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Our Top Picks of Norfolk’s Christmas Calendar!

 

Norwich Ice Rink - From Friday 16th December to Sunday 8th January (every day except Christmas Day) – 10am – 9pm.

 

Visit the EDP Ice Rink in Castle Mall Gardens, returning for its second year. The event is being sponsored by Norwich Theatre Royal’s Jack and the Beanstalk pantomime. It’s a great way for all the family to join in the festive cheer together and includes the return of the snowman bouncy castle! Opening with a show from professional figure skaters, the city centre rink will host 6 incredible performances. This is free to attend and takes place on Saturday 17th December.

Image Source: Norwich Ice Rink Official Facebook Page.

Tickets: Adult £12, Child (4 – 16yrs) £8, Concession £8 (students and OAPs with photo ID only), Family £32 (2 adults & 2 children) and the snowman bouncy castle costs £2.50 for a 20-minute session. To book your tickets and for more information, visit their website: http://icerinknorwich.co.uk/ 

 

 

Candlelight Tours at Holkham Hall - Every Wednesday to Friday from Wednesday 30th November to Friday 16th December – 4pm – 8pm, starting every 15 minutes.

 

Embark on a magical tour of some of the grandest rooms at Holkham Hall. Candles light your way as you see the rooms in all their seasonal splendour, listening to some of the most intriguing stories about Holkham’s history. Included in this experience is a glass of prosecco or soft drink with a mince pie in the Courtyard Café!

Image Soucre: http://www.holkham.co.uk/events/christmas-at-holkham/candlelight-tours 

Tickets: Adult £16, Child £10 (5-16yrs). The tour is recommended for age 10 and over. To book your place on the tour, and for other festive events at Holkham Hall, visit their website: http://www.holkham.co.uk/events/christmas-at-holkham/candlelight-tours 

 

 

Ghost Walks Christmas Special – Monday 12th December to Friday 16th December and from Monday 19thDecember to Thursday 22nd December. They start at 7.30pm and last approximately 2 hours. 

 

These historic tours of the Norwich cobbled streets will feature Christmas themed ghost tales from the entire country. This wintery walkabout includes a warming glass of mulled wine, (or a soft drink), and a yummy mince pie at the classic Adam and Eve pub! One last thing about this event – dogs are welcome! We are excited to take Ruby!

Image Source: http://www.ghostwalksnorwich.co.uk/9.html 

Tickets: All tickets £9. There is no need to book, just turn up at the above time at the Adam and Eve pub. For more information, visit the website: http://www.ghostwalksnorwich.co.uk/ 

 

 

Cathedral Christmas Choir – Friday 9th December, from 7.30pm to 9pm.

 

Does your Christmas season feel incomplete without some carol music? Well there really is nowhere more magical to see some of your favourite carols performed than at the Norwich Cathedral itself. The Norwich Cathedral Choir will be serving a feast of Christmas music, both sacred and secular, with the chance for you as the audience to sing along!

Image Source: http://www.cathedral.org.uk/whats-on/events/detail/2016/12/09/default-calendar/christmas-with-norwich-cathedral-choir 

Tickets: The tickets range in 3 band. Band A, nearest to the stage are £18 each, Band B are £16 each, and Band C, aisles seats, are £12 each. To book your seat and for more information, visit the website: http://www.cathedral.org.uk/whats-on/events/detail/2016/12/09/default-calendar/christmas-with-norwich-cathedral-choir 

 

 

The Lock in Christmas Carol at Norwich Playhouse –Saturday 10th December, 7.30pm until 10.30pm.

 

Bought to Norwich Playhouse by The Demon Barbers and The Breaking Tradition Dance Company, this is half gig, half dance show, half panto performance! With BBC Award winning musicians and dancers giving you the very best seasonal live music, you will be transported into a world in which Christmas is in danger of being ruined by a new nightclub and some insightful souls try to save it. This Christmas play is definitely not one to miss!   

 

Image Source: http://www.thelockindanceshow.co.uk/10th-december-norwich-playhouse/#.WDwLuqKLRUM 

Tickets: Adult £16.50, Child £14.50, Concession £14.50. For more details and to book your seats, please visit their website: http://www.norwichplayhouse.co.uk/whats-on/detail/the-lock-in-christmas-carol 

 

 

Coca-Cola Truck – Friday 9th December at The Forum, Norwich.

 

This is fast becoming one of the most iconic Christmas build up events, as the iconic red truck travels the country bringing Christmas joy – (and of course Coca-Cola!) Visit and take pictures with this seasonal icon as it lights up and also help yourself to a free 150ml can of Coca-Cola, Diet Coke or Coke Zero!

Image Source: http://metro.co.uk/2016/11/04/the-coca-cola-christmas-truck-is-coming-to-44-uk-locations-very-soon-6235518/ 

 

This event is completely free!

Our favourite pictures from Camra's 39th Norwich Beer Festival

 

Held at St. Andrew's and Blackfriars' Halls in Norwich, just down the road from our office, here are some of our favourite snaps from the 6 day festival!

 

Image: The queue on Friday going all the way over the bridge!

Image: Getting close to the entrance!

Image: We are starting to taste the beer...

Image: On our way through the beautiful arch and into the hall.

Image: Glass purchased. Making our way to the first stall.

Image: We managed to find the band!

Image: One of our favourites: The Cherry Beer!

Image: Cheers!

Image: Some interesting beer names featured this year...

Image: Tokens at the ready!

Image: The awesome volunteers working hard to keep up with the demand for beer!

Image: We enjoyed it so much we returned later in the week for an evening session too!

Glossary of Key Words 

 

Agency Agreement

– A legally binding contract agreed between client and agency, signed once the client has decided they want that agency to sell their house. Agents must also suggest that the client seeks legal advice as well before signing.

Break Clause

– A clause within a tenancy agreement made between the tenant and the landlord, that allows either party, or both, to end the agreement early. 

Bridging Loan

– Used as a short-term solution for funding, in essence they close the gap between you buying a new house and selling your previous one. Another time in which a bridge/bridging loans can be used is in auction purchases. This is because money will be needed upfront, however, again, your property may not yet be sold. 

Buy to Let

– A phrase describing properties which are purchased with the intention of renting them out, as oppose to living in them.  

Check-in/out

– The process which involves the agreement of the condition of a room/property. When you first move into rental accommodation, you will be provided with an inventory. The tenant then reads the list of items provided and their condition, and agrees to this. The check-out process then happens at the end of the tenancy agreement. Any damage or missing items beyond reasonable wear and tear will be deducted from your deposit.

Deposit (Damage Deposit)

– A sum of money agreed between the tenant and the landlord, (or agent), to be paid before moving in. The amount is usually dependant on the monthly rent cost, and covers any potential damage made, which will then be deducted from the deposit on check-out. Any remaining deposit/all of the deposit will then be paid back to the tenant

Deposit (Mortgage Deposit)

– A sum of money paid as a first instalment on the purchase of a property, with an intention to complete the rest of the payment, usually with an agreed financial arrangement from a creditor. 

DPS

– Abbreviation standing for the Deposit Protection Scheme. This scheme is used by us here at Abode in Norwich. It protects the deposits of our tenants, keeping their money safe until they leave the property. 

Equity

– The amount remaining after deducting any balance outstanding from your current mortgage away from the current market value of the property. 

Fees (agency)

– A sum of money paid for certain services provided by an estate agency. One example of this is for instance in terms of renting, are an administration fee for tenants, to have their details processed and tenancy agreements drawn up. In regards to sales, a fee can refer to the amount of money, (usually a percentage of the price paid by the buyer), charged for selling the property.

Freehold

– A property in which the owner has permanent, outright ownership of, as well as every part of the land, giving them free choice to do as they wish with it. (Subject to only other’s rights and interests such as leaseholders, neighbours and local regulations.)

Guarantor

– Usually a family member or close friend, who agrees contractually to cover outstanding rent or arrears, should a tenant fail to do so. 

Inventory

– A document that contains a written list of the entire contents within the property and the condition they are currently in. This is used for monitoring any damage caused by tenants and used as proof, should any money need to be deduced from the deposit.

Joint Sole Agency

– A situation in which two agents work together to represent a seller, with no other agent being instructed during the joint sole agency period.

Joint Mortgage

– A mortgage with more than one borrower within the agreement. Both/all borrowers within the agreement are liable for the repayments, even if one or more do not currently live in the property, (move out).

Land Certificate

– A document issued by the land registry which is proof of ownership with no mortgage for the owner. 

Landlord

– A person who lets out land, a building or accommodation, (a room), in exchange for payment.

Land Registry

– A register of who has ownership of land and of property in England and Wales. 

Leasehold

– An agreement in which a lease is obtained from the freeholder, (can be referred to as landlord in some cases), to use building/land. Often, this is a long term arrangement of 40 years or more. When leasing a property, any major changes usually must be agreed by the freeholder.

Maintenance Charge

– A charge which is paid to the owner of a home in order to keep up the standard of a property. It can be used to repair broken items, or replace items that have a little too much wear and tear!

Mortgage

– A legally binding agreement with a lender, (usually a bank or building society), that provide a debtor with funds in order for them to secure real estate. This real estate is then used as collateral, as the agreed payments are made over a specific time scale.

Negative Equity

– When the seller’s outstanding mortgage is a greater value than that of the property, and therefore the money from the sale of the property is insufficient to pay off the mortgage.

Net Yield

– A calculated percentage, formed by using the cost of the property or the market value of a property, divided by the income generated by the property. Then minus the annual expenses and you will end up with the net yield. 

Referencing

– The checking by a lettings agency on a landlord’s behalf of a potential tenant. This usually includes contacting a tenant’s current employer, a previous landlord, or financial statements. 

Rent

– The regular payment to a landlord, agreed for the use of their property or land.

Rent Arrears

– A term used from a legal perspective to describe money unpaid and overdue rent to a landlord or agency. 

Right to Rent Checks

– A legal requirement for all private landlords, which involves either the landlord or the agency on behalf of the landlord to conduct basic checks on a tenant prior to moving in. The 4 basic checks include:

  • Checking the new tenant(s) will be using the property as their only home or main home.
  • Requesting to see the original documents that confirm the tenant has the right to be living in the UK.
  • These documents should be checked with the tenant present.
  • In order to keep record of this, the original document should have copies made from and the date of the check needs to be recorded.

Sale Agreed

– When an offer on a property has been made and accepted and a booking deposit may have been paid. When purchasing a property, this is the first official step. 

Stamp Duty

– Paid to HMRC, (Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs), this is a tax paid when land or property interests and with the creation of leases. The amount is paid when the sale is completed. The higher the value of the property, the higher the percentage of tax will be. This tax is also to be paid if you purchase a second home, or a buy to let property, which is currently stands at a 3% additional charge. 

Subject to Contract

– When an offer has been made to purchase the property, however, nothing is legally binding for the buyer or the seller until the contracts themselves have been signed and exchanged.

Tenant

– The current occupier of a land or property, in which they are renting from a landlord

Tenancy Agreement

– A contract between a tenant and a landlord which outlines the rights and standings of both parties. It includes rent payments and the conditions of the tenancy of the property which must be met by the tenant.

Vendor

– The seller of the property. 

What am I Obliged to do as a Guarantor?

When you sign on the little dotted line and agree to be a guarantor, what is it exactly that you’re agreeing to do? With renting on the rise as house prices soar, we take a look at the role of guarantors, as let’s face it, they may start to be called upon more and more. 

What is a Tenant Guarantor?

Many tenants may find themselves being asked to provide a guarantor. Circumstances in which you could be asked to provide one include those who are renting for the first time, have low income or are in education. This is because you are a riskier tenant than someone who has either rented before, or has a guaranteed income that can ensure the rent is able to be covered. 

A lot of the time, the guarantor is a parent, (we all love our parents when it comes to financial back up!), or a close friend who is willing to pay the rent should you be unable to do so for any reason. Therefore, the responsibility for rent will be shared to the guarantor, not only for the rental payments, but also any damages or rent arrears that the tenant doesn’t pay.  

To be a guarantor, you must undergo the same process as an applicant would go through. You will have your referencing checked and will be required, (pretty much always), to be in full time employment – obviously again to show that you have enough income to cover the rent of the tenant should they not be able to pay. 

To give you an example, if you are a student, looking to rent in Norwich, you would more than likely use a parent as a guarantor. Your parent will then undergo the same checks, and therefore if the student spends too much in Topshop and finds themselves short when their rent is due, the parent will be notified and be expected to pay as the guarantor. Any damage left behind that is not paid for, will also be billed to the guarantor. (Probably best not to break the sofa and try to get away with it - leaving the bills to your, quite possibly angry, parents!)

The Risks of Being a Tenant Guarantor

In short, once you agree to be a guarantor, you can’t change your mind. Once signed, the only way to back out of the agreement is if the other party, usually the landlord, agrees to it; therefore, you are bound contractually for the period of time agreed/ length of tenancy. By signing a guarantor agreement to act as guarantor, you are legally bound to all the terms of the tenant’s contract.

Another situation a guarantor has to be wary of is the potential to be bound to an entire property even in the case of a house share. The tenancy agreement can make all of the tenants responsible collectively for rent and responsibilities. You could therefore be liable for the rent of other tenants than that of you are connected to. (Definitely have a thorough read and look out for this clause before signing – you don’t want to be paying for your son’s friends drunken breakages!)   

If you have need any impartial advice about being a guarantor, click the image to take you to our contact page and ask us!

For Landlords - Is a Guarantor a Definite Guarantee?

When it comes to the guarantor being called upon, the matter of paying isn’t always so simple. Important details to check with a guarantor include the exact wording of the guarantor agreement. When the rent becomes overdue and the tenant is unable to pay, contact the guarantor straightaway, quoting the guarantor agreement directly.

There are instances where this can turn into a financial dispute, despite a legally binding agreement. Mediation services or solicitors may need to get involved and in some cases this can become a costly ordeal for a landlord. Is it really worth a lengthy legal battle?

Why is a Guarantor Important?

Although a guarantor can be complicated and of course not always reliable, (despite being contractually obligated), it does double the chances of the rent being paid. You may like your tenant, you may trust that they will pay you rent on time, but you can’t predict that the tenant may not get into financial difficulty and therefore no longer meet the rental payments.

A guarantor is usually a relative, with an invested interest in the person they are financially guaranteeing. A lot of the time, this means they want to help the tenant and will pay in order to get them out of difficulty. 

Abode’s Advice

Although the guarantor has an invested interest in the tenant usually, and a guarantor themselves must be financially stable in order to act as a guarantor, it comes down to responsibility.

The guarantor may still feel as though it’s the tenant’s responsibility, and although agree to sign a guarantor contract, they may be unaware of what exactly it is they are signing for and under what terms they are actually expected to pay.

Our advice would be to any landlord’s is to always focus more heavily on the tenant. If the tenant is of quality and is able to prove they are able to meet their rental payments, then although a guarantor is perhaps an extra bit of comfort to a landlord, they should never even need to hear from you. All parties are happy this way. 

What kind of agent should you choose?

 

It is well publicised that online estate agencies are on the rise both in number and in popularity. TV adverts have even emerged, (that’s when you know a trend is becoming mainstream); with companies such as YOPA bragging fixed fees and ‘complete control’. But can you really trust a ‘local agent’ that you’ve never even met?

 

How does an online estate agency actually work?

 

Well, if we continue to use YOPA as an example, on the homepage, you are invited to book a free valuation. After entering your postcode, you are assigned whichever agent covers that particular area. For us, with property in Norwich, we were assigned Nathan, who covers the area titled ‘Midlands’ – a bit vast considering we are in the East of the country? It definitely makes you consider how widely spread your ‘local’ agent really is. 

 

The appointment process is straight forwards, with the ability to see what time slots are free and with a few details you’re done. Not only this but you can get an exact fixed fee by simply typing in your postcode. You pay the fee, they advertise your property, you review your advert, get viewings and then complete your sale.

 

To focus on the figures a little more, most postcodes, (excluding certain parts of London), are charged at £780. To this you can add packages, such as Rightmove Premium for £99 and viewing packages at £150. But do you trust a complete stranger from given the ‘Midlands’ area, to sell your prided property in Norwich? Would you trust an online stranger to know that your house is near a bus stop which can take you straight into town in 20 minutes?

 

Image: Still taken from the YOPA TV advert.

 

What are the risks of rising numbers of online letting agents?

 

A lot of these new online estate agents are completely unregulated, and are flooding into an already competitive market. They appear to have emerged extremely quickly considering a few years ago they practically didn’t exist. The appeal behind their rapid growth is very obvious, with extended availability to answer queries and an often cheaper price. The problem with this fixed price is the test of exactly how fixed it is if any problems arise with the sale of the property, and of course, even if it doesn’t sell, after a period of time, you are still expected to pay this fee anyway.

 

Not only this but, in regards to lettings, it is true that many ‘hands on’ landlords enjoy the prospect of showing potential tenants around their property themselves, therefore knowing exactly who it is that is renting their property. But this of course has an obvious negative side too. We are all busy, and many landlords have other careers and juggle the two: could you really ensure that you have a flexible enough schedule, to not only arrange a viewing with a potential tenant, but also have the energy to really sell your property well? - Especially if you are new to the whole process.

 

The main risk element when using an online agent is obviously trust. It is true, many of us are not experts in property legislation… which puts us at a disadvantage when knowing what legalities are necessary when exchanging property. So how do you trust a brand, (not even a person), to know any more on the subject than you do? If this faceless online agent isn’t legally compliant with existing and emerging legislation, could it impact you? 

 

The answer is yes. Property legislation is ever changing, with changes in application systems, Right-To-Rent checks and even modernised fire safety compliances. It takes somebody qualified to ensure that when selling or letting your property, that these requirements are met correctly. 

 

Talking of meeting, doesn’t the lack of face-to-face contact with an agent feel very un-personal? How will a guy covering the ‘Midlands’, be familiar with our Norfolk ways? Selling a property in Norwich requires local knowledge that only someone based only in this area could know. 

 

Image: Our local agent team at Abode.

 

Why chose a local agent?

 

As we have just mentioned, selling or letting a property in a place such as Norwich, requires an understanding of the local market and an in depth knowledge of the local area. Wouldn’t it be nicer to deal with a similar minded individual to communicate with when selling your property? Let’s face it, there is no way someone assigned the ‘Midlands’ area will understand the accent of many of the rural Norfolk locals. 

 

Not only this but for example, say something with the property goes wrong, a local based agent is definitely based to deal with this. Yes, an online agent may have longer hours in which they receive call, but if they are unable to help with a local property related issue, or understand common issues with some properties in specific areas, what use are they? 

 

When choosing a local, regulated agent, trust is much easier to establish. To be able to go into an office and see a legitimate, hardworking team, taking care of your property, is much more reassuring than a faceless online screen. You will receive the personalised service that most of us need when dealing with the unknown of property. It’s that familiarity and expertise, guidance and share of the workload, that means although a local agent costs more than most online agents, it is worth every penny. 

 

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