Join in the festivities with our 12 Days of Christmas bundle

12 Days of Christmas bundle

Join in the festivities with us here at HomeFocus! We are giving our online readers a chance to win 1 of many mystery prizes in our 12 days of Christmas bundle! But hurry as you only have 12 days to enter. Follow the countdown on social media to view the amazing array of prizes daily and see what you could win. 

Each day we will post a new mystery prize in our 12 Days of Christmas bundle which one of our lucky readers could win. So don’t forget to keep coming back to see what you could win! 

12 days of christmas bundle

Current Prizes

EZVIZ Indoor Security Cam

First time buyer? This is why you need to start a Lifetime ISA

Lifetime ISA logo

If saving for your own house seems like an impossible dream, help is at hand from the government which you need to know about, says Homefocus editor Victoria Galligan

In November 2019 the Help to Buy ISA was replaced by the Lifetime ISA, which can help first time buyers put away up to £4,000 a year and receive a 25% government bonus. 

Although it’s only just replaced the Help to Buy ISA, the Lifetime ISA has been available from April 2017 so many people have been taking advantage of this pretty generous offer from the government for a while now. But is it the right way for you to save for your first home?

Here, Homefocus has put together a guide to show how the Lifetime ISA can help you get onto the property ladder sooner than you thought…

WIN a Masha by Sensio Home!

Electric potato masher: Masha by Sensio Home

With lots of new technology hitting the market it can be hit or miss on whether the item you purchase will do the job right, especially when it comes to kitchen products. 

If you're a fan of mash potatoes (or any other sort of mashed vegetable for that matter!) but can never get your mash quite right, then we have the perfect product for you - an electric potato masher called Masha! 

Our junior designer Meghan recently tested the Masha and absolutely loved it. Here's what she had to say: 

"Like most people I absolutely hate mashing potatoes but I love mash! I've tried all sorts of mash in the past - even packet mash, but found that it's just not the same as when it's made with fresh potatoes.

Exploring Help to Buy and Shared Ownership schemes

Photo of new home example of available on shared ownership scheme or help to buy schemes in UK

Have you ever heard the words “shared ownership”, or “Help to Buy” but always wondered exactly what people were talking about?

The world of affordable home ownership might seem like a complex one, particularly for first-time buyers, but here at HomeFocus we strive to cut through the jargon and tell you exactly what you need to know.

Thanks to the sky-high prices of homes and houses nationwide, people right across the country are being priced out of the open market, and add that to the extortionate cost of renting, it’s no wonder that people are struggling to get a foot on the property ladder.

However, there are affordable home ownership schemes in place to help you buy your own home - and the key word there is affordable.

The Benefits of Shared Property Ownership

Couple excited over shared property ownership

With house prices at record levels, many people have been looking for alternative ways of buying houses. Help to Buy ISAs and equity loans are popular options but are not the right option for everyone. If you’re struggling to afford funds for your first home, shared property ownership could be a great option for you.

With the intention of making homeownership more accessible, this scheme allows you to buy part ownership (20-75%) of a property from a housing association. You will own your share of the property and be able to pay rent on the remaining percentage. 

Pines and Needles review – a real Christmas tree delivered to your door

Pines and Needles - Victoria's tree

Homefocus editor Victoria Galligan took delivery of her real Christmas tree from Pines and Needles this December and says you’ll never go back to artificial trees after spruce-ing up your home for the festive season… 

No home is complete in the festive season without a Christmas tree – and in our house, a real pine is a must. Our family, like millions across the world, have become increasingly conscious in recent years of our carbon footprint and it seems quite odd that we’ve spent years decorating a fake, plastic tree when we could have been supporting the growth of an actual tree!

First look at showhome in sought-after Ely development

Ely development showhome

A housebuilder has unveiled a brand new showhome at a Ely development.
 
Redrow Homes South Midlands has opened its stylish new showhome, the Stratford Lifestyle, at King’s Meadow, a 200-property development located just a couple of minutes’ drive from the city centre.
 
The home is part of Redrow Homes’ Heritage Collection, which has proven popular with homebuyers looking for traditional, 1930s charm combined with a contemporary and high-spec interior.
 

2020 interior trends you NEED to know about

living room - 2020 interior trends you NEED to know about

The new year is fast approaching, and with it comes a range of new trends for the home. To help you refresh your interior for 2020, Rebecca Snowden, Interior Style Advisor at Furniture Choice, offers her key predictions for the upcoming year’s trends and explains how you can incorporate these 2020 interior trends into your home.

Japandi minimalist style 

A hybrid of Scandinavian and Japanese design, Japandi is the hotly tipped minimalist trend for 2020. Both these styles share the same principles: clean, uncluttered interiors that are defined by functional yet sophisticated statement pieces. 

How the designers style their staircases for Christmas

Christmas staircases

The staircase is synonymous with the festive period: after all, who didn’t creep halfway down as a child trying to glimpse Santa on Christmas Eve? Or wait nervously on the stairs on Christmas morning to see whether he’d visited? So by decorating the balustrade—be it with traditional foliage, stockings filled with presents, greetings cards or simply a few strategically placed baubles—you can help to enhance the festive magic.

Majority of parents worry if children will adapt when moving home, according to new research

children moving home

The majority of parents said they were worried about how their child would adapt when moving home; with one in five parents saying they felt extremely worried - reveals new research from Purplebricks, the nation’s biggest estate agent. 

Despite these concerns, almost one in four children (23 per cent) felt completely settled in less than one week, compared to just 16 per cent of parents. 

The research of 1,001 British parents also revealed that:

How to get a mortgage while in student loan debt

How to get a mortgage while in student loan debt

Most mortgage lenders will ask about your student loan status, although a debt won’t automatically lead to a black mark against your application. Despite the obstacles, with hard work and patience you’ll still be able to reach your homeownership goals.

Residential People have years of experience working to connect people with property, and they revolutionised the way people search for properties. Here, they discuss how to get a mortgage while in student loan debt. ​

“Dreams can be affordable,” says first-time buyer at Graven Hill

Ferial Fattahi outisde her new home

Ferial Fattahi found her dream home using the Help to Buy scheme at Graven Hill. Learn more about her custom build journey…

After leaving university in 2014, Ferial Fattahi had been living at home in Oxfordshire with her parents to save money for her own home in Graven Hill. In 2016, she decided it was time to try and take the first step onto the property ladder and visiting show homes soon became a hobby for her. However, nothing felt quite right and over a year later the search continued. 

£10.7 billion’s worth of properties are sitting empty across London

Empty property in London

New research by HomeProtect on unoccupied homes has revealed that an astonishing £10.7 billion’s worth of properties are sitting empty in London. The total number of long-term unoccupied (6 months or more) properties in the capital rose by 2.8% between 2013 and 2018 to a total of 22,481, which accounts for 0.63% of all properties in the city.

Only 15% of Brits know correct term for integral stair part

Only 15% of Brits know correct term for integral stair part

Homeowners often don’t think about the correct names of fundamental stair parts until it comes to replacing them, turning an easy task into a frustrating challenge. 

A recent survey by Jackson Woodturners revealed that the majority of the British public have been calling the balustrade—a structure made up of a combination of stair parts including a handrail, base rail, spindles and newel post—by the wrong name. In fact, only 15% of the public are aware of its correct term.

This integral part of a staircase was incorrectly referred to as a banister by 68% of those that took part, a further 8% called it a railing and 7% knew it as a handrail. 

Why Buy There Unless You Want To Live There?

Couple moving in to their new home - Why Buy There Unless You Want To Live There?

The three most important things to look for when buying a home are said to be location, location, location. The reasons why you want to live in a particular location vary from person to person: close to work, close to transport, good school catchment areas, near family and friends, it’s the area I know, it’s trendy, up and coming, prices bound to go up in the next few years, handy restaurants, bars and coffee shops…you can add your own reasons why somewhere is the place you really want to live. And if you’ve got enough money you can live there. But if you’re on a budget, then you’re stuck, having to buy where the developers and housing associations offering affordable homes have their new-build properties. Or do you? 

Cavanna Homes recognised as best medium housebuilder

Cavanna Homes staff with best medium housebuilder in national industry awards

Westcountry homebuilder Cavanna Homes have picked up one of the top honours in a prestigious national industry awards scheme.
 
The 2019 Housebuilder Awards saw Cavanna Homes named Medium Housebuilder of the Year, recognising the firm’s strong commitment to “building brilliance” and well-designed high-quality new homes.
 
The homebuilders’ Primrose Hill development in the seaside town of Torquay was highly commended in the ‘Best Design for Three Storeys or Fewer’ category, with the firm’s vibrant Yarners Mill development in the Devon village of Dartington also shortlisted in this category.
 
Cavanna Homes successful apprenticeship scheme was shortlisted for ‘Best Training or Recruitment Initiative’ alongside six others.
 

Home cinema inspiration – create movie magic in your new home

Samsung TV and soundbar for home cinema

So you’re looking for a new home, planning your décor, looking at furniture to make your house reflect your personality – and if you’re a movie buff this means having an amazing space in which to settle down for some serious viewing. Media rooms have become popular with widescreen TVs, home speaker systems and gaming consoles all available at affordable prices. And as cloud-based, voice-activated technology brings all this to life, the future of cinema is no doubt in the home. With some great TV and audio equipment, careful lighting and a few pieces of wow-factor furniture, here’s how your home cinema dream could become a reality…

 

David Wilson Homes Donates To Local School

David Wilson Homes staff with donation to local school

Leading housebuilder David Wilson Homes South Midlands has donated £250 to Corby Red Kite Special Academy to help launch their after-school provision.
  
The school has a richly diverse community in which children with many special needs, languages, cultures and religions learn together.
 
The after-school facility will support the children and enable their parents to work, or spend some time with other siblings, it can also provide much needed respite and therefore it is vital that this opens.
 
Situated in Northamptonshire, the free school is a vibrant place to learn where children are enthusiastic and motivated to achieve endless possibilities.
 

Catalyst Homes launches collection of Shared Ownership homes near Bletchley

Catalyst Homes Bletchley Kitchen

Catalyst Homes has released from plan its latest collection of Shared Ownership Homes in Newton Leys, just outside Bletchley, near Milton Keynes. 

Oakbrook will feature 15, two and three bedroom homes and two bedroom apartments which are ideal for first time buyers looking to get on the property ladder and become part of a brand new community which is being created by Taylor Wimpey. 

Gareth Gow, Area Sales Manager for Catalyst Homes comments, “The new homes at Oakbrook are available to those who live or work in the Aylesbury Vale borough or have a connection with the area. Each home is finished to a high specification and will feature contemporary kitchens with integrated appliances included within the price, flooring throughout and a private garden.” 

Demand is high for Shared Ownership homes in the historic village of Bloxham

shared ownership homes in Bloxham

First time buyers are being given a rare opportunity to buy a Shared Ownership home in the sought after village of Bloxham in Oxfordshire. 

Weavers Fields features just nine, two and three bedroom homes located near the picturesque and historic village centre. The homes are ideal for young professionals and families looking to get on the property ladder and take advantage of this tranquil village location. 

Get on the property ladder at Wolvercote, Oxford 

Homes at Wolvercote, Oxford 

First time buyers given the opportunity to get on the property ladder in sought after Wolvercote, Oxford 

Catalyst Homes has just released from plan its brand new collection of Shared Ownership homes at the former Wolvercote Paper Mill in Oxford. 

The site, which was used as a mill for about four centuries but ceased paper production in 1997, is being transformed into a brand new community by Cala Homes. 

Catalyst will be creating 19, one, two and three bedroom apartments and three bedroom houses which are ideal for first time buyers, renters looking to buy their own property and young families. Each property will feature a contemporary kitchen with integrated appliances included in the price and parking for each property. 

How to save hundreds on energy bills this winter

Man working out energy bills

A third (33%) of Brits have NEVER switched energy supplier, and 73% haven’t switched in the last 12 months - despite this being the best way to save money on bills. One in five (20%) spend up to £1,000 a year on gas and electric!
Knowing these top tips and tricks could save you money on heating during the coldest months of the year

One in five (21%) Brits say they are more worried about gas and electricity costs than any other household spending, yet many don’t appear to be taking advice from energy companies to help reduce bills. 

Join the cleaning revolution with a robotic vacuum (Review)

Vorwerk Kobold robotic hoover inside the hover

Smart home technology​ is fast becoming a necessity for modern living from – smart video doorbells to the robotic vacuum cleaners, we have come very far. But do these smart gadgets actually work and make your life easier? Here our very own Meghan Pollock from the Homefocus team reviews the Vorwerk Kobold VR300, to find out if the latest technology in the robotic vacuum cleaner lives up to expectations…

I know that the robotic vacuum cleaner has taken off in other countries – in the USA and Scandinavia in particular – but no-one I know has one, to be frank. So I thought I'd take the leap and try one out for myself.

I wasn’t expecting the Vorwerk Kobold VR300 to be able to keep up with the hair left over from animals, and even from myself! How wrong I was.