Features

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.

5 Ways to Make your Kitchen a Social Family Space

family space in the kitchen

The kitchen is a beloved part of the family house, a social family space – it’s a room for parties, meetings, dinners and dancing, and according to a recent survey by British cooking appliance brand Belling, 70% of Brits see it as the heart of the home. We reportedly spend an average of three hours a day in the kitchen, so making it a warm, welcoming space can go a long way in helping nurture happy family life. Here are five ways you can make your kitchen a perfect social family space.

Wiggle room

Britons are charging over £1,000 extra to sell a home with a well equipped kitchen

Sell A Home With A Well Equipped Kitchen

New research has found how much extra Britons are charging for furnishings in the sale of a home by room, well equipped kitchen (£1,080), bedroom goods (£965) and living room goods (£840), found to cost buyers the most. What’s more, one in seven homeowners have found rubbish when moving into a property, and one fifth have moved into a home they described as ‘dirty’. 

The top reason given for selling a home with furniture included was found to be to ‘increase the value of the property’, whilst selling without was due to wanting to ‘avoid buying new furniture’ themselves. 

Luxurious new homes unveiled at Cavanna Homes’ prestigious Cavanna Wolborough Hill 

Ribbon cutting at Wolborough Hill Cavanna Homes

A ribbon cutting ceremony has marked the opening of Cavanna Homes’ most prestigious development to date, Cavanna @ Wolborough Hill in Newton Abbot.
The town’s Mayor, Councillor Richard Jenks was joined by Cavanna Homes’ Head of Sales Paul Furner and Sales Advisor Bernadette Wheeler for the opening of the luxurious new show home, set in the extensive grounds of the former Bishop Dunstan School.
The development will feature 26 executive new homes set alongside parkland and a private tennis court, with stunning views over Newton Abbot, the surrounding countryside and towards Dartmoor.

Inflation Nation: Online Tool Compares The Rise In Property Prices Against Smaller Purchases

Inflation Nation

A new online tool has launched today that Britons can use to see how the price of their home has increased, taking into account inflation, when compared to items such as a pint of beer, Freddos, petrol and even Glastonbury Tickets, leading to an inflation nation.

House prices continue to increase year on year making it difficult for younger generations to get their foot on the property ladder. Corresponding with this, whilst smaller purchases have fluctuated over the last 40 years, they too have generally increased meaning Britons are having to spend more money than ever before.

Top Tips For A Stress Free Move For Pets

Hilary & David with their pets in their new home

Barratt Homes has teamed up with the UK’s leading animal charity the RSPCA to provide pet owners with advice on making moving home as stress-free as possible for their animals.

Alison Raine, Sales Director at Barratt Homes Northampton, said: “Moving to a new home can be a worrying experience for pets, who often get overlooked during this busy time. 

“We want our customers’ moves to be as stress-free as possible, and that includes keeping their pets happy! That’s why we’ve teamed up with the RSPCA to ensure a happy move all round.”

The RSPCA, which has a branch in Northamptonshire, is encouraging buyers to plan in advance and minimise the impact on pets.

Dream home and easy move for new family at Alfred’s Gate in Newton Poppleford

Homeowners outside their new home in Alfred's Gate

When Joy Petley and her husband Alan decided they wanted to move into a new build home after visiting their friends’ new home on New Year’s Eve, they didn’t need to look any further than Cavanna Homes’ Alfred’s Gate development in Newton Poppleford, near Sidmouth.

“We didn’t look at any other homes, our minds were made up and we reserved our dream home! It was like it was meant to be” said Joy, a Fundraising Manager who has moved into a Yarner style property with Alan, a Finance Manager, their 7 month old son Toby and their two cats, Panda and Paddington.

Aesthetics a greater motivator than hygiene to change carpet

Aesthetics a greater motivator than hygiene to change carpet

People are twice as likely to change their carpet because it doesn’t match the décor of the room than over concerns for cleanliness and hygiene, research shows. 

A recent survey by United Carpets and Beds found that home owners choosing to change their carpet to match a new colour scheme outnumber those replacing a carpet that ‘felt unhygienic’ by almost two-to-one.

As many as 86% of those surveyed said they would choose to keep the carpets from the previous owners when moving into a new home, despite old carpets harbouring a variety of germs and dirt—including dead skin cells.

Homebuyers are the bees knees for local pollinators

Bees in bee brick

A new home for bees, as well as people, is on offer from leading developer Lovell as it prepares to give away a free bee nesting block to anyone who reserves a new home at one of its developments next week. 

In support of the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, which runs ‘Bees’ Needs Week’ (8th to 14th July 2019), Lovell is encouraging its customers to do their bit for nature and install a Bee Brick™ in their garden.

Part Exchange Makes Moving Easy At Willow Grove

Willow Grove Living Room

Leading housebuilder David Wilson Homes is offering Bedfordshire homebuyers the chance to use its Part Exchange scheme at its development, Willow Grove in Wixams, cutting out the hassle of using estate agents. 

Happy buyers, Vivienne and Paul Murphy took advantage of the Part Exchange scheme, that removes the stress of selling your property, when they moved to Willow Grove earlier this year.

Vivienne said: “We chose to buy our new home with David Wilson Homes because of the quality of their properties and how beautiful they are.

“The sales team at Willow Grove looked after us so well and provided us with photos of our house build progress every week.

Barratt Homes Site Manager Recognised As One Of The Best In The Country

Barratt Homes Site Manager Sam Foglia

A Site Manager for Barratt Homes in Milton Keynes has won a top national award for the quality of the homes he is building from the National House-Building Council (NHBC).

Sam Foglia (36) who is the Site Manager at Brooklands on Fen Street has been recognised by the NHBC for their annual Pride in the Job Quality Awards. 

Sam, who has worked for the homebuilder for two years, picked up his first Pride in the Job Quality Award this year.

He said: “This is such a massive achievement for me and it just hasn’t sunk in yet but I’m over the moon.

“I’d like to thank the team around me and the sub-contractors for all of their support, it’s been a real team effort and it’s great to be building for such a reputable brand like Barratt Homes.” 

From the Netherlands to Fusion at Paignton, with love

New owners at Paignton development

When Robin Hanselaar visited Torbay on an international work placement two years ago from Gouda in the Netherlands, she wasn’t expecting to fall head over heels in love and buy her first home at Cavanna Homes’ Fusion development in Paignton. 

Support Worker Robin, 21, met her partner George Irvine, a 22-year-old lifeguard, whilst both working at PGL, an activity camp in Torquay.

Couple Use Help To Buy To Secure First Home

Michael & Emily in their new home which they bought with help to buy scheme

Settling down to begin their family planning in the new Wixams community, a couple in Bedfordshire have secured their first home together using the Help to Buy scheme.

Michael Owens and Emily Platten, both 28-year-old Retail Managers, took advantage of the available tools for purchasing their new home and secured a new build property at Barratt Homes’ development Willow Grove.

Previously living with Emily’s dad, the couple were able to make the move to a three bedroom Maidstone style home with just a 5% deposit and sought professional guidance from an onsite Mortgage Adviser to benefit from a smooth transition.

To Bee Or Not To Bee: Developer Offers Top Tips For Nature

Bee friendly plants at David Wilson Homes

Leading homebuilder David Wilson Homes North West is offering homeowners in Lancashire its top tips for making their garden bee friendly this summer. 

The developer is encouraging people to make their garden a haven for our fuzzy friends, by planting flowers to attract them and making small changes to their garden to give bees somewhere to shelter.

There are over 250 bee species in the UK, and most face threats such as loss of habitat, climate change and disease. They are vital to the food chain, with one in every three mouthfuls of food consumed by humans dependent on pollination, including apples, pears, onions, potatoes, cherries, chilies, carrots, margarine and herbs.

How Bedfordshire Buyers Can Make The Most Of Their Move

Street scene in Bedfordshire

Barratt and David Wilson Homes North Thames is helping buyers make a move this May with a fantastic offer across its Bedfordshire developments.

The five star housebuilders are providing those that reserve a selected home at one of its developments in May with a £500 subsidy per month which they could choose to put towards their mortgage costs for one year.

Receiving this subsidy promises buyers a helping hand during the moving process, as they can make a healthy saving each month that can then be used towards other aspects of their home, including furniture and décor. 

Research reveals the increasing popularity of smart home tech

Smart home technology being used in a kitchen

Smart home appliances have seen a huge rise in popularity in recent years, with devices such as smart meters receiving over 2,338 Google searches (UK) in the last 12 months.

The online smartphone retailer, e2save has delved into the ownership of smart home tech in the UK2, revealing which devices are most popular.

With an increasing focus on energy efficiency, it’s notable that smart energy meters are the number one appliance in the country, with the data showing an increase in ownership from 14% in 2018 to 17% in 2019*.

Other popular smart home appliances are smart washing machines/tumble dryers with a 16% ownership, fridge/freezers (16%) and microwaves (15%).

1,000th Resident Welcomed To Flourishing Milton Keynes Community

Karla Wilson and Jeremy Atkin-Smith outside their new Milton Keynes home with 1,000th resident balloons

Barratt Homes Northampton is celebrating after welcoming its 1,000th residents to the flourishing community at its Brooklands development in Milton Keynes. 

Karla Wilson (31) and Jeremy Atkin-Smith (33) have taken their first step onto the property ladder and bought a brand new three bedroom home.

Brooklands was the ideal choice of location to set down roots for the couple ahead of their wedding in August and they are delighted to be joining the growing neighbourhood. 

The couple said: “It feels amazing to be the 1,000th residents at Brooklands, this home couldn't have come at a better time for us, it’s literally like it was meant to be. 

Is It Important To Live Near Public Transport?

Barratt Homes near Public Transport

A total of 69% residents in Bedfordshire say that living near public transport is an important consideration when moving home, a survey by leading developer Barratt and David Wilson Homes has revealed. 

Seeking convenience and great commuter links is a top priority for a number of homebuyers in the county and the survey has proven transport links, especially public methods of travel such as rail and bus services are at the top of the list. 

Barratt and David Wilson Homes strives to build properties in carefully planned locations that consider each of the residents that will move into the homes.

Couple Use Help To Buy To Secure First Home

Couple stood outside their new first home

Settling down to begin their family planning in the new Wixams community, a couple in Bedfordshire have secured their first home together using the Help to Buy scheme.

Michael Owens and Emily Platten, both 28-year-old Retail Managers, took advantage of the available tools for purchasing their new home and secured a new build property at Barratt Homes’ development Willow Grove.

Previously living with Emily’s dad, the couple were able to make the move to a three bedroom Maidstone style home with just a 5% deposit and sought professional guidance from an onsite Mortgage Adviser to benefit from a smooth transition.

Leading Developer Invests In North Thames

Simon Francis - managing director or leading developer Barratt Homes in North Thames

Barratt and David Wilson Homes North Thames, based in Watford, has built 668 new homes in its operational area last year and has contributed over £86 million to the UK’s economic output.

The achievements are highlighted in a new report which measures the housebuilder’s social and economic contribution to its operational region over the past financial year (1st July 2017 – 30th June 2018). 

The five star housebuilder covers Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Essex.

Included within the company’s socio-economic footprint are key figures relating to the company’s support for the housebuilding supply chain, local communities, environment, public services and employment. The figures revealed the housebuilder: 

Why Buy There Unless You Want To Live There?

Why Buy There Unless You Want To Live There
Article by Jeffrey Gritzman

The three most important things to look for when looking to buy 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?

Bring Spring To Your Garden With These Helpful Tips

Bring Spring To Your Garden With These Helpful Tips

With the end of the colder months in sight and spring fast approaching Barratt Homes’ has collaborated with the British Association of Landscape Industries (BALI), to provide a wealth of useful tips that are sure to help Merseyside homeowners tidy up their garden in no time. 

During the winter it can be hard to feel motivated to tend to your garden, but spring is the perfect time to give your green spaces a little TLC in readiness for the warmer weather. 

Michaela Lancaster, Sales Director at Barratt Homes Manchester, said: “The idea of gardening can seem like a bit of a chore, especially if you’re a busy family short on time.

Family Find Everything Is Hunky-Dory With Three Storeys

Family outside their three storeys home

Upsizing at one of Bedfordshire’s freshest family hotspots, a couple have discovered the many benefits of three storey living at Barratt Homes’ Willow Grove development in Wixams.

The new community on Southern Cross is becoming a flourishing location for growing families, one which Emel, Anthony and Tony (7) White have recently called home.

Emel and Anthony, an IT Business Analyst and a Civil Engineer, have made the move to Willow Grove from Pulloxhill and used the Part Exchange scheme in doing so.

Emel said: “Purchasing a three storey property ensured the home was big enough for our family and friends. It has a study downstairs which we are currently using as a toy room for Tony, whilst the three bedrooms are all doubles.

One in five Brits have MOVED OUT of the family home due to the temperature of the house

Woman changing the temperature of the house

Nobody likes to be too hot or too cold, but new research has found the true extent of how far Brits are willing to go in a bid to ensure the family home is their perfect temperature.

The research, conducted by Boiler Plan, found that half of Brits (49%) have argued with family members over the temperate of the house - with a staggering 18% admitting to even moving out of the family home due to the cold temperature.

When it comes to the lengths Brits will go to, to control the heating at home, more than one in five (23%) have worn excessive clothing indoors, 15% have carried a hot water bottle around with them and just under one in 10 (9%) have gone to the extreme of feigning an illness to ensure the heating is set to an adequate temperature.

Gira Plug + Light 

Gira Plug + Light 

Gira, one of the world’s leading full-range suppliers of intelligent system solutions for building management, showcase Plug + Light: a new and defined interface which unites light control and power supply. 

Combined with appropriate light top units, Plug + Light offers easily controllable indoor lighting – from dimming to warm dim – making it an infallible solution for professional electricians, installers and system integrators so flexible indoor lighting can come to life for the end customer.

For flicker-free, dimmable light in matching switch design, Plug + Light is an open system which can be used with standard Gira flush-mounted device boxes, as well as models from Gira‘s British Standard Range.