st-andrewsIt is home to the birthplace of golf – a historic course that attracts superstar players from around the world to some of the very best fairways around.

But while St Andrew’s revels in adulation, just 20 miles away the post-war town of Glenrothes has had to shake off the insult of being named Scotland’s most dismal place in the 2009 Carbuncles Awards.

Despite the contrasting fortunes Fife towns, it appears the Kingdom has some very joyous subjects after research suggests they are the country’s happiest Scots.

The Bank of Scotland has published its latest Happiness Index, which seeks to quantify how contented people are living in their communities.

Fife has raced to top spot – leapfrogging the Highlands which topped the poll last year.

Two in five Fifers said they were “very happy” living there, almost double last year’s total.

Despite a reputation for occasional dourness, it seems that the residents of the St Andrew’s, Glenrothes and Dunfermline have the most sunny disposition on their home towns than anyone else in Scotland.

The percentage of Fife residents saying they are despondent with their county reduced to just seven per cent this year. The study suggests their euphoria with the place could be credited to residents prioritising spending time with their families.

Fife is home to the East Neuk, one of the country’s most beautiful areas, with its scattering of picturesque coastal villages and verdant countryside, along with the historic university town of St Andrew’s and the Old Course.

House prices, are also among the most affordable in Scotland, rising by a modest 2.8 per cent in the past 12 months from an average of £119,599 to £122,932.

While the area’s unemployment rate is higher than the national average, the most recent figures show an improving picture in the job market with a six per cent drop in the number of people claiming benefits in the past 12 months.

The index is based on responses given in 3,215 online interviews by adults aged 18 and over living in Scotland, with a ‘happiness score’ between 100 and -100 assigned to people’s answers to the question: “Taking everything into account, how happy or unhappy would you say you are living in your community?”

An average score was then calculated using the values of -100 for a response of “Very unhappy”, -50 for “Somewhat unhappy”, a score of zero for “Neither happy nor unhappy”, +50 for “Somewhat happy” and +100 for a response of “Very happy”.

Overall, Scots were said to be are generally happier than they were last year with a slight increase in the overall happiness score.

Women are happier than men, with both seeing slightly more sunshine in their lives compared to last year.

Happiness appears to increase the older people get, with those in the 18-24 age bracket said to be the least happy, followed by those in the 25-34 age group.

Surprisingly, Scots don’t seem to get any happier the more money they make, with those on a household income of £25,000-£39,999 the most content with their lives.

However, those on £40,000-£59,999 and £60,000 or more aren’t far behind on the happiness scale.

Rachel Bright, Bank of Scotland’s Head of Customer Service said, “We published the results from our first Happiness Index just over a year ago, where the Highlands came out as Scotland’s happiest region.

“This year, Fife’s happiness score has increased over twenty points, putting them at the top of the Happiness Index and pushing the Highlands in to second place.

“There has been a slight increase in the overall happiness score for Scotland as a whole, with women remaining happier than men. As we saw last year, happiness increases with age, and pensioners are once more the happiest age group in Scotland.”

Source: heraldscotland

Keeping up with the trends for your living room decor can be tough, but thankfully there are pieces of furniture that are timeless, so you can be sure that your style will keep fresh for years to come.

Starting with one of the iconic designs we find the Chesterfield sofa, the first and most famous was the leather version.  Nowadays there are multiple versions with all of them keeping its distinctive deep buttoned backrest, turned wooden legs and rolled back and arms.

This version of the classic Chesterfield, designed in grey fabric, can be perfect to add class to your home. You can find it at Furniture Choice.

sofa

Another icon of the design is the Eames chair, as with the sofa, this chair has a lot of versions, especially low cost ones to make it affordable for everyone but all of them keeping the ‘Eames style’.

This style is a plastic chair designed in just one piece adapting itself to the body form, and having 4 wooden legs.

In terms of colours, white is the most common but due to its popularity you can find it in more colours than you can imagine.

It’s perfect not only for a living room, but also for other areas such as bedroom or kitchen.

We’ve selected this version from ‘My furniture’ in white with solid beech legs.

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A living room needs a big table and there is nothing more timeless and with more durability than a wooden one. Wooden tables are resilient, strong, easy to clean and give a gorgeous natural look to the room.

You have a variety of choices based on the kind of wood, colour and leg material that you prefer, and you don’t have to worry about it because it always fits the space and your style whatever it is it (classic, modern, contemporary etc.).

We love this one with retro style, acacia wood and steel frame for the legs, it’s available at Cuckooland.

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Light is key at home and especially in the living room, so if you want a timeless lamp, you should choose a flowerpot pendant based on the iconic one designed in steel by Verner Panton.

This lamp has stood the test of the time and gives a natural and traditional aura to the room, especially if you place a few of them from the ceiling above a big table – the result will be amazing.

We’ve selected this one, a reinvention of the classic with copper metal finish and will last throughout the years. It’s available at Houseology.

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If there is something that can’t be missed in your living room it’s a bookcase. If you want one that will last you should go for a metallic one since it’s functional, durable and stylish.

The main advantage of using it, is that it fits with all styles of living rooms from a classic to modern and allows you to place all your stuff based on your needs.

This metal shelving unit with gloss enamel finish in pink and orange could be the perfect option. Also its irregular shelves allow you to store and display your belongings without compromising on a clean-lined look. You can find it at Oliver Bonas.

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Ready to incorporate some of these timeless icons in your home?

buyerA recent survey showed top of the list when looking for a dream home was having en-suites in every bedroom. Some ambitious buyers even mentioned an indoor pool!

Here at s1homes, we like to make all of your property dreams come true . . . but we also know one of the most important considerations when moving can be whether to sell your house before buying a new one.

Ultimately, the best course of action will depend on personal circumstances, as well as the state of the property market.

But we’re here to help, too.

So today, we weigh up the potential advantages versus the risks of selling first.

The advantages

You’re in control

If you haven’t fallen in love with a new house on s1homes yet, you can afford to wait for the best offer for yours. This puts you in a strong negotiating position.

In fact, you can create your own timeline for making decisions.

While your home is on the market you can research new locations and types of property. You can also arrange a pre-approved mortgage.

Then, only when you start getting positive viewings, you can start house hunting in earnest.

You have the numbers

When you do sell, you’ll know exactly how much capital you have to make an offer on a new property.

This means a more focused search for your new home, saving time and effort – and improving your chances of success.

You have no baggage

When you’ve sold you’ll also be a preferred buyer for a new property,­ you will have the cash in the bank and there’s no chain of sales attached to your offer. This means a lower offer could still seal the deal.

 

The risks

Time can be money

If house prices rise fast, selling, then taking too long to find your new home can see you priced out of the bidding.

In a fast moving market you may end up selling then not being able to afford as much as you first thought.

Stop-gap solutions

If you sell but can’t find a new home, you may have to rent, which can be costly, or stay with family until you do. Imagine a year back at mum and dad’s . . . or with the in-laws!

You may find yourself tempted to compromise on your next home simply to avoid rental costs, rising prices or the sound of Granny Ina snoring through the walls.

Top tip

To help you decide the best way forward, make a list of your priorities, such as how quickly you want to move, if you would mind renting short-term, and having a preapproved mortgage in place.

Keep up to speed with market trends and prices on s1homes, too, and you’ll never sell yourself short or miss out on your dreams!

accidental-landlordHomeowners can become accidental landlords for any number of reasons.

Perhaps you’ve inherited a country cottage from a long lost auntie and find yourself looking for a tenant who loves rose gardening.

You may be relocating to Aberdeen for a career promotion and so renting out your house in Peebles.

One of the most common reasons for becoming an accidental landlord, however, is when you buy a house then cannot sell it because prices have dipped in the property market – so you choose to rent out meantime to cover mortgage costs.

If any of these scenarios sounds familiar, you’re not alone – a recent consumer rental forecast found 30% of UK landlords are accidental.

The good news is s1homes can help make accidents work in your favour.

First things first. Before your prized property is there on s1homes for all potential tenants to contact you for a viewing, you should learn all you can about your legal obligations as a landlord – and, of course, the rights of tenants.

Homeowners who rent out property in Scotland must register with their local authority – if you’re renting out yourself or using a letting agent – online or with an application form.

You should also keep them up-to-date with the tenant’s details and move in date for Council Tax purposes.

After this, among your top priorities are ensuring the safety of gas and electrical fittings and appliances, overall fire and building safety and your property’s energy performance.

In general, you’ll also be responsible for major repairs, while a tenant takes care of minor mishaps (such as when the drawer handle falls off) and decoration (though you may want to ban woodchip wallpaper).

To avoid any concerns, when you draw up your written tenancy agreement, simply say who’s responsible for what. It’s also a good idea to do a proper inventory of your goods.

You also need to notify your insurance and mortgage providers, as the small print may not cover you for this.

If you take a cash deposit for a tenancy, you’re legally required to protect it in a government-backed scheme. This is to safeguard deposits from being unfairly kept by nasty rogue landlords.

If your intention is to eventually sell the property, bear in mind you can’t just move the buyer in with your tenants.

This is why it’s important to include a ‘break clause’. This is where you agree in writing that tenants must move out within a suitable notice period.

Alternatively, you can make use of short assured tenancies of six to twelve months.

Finally, be sure to look at the positive aspects.

As well as the rental income you’re going to make, there are also a variety of tax deductions you’re entitled to – so find out how much you can save with HM Revenue & Customs.

If you’re a landlord looking for an agent to manage your property on your behalf, use the free tools at s1homes to find someone you can trust in your area and read our Tips for Choosing a Letting Agent.

If you’re renting on your own, find out how easy it is with our new and improved Post Your Own section.

You’ll soon find that, with so many opportunities to make renting out work for you, it’s no accident so many accidental landlords end up better off than when they started!

students-2Entering university or college life is a time for new adventures.

The flip side is moving away from home and its familiar comforts can be unsettling. No more of mum’s special casseroles. No more of dad’s running commentaries during Strictly.

Thankfully, s1homes can make your move easier, with our top tips on how to find the best student accommodation . . . and get the most from it.

Be a browser

Once you’ve decided if you’re going it alone or want a flat to share, it’s time to browse s1homes to find accommodation that’s perfect for everyone.

From modern flats to traditional town houses, target as many properties as you can. This allows you to make an informed decision.

Get your bearings

Choosing a location is not only about being close to the campus, bus stop, supermarket or pub. It’s a safety consideration, so research the area in detail.

Visit the area during the day and late at night to get a true feel for the place.

Take in the view

Take your time when viewing properties. This is a big decision so don’t be hurried by a hasty landlord!

Take photos with your mobile: this way you can look at the pictures later and compare different properties.

Don’t be too embarrassed to bring mum and dad. They don’t know Pixie Lott from a Pokemon but do they know all about life.

Be a stickler

There are things you should look out for and avoid. Damp is one. Check behind the furniture for black marks. Beasties are another, particularly in student houses – there’s always someone who ‘forgets’ to clean up after pizza night! Look out for telltale signs, especially if the flat has a carpet.

Safety first

Check a property has clearly marked emergency exits, working smoke detectors, extinguishers and fire blankets.

Check if electrical appliances, such as the shower, are safe and working properly.

Can I get a witness?

Don’t hesitate to quiz current tenants, who will be happy to tell a fellow student all their home truths. Is it noisy at weekends? Are the neighbours friendly?

Do your sums

Confirm who’s paying the utility bills, how you’ll be paying your rent, how much the deposit is . . . then sit down and figure out if you can afford it.

The paperwork

A tenancy contract can be tedious but never sign on the spot: take it away and read it in detail. Even better, have a rep from your students’ union look it over.

Among the points to confirm are start and end dates, as well as the rent amount and who’s liable for it.

Make sure all tenants’ names and the landlord’s are on the contract and find out what you can and can’t do during your tenancy.

All deposits taken by landlords must be registered with a government-backed protection scheme – so check your landlord is signed up and has paid in your dosh.

If anything looks odd, don’t be afraid to question it.

And make sure you read our article about “What to watch out for in tenancy agreements” .

 

Finally, enjoy yourself!

Studying can be tough and exams tougher. But student life is also about enjoying freedom and fun in your new home.

So let’s get started by looking at the range of properties for rent right now on s1homes.com

countryFollowing on from Registers of Scotland’s latest quarterly statistics, which revealed the overall volume of house sales in Scotland has recently increased, CKD Galbraith’s quarterly statistics reflect this national trend.

They highlight Dumfries and Galloway as an area that is receiving significant interest from house buyers, with viewings up by 66 per cent over the first quarter of the year and the number of prospective buyers registering with the office up by 36 per cent year-on-year.
David Corrie, head of residential sales at the Castle Douglas office, said: “Rural lifestyle properties in Dumfries and Galloway remain extremely sought after and we have continued to see English buyers in particular seeking homes across the region with national buyers accounting for 57 per cent
of our total sales this quarter.

“Never before has there been such a difference in the value of property between some areas of rural Scotland and the south of England.

“Dumfries and Galloway is a beautiful part of Scotland with a lot to offer buyers looking to upsize and find an idyllic rural retreat that might be unaffordable in other more populated areas of the UK.”

Source: heraldscotland

NEW research conducted by the Energy Saving Trust has rwarmevealed that a lack of storage and difficulty keeping rooms warm are the nation’s biggest household bugbears.

It also says that when it comes to looking for a new home, 63 per cent of people prioritise greater warmth as a feature to look for, yet only 37 per cent of movers consider the Energy Performance Certificate of the home to be important.

The Energy Saving Trust is now urging people to take advantage of interest free loans which are being  funded by the Scottish Government in order to help with energy efficiency upgrades – including wall insulation, new boilers and double glazing.

Source: heraldscotland

couple-roomRenting out a room to a perfect – sometimes imperfect – stranger is some folk’s idea of hell. To others it’s a heavenly way to boost income, halve house bills and even help pay off the mortgage sooner.

If you’re a homeowner who has the space but is still weighing up the pros and cons of living up close and personal with someone new, here are some handy hints to help you decide.

The UK Government offers a Rent-a-Room scheme that offers benefits when it comes sharing furnished accommodation in your house or flat with a new housemate.

The pros? You can rent out a spare room for up to £7500 a year tax-free – that’s £7500 to spend on everything from a new kitchen to a luxury holiday in the Bahamas.

The cons? The paperwork.

The tax exemption is automatic if you earn less than the £7500 threshold. You must complete a tax return if you earn more than this.

You can then opt into the scheme and claim your tax-free allowance.

If you choose not to opt in, you can instead record your income and expenses on the property pages of your tax return.

Both homeowners and tenants (where the mortgage conditions or tenant’s lease allow) can use the scheme.

Remember, too, you don’t have to take on a full-time or 7-days-a-week lodger. For example, you may have a city worker staying Monday to Thursday, who travels home to their house in the country at weekends.

Once you’ve decided the best route for you, it’s all about getting the right person. Renting out a room can have a dramatic impact on your day-to-day life.

So setting out the ground rules in writing at the start allows you both to establish the do’s and don’ts – such as whether they can have free use of the living room or have visitors at all hours or only within specific times.

Be sure, too, to get work and personal references and ask wannabe lodgers the all-important questions.

Do they listen to Mama Mia on repeat? Do they keep pet spiders? Do they work nightshifts – this is great for giving you space in the evenings, not so great for being woken up by a key in the front door at 5am.

Finally, don’t forget to check with your home and contents insurer, if you want to go ahead.

Making everything above board – as part of what’s known as common law tenancy – will give you peace of mind now and prevent the possibility of any hiccups later.

Oh, and unless you want to find the last slice of cheesecake gone, invest in ‘mine’ and ‘yours’ Post-It notes for the fridge!

We’re delighted to launch in association with the Dunfermline Press, s1homes Fife magazine, the newest homes publication featuring the best property news and listings from across Fife.

This new monthly magazine is a must have for anyone who is looking to buy or rent in and around Fife.  Make sure you never miss out on your perfect home and get in the know on the latest property news and trends.

Inside the magazine you’ll find property listings from the best local estate agents across Fife and reviews of the hottest properties and trends.  Plus there’s loads of tips and advice not only for tenants and for those already with a foot on the property ladder, but also for landlords and sellers.

Furthermore, brought to you by our sister site, s1jobs.com, you’ll find  jobs listing with property jobs vacancies. So you can keep an eye on the latest jobs too.

Every month, you’ll find the s1homes Fife publication inserted into Central Fife Times and Dunfermline Press.

And remember you can also search thousands of properties for sale and rent in Fife, at s1homes.com.

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JULY 2016

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AUGUST 2016

 

bulbFunding of £300,000 from the Scottish Government will enable communities in Scotland to have a direct role – together with design experts – in making their towns and villages better places to live.

Available as two grant schemes, the Design Charrettes programme will bring together the public, stakeholders and designers to draw up viable proposals, while the Activating Ideas Fund will support participation and empowerment initiatives in disadvantaged areas.

Minister for Local Government, Kevin Stewart, said: “The quality of our places has an important influence on our lives. This Government is committed to empowering communities and involving them in the planning process.”

Source: heraldscotland

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