Some questions in life are unavoidable. Aside from whether the chicken or the egg came first, at some point along the line you'll begin to wonder if your home can evolve with you, or if it's time to say goodbye and find somewhere new.
Moving is a big step and an exciting time, but whether you're running out of space, looking to downsize or considering a change of location, there's more to selling your home than just a property transaction.
Memories, attachments and neighbours are often difficult to leave behind, and it can become a challenge to separate emotion from logic. Many local homeowners face exactly the same dilemmas as you, so this week's blog is about starting a conversation.
It's not designed to steer you into selling any more than to keep you where you are, but it will hopefully give you food for thought to reach a decision that's right for you.
There are two reasons why your home might feel the wrong size: you've either outgrown it, or you no longer use all the rooms.
When you need more space
An extension might be the answer if your home feels too small.
If you simply want more space for the family to gather, a single-storey extension to the rear could provide a spacious and sociable open-plan family space and kitchen for everyone to be together.
For an extra bedroom or two, converting a loft or garage are two of the most straightforward options for adding more rooms. And if your garage has the correct foundations, it might also support a first-floor extension. Remember that more bedrooms and more people mean more bathroom time, so it's worth seeing if you can fit in at least an additional shower room as well.
Questions to ask are whether a loft conversion will leave you short on storage space, and if losing the garage will have a detrimental effect on the demand for your home.
When your home is too big
Downsizing is one of the most emotional moves people make, and it can take a long time to reach the decision to go.
But if there are rooms that you no longer use or even enter, perhaps it's time to consider whether you really need them.
Memories will stay with you wherever you go, and downsizing is often the opening of an entirely new chapter of life. A cottage with that view you've always dreamed of, or an apartment close to the sea, and all with a lot less cleaning and lower bills.
BALANCING WORK AND LIFE
Is your work taking you further away, or closer to home?
No amount of home improvements will make your journey to work any easier, so if you're already tired of the commute, or it's about to get painfully longer, moving to somewhere more convenient will give you more time for your life.
On the other hand, perhaps working from home has become your new normal. The dining table is fine as an occasional workspace, but mealtimes among piles of paperwork aren't much of a permanent solution. Look for a dedicated space away from the hubbub of family action: a spare room, a space to convert, or even a standalone cabin in the garden.
Boundaries between home and work life are essential, and a room to close the door on at the end of the day provides valuable separation. The last thing you want from your freedom to work from home is to feel like you're living at the office.
THINKING ABOUT SCHOOLS
Education is a hugely important consideration for parents, and getting their children into the right school is the driving factor behind many moves.
For schools with a strict catchment area, there's little choice other than to live within it. If your current home is outside the zone, it's time to look for somewhere new.
Before beginning your search, think about the longevity of your move. If it's for primary school today, will you need to move again when secondary school beckons? Perhaps you can find a location with access to both to avoid upping sticks a second time.
If catchment areas aren't an issue, think about the journey to school. Are you up for the morning school run every day? It's a joy for some parents, but a bind for others. And if your children will be making their own way to school, are public transport or cycling a realistic proposition from where you live?
Sometimes, you just fancy a change. That might be in how you spend time at home, or what you want from your neighbourhood.
Perhaps you've discovered an unexpected talent for cooking, but your kitchen is cramping your style. Maybe you'd love a bathroom that's just for you, either to avoid the morning rush or to savour an evening soak. Or would a home studio allow you to unleash your latent creativity? Does an artist burn within?
Being happy and fulfilled at home is worth pursuing, whether it's little pleasures or big passions. Does your home provide the scope for the space you need, or would you rather avoid building works and move to somewhere with everything you desire?
If you find yourself dreaming of getting closer to nature, or having more shops and cafes nearby, or living nearer to friends or family, it's time to make a move.
Ah, love. When it strikes, and when talk turns to living together, the obvious choice is for the partner with the smallest home to move into the other's larger one.
It's a quick and straightforward solution, but does it reflect both your lives equally? Each of you probably moved to where you are for particular reasons - handy for work; your favourite neighbourhood; close to friends or family - and you could end up with one of you feeling very much at home, while the other feels marooned.
Feeling stuck in someone else's home is a recipe for friction and another move before long, so take some time to understand what each of you wants from where you live. It's a new beginning that should be right for you both.
For moving in together to feel like a truly fresh start, it doesn't get much more exciting than heading out hand-in-hand to find your perfect home. Somewhere that's all about your future, with no ties to the past and no compromise in size, style or location.
Well, maybe not entirely without compromise!
Deciding whether to stay or go is full of questions, and not always instant answers.
If you're still unsure of what's right for you, why not get in touch? Whether you'd like to know the best way to extend or improve your home, its current or potential value, or simply about the property market in The Highlands or Moray, we're here to help.
If you've been dreaming of selling up and moving by Christmas, the good news is that you still have time. Celebrating Christmas and New Year in a new home with those you love the most, then hitting the January sales for a bounty of bargains, is a wonderful way to say goodbye to 2021 and welcome in 2022. It's also a date that many buyers are still keen to meet at this time of year.
Despite the strongest market in a decade with property selling faster than ever, there are still homes in The Highlands or Moray that have not sold. If you've been on the market for some time, you could be wondering why on earth you don't have a buyer when demand is so high. With a backdrop of record-breaking prices, selling speeds and low supply, it's far easier for an agent to make a sale than to fail, so why is your home not under offer? Whatever stage you're at, the good news is that however long you've been on the market, there's always a path to finding a buyer. It's simply a matter of asking the right questions then taking the right steps.
Have you ever drunk a smoothie? They're wonderfully delicious, but it can be challenging to identify each individual flavour when strawberry, spinach, ginger, honey and turmeric are all vying for your attention.
House hunting can be a bit like that. Evenings and weekends full of viewings and meeting estate agents can make homes begin to blur as the numbers mount up, and recalling all the different rooms can be an impossible task.
So, when you've tidied, decluttered and cleaned to perfection, how can you make your home the one that buyers remember?
If you've spent any time on Instagram or Facebook, you'll probably have seen this quote pop up from the American poet, Maya Angelou: "People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."
In that spirit, let's explore how to create a feel-good factor in your home that gives buyers that warm and fuzzy feeling that turns into a sale.
FEATURE THE HIGHLIGHTS
For the majority of viewings, the living room is the main event. As the most used, sociable and visible space, it's where buyers make a large part of their judgement.
Whether your main living area is a classic reception room at the front or an open-plan kitchen and family space with a view of the garden, it's time to showcase all the inherent character.
Fireplaces - modern, traditional, working or retired - are a natural focal point of any room and high on the list of plus points for buyers. They can also be seductive at any time of year: a rack of chunky logs on the hearth, candlesticks and ceramics on the mantelpiece, and a large mirror or picture on the wall above are timeless ways to make them the centre of attention, whatever your personal style.
For any glazed doors to the garden, give them the limelight by keeping them clear of furniture or obstacles and clearing a sightline from where you enter the room. The idea is to draw people's eyes beyond the walls, bringing the outside in and blurring the lines between home and garden.
Is there a TV in the room? Can you camouflage its presence in an alcove or among books and shelves? Keep the focus on your home.
SPECIAL SMALL SPACES
Give your little rooms the big-star treatment.
Nobody needs to go roller-skating in your spare bedroom, so concentrate on a fabulous feel and a clearly defined role. Having a dedicated home office, guest room, or nursery gives a small space a larger sense of purpose and value.
Nurseries and single bedrooms are easy enough to arrange, but a common mistake with offices at home is using miniature furniture to create an illusion of space. The result is usually a room that's impractical and unenjoyable to use, and it's an unnecessary step: even the smallest bedroom will comfortably take an adult-sized desk and chair.
If you're still concerned about the space looking too small, mount a clear glass desktop on slender legs so you can see the walls and floor through the structure, then pair it with a transparent chair or one with a cut-out frame.
Whatever the room's purpose, avoid it feeling spare. Use side lamps, pictures, books or plants for a sense of completeness, with perhaps a sheepskin throw or rug for a touch of luxe.
Elsewhere, the loo is the perfect spot for a memorable scene. How about a decadent unrolling of opulent wallpaper from John Lewis or Liberty? A cost-effective sumptuous splash that will stick in the minds of your viewers long after they've left.
Bedrooms are our most private and personal spaces, but when it comes to finding a buyer, they need to welcome in the world.
Nobody knows more than hotels when it comes to making strangers feel immediately at home, so take a leaf out of their book to create a sanctuary of rest and relaxation. As any of their designers will tell you, it's all about the bed.
Headboards are the foundations of a showstopper, whether crushed velvet, rich walnut or polished brass. Modern or traditional, they give a bed an aura of grace and look great with pillows plumped and stacked against them. Paint the wall behind in a deep luxurious tone to complement and contrast with your decor.
You'll achieve peak boutique with a pair of bedside tables, dressed with the rule of three used by professional stylists and photographers. Perfect accessories include lamps, clocks, books, vases and photo frames – play around until you find your favourite trio.
At the bottom of the bed, a throw or blanket draped casually or carefully adds texture, comfort and warmth while softening the room's acoustic.
By night and by day, gardens and balconies are the icing on the cake at viewings. Whether it's playtime, sunbathing, dining or thinking, having somewhere outside to unwind, relax and socialise is a valuable commodity in any home.
Whatever space you have outdoors, look for opportunities to enchant. A table and chairs prove you have the room for dining under the sky, but it's the styling that sends an irresistible invitation to sit down and stay.
Small potted succulents or cactuses on the table are an instant and low-maintenance dash of green that's not only hardy and handsome - it doesn't need moving whenever you sit down to eat.
Solar-powered storm lanterns look splendid while the sunlight charges them up, then later as evening falls when they cast a friendly glow with zero plugging in or replacing batteries. Lightbulb chains strung overhead also look magical at night, with yellow-toned bulbs emitting a warm and cosy radiance without attracting insects.
Even if your garden or balcony is free of foliage, placing a few ready-planted seasonal pots around the dining area will elevate the appearance of your photos and the experience of your viewers.
To paraphrase a quote from the film Steel Magnolias: "what separates us from the animals is our ability to accessorise!" Was ever a truer word spoken?
Despite what you may read, you don't need to be afraid of personal photos: it's where you place them that counts. A gallery of joy in the hall, up the stairs or on the landing is the perfect way to show that your home is where happiness lives, and without overpowering a room.
Mirrors are perfect anywhere for a shot of glamour, extra light or filling a bare wall. Whether you're going for classic gold, a bold upcycling or a sleek modern frame, they give you the freedom for some playful garnish.
Seasonal fruit and veg look fantastic on a kitchen countertop and, if you're feeling particularly arty, try displaying them directly on the surface. Otherwise, a bowl brimming with colourful fresh produce is a universally tasty sight and talking point.
Fluffy towels and robes add a spa-like quality to bathrooms, so treat yourself now to the ones you've been eyeing up for your new home and keep them just for viewings. Timber or bamboo accessories like bath shelves, caddies and dispensers add richness and warmth that goes with anything.
For anywhere else you feel could use an extra something, Pinterest is your friend! Just type in "how to style a…" followed by your room or furnishing of choice, and a world of inspiration will open up before you.
With some simple styling and a few well-chosen accessories from what you already own or a shopping list, you can give your property the final finishing touches to attract the best buyers in The Highlands or Moray.
Most moves have a lot riding on them, and, if you're thinking of selling your home, there's probably a good reason behind it.
Perhaps you're moving in with a partner, expanding your family, relocating for work, thinking about schools, considering downsizing, or simply moving to your ultimate dream location.
None of these are small events. They're pivotal life moments filled with anticipation, and when the next chapter of your life depends on the sale of your home, it can be an emotional time.
we believe that estate agents have a unique role to play in making your move an enjoyable and exciting experience. Because moving is exciting, and it can absolutely be enjoyable.
In that spirit, let's look at what you can plan for and what to be prepared for so you can keep a level head at every stage of selling your home.
PUT TIME ON YOUR SIDE
Far and away, the biggest source of anxiety when selling your home is feeling that your move may not happen when you need it to.
The speed of buying and selling is far from an exact science, so allow yourself enough time and flexibility to meet your ideal dates. Having plenty of breathing space will make it easier to make decisions calmly and to carry on with your work and home life as usual.
Just like everywhere else, the property market in The Highlands or Moray is prone to contradictions. Some homes fly off the shelves in days, but you'll feel a whole lot more at ease if your plans don't hinge entirely on that kind of good fortune.
TAKE IT STEP BY STEP
Just like a house, moves are built from the bottom up. Nothing can happen without the foundations in place, and buyers are the building blocks of your plans.
So, if there's only one piece of advice you follow, make it this: find a buyer for your current home before committing to your next one.
It's completely understandable to feel so confident when estate agents are telling you they can sell your home quickly, and with all those beautiful listings staring out seductively from the portals, the temptation to view can be hard to resist.
But you'll face stiff competition from buyers in stronger positions, and the fear of losing the home you've set your heart on can leave you desperate to sell, even in a fast market. Feeling compelled to accept the first offer you get is not only stressful; it could also mean taking thousands less than your home is truly worth.
Unfortunately, too many sellers find this out the hard way, so give yourself a break and get that buyer first.
PICK AN AGENT WITH A PLAN
Imagine your sale as a series of time bubbles. With each subsequent one becoming less effective, your agent needs a plan to maximise response early on and then maintain momentum.
Your first two weeks on the market are usually the most active. Your home appears online, portals give you a shiny New Listing label and send out alerts, your agent calls their registered buyers, and new enquiries come in. You've also decluttered to perfection, and you tidy up enthusiastically to prepare for a flurry of viewings. You might even have a launch day.
The following two weeks are also busy. Response is still coming in from the people who couldn't get round before – maybe they were away, or tied up with life, or holding off till they got a buyer of their own – and anyone who liked your home on their first viewing has arranged to come back for a second look.
At this point, after about a month on the market, you'll have hopefully found a buyer or have offers coming in. If not, you'll at least have enough feedback to know whether a sale is likely, or if you need to change tack.
Here's where a plan becomes really important. Before choosing who to entrust with the sale of your home, ask each agent what they'll do after those first four weeks if you haven't got a buyer. How will they keep you on track to sell?
ACCEPT THE RIGHT OFFER
Getting an offer is exciting, and you might even be lucky enough to have multiple buyers competing against each other, so let's explore what makes a good one.
There's much more to an offer than money, and your buyer's position is every bit as important as the price they put forward.
Everyone who makes an offer on your home should be able to confirm:
Getting these questions answered will help you identify a strong and secure offer with a timescale that fits your own.
Just like a jigsaw - all the pieces need to be in place for the puzzle to be complete.
EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED
If we had a penny for every sale that hit a hitch, we'd need a huge bottle to store them!
Bumps in the road can come from survey results, mortgage valuations and the conveyancing process. They can happen to any home in a chain, but they don't automatically mean the end of your move.
You can't plan for everything, but instructing a solicitor as soon as your home goes on the market can reveal and resolve any potential legal issues, giving you a draft contract ready to go the moment you accept an offer.
And getting timeframes confirmed for every link in the chain when your sale is agreed, along with any booked holidays that might affect your moving date, can avoid fraught conversations as you approach exchanging contracts.
It's also worth remembering that, despite the ups and downs, things generally work out.
By following these tips, you can minimise the potential for stress by the time you put your home on the market, which is a pretty good start.
Are you making plans to move? If you're thinking of selling your property in The Highlands or Moray and you're beginning the search for an estate agent, we'd love to show you how we can help you sell your home.
RE/MAX Elite, Lyle House, Fairways Business Park, Inverness. IV2 6AA
Tel: 01463 641258
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