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8 Devon Gardens to Inspire this Spring

Devon is home to countless beautiful gardens and as estate agents we are very lucky to be able to visit new ones all the time.

As gardening season is upon us, we thought it would be good to list just a few local gardens open to visitors to enjoy. After all, it is the perfect time to start planning how you’ll make the most of the great outdoors.

From wildflower meadows to manicured lawns and everything in-between, these gardens  invite you to witness their displays and get inspiration for your own outdoor space.

Shobrooke Park Garden, Crediton

The 200 acre Shobrooke Park was laid out in the 1850s. The house was lost in a fire in 1946, but the grand garden remains with its Portland stone terracing and flowering shrubs under ancient oaks. All especially magnificent in the Spring.

Wandering through the oak woodland, on to the formal terracing and past the walled kitchen gardens to the American Grounds there are ever changing colours. See the way that clipped yew and laurel compliment the stonework. Enjoy the views out over Shobrooke Park with its cascade of ponds.

In May the spring flowers fade but the diversity of the shrubs continues in whites, blues, yellows and pinks. The scented azaleas in the American grounds are worth the walk.

In 2022 the gardens are open on Friday afternoons from 2.00 pm to 5.00 pm on 6th & 20th May and on Saturdays mornings from 9.30 am to 12.30 pm on 7th & 21st May.

The garden is rough and steep in places so unfortunately not suitable for people with mobility problems or wheelchairs. Stout boots and walking sticks are sensible for your visit.

Downes Estate, Crediton

Downes is the family home of the Buller and Parker Family.  It is still lived in by the current generation of the family – Henry and Susan Parker and their children.

The attraction of Downes is the way it brings together aspects of the history of our country (particularly as the home of the famous General Buller) and the history of a family home, still privately occupied and loved by its owners, some 300 years after it was first built.  It is hoped that visitors will appreciate the opportunity to share this special place.

The house is open to the public for guided tours at 2.15pm daily during the following weeks and if you are joining a tour the gardens are open between 1.30pm – 4.30pm:

2nd May – 8th May, 30th May – 5th June, 29th August – 4th September

Sherwood House, Newton St Cyres

Sherwood Garden is a hidden treasure; traditional gardens surround a beautiful, turn of the century Arts and Crafts home set in a landscape of 23 acres. Explore two deep ancient oak wooded valleys, surrounded by pastureland and further forest. Acers, magnolias, rhododendrons, azaleas and other woody plants are beautifully supported by banks of naturalised bulbs and wild flowers which thrive under careful low input management. Yew topiary surrounds the house and frames the more natural garden beyond.

If the weather is kind , there are plenty of benches and areas all over the garden for a picnic too – which means you can make a real day of it! Head to their Open Gardens with Tea and Cake in aid of Parkinsons UK on Saturday 28th May, near Crediton. There will be two sessions to view the gardens 11am to 1pm and from 2pm to 4pm. There are limited ticket sales for each to allow for parking restrictions.

Knighthayes Court National Trust

If you discovered ‘growing your own’ over lockdown (like millions of others) then look no further for inspiration than the nationally significant formal garden and working kitchen garden at Knightshayes.

This two-and-a-half-acre walled kitchen garden with fairytale turrets is home to a vast collection of crops which are now almost extinct – including 102 varieties of heritage tomatoes. The kitchen garden was finished in 1876, and was designed by Burges, at the same time as the house. The influence of Burges can be spotted from the turrets and the style of the walls, like a castle.

Sadly, the garden declined following the First World War, as most young men went off to fight, leaving a skeleton staff. By the Second World War, numbers had declined yet further, though the garden was still used to help produce supplies when the main house was used as a hospital during both world wars. Wider commercial availability of fruit and vegetables also meant the garden ceased to be cost effective, as more and more produce was brought into the estate. In the 1970’s, the garden had grown over and been abandoned due it becoming too expensive to run. The garden was put to bed for over 40 years and used as grazing and even an overflow carpark.

In 1999, a project was undertaken to restore the kitchen garden to its former glory and by 2003 it was fully productive again.

The lesson for us all is that it is never too late! So don’t be afraid to start growing fruit and veg no matter how tiny your plot. Plus, don’t forget that there are allotments around Crediton as well as the community allotment where you can get involved in growing without needing to own any land yourself.

Backswood Farm, Bickleigh, Tiverton

If you’re keen on finding out more about encouraging wildlife into your garden, then this is one for you. This newly created two acre nature garden provides many uniquely designed homes for wildlife.

Wander through the flower meadow visiting individually designed areas, structures, water features and ponds. Seating areas afford stunning views towards Exmoor and Dartmoor. Both native and herbaceous plants have been chosen to benefit insect and bird life.

This garden opens by arrangement for groups of between 1 and 99. This means the garden welcomes visitors on pre-agreed dates. So don’t be afraid to get in contact with them and arrange a visit. You can gather knowledge, tips and ideas through chatting to them about their hard work and then come back inspired to do the same!

Lewis Cottage, Spreyton

This well-known garden and plant nursery on the way to Spreyton, near Crediton, has four acres of garden that really demonstrate how to make the most of the natural landscape. It has evolved primarily over last 30 years using informal planting and natural formal structures to create a garden that reflects the souls of those who garden there. There are often special open days and there are a couple coming up on the 28/29 May and 25/26 June. Lewis Cottage Plants is an online nursery selling plants that grow in the garden at Lewis Cottage. You can also visit the nursery in person when you book a visit and pick up some of your favourite plants that you’ve spotted in the garden.

Andrew’s Corner Belstone

A little further afield, this garden really helps inspire when you want to garden on the wild side! In 2022 they celebrate 51 years of opening through the National Gardening Scheme.

In early May the maples, rhododendrons and unusual shrubs provide interest, late May brings the flowering davidia, cornus, embothrium and the spectacular blue poppies. A perfect day out and you are certain to get some good ideas!

Fursdon, near Exeter

Venture into East Devon a little and you will find Fursdon, where rural hillside gardens blend seamlessly into rolling parkland and on into the countryside with views over the Exe valley and beyond to Dartmoor.

Take a leisurely stroll through approximately 4 acres of garden and grounds including terraces of roses, herbs and perennials in mixed traditional and contemporary planting. The Vine Pavilion and thatched Round House are great places to sit and admire the view and listen to the birds – and there are many strategically placed benches for resting and taking time to be peaceful. Throughout the gardens, there are some steep slopes with grass or gravel paths.

The Meadow Garden, originally planted nearly 200 years ago, in memory of Harriet Fursdon, is now a woodland walk leading to a pond.

This is by no means a finished garden and this is why it’s a great inspiration. Restoring and regenerating this area is an ongoing project. They are establishing wild flowers and have planted hundreds of bulbs to grow under the canopy of trees. It is a short walk from the main garden and visitors can wander and enjoy this peaceful natural space, while building up an appetite for tea in the Coach Hall.

They have created a pond in The Meadow Garden which attracts all sorts of wildlife and planted the banks and beds which lie next to the grassed walkways.

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We hope you enjoy visiting these gardens. If you want to recommend others, then head to our Facebook and Instagram pages and please add them into the comments!

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Why do Half of Crediton Homeowners Move Again Within 5 Years and 43 Weeks?

In Britain, there are 27,071,500 households, of which 17,044,450 are owned, and are worth a total of £3,925,865,212,950 (£3.92 trillion). Over the last 5 years, an average of 86,096 properties sell each month, meaning just over a million UK households move home per year. Therefore, the average British homeowner moves every 16 years 5 months.

These statistics refute a common hypothesis that British neighbourhoods are becoming more fleeting and transitory. On the face of it, they appear to show that, once you have succeeded to buy a property you can call home, there isn’t much motivation to move again.

So, aren’t people moving home so much?

Could it be put down to a certain sense of complacency or apathy to moving home? Whereas we might love our home in Crediton, most of you (including myself) still want to ‘better our lives’ with a bigger house, better area etc, which typically requires us to climb up the Crediton property ladder.

Yet with Crediton house prices having risen by 166.2% in the last 20 years, the cost of going up the next rung on the Crediton property ladder is prohibitive.

Everyone harks back to the 1980’s, when we had an upbeat booming property market as a backcloth, Brits moved home every eight years; so now with the average at just over 16 years this equates to each British homeowner moving around three to four times in their adult lifetime. Maybe we should all call our homes ‘Dunroamin’ and be done with it!

Or does it? 

We have all heard the phrase ‘lies, damn lies and statistics’ … well the stats mentioned above hide some amazing features of the British property market. When homeowners get into their 50’s and 60’s, their tendency to move home drops like a stone. The average length of time a homeowner without a mortgage moves home is 24 years and 7 months (and just under 7 out of ten outright homeowners i.e. without a mortgage are 65 years old or older). 

Yet, homeowners with a mortgage move on average every 10 years and 11 weeks.

So, whilst I cannot determine who has a mortgage and who doesn’t, I can look at how quickly people move home in Crediton.  I have looked at the last 50 property sales in Crediton, and I have found some interesting findings.

On average Crediton homeowners only move every 12 years and 37 weeks.

Nothing interesting about that you might say, when compared to the national average … yet the devil is in the detail.

There appears to be a two speed Crediton property market … look at the top 25% of Crediton home movers, and then the next slice … these Crediton people are moving home really quickly, yet the gap for the next two slices widens tremendously.

  • Top 25% quickest Crediton home movers move every 3 years and 43 weeks
  • The next 25% quickest Crediton home movers move every 7 years and 36 weeks
  • The next 25% quickest Crediton home movers move every 15 years and 21 weeks
  • Whilst top 25% slowest Crediton home movers only move every 23 years and 23 weeks

When looking at the properties that fall into the later bands (i.e. the ones that don’t move/sell so often), they tend to be the larger properties where the homeowners have lived for 25/30 years plus.

The lesson we all should learn is that once people get into their 50’s and 60’s, their propensity to move home drops considerably. This means the properties on the lower rungs of the Crediton property ladder do appear to sell quickly (as they are occupied by younger homeowners) yet once Crediton people get older, their tendency to move diminishes. This puts a roadblock on the younger generation wanting to buy the larger Crediton properties these mature homeowners live in.

What is holding the older generation back from selling and downsizing to free up homes for families that desperately need them? Some of it will be apathy, some of it will be holding on to the home that they brought their family up in, yet the bottom line is …

46.5% of the homes owned in Britain have two or more spare bedrooms.

As a nation, we need to rethink how we can encourage older homeowners to sell their large homes to release them to the younger families that desperately need them. Some suggest tax breaks, yet the Government won’t be in the mood to give huge tax breaks as the measures to protect the economy over the last 12 months will ultimately need to be paid back.

One thing I do know, we as a Country have seen (and will continue to see) a lot of demographic change together with an increasing elderly population, so it’s not just about how many homes we build, but whether we are building the right kind of homes the older generation will want to move into.

Interesting times ahead for the Crediton property market!

If you have a Crediton property to sell or let in the coming weeks, months or years and would like to know how this and other factors will affect you and your property … without obligation, don’t hesitate to give me a call or drop me line.

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Fewer Crediton Homes ‘For Sale’ in Last 4 Months

With most Crediton families home schooling their children in lockdown and the forthcoming Stamp Duty Holiday deadline on the 31st March 2021, less Crediton properties have been coming onto the property market since the new year. This has prompted about a 10% drop in the supply of Crediton homes for sale compared to October 2020.

For the past couple of decades, like clockwork, Crediton estate agents’ busiest times for putting property onto the market is the new year to Easter rush, with a smaller flurry of new properties coming onto the market in the mid/late summer. Yet, since the ending of lockdown 1.0 in the late spring 2020, nothing has been normal about the Crediton property market.

Throughout the summer, the number of properties coming onto the market in Crediton steadily rose to its peak in October and the number of properties then becoming sold subject to contract (stc) rose even higher (and whilst statistics don’t exist for the properties sold stc, anecdotal evidence suggests there were just under 50% more Crediton properties sold stc in the last six months of 2020 compared to the same 6 months in 2019).

However, back to the number of properties for sale.

The peak of the number of Crediton properties on the market in autumn was 88 – that now stands at 79.

The first lockdown caused many Crediton homeowners to want to move with the need for extra space to work from home and in some cases larger gardens. This was further exacerbated by Crediton home movers also trying to take advantage of the Stamp Duty Holiday to save themselves money on this tax.

This meant many more Crediton properties came onto the market (more than a “normal” year) in the last 6 months of 2020. However, those Crediton home movers motivated to move for the extra space/save money on the tax, did so in the summer/autumn and have already placed their Crediton home on the market (and are probably by now sold stc rushing to get their house purchases through before the deadline on the tax savings).

So, how does Crediton compare to other property markets, and what does this reduction in Crediton properties on the market mean to Crediton homeowners and landlords?

There are 80% more properties on the market today in Crediton, compared to 12 months ago.

When I compared that to the national picture, according to Zoopla, there are 12% less properties on the market today (compared to a year ago).

There are currently 47,900 apartments for sale in London compared to January 2020, when there were only 32,600 – a massive rise of 46.9% … all the more interesting when there are only 15.1% more London semi-detached houses for sale and 1.8% more London detached homes over the same 12 month period.

The jump in London apartments for sale is being pushed by an upsurge of London up-sizers eager to trade their city living apartment up to suburban houses, and a small handful of panicky London buy-to-let investors who are wanting to exit the London property market following falling rents for apartments. Looking closer to home, there are …

240% more terraced homes for sale in Crediton than a year ago, whilst there are only 40% more detached homes.

So, whilst there are some differences between the supply of individual types of property in Crediton (e.g. terraced vs detached houses), the overall reduction in the number (i.e. supply) of properties for sale can only mean one thing, when there is a reduction in the supply of anything and demand remains stable, this will mean continued upward pressure on Crediton house prices in the short term (although I suspect there will be some downward pressure on Crediton terraced houses with that level of increase in supply – maybe some interesting ‘opportunities’ for all you Crediton landlords?).

Will overall demand for Crediton property continue to be stable?

Lockdown 3.0 will probably cause another wave of Crediton people who want to move home (thus increasing demand). The last property crash (the Credit Crunch in 2009) was caused by a huge increase in the supply of properties for sale when people lost their jobs and interest rates were much higher. People couldn’t afford their mortgages and so dumped their homes onto the market all at the same time – causing an oversupply of property for sale and hence house prices dropped.

Compared to the 79 properties for sale in Crediton today, at the height of the Credit Crunch in January 2009, there were an eye watering 156 properties for sale in Crediton.

It was this increase in the level of property for sale in Crediton (mirrored across the whole of the UK) that caused property prices to drop between 16% and 19% (depending on the type of property) in Crediton over the 12 to 14 months of the Credit Crunch. So, as long there is no sudden change in the demand or supply of properties and interest rates remain at their current ultra-low level – the medium-term prospects for the Crediton property market look good.

If you are a Crediton homeowner or a Crediton buy to let landlord and want to chat about the future of the Crediton property market – do drop me a line, I’d love yo hear from you!

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Lockdown Update for Sellers and Buyers in Devon

In this two-minute read, we look at what the announcement on Saturday by Prime Minister Boris Johnson means to home sellers and buyers in Crediton and surrounding areas.

On Saturday we received confirmation England will go into lockdown from Thursday, November 5 until at least December 2.

So, how will this affect people in the process of moving or thinking about selling in mid Devon?

Well, firstly it’s good news from a property moving perspective because the Housing Minister Robert Jenrick confirmed in a tweet on Saturday evening that the market was still very much open for business.

QUESTION:

‘Can I still move home?’

ANSWER:

Absolutely Yes – the housing market will remain open throughout this period. Everyone should continue to play their part in reducing the spread of the virus by following the current guidance.

The Minister’s tweet linked to an information guide about the new lockdown which you can find at the bottom of this article.

At Helmores we continue to work hard for our sellers and buyers in a Covid-19 secure way, while strictly following the regulations laid out by the Government.

Yes!

We offer virtual tours and carry out video valuations.  Most of our properties already have interactive digital tours.

We will still conduct safety first viewings using PPE, hand sanitisers and social distancing.

We will continue to progress all current and new sales as per usual.

And we will keep everyone we work with updated about any changes that may happen.

Here for YOU

We appreciate this is an anxious time for many of our clients and that’s why we want you to contact us if you have any questions, concerns or need to get a better understanding of what’s happening.

As we were in the first lockdown, we are 100 per cent committed and focussed on doing the right things for our clients, our colleagues, and our community.

Thanks for reading.

PS: Here’s the Government article:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/new-national-restrictions-from-5-november

Copyright: Helmores

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Fears for the Welfare of Devon’s Pandemic Puppies

In this three-minute read, we look at fears the UK is heading for an animal welfare crisis this winter.

Demand for puppies skyrocketed during lockdown, but with furlough ending later this month and the economy struggling, is the reality of pet ownership about to bite? 

Earlier this year, demand for puppies skyrocketed, with Google searches for “Puppies near me” increasing more than six times (by 650%) between January and July.

As a result, the price of popular breeds such Dachshunds, English Bulldogs, French Bulldogs, Pugs and Chow Chows shot up.

The asking price for a Dachshund, for example, increased from £973 in March to £1,838 in June (figures from The Dogs Trust).

But what happens when the novelty of owning a puppy wears off? The RSPCAThe Dogs Trust and The Kennel Club have all raised concerns about the number of people who bought four-legged friends on a whim during the lockdown. 

They fear a surge in the number of dogs dumped or abandoned as people struggle to pay for pet food and vet bills or exercise their pooch every day.

The Kennel Club’s Head of Health and Welfare Bill Lambert says: “We have concerns about those puppies which may have been bought on impulse, without owners doing their homework on how or where to get a dog responsibly, or fully realising a puppy is a new family member for life, not a short-term commodity.

These hasty decisions not only play into the hands of the opportunistic scammers and puppy farmers operating during the pandemic – but can also sadly result in puppies being rehomed if owners haven’t carefully considered how their dog will fit their ‘normal’ life.”

Due to this growing concern, the RSPCA has renamed October “Adoptober” (see what they did there?). The campaign urges people who are determined to get a dog to adopt, instead of buy.

By adopting a rescue dog, you will be giving an animal in need a loving home. You will also be able to rest easy in the knowledge that you haven’t fuelled the activities of overseas puppy farmers, who illegally smuggle dogs into the UK and sell them on the internet.

These dogs often have serious health and emotional problems as they are often kept in unhygienic conditions, are in poor health and are removed from their mothers too soon.

Dog welfare expert Dr Samantha Gaines says: “The message here is simple: do lots of research to help find the right pet for your family and don’t impulse buy.”

And if adoption isn’t for you, there are, of course, other ways you can do your bit for the canine community. Many animal charities are looking for people to foster dogs, providing pooches with a temporary residence until they find their “forever home”. 

Or you could consider volunteering your services as a dog walker to various charities around the country. Check out the work of the Cinnamon Trust and The Underdog.

We’d love to see your dog, whether it’s a rescue, fostered, owned, or adopted, so feel free to share photos of your four-legged companion with us here at Helmores

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Is Your Home in Crediton Gas Safe?

Here’s a question for you – When was the last time you had your gas appliances checked?

If it’s been over 12 months, you need to act now and get them checked by a qualified gas engineer.

Next Monday (14th) sees the tenth annual Gas Safety Week begin. The awareness campaign is timed to get people thinking about and checking their gas appliances as the autumn starts to take hold.

Gas Safety Week’s goal is to raise awareness among homeowners about the crucial importance of having their gas appliances serviced every year.

Gas Safety Week reminds people of the dangers of poorly maintained gas appliances, which can lead to gas leaks, fires, and carbon monoxide poisoning. All of which can kill.

Here are four simple steps you can do to keep you and your family gas safe.

1)            Have your gas appliances checked every 12 months.

2)            Verify that any engineer you employ is Gas Safe registered (previously called CORGI). Gas Safe engineers work to a set standard and are tested regularly.

3)            Check your engineer’s Gas Safe ID card. Any engineer worthy of employing will have no issue showing you this, and you can verify it online with the Gas Safe Register.

4)            Install an audible carbon monoxide alarm and test it regularly – this is a potential lifesaver.

When it comes to anything gas related in your home, it’s always wise to think ‘if in doubt get it checked out’.

How safe is Crediton?

You can find out by checking the Gas Safe Register website which has a map showing all the dangerous gas appliances that have been found in Crediton!! To check it out, visit https://www.staygassafe.co.uk/

The demand for gas safety and heating engineers surges in October and November as boilers and heaters start firing up after the summer lull.

So, with that in mind, it’s worth book your home’s appointment with a Gas Safe registered engineer in advance and beat the rush and possible delays.

If you think this article will be helpful to someone you know, why not tag them in the comments or share it with them?

Thanks for reading!

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Crediton Millennials Moving Back in with Mum & Dad?

Roll the clock back 20 years and any self-respecting late 20/early 30 something would never say on their first date that they lived with their mum and dad. It was seen as a sign of immaturity being tied to your mother’s apron strings with as a failure to leave the family home. Yet over these last two decades, the age of leaving home has been increasing steadily from 20 years and 11 months in the late 1990’s to 22 years and 7 months today.

However, as with all the stats, the devil is in the detail. Although the age of leaving home has only risen by 8% between 1997 and today, those that didn’t leave home in their early 20’s tended to stay much, much longer.

In 1997, 11.26% of 25yo to 34yo still lived at home with their parents,yet last year that had risen to 15.74%, an increase of 391,000  ‘stay at home’ Millennials

However, before we deride these Millennials for still being tied to their mother’s apron strings, I would say those very same Millennials (the mid 20’s to 30-year olds) have been pragmatic, being attracted to sacrificing independence in order to achieve their long-term life goals as they have seen rents rise and an inability to save for the mortgage deposit. All of this has seen the first-time buyer levels in this millennial age range rise for the last three years … so good news for everyone!

However, is all that about to change?

Just as mum and dads in Crediton had thought their late 20 something/early 30 something offspring had flown the nest, Covid-19 has blown some Crediton ‘chickadees’ back into the nest. Back in March, the lockdown saw many Millennials flee the big UK cities, with their constrained and poky shared HMO’s and flat shares, swapping their city centre private rented home for their parents’ Crediton home.

Yet with lockdown lessening, it isn’t just remote workers who are unenthusiastic and disinclined to return to the big cities (fearful of a second lockdown) – many of these Coronavirus blow-ins are deciding to stay put too! A recent YouGov poll asked Millennials of private rented homes what their plans were and 1 in 6 tenants planned to hand their notice in on their rented home and fly back to the nest of mum and dad. The advantages are quite plain, especially as it could enable them to save for a deposit to buy their future home.

There are 3,489 households in Crediton, made up of 1,157 single person households and 2,170 family households (the remainder being made up of shared houses etc.)

Yet how many of those Crediton family households had non-dependent children before Covid-19?

296 Crediton households have children that haven’t flown the nest

That’s 13.6% of Crediton families whose kids are still to leave home … and it’s only going to get worse!

So, what does this mean for Crediton homeowners and Crediton landlords?

It will mean that Crediton parents and their children will get to know each other better, build stronger relationships and it will enable their children, if they are wise, to save for their deposit for their first home purchase – who knows maybe in Crediton, as working from home could become the norm.

Also, with remote working, many tenants are looking for properties with bigger gardens which could translate into greater demand for property with bigger gardens? It will also change the property needs of those Crediton parents and potentially could mean instead of those parents moving down market, they could end up staying longer or moving up market?

Now of course these polls could be a load of hot air. What I do know is that this thing has not played out yet and only time will tell if this will make a concrete change to the way people live, rent and buy property.

These are interesting times and thank you for reading this. Do let me know your thoughts on this matter!

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7 Ideas to Soothe Back to School Worries in Crediton

The lockdown and ongoing fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic have been tough for everyone. But it’s been especially hard for school-aged children.

They’ve gone months without seeing a lot of their friends, have had their routine turned upside down and now face new worries as the schools head back in September.

It’s going to be a challenging time for parents and kids, but these seven ideas from the University of Calgary in Canada can help ease any Covid-19 concerns that going back to school may bring.

1. Be Honest and Open

Don’t gloss over the facts and be truthful about what children can expect when they go to school, which will look and feel very different to life before lockdown. For younger kids, talk to them about changes in their classroom, how some activities will be postponed until things return to normal and make them aware that some familiar people may be wearing unfamiliar face masks. Ask older children if they have any concerns or want to talk about the return to school.

2. Make Them Feel in Control

It’s empowering for children to feel they can control certain things, especially during an uncertain time like this. Emphasise things they can do to fight the spread of the illness like listening to instructions, practising required social distancing and probably the best and easiest one to remember – getting into the habit of washing their hands.

3. Name It to Tame It

According to the University’s report, it helps children to recognise and even name their fears. Speaking about ‘the Worry Monster’ or for older children, labelling their worried feelings as anxiety can help them articulate what’s on their minds. According to child clinicians, naming the fears goes a long way to coping with them.

4. Listen Up

Put down your phone and listen intently if your child comes to you with concerns. By giving them attention, and showing you understand and are with them every step of the way helps reassure them that things will be ok. Children look towards adults for how to behave in certain situations so think about how you are reacting and be kind to yourselves because it’s ok for you to have nerves and worries too.

5. Role-Play

Play is a big part of the way we learn. So, why not try certain role-playing situations which your child has identified as worrying them. By playing out situations and finding solutions to problems in a safe environment, it will help them be better equipped for real-life scenarios.

6. Promote the Positives

Children have missed out on a lot of things because of Covid-19. But now they have some brighter times on the horizon. Ask them what they are most looking forward to? Who or what they have missed the most? And once they’ve returned to school, ask them what the best thing that happened during the day was?

7. Routines Reap Rewards

Of all the tips featured in this article, the authors of the University of Calgary report said that establishing a back-to-school routine is perhaps the most vital. You can build up a sense of calm and control in your children by having routine around meals and setting regular times for going to bed and waking up. Ideally, start this at least a week before the schools return.

At Helmores, we see our role in the community we serve as being about more than helping people move and find homes. That’s why we often publish articles which have nothing to do with estate agency but everything to do with offering help and advice to the people, young and old, of Crediton. Thanks for reading 🙂

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Huge Planning Permission Rule Changes for Crediton

So, how will this affect the 9,728 Crediton Property Owners?

The 1st July 1948 heralded a new dawn in how property was built, as the Town & Country Planning Act 1947 came into force, meaning no property could be built without the say so of the local authority. Now, Boris Johnson has announced a substantial change to that, by in effect, ending planning permission.

The decision of what gets built (and what doesn’t) will be removed from Mid Devon District Council and replaced by Westminster governed ‘Zoning Commissions’. The anticipated reform will give presumptive building rights to any piece of land outside areas of outstanding natural beauty, green belt and national parks, although in the press release there was mention of protection for the countryside.

Travel to Europe and its common to see out of place haphazard development of new households or commercial buildings, surrounded by open countryside…so let’s hope these new regulations protect us against that.

The principles of the planning rule changes are a departure away from looking at each planning application as a standalone application to a ‘zone-system’ of planning. Land will be divided into three classes: 1st for growth, 2nd for protection and 3rd for renewal. Anyone applying for planning permission to develop homes, offices and shops on land zoned for growth, will automatically be granted planning permission; whilst land zoned for renewal planning permission will be granted in principle while Government officers perform checks. Local authorities have until 2024 to designate areas for the three classes and once agreed, planning departments will have little or no say over individual applications that fit the rules.

Interestingly, these changes come on top of new planning regulations coming into force this September which gives implied rights to demolish any office building and replace with a block of flats, and the right to build extra floors/storeys on your home.

The Housing Secretary has specified the motive behind the changes to the planning system is not to make planning permissions easier to get (although 88% per cent of planning applications are approved by local authority’s already). Instead, they have been done to make the planning process quicker, less expensive and less likely to be held up by special ‘interest’ groups.

93% of planning permissions in Mid Devon District Council were approved last year (compared to the national average of 88%)

Noteworthy, the planning rules were changed in 2016 to turn disused shops and office space into residential homes (called ‘permitted development’ rights), yet these new regulations about to be announced by Boris will take that right even further.  This is important because in 2019, there were 241,340 new households created in the country, yet 29,260 of those households came from turning disused shops and office space into residential homes (i.e. the planning permission rule changes made in 2016).

An RICS report in 2018 showed a massive difference between the conversion of office blocks with planning permission and those without (i.e. permitted development). What was interesting is that only 1 in 5 properties met the national space standards, a non-legally binding suggestion on the minimum size of home, minimum dimensions of bedrooms, natural light, storage & floor to ceiling height, whilst 3 in 4 of office block conversions that did obtain planning permission met the standard.

So, what does this all mean to Crediton homeowners and Crediton landlords? If you have been reading my articles you will know that one of the most important factors holding back the Crediton property market is the lack of new properties being constructed and when they are, the lack of infrastructure surrounding them.

Since 1995, only 732 properties have been built in the postcode sector of EX17

Yet, these new planning changes will also introduce a new method of taking a lot more money off landowners and builders, as the Government will take a larger share of uplift in land value (i.e. the increase in value from farmland to building land) to finance infrastructure around the development.  This would mean new housing developments would come with upgraded roads, GP surgeries, primary schools and shops that these new communities need to be viable. Also, communities will be asked to decide on their own standards on style and design for new developments in their area, allowing residents a greater say on the development in their locality.

Like all things, the devil is in the detail. All of us in Crediton cannot deny that we need to build more homes to keep up with the ever-growing population and the fact that people are living longer. This new planning system should lead to more housebuilding, which in turn would increase the supply of property for those trying to get on the property ladder. Also, in the proposed legislation is the new ‘First Homes’ scheme, which would allow key workers, first time buyers and people who live or work in the Crediton area to purchase their new home at 30% less than its market value and when they come to sell it, that 30% discount would be passed on to the new buyer (if they also met the criteria).

With regard to what can be built and where, Crediton people will have a say upfront (i.e. between now and 2024 when the zoning rules are drawn up) but once the zoning has been established hopefully we can construct the Crediton homes we are proud of for our children and for Crediton generations to come. 

Please do let me have your thoughts on this matter in the comments section below.

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How to Find the Right Property Solicitor

When you are selling a home, you have two crucial decisions to make.

Firstly, choosing the right estate agent to sell your home is often the difference between getting a good deal or ending up with no deal.

Secondly, selecting the right conveyancing solicitor will no doubt make your life easier and less stressful. Picking a bad one often leads to headaches, hassle and having to chase them up continually.

We’ve learned a thing or six about what to look out for when it comes to choosing a legal eagle over a tired turkey or a grumpy goose. Conveyancing is legalese for transferring the ownership of property, whether you are buying or selling.

What Is a Conveyancing Solicitor, and What Do They Do?

A conveyancer, or sometimes known more simply as a property solicitor, does the following for you:

  • They will handle the contracts.
  • Be on hand to give legal advice.
  • Carry out local council searches.
  • Deal with the Land Registry.
  • Transfer the funds to pay for your property.

They have a significant and vital part to play when it comes to getting your sale or purchase across the finish line. We realise the importance of their role, and that’s why we’ve come up with the six things to look out for when it comes to choosing a conveyancer or a property solicitor.

Six Top Tips

Recommendations
Ask your family and friends who they have used and would they recommend them.

Communication is key
Some solicitors are notoriously tricky to get hold of and can take days/weeks to respond to your questions. Before instructing any solicitor, it’s worth asking if they have a system in place where you can view/check on the progress of your sale or purchase? And what is the minimum timeframe within which they promise to get back to you?

Do they embrace technology?
This is an excellent question to ask as some solicitors do not hold technology in high esteem, which can cause problems along the line.

Holidays
Don’t get us wrong, everyone needs a holiday, but it’s not unreasonable for you to ask if a solicitor is going on holiday during the period when you are looking to buy or sell. The last thing you want is to be nearing the exchange of contracts to seal the transaction only to find out your solicitor is away and no one else has been left to work on your sale or purchase. If they are going away ensure that someone else is overseeing your file during that period so that matters don’t come to a grinding half for a fortnight.

Do your research
Make sure your chosen property specialist is a member of the Law Society of England and Wales/Law Society of Scotland and a member of the Law Society’s Conveyancing Quality Scheme. Conveyancers must be members of the Council for Licensed Conveyancers.

Ask us
We’ve worked with hundreds of different conveyancing solicitors over the years. And we’ve experienced a real mix of the good, bad and the ugly (not that we are saying they’re unattractive cowboys or girls). Feel free to give us a call, and we’d be happy to provide you with recommendations and more insight into why choosing the right solicitor or conveyancer will make your life easier and raise your chances of property success.

There are plenty of great solicitors and conveyancers out there, you just need to do your homework to find them.

Thanks for reading and get in touch or leave a comment below if you want answers to any of your property-related questions.

And remember we’re here to help!