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How to fall in love with a Tunbridge Wells home without seeing it in person

Love is in the air, with Valentine’s Day coming up this weekend, but whilst a lovely evening out is not possible, many buyers are seeking to fall in love with a new home this lockdown. It seems strange that a year ago life was all going on as normal and then, all of a sudden, it stopped. We have been extremely lucky that, as an industry, we have been able to stay open, but we’ve made many changes along to way to ensure that we operate in a Covid-secure way.  This has meant that, as an agency we  only offer physical viewings to those that are in a position to proceed, and time within the property is restricted to a few minutes.

Every vendor and buyer is different; due to health conditions, some vendors are not allowing physical viewings.  We have a number of buyers from further afield who are seeking to move to Tunbridge Wells to start a new life somewhere new, whether that’s to be close to friends or family or just needing a fresh start.  With this in mind, as buyers, how do you fall in love with a home without seeing it in person?

Utilise all the tools

With restrictions in place, as an agency we’ve had to adapt in any way we can. As well as a wealth of high-quality photographs, we also enable our buyers to view homes via video.  At KMJ Property we offer video tours of our homes, giving you greater insight into how the property is laid out, room sizes and how one room flows into the next. 

We know these tools do not beat physically being inside a property, but they are the next best thing when you’re looking to find your next home.  We highly recommend you use all the tools an agent has to offer, because they will give you different perspectives on a property from different angles, meaning you may notice things you hadn’t seen before.  The more you know about a house, the easier it is to begin to see yourself living there.

Study the floorplan

Furniture and decoration can change the perception of how big a room actually is.  Large furniture can make a room feel smaller, as can too much decoration, so viewing a property via video or photographs still only provides a guide to the space a home truly offers.  This is where a floorplan comes into play. For some strange reason, not every estate agency provides a floorplan – why? They are essential for buyers and so are a must when we’re marketing a property for sale.

A floorplan gives you the facts. It ignores how beautifully decorated a home is and whether the king size bed overpowers the room, a floorplan is what it is – the actual size of each room and where it is located in the property.  This is your Holy Grail; from here, you can see how the home is laid out, if your ideas for renovation could be possible, and if that stunning dining table you just purchased will fit in the room. A video tour may emotionally grab your attention, but the facts from the floorplan will tell you the truth.

Check out the neighbourhood

We know you can’t travel but there are many ways you can check out the neighbourhood to see if it is what you’re looking for.  Google Maps will allow you to virtually walk down the road and explore what’s on offer close by. The images could be a couple of years old but it will help you get a sense of where things are located.

Good old-fashioned conversations allow you to dig deeper and ask questions about particular things that matter to you.  Join the local Facebook groups and NextDoor to find out what it is really like to live there and if there are things you can join in with when normality returns.  Where is the local shop or supermarket? What is parking like on your street? Can you walk to the park? What is the school really like? Where can you get the best takeaway?  There is no one better to answer your questions then the people who live there right now.  When you buy a house, you are becoming part of the Tunbridge Wells community.  By starting conversations online you will get a sense of who your neighbours are and perhaps even make some new friends before you move in.

Listen to your gut

We all have that sixth sense, that little something that niggles when something just doesn’t seem quite right.  Our eagerness and excitement can make us banish this feeling, as our hearts want a different outcome.  But remember, this is a huge investment you are about to make so, hard as it may be, you need to listen to your gut. You will know when you’ve found your dream home, it may just have been waiting a little longer to come your way.

If you’re looking to buy a home in Tunbridge Wells our team can’t wait to help. Remember to register with us so we know exactly what you’re looking for; should we find it, we can make sure that you’re one of the first to know.

Register by calling 01892 515188.

How to have a stress-free lockdown move in Tunbridge Wells

Moving home? Can I still do that with the current Covid lockdown restrictions?  The wonderful news is that yes, you can still move but there are precautions you need to take to ensure you can move as safely as possible. If you have moved home before you will know what a wonderful experience it is – but oh yes, it’s stressful. Some say that it’s more stressful than having a baby!  As such, moving home in Tunbridge Wells during a lockdown is not predicted to be a picnic, but thankfully we have a bit of experience in this area. Follow our guide and you can still have a stress-free lockdown move.

Call in the experts

As you will no doubt be expecting, when moving home during a pandemic means you need to take some extra precautions so you can keep everyone safe.  The government states that you should only ask someone outside your support or household bubble to help you move home if absolutely necessary.  This doesn’t mean you have to struggle to get the entire contents of your house moved to your new home as, thankfully, removal companies have been informed they are allowed to stay open, which means they can help you with your move – the relief!!  You don’t need us to tell you that you should be social-distancing from the removal team at all times and that you need to keep those face masks on.  Should you develop symptoms of the coronavirus and thus need to self-isolate, inform your estate agents, solicitor and removal company as soon as possible so you can hopefully secure a later date to move.

Who to choose?

When choosing a removal company, it’s a good thing to start with recommendations. Check their reviews and make sure that you’re happy with the experience they provide.  To ensure they can give you an accurate quote for their services, home removal companies can still visit your home. 

We would highly recommend that you ask what their procedures are to ensure that their team are Covid-secure, and how they will protect you before and on moving day to keep you and your family safe.  Any company in today’s climate should have a clear Covid-19 policy. 

Also check their availability, as removal companies can get booked up well in advance. Make sure when you’re getting close to completion that you reserve them for your proposed date and confirm once that date has been set. It is always best to speak to your solicitor, especially before you hand over any pennies, so you don’t lose out financially.

How to minimise any risk

No doubt you will be extremely stressed on moving day, not only because of ‘moving’ but also trying to minimise any risk of your family contracting the virus.  There are things you can do in advance so that when the removal team arrive you know that at least one thing will be managed safely, and on moving day that will be one of the biggest gifts you will receive.

You should have received a copy of your chosen removal company’s Covid policy, which will outline certain things that need to done by both you and the removal team.  Make sure you thoroughly understand your responsibilities so there is no confusion on the day.

We know you will want to give your home a thorough clean so that your house is beautiful and safe ready for the new owners.  But before your removal team arrive, make sure you go over any surfaces that they may come into contact with, with disinfectant.  You could also have some hand sanitiser available for anyone to use as and when they feel the need.

We know the weather isn’t wonderful, as sadly the sun doesn’t always know that it’s required to be out when you move home.  That being said, as the scientists have informed us, good ventilation is needed when indoors, which is why you should open windows throughout your home to keep that air flowing, so you may need a warm jacket handy come moving day.  To help speed up your move and reduce contact, make sure all the internal doors of your home are open, so the removal team can move through your home with ease.

As well as hand sanitiser, you need to be prepared in case the removal team or yourselves need to wash their hands.  Sharing a towel is not something you should expect them to do, so get hold of a pack of disposable hand towels they can use instead.  Every little thing you do to keep your move Covid-secure will go towards protecting everyone involved from catching this terrible virus.

Virtual moves

As estate agents, we can provide our services virtually, so should you require a valuation or wish to view a property, this can all be done without entering a person’s home.  To find out more about how we can help you move home virtually, give our KMJ Property team on 01892 515188.

How to have a safe and secure New Year in Tunbridge Wells

Protecting yourself and your family from scammers

We hope you and your family had a lovely Christmas, as different as it may have been this year.  Now as we head into 2021, at KMJ Property we want to help ensure that you have a safe and secure year.  There has been a significant rise in 2020 of scammers seeking to defraud us from our hard-earned money, and it’s particularly painful when the year was so incredibly tough. Like us, you may have had emails and calls you are not sure of, you may even have had second thoughts about clicking on a link.  Our team have put together some of the scams that their friends and family have reported in a hope that it will ensure that your 2021 is a scam-free one.

Police phone calls

What if you received a call from a police officer informing you that there had been unauthorised use of your bank card?  As much as you will want to believe that the ‘officer’ is doing their job and helping you, think again.  Typically, the call will begin with the caller saying they are ‘a Sergeant XXXX from a London-based police station’ they will then proceed to tell you not to tell anyone about the call as you may hinder the investigation. 

According to the police, this call is linked to courier fraud where you are encouraged to give your bank details, using which the fraudster will withdraw money from your bank account. They tend to target elderly or vulnerable people, so please let anyone you know who could be a victim that the police would NEVER ask for your bank details or ask you to withdraw money.

DVLA unpaid tax

The DVLA have recently announced that they have seen scammers becoming more persistent with fake DVLA emails ‘designed to trick motorists’.  These emails will look genuine, complete with the correct logos and even hyperlinks but sadly these, again, are designed to take your money. In the first email you will be informed that your “Direct Debit payment of £17.06 has been returned”.

It will then go on to say that your vehicle therefore "is not taxed" as payment couldn’t be collected.  The second message will ask you to update your profile because “irregularities” were found and to click the update button and complete the form. Phil Morgan, Head of Fraud Policy Investigation at the DVLA warned; “These more recent scams may at first seem legitimate, however, they are designed to trick motorists into providing their personal details. We never ask for bank or credit card details via text message or email, so if you receive something like this, it’s a scam.”

Job search training

In 2020, the effects of the pandemic saw thousands of people being furloughed, and sadly others being made redundant.  The number of people out of work has soared and the challenge of finding a new job became significantly more difficult.  Cruelly, this stressful situation has also been a source income from scammers, who have found a way to trick those innocently desperate to find work.

Not all job adverts are legitimate and David recalled how he read in shock the story of a lady who was trying to find work in the care sector.  She saw an advert on a major job site and applied, she then received an email asking her to pay for a DBS check to ensure she had no criminal convictions.  Thinking this must be standard practice for this specific company she thought it was all above board, but then they started hassling her for her bank details. 

Thankfully she had a niggling feeling that something wasn’t right and, after talking to some trusted friends, realised she was being scammed. “I thought it was so heart breaking that a person who had lost their job and was no doubt in a vulnerable state was being targeted simply for trying to find work again”, said David.

HMRC scams again

An old favourite, the HMRC scams are back again as the self-assessment annual tax return deadline on 31 January 202 is approaching.  The HMRC reported in November that within the last 12 months they had received 846,000 referrals of suspicious HMRC contact from the public. Fraudsters use a variety of contact methods to grab your attention, from calls, to emails and texts.

HMRC’s Interim Director General for Customer Services, Karl Khan, said: “We know that criminals take advantage of the self-assessment deadline to panic customers into sharing their personal or financial details and even paying bogus ‘tax due’. If someone calls, emails or texts claiming to be from HMRC, offering financial help or asking for money, it might be a scam. Please take a moment to think before parting with any private information or money.”

A safe and secure 2021

If by highlighting these scams within our Tunbridge Wells community we can protect just one person from falling foul of a fraudster, then this article will have done its job.  Together we can help ensure that we all have a safe and secure 2021.

From the whole team at KMJ Property, we would like to wish you a happy New Year.

How to spot, and little ways to help stop loneliness in Tunbridge Wells this Christmas

Christmas will be a strange one this year, not just for us in Tunbridge Wells but the whole of the UK. Are you one of the lucky ones, scrabbling to work out which family members will be in your bubble? But as you tuck into your turkey, pop a few crackers, and enjoy a tipple and some laughs with those you love, a few steps away there will be someone whose festive period will be a nightmare. For the lonely, it is just another day, a day of the same four walls, of zero conversations and an emptiness that is often hard to acknowledge. At KMJ Property we are here for all of our community especially during these challenging times, and the thought of one of our own feeling alone is hard. Which is why, if this article can help just one person, it was worth it!

How to spot the physical symptoms of loneliness

We might all experience an overwhelming sense of loneliness at some point in our lives. It could be for a reason as simple as living alone for the first time, moving to a new town, or a relationship breakdown, or even the impact of a pandemic. It doesn’t just affect your mental health but your physical health too, and you could suffer from social anxiety and depression. Due to the stress caused when you’re feeling alone, you could develop high blood pressure. It is estimated that the effect of living with loneliness is equivalent to smoking a pack of cigarettes every day, increasing your risk of death by 50%.

You also need to acknowledge that there may be an issue if your sleep is disrupted, such as waking up several times in the night, which is common when you’re feeling sad. Loneliness can cause you to withdraw from others; instead of reaching out, you hibernate in your own bubble and as such start to strip aware at your confidence and self-esteem.

It isn’t just withdrawing from the outside world, loneliness can even stop you venturing out to exercise, the one thing you can do that is a great support for both your mental and physical health. The more sedentary you become, your healthy eating may go down the drain too.

If you start to spot any of these signs in yourself, or in others, what can you do to ease the despair?

Be honest

It’s easy to lie to ourselves, even if we know deep down how we feel. So the first and often the hardest step is to admit it. Be honest, not just to yourself but to someone else too. One thing this pandemic has done is bring communities closer together. We care about our neighbours, we want to help those who may need a conversation or just a bag of sugar. There will no doubt be many people in Tunbridge Wells feeling just as confused and isolated as you are at the moment, maybe you can help each other?

You may not be able to see your family and friends as you would normally this year, which can bring on a sense of being alone, something you may not have felt before. Talk to those you’re close to, and even those you’re not. As difficult as it is, you have taken the bravest step in being able to say the words, “I’m feeling lonely”.

Take a trip down memory lane

Life takes us all in different directions, we grow, move on, move away and lose touch. Friends from school, from your home town or village, or a previous job, may now just be connections on Facebook. Yet just by reaching out with a message as simple as “Merry Christmas”, you are opening the door to reconnecting. Receiving a message from someone who you’ve not spoken to for a long time can be a wonderful thing, and who knows, one message could lead to several, and a friendship could be rekindled.

Get out!

It’s cold, it’s wet, and snuggled in front of your fire with your PJs on, the last thing you want to do is step outside or, worse still, exercise. But this is exactly what you need right now: exercise energises you and releases endorphins that lift your mood and can help with depression. So wrap up warm, and set yourself a challenge, walk for a set amount of time, or run to a certain location. And when you feel that wind biting your cheeks, the rain running down your face, close your eyes and take a deep breath, because this is nature telling you how good it is to be alive.

Devour the pages

You may be on your own, but that doesn’t mean you have to be lonely – there is much to be said for getting lost in a good book. Being taken to a different land, a place in time, discovering new characters… all this can make you eager to turn the page, prompting you to stay awake later than you should, because you need to know what happens next. A good book can bring joy, laughter, and tears but best of all, provide a distraction from the real world for a while.

Be present

If you’re one of the lucky ones, keep an eye on those around you. Has someone faded into the background? Is there a neighbour you’ve not seen for a while? We know that things have to be done safely, but find a way of getting in touch and staying in touch – your small act of kindness could completely change someone’s Christmas for the better.

From everyone at KMJ Property, together we can help stop loneliness in Tunbridge Wells this Christmas.

Should I keep my property on the market this winter?

We are coming to the end of this crazy, crazy year, and although you have already made the decision to move, you might be thinking, do I really need the hassle over the next few weeks?  Not only do you have the constraints of being in Tier 3 but you are having to work out your Christmas bubble.  So it is no surprise that our team at KMJ Property are being asked by sellers: “should I keep my property on the market this winter?”

Let’s get straight to the point, the answer is 100% YES!

Why?

Here are the facts

Rightmove statistics show that in the period between Boxing Day 2019 and New Year’s Eve, there was a 231% increase of property views on their website, yes 231%!  The number of views in that period rose from 10 million to around 30 million, so whilst we were overdosing on turkey, watching a Christmas special, and enjoying new gifts, we were also on our phones and other devices looking at properties on the market in the local area.

It may be hard to imagine, but every year Rightmove declare this to be one of, if not the, busiest days of the year for property views on their website.  Yet last year was different again, because instead of views dropping in the first two weeks in January, they actually went up from 30 million to 40 million.

But this was by no means the busiest day in January either. Wednesday 29th January broke all records, with 5.7 million visits on that day, up 9% on the previous record set back on 24th April 2019.  Overall, January 2020 was the Rightmove’s busiest month on record, achieving 152 million views, a 7% increase on the previous year.

What does that mean?

It may seem logical and less stressful to take your home off the market, but before you rush into taking the ‘For Sale’ sign down, think about why you’re selling.  You have made the decision to move – lockdown may have given you time to reassess what you want out of a home, or maybe the time just felt right.  With that in mind, what you really want for Christmas is a buyer ­– but how can a buyer find you if your home isn’t being marketed?

Why would you want to miss out on the busiest time of year, your home being viewed by millions – yours could be their Ferrero Rocher amongst a tray of treats.  If your home isn’t seen to be available, buyers won’t know to wait until you list it again, they will be viewing other properties, eager to get a virtual or physical viewing before anyone else so they can quickly and happily secure their new home as soon as possible and have themselves a merry little Christmas.

Last Christmas

As this will hopefully be your last Christmas in your new home, you want it to be a special one, and we want to ensure that any precious time within the Christmas bubble period is not disturbed. Should you not wish to have any physical viewings, we can ensure that any potential buyer has the opportunity to attend a virtual viewing instead, by ensuring we have a video tour of the property.

Deck the halls

You may have already decorated your home ready for the festive period, and who can blame you with the year we’ve had.  That being said, when potential buyers come to view your home, they need to see just that: your house, not an explosion of sparkles and sprinkles. So let’s have a conversation, as we don’t want to be the Scrooge in your Christmas Carol.  Together we can work out when best to record a viewing, so you can maybe tone down the decorations for that day, and then transform it back into the winter wonderland of your dreams.

Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town

Selling at Christmas should be a reason for cheer; let us do the hard work, so you can celebrate 2021 in your new home.

Let’s get your Christmas selling strategy together, call our team on 01892 515188. 

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