Author: Andrew Smirthwaite

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Essential Tips For Working From Home

For a small number of people, working from home will be the norm. But for the majority of the nation, the current climate has caused us to quickly adapt our working practices to home working for the safety of ourselves and those around us. In doing this, it is important to create healthy working practices to maintain motivation and routine throughout the day.
We’ve gained advice from those who regularly work from home so that we can share some top tips for the coming weeks ahead. Continue below for our top tips on how you can get the best out of home working:
1. Get ready for the day
Get up and ready for work as you normally would. Getting dressed out of your pyjamas and fresh for the day helps you to maintain a routine and get ready for a day of work. Doing this will signal to your brain that you are going to work and create a good mindset.

2. Have a routine
Working from home can get lonely, so a routine will prevent the day blurring into a mix of work and relaxation time. Creating a morning routine that will guide you into your work chair each day so that you can signal the separation between home and work. Start and finish work at your usual times so that you do not become overworked.

3. Create an office space
If you have a separate office space to work in, then that’s great. But even if you don’t, it is still important to create an area in your home that you can designate and associate with work. Whether that be at a desk, or if it has to be your dining room table, this will support you to keep a routine. At the end of the day, shut down your equipment and put it away. This will signal the end of your working day and the start of your own time.

4. Keep to your regular hours of a working day
With all your work equipment at home, it can be tempting to try and get ahead by setting yourself mammoth tasks that take you all evening to complete. Set yourself achievable goals (as you would when you go into work) so that you maintain your usual work hours and maintain your positivity and optimism. This will also allow you to keep a work life balance.

5. Have regular breaks
When you are in the office, you naturally take short breaks throughout the day. Whether that be to go and make a drink or go and discuss something with a colleague. These breaks away from the computer are crucial for your productivity and health. Breaks away from the computer screen help to break bad posture habits, help with concentration and productivity, and prevent fatigue. This should be no different at home. You can call a colleague for a chat, go and make a drink, or spend some time in a different room for a few moments.

6. Get some exercise
Living and working in the same space can be challenging at times so you may find it important to get a change of scenery. Stepping outside for a walk not only allows you to “leave the office” but also allows you to get valuable exercise (providing this is in line with Government guidelines). Some fresh air and natural light will do you the world of good. With people rarely leaving the house, a short walk could be all the exercise you get in a day so place importance on this. Alternatively, you may want to do a short home workout. There are tons of guides online to help you do this. Let’s not forget about those all-important endorphins.

7. Take your lunch break
You are still entitled to your full lunch break and it is important to take this. Ensure you continue to eat well and take time away from your work space to break up the day. Using this time to get some exercise (as advised in step 7) is a great idea too.

8. Get on the phone
Communication is so important during this time. Working from home can be isolating (especially if you live alone). To overcome this, ensure to keep up with regular team meeting via group calls. Check in with your colleagues throughout the day – even for a general chat not related to work. This is what you would usually do in the office and it is important to maintain this to make the day more enjoyable. Call people instead of email so that you can have proper conversations during the day which is so much more personal that email communication. You could even use Facetime for a more personal touch.

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Natex – Liverpools latest investment opportunity – 9% NET Yield Assured 5 Years | 4% Interest On Deposit | No Stamp Duty

I wanted to make you aware of a PBSA scheme in Liverpool, Natex, which has been fully recommended by the University of Liverpool.

Each property comes with a 9% NET yield assured for 5 years, furthermore, the buyer will benefit from achieving 4% interest paid on their deposit during the build period. There also isn’t any stamp duty fees with the Natex scheme being a purpose built student scheme.

Natex is sure to complement the expansion of knowledge Quarter in Liverpool which is expected to be a major draw for international students with the University of Liverpool which already has over 34% international students compared to the UK average of 25%

Investment Highlights:

9% NET yield assured for 5 years – 4% interest on deposit – No stamp Duty – Q3 2021 completion – 5 minute walk from the University of Liverpool and Liverpool John Moores University

Facilities include:

Communal residents gym – reception – meeting room – laundry facilities – Café – communal courtyard – student lobby – TV lounge – games area – high speed internet – Wifi and phone access – 24 hour CCTV – intercom security system – bike storage

Prices start at £75,000

Please contact myself or my team on 0161 474 8660

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Life Leisure provide us with their top 5 tips to stay active at home

1) Protect your wellness!

Maintaining your mental & physical well-being can be increasingly challenging in times like these. lifeLEISURE Health & Fitness Coach, Adam Heywood, talks us through his coping mechanisms and provides expert advice as to how we can cope with recent lifestyle changes!

2) Maintain a healthy weight!

Now that our facilities are closed, you may be wondering how you can keep on top of your weight management whilst spending additional time at home? Health & Fitness Coach, Adam Heywood, gives you his expert tips on staying in shape whilst staying at home!

3) Keep moving!

Now more than ever it’s vital to keep yourself & your loved ones happy, active & smiling! With that in mind, cast your eyes over our resident fitness expert Ruth’s most recent blogs on how to keep active whilst staying home!

4) Follow lifeLEISURE home workout videos!

Don’t get bogged down during lockdown, our Fitness Team have got your back! Whether it’s a high intensity calorie buster you’re craving, or you’re in the mood for getting your tone on, we’ve the workout for you! Subscribe to our YouTube channel here & get yourself moving with our Fitness Coaches!

5) Get Creative!

Are you staying at home with your children? It’s just as important to exercise the mind as well as the body, so why not have a break from the home P.E lessons and get those creative juices flowing? Grab the crayons, glue, glitter, and paint and let their imaginations run wild.

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Your guide to setting up a Smart Home – by Natalie Jones

The age of technology is upon us; has your home kept pace? There are dozens of ways you can use tech to turn your house into a smart home. The security, convenience, and quality-of-life improvements are waiting for you — are you ready to get started?

Why Invest in Smart Home Tech?

There are several reasons people decide to put smart technology in their homes. Often people get started because, well, it’s fun! Having the ability to play music via voice command feels pretty cool and futuristic. After a while, however, the broader practical impacts of having smart tech in the home become clearer and clearer. Eventually, the endless possibilities of creating your smart home start to make themselves clear. With a bit of creativity, you can create a tailor-made smart home experience that can’t be beaten.

Everything from your home’s sound system to your heating and cooling can be voice or phone-activated. The impacts on your day to day life almost can’t be overstated. Moreover, outfitting your home with smart tech is a great investment for property owners. These kinds of upgrades can increase your home’s value by up to 5 percent. This means in addition to the everyday benefits of smart home life, you also get to see a solid return on your investment when you sell your home down the road.

Convenience Galore

There are tons of ways that you can use smart home tech to make your life easier and more fun. For example, you can use voice commands to dim lights, play music, turn on the AC, and more. Or, you can ask your digital assistant to tell you a joke or give you the weather forecast. The ability to access online knowledge just by asking a question out loud is infinitely useful.

There are utterly practical conveniences as well. Save money on your heating and cooling bill by setting your smart thermostat to run at energy-saving levels when no one’s home. Set it to kick back on ten minutes before you arrive, and your home will be a comfortable temperature once you’re back. You can also turn lights on and off remotely, which allows you to prepare your home for your arrival. Imagine coming in from work to a perfect temperature, well-lit home playing your favorite unwind song. It’s a wonderful image.

Security and Safety

Smart home tech can also go a long way toward increasing your safety and security. You can set up a home camera and security system that will text you if there’s movement when no one’s meant to be home. You can access the video from your phone and tell whether someone’s broken in, or if your spouse just got off work early that day.

Smart doorbells can also make your home more secure. You never have to wonder who’s at the door or try to make out a distorted peephole image before you answer. You can easily see and communicate with whoever’s knocking, even if you’re not at home. Not only will this make you feel safer, but it will also make it easier to communicate with delivery people and neighbors.

Getting Started

Consider starting small when it comes to smart tech. You’ll almost certainly expand your collection of smart home features, but diving in with just one thing gives you a chance to learn how the technology works in a low-pressure situation. You don’t want to get every piece of smart tech and be stuck trying to figure it all out at once. Start with something that will save you money in the long run, like smart light bulbs or a smart thermostat.

These will give you a chance to play with the different options available and will cut down on your energy bills. Living in a smart home will make you wonder how you managed before. Explore the options available, and remember – you’re limited only by your imagination. The customization possibilities are practically endless, so figure out how to make your smart home perfect!

Photo Credit: Unsplash

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How To Transform Your Kitchen On A Budget To Achieve A Quick Sale

In often cases, the kitchen is what holds properties back from selling quickly. Not everyone can afford to replace a full kitchen, but with some pointers, and a few YouTube tutorials along the way, you can learn how to make affordable improvements yourself. Without breaking the bank.

A typical 8-unit kitchen that provides 10m2 of storage space can cost at least £1000. A larger kitchen however, requiring 20-units, giving 30m2 could be more like £7000 and that’s not even including the worktops, appliances or installation fees. Besides, if you were going to invest that much money, you’d want it to be for your own kitchen that you can enjoy yourself! With our kitchen guide, you can transform your kitchen space for under £80!

Before we start, you will need: (For the best quality supplies, head to Dulux or Johnstones.)

• Dust sheets! Old bed sheets will do too or these can be ordered online for as little as £1.
• Degrease wipes £2 from any supermarket
• Advanced primer in white £8
• Water based acrylic satin, mixed in any colour you want £9
• Foam roller £4
• Paint brush pack £11
• Mini roller bucket £3
• Knotting solution £7 (if necessary)
• New cupboard furniture, around £20
• Sanding pad pack £4

Step 1. PREP
Start by removing cupboard and draw furniture (handles and knobs.) Use a screwdriver to do so, usually either a flat head or a Philips. Then start sheeting the floor. You don’t want any paint splashes on your tiled floor (use masking tape to secure if you’re worried.) With your sanding pad, start going over the ins and out of your cupboards. Be thorough and make sure all food splashes are rubbed off. Dust down well. Then with the degrease wipes, give everywhere a wipe down. This is important and if done properly will help the paint sit better on the surface.

Step 2. BARE WOOD?

This step is only for those who will be transforming bare wood units. After wiping down, get your knotting solution and with a cloth or thin paint brush, ensure all wood knots are covered well. If you don’t know what a knot looks like, give it a google! We use this so the darkness of the knots, don’t shine through under the paint, especially if it’s a light colour. This dries instantly, so about fifteen minutes later move on to the next step.

Step 3. PRIME.

With a 1.5-inch paintbrush start applying the advanced primer. This removes the porosity creating a smooth coat ready for the following final coats. To get the best outcome do two coats, just to get a good coverage, avoiding any other colour or wood flashing through. Leave around 3 hours in-between coats and overnight for the last.

Step 4. PAINT.
Grab the water based acrylic satin, a clean brush, foam roller and mini roller bucket. This stage can vary depending on what cabinets you have. If you just have flat doors and draws, then that’s easy! If you have grooved or paneled cabinets, then this will require just a little more attention. For flat doors, with the brush, paint the outskirts of the door. Do one door at a time and don’t do a wide area, keep it neat and narrow. Coat the roller well in the acrylic satin and spread evenly over the entire door and lay it off well so there are no bubbles and is evenly covered. Don’t forget to do the side of the opened door as well. Don’t apply any more paint to the roller, just run it up and down and it will cover perfectly. If you want to do inside the cabinets as well then repeat this process.

For grooved or panelled doors, paint with a brush the panels and grooves, if there is an area larger than the width of your roller, roll it. If it is smaller and needs the paint to be worked into it, then stick with a brush. Lay it off well with the roller again to make it smooth and even. Using a foam roller will eliminate any brush marks and will make it look like the cabinets were that colour to begin with!

Make sure all edges are painted. This stage needs two coats, so wait 6 hours between coats and then overnight after the final. You might be thinking this will take up too much time, but I would say it’s much better than having fitters in and leaving you without a kitchen for a couple of days.

Step 5. DRESS.

This is the fun part. Now everything has dried, removed the sheets. To make the kitchen more modern and in keep with the transformation, you may want to replace the furniture. You can get a pack of four handles from Wilko for £6. When putting these on, be careful not to scratch your masterpiece! Dress with a new fruit bowl, a fresh bunch of flowers or some hanging green plants.

There are millions of hints and tips found online. Look through Pinterest for colour inspiration and watch any YouTube videos along the way if you find yourself struggling. Just by doing this can really increase your chances of selling. A major kitchen remodel only returns around 80% on to your investment, a minor remodel like revamping your cabinets, has an 87% return!

For £80, it’s a no brainer.

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Top Tips For Viewing A Property

When it comes to buying property, it is important to keep in mind that it could potentially be the home you live in for the rest of your life. With this in mind, it is essential that when you view potential properties that you take the time to be thorough and get all the information you can.
To help make sure you don’t miss a thing and make the right choice when you do eventually make an offer, we’ve compiled the following list of tips to help you to view a property like a pro.
Don’t rush
We all feel a bit strange viewing someone else’s home, but as we said earlier, you could be living in this property for decades, so don’t rush through this process! It’s vital that you spend close to 30 minutes exploring the property, asking questions and just getting a good sense of how it feels. If you just wander from room to room, taking a quick look and then moving on, you won’t get a good feel for the property. Taking that little extra time will mean you are well-informed when you come to make a formal offer.

Think about how much space there actually is
When it comes to property, space is one thing you can never have enough of. Whether you’re looking to fit in that Queen-size bed or you need somewhere to store all of the precious knickknacks that you have collected over the years, space is incredibly valuable. Pay attention to the way the current owner has laid out the furniture, as it will provide you with some insight into how to best make use of the property’s available space. It’s also an excellent opportunity to think about how much room your items take up and whether there is any scope for a little pre-move declutter.
Take a walk through the area
When you’re buying a property you’re not just investing in that building, you’re also investing in the neighbourhood itself. If you’re first-time buyers and looking to build a life in this new home, you have to ask whether the area is suitable for your family’s needs. Are there plenty of shops close by? How do the local schools perform? It’s best to wander around the area for a short while in order to see how it all feels, after all, if you’re going to be here for some time, you need to feel comfortable.
Once you’ve taken a good look, take another and maybe another
As we stated at the beginning, when it comes to buying property it’s best done the right way, but even when you do everything right, it’s always best to check things twice. No matter how thorough you intend to be there is always the possibility that you missed a couple of things the first time around. Most would advise visiting a property 2-3 times and at different times of the day – if possible – to see if you feel the same way each time. Buying a home can be very exciting, so it is worth visiting the property a few times.
Don’t forget that your agent is there to help you! Make sure you ask them questions about the property’s history and the local area, as they will be more than happy to assist you with your decision.

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interest cut

Interest rates have been cut to 0.25% in a bid to shore up the economy amid the ongoing coronavirus outbreak. This is the first time since the financial crisis that the Bank of England has announced an emergency move.

Low interest rates may well help cushion the housing market in the months ahead. Over 70% of homes are purchased with a mortgage.

According to data from the Bank of England, activity in the mortgage market is currently at a four-year high and mortgage rates are increasingly competitive on the high street.

In 2008, interest rates were cut for six consecutive months, falling from 5% in September 2008 to 0.5% in March 2009. Low interest rates helped the property market rebound throughout 2009.

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welcome lydia!

I wanted to give a big hello and warm welcome to the newest member of our Stockport Exchange team. Lydia Swann joins us today, starting as a Trainee Sales and Lettings Negotiator.

Welcome Lydia, I am very happy to have you on board!

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