of AI can also come in handy to highlight ideal candidates to be approached for a job, even before the said candidates are out of their current roles.

Ensure GDPR Compliance

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into law this year and mandates companies to better handle individuals’ data. Recruitment agencies are not left out of the equation as gathering data on employees and potential employees is the mainstay of the industry. Regardless of the size of your recruitment agency, improper handling of such data can lead to huge fines. Take the right steps to ensure compliance.

Field Joint Coatings New Innovation from Field Leaders Serimax

The experts in welding and field joint coating Serimax have created a fantastic innovative new coating solution. When you have on shoreline pipes a field joint is what is applied to and covers the place where the two pipelines meet and are welded together.They are then field joint coated adding an extra layer for stability and security.

The old and usual process of coating the welded pipe joints is done in a purley manual way. This meant having often nervous clients as the job can take a long time risking slowing down the whole project as each one had to be manually taken care of. Clients can be very demanding in today marketplace and constantly looking for ways to streamline the business process. Also, the time took on each joint coasting to have optimum value and security matters. The entire industry has been trying to work on a solution that works giving the same level of quality coating but at a much faster rate. Seminex took up and more than fulfilled that challenge.

Serimax Field Joint Coating Design Team.

Utilising the field-proven Serimax ‘bug and band’ technology, the Serimax FJC design team, led by the Engineering Manager Mr. Andrew Stribley, have constructed the Orbiter™ system, a 2 component liquid coating arrangement that is set to revolutionise the field joint coating industry led by the market leader.

Orbiter™ is a sturdy, lightweight, automatic field joint coating spray machine with process observation and advanced data capturing. dodging the old necessity of mechanised lifting, it makes for a quick and safe choice for coating on land field joints with its fast multi-component liquid systems. Its speed, dependability, engineering, and efficiency makes the Orbiter it revolutionary within the close-knit world of field joint coating

The automated coating technology has not only cut back on initial costs but also and critically the application speed has been way reduced also the added benefit of reducing the solvent usage saving more money.

Seminex always make sure that anything that is to be taken to market will be rigorously tested in the field of operation by there field joint coating technologies and field users. The Orbiter system has now been field tested with over 200 miles of pipeline in some tough environments running through Azerbaijan and Georgia to Turkey from the Caspian Seashore.

Orbiter™ System far exceeding client expectation

The new coating technology has ensured a big reduction in personnel needed on a project. for instance, on high turnout inject coating of forty-eight in. pipes with liquid epoxy systems, it’s potential to half the required number of people. Removing the reliance on vehicles with mechanical lifting systems makes it easier and cheaper to provide the equipment needed in several regions of the planet wherever access would normally be a significant headache. what is more, in terms of speed, with the innovative artificial satellite system, it’s current potential to outperform any fastening crew, while not important modification to the instrumentality profile. it’s simply a matter of reconciliation the manning level to the target output and range of vehicles used.

Managing and Delivering Operations from the UK to Overseas

“The delivery of a project starts in Blackburn (UK), where we pack and check every item required from disposable gloves and screwdrivers through to containerised coating units for project use. The next step is sourcing and training local labour to assist with the project. Once on site we then set the equipment up, perform job safety analysis and start the work. Our supervisors perform daily site reports to keep our management team in the loop.” – Andrew Mullins, Project Manager.

Managing and supplying overseas contracts can often be difficult thanks to restrictions on importing and the managing a teamwork language barriers and native ethics or beliefs.

Serimax has always been a leader in the field and  has the expertise and power to handle the foremost complicated aspects of project management encompassing field joint coating because it has vast experience for many years.

“Serimax uses its experience in the field to support its customers by offering innovative coating solutions suited to their specific needs. Our Orbiter range provides speed, repeatability and global competitiveness necessary for demanding field joint applications. We constantly improve our solutions to maintain our leader position in welding and coating services,” – Louis-Nicolas Hallez, Managing Director at Serimax Field Joint Coating.

5 Super Home Improvements to Build ReModel Value Into Your Property for 2019

Whether you’re planning on selling your house or just want to bring it up to date, there are various projects for you to consider. We all fantasize about our dream homes.

“Some people want to have a beautifully landscaped gardens, while others want eco-friendly designs. Making your home stand out will really help the resale value” – Property and Bridging Finance Experts UkPropertyFinance.co.uk

No matter what ticks your boxes, here are a few examples of home improvements to suit all tastes.

Loft Conversion

Figures from NAEA show that adding a loft converted bedroom can increase your home’s value by up to ten percent. When carrying out this type of work it is vital that it doesn’t jeopardise the living space of the house and suits the current layout. Not only will you get a return on your investment but you will have a lot more family space to enjoy.

Extension

There is a wide selection of home extensions available. Adding extra rooms is one of the most effective ways to increase the value of your property. If the building work is completed to a high standard, it can be a massive selling point when you decide to move on. Adding an extra bedroom or a new bathroom can add a new lease of life to the property. It can be fun planning an extension project, thinking of ways to add depth and character to your home.

Add Storage

Adding innovative storage can help keep your home to be clutter free. A lot of families struggle with storage ideas around their properties and could do with more space to accommodate shoes, clothes and other belongings. There are various creative and unique ways to store items without spending too much money. Adding storage underneath your staircase will help you unlock the hidden potential under your stairs. This new space can help you organise school bags, cleaning products and household appliances.

Conservatory

Adding a conservatory will create a new room in your home. Its a great way to remodel your property, providing a new dimension and open plan living. This type of development will typically add around five percent to the value of your house. It does mean you might have to lose some of your garden, but most people find this isnt too much of a problem.

Remodelling the Kitchen

The kitchen is often looked as the main hub of the home. It is the centre point of any busy household, so any investment will really pay off. Choosing finishing materials is very important to the overall appearance of the work and cutting corners will be obvious to the trained eye. Bringing appliances up to date is also a high priority. An out of date cooker and washer will stand out a mile in a newly finished work space.

5 Things to Consider Before Starting a Business

Starting a business can be a very exciting time, but there are many things to consider when setting up your venture which can determine its success. Having the inspiration and motivation to start is the first step, but you will also need a lot of hard work, persistence and organisation. We’ve compiled the top 5 things to consider before you start your own business.

Research

When setting up your business it’s vital to understand everything about the industry you are entering. Research your market thoroughly to understand demand, target audience, and competition, all of this will help you once you are ready to launch.

Understand Your Finances

Whether you are starting out alone or planning on employing staff straight away, you need to understand the finances of your business. Everything from securing funding if necessary to get your business off the ground, paying the correct tax and ensuring you will have enough money to pay employees accordingly need to be taken into consideration.

Know the Law

One of the most important aspects to consider before setting up your business is to make sure that everything you do will be legally compliant. Make sure you are registered with the correct authorities for your industry and have up to date health and safety procedures in place, such as displaying the correct safety signs in the workplace, or making sure you have trained first aiders on hand. Be as organised as possible and know where you stand with the law before launching your business.

Get Out There

Your customers won’t find you straight away so do everything you can to get your name out there. Conduct social media campaigns, run advertising and attend industry relevant events to begin to build yourself and your business a profile within the relevant industry.

Get the Right Help

Starting out alone can be a daunting prospect but there are many ways to get help to make sure your business becomes the successful venture you imagined. Whether this is consulting with experts along the way about finances or legal requirements or hiring the right people to help you launch your business. Identifying which aspects of your business you may need assistance with can help avoid problems in the future.

Top phishing attacks to avoid

What is phishing?

Bad news. You’re the fish (phish). And a lot of nasty people are dangling bait in front of you every time you go online. The phishermen want sensitive information like your passwords, usernames, and credit card details, and the tactics they use can be hard to differentiate from the innocent decisions we use online every day; responding to social media messages, opening websites, or communicating with people and organisations we trust. It sounds bleak but there’s some good news; it’s up to the phish as to whether it bites the hook or not. Here are three of the most common tricks of the phishermen and how you can avoid them.

Deceptive Phishing

Deceptive phishing is the original and most common form of phishing used on the web today; there’s probably several in your junk email folder right now. The con involves sending emails, social media messages, text messages, or even making phone calls that look and sound like they are from a legitimate company. The messages usually have an attention-grabbing subject such as “There is a Problem with your Package”, or “Your Account has been Frozen”, designed to panic you into opening the message and providing the fraudsters with your information.

Spear phishing works in a very similar way but is targeted at specific persons and businesses – often involving collecting and using genuine information to make it more likely you will fall for it. These tactic can thus be harder to detect than your average phishing scam. Hilary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign was perhaps the highest profile victim of spear phishing. For support and information on how you can avoid such attacks, follow CloudM on Twitter,

Clone phishing

Clone phishing involves a legitimate, and previously delivered, email containing an attachment or link that has had its content and recipient address(es) used to create a cloned email that on quick glance can appear identical to the genuine original. almost identical or cloned email. However in the clone the genuine attachments or links have been replaced with malicious versions and then sent from an email address that appears to be the original sender (usually by having a similar sounding name) The clone often claims to be a resend of the original or an updated version.

The fraudsters hope to exploit your trust in the original sender and open their clone, installing a virus on your machine or providing them with your sensitive information.

Evil Twins

It’s easy to think of a conman sitting in a little room somewhere on the other side of the world, sending out phishing emails by the thousand, but sometimes they can be sitting only a few tables away, whilst you enjoy a coffee, or wait for that business flight. The Evil Twin attack involves fraudsters creating a fake public wireless account of the type found in coffee shops, hotels, and airports and trains. The fake account will have a name that appears similar to the legitimate public network in the hope the victims will connect to it without thinking. Now connected to your computer, the fraudsters can capture your sensitive information such as passwords and payment card details.

Conclusion

Phishing attacks rely on your involvement to be successful, usually that you will respond without checking who you are responding to. Don’t let them panic you into reacting, and equally don’t be complacent when replying to an email or connecting to a network that appears suspicious. The internet age old advice will always be relevant here – if you get an email or message you think is suspicious, or seems too good to be true- don’t open it.

Why is a strong employer/employee relationship so important?

If there is one thing certain in business, it is that your employees are key to success. A happy team of productive staff will help you to generate sales, offer outstanding customer service, and grow into the future. It is not just finding the right people to work for you that is key though – the relationship you have with your workforce is just as important.

What makes a healthy employer/employee relationship so key?

There are many things that a good relationship with your workforce can bring to your business. In general terms, it makes sense as it will make it easier for you to manage them effectively while ensuring that they deliver the best service to your customers.

Here are some other amazing benefits that strong work relations offer:

  • Increased productivity – people work harder when they are happy and feel valued. By maintaining a healthy relationship with staff, you will show them that you care about them and their feelings. Do not underestimate how maintaining good relations with staff can boost morale and in turn productivity.
  • Greater staff loyalty – if you have a healthy, open relationship with your employees, then they will respect you as a boss. This will also foster greater staff loyalty to your business as they will feel that they owe you the same respect back. Hanging on to experienced, competent staff is key as these are often the people who make you the most money!
  • Less conflicts between staff – this may seem a strange one, but a robust relationship between staff and employers can actually help reduce staff arguments. The reason is that good relations with bosses and staff creates a more relaxed environment where people are not walking around in a bad mood, unhappy about what is going on at work.
  • Builds trust – another reason that strong relations with staff is so key is the trust that it builds between you. Trust is key and will see staff want to put extra effort in for you and also believe in where you are leading them. It is key for you as a boss as it allows you to delegate with the peace of mind that employees can be trusted to perform.

How to establish trust in staff

The last point about building trust is very important especially for you to feel that your staff can be trusted when on site. You not only need to know that they are fit to work and work in a safe manner but also that they are not doing anything to destroy your trust behind your back. One great way to go about this is to use an on-site drug testing service. Matrix Diagnostics Drug Testing offers this kind of service and will really help improve the relationship you have with the people you employ.

Take time to work on your relationship with staff

As a business owner, it is very important to think about your relations with your whole workforce. This is not only in terms of them trusting in you to lead them but also you being able to feel trust in them when working for you. Hopefully, the above has shown just why this is so important and what amazing benefits it can bring when done right.

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