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.

West London’s best kept secret – ARRO at Southall Waterside 

ARRO at Southall Waterside apartments

Located on the banks of the Grand Union Canal and the equivalent of 36 Trafalgar Squares in size, Southall Waterside is one of West London’s most exciting regeneration projects to date. And for those first time buyers looking to invest in their first home in an up and coming location, ARRO at Southall Waterside is just the answer. 

Catalyst Homes’ latest Shared Ownership development, ARRO at Southall Waterside features 66 studio, one and two bedroom Shared Ownership apartments. The development forms part of Southall Waterside, which when completed, will create a whole new neighbourhood of 3,750 homes offering great connectivity with an extensive leisure and retail offering, a new primary school, a community hub, piazzas and parks.

The average Brit spends a HUGE 44 days sat on the sofa every year

Woman relaxing on sofa

The average Brit spends a whopping 44 full days (that’s 1,060 hours) sat on the sofa each year, according to new research2. But binging boxsets on the couch could be having more serious implications, as a quarter (24%) of the nation admits experiencing back pain at least once a day.

Exploring the nation’s relationship with their sofas, the study reveals that the average Brit spends 20 hours and 24 minutes relaxing on the couch per week, which means that throughout the course of a year, people spend just over 44 days sitting, lying or slouching on the sofa.

Additionally, one in 20 (5%) admit to spending a huge eight hours or more each day relaxing on the couch, whilst one in 10 (10%) complain they never get time to rest on the sofa.

Desperately seeking gardens - the UK’s Forever Home revealed

Unpacking boxes in forever home

The UK’s Forever Home costs £470,000, has a front and back garden, garage and at least three bedrooms, according to new research by The Nottingham.

The building society asked the nation what the top priority in the search for their Forever Home would be, and what amenities are most important to them when choosing a property for life. It also asked aspiring Forever Home owners how much they expected to pay.

Unsurprisingly, a back garden was the most coveted feature for a future Forever Home, chosen by over two thirds (68%) of respondents. This was followed by a front garden, an essential feature for just under half the nation (49%) and a garage (45%), highlighting just how important outdoor space is.

The 7 easiest ways to boost your home value

Improving house valuation

You know what they say: a home is where the heart is.

But what if your heart is in that lovely new build two streets down — the one that just stretches past your budget?

Of course, you’ll need to sell your current house before you can move into your dream home. But if you’re really honest with yourself, the faulty shower and threadbare carpeting you’ve become accustomed to isn’t going to do you any favours when you’re haggling for the best price.

“A lot of homeowners jump into radical changes to their home assuming that they’ll improve the house’s value,” says Ian Greenhalgh from home glass replacement specialists Cloudy2Clear, “Often, though, smaller cosmetic changes can have just as significant an impact on the home value and cost far less to implement.”

Leading developer shines a light on ‘five star’ pupils at school

Barratt Homes Sales Adviser, Juelee, with the winners of the rising stars awards

Barratt Homes has awarded five pupils who are considered to be ‘rising stars’ at a primary school in Nuneaton, to celebrate its recent ‘five-star’ accreditation from the Home Builders Federation (HBF) annual customer satisfaction survey.

The Rising Star award winners and Saxon Meadows Sales Adviser, Juelee Taylor This is the tenth year in a row that Barratt Homes has received the top rating and to mark its continued success, the housebuilder awarded five ‘star’ pupils at Camp Hill Primary School, which is near to its Saxon Meadows development on Queen Elizabeth Road.

Couple use help to buy to upsize to their dream home

Dom and James in their new house that they got thanks to the Help to Buy scheme

A couple have recently been able to secure their dream home, using proceeds from a previous house sale and the Help to Buy scheme at Marston Fields in Bedfordshire.

Dominic (46) and James (41) Chapman-Hunt recently decided that they wanted to buy their first house together and upsize and they fell in love with an Eden style property at the David Wilson Homes development in Marston Moretaine.

Kingsbrook residents in Aylesbury back great british butterfly count

A wildlife friendly space at the Kingsbrook development in Aylesbury in anticipation for the Big Butterfly Count

Leading developer, Barratt and David Wilson Homes have joined forces with wildlife charity, Butterfly Conservation, to participate in the annual Butterfly Count (19th July– 11th August) at its Aylesbury development, Kingsbrook. 

The Big Butterfly Count is an annual nationwide survey where participants are encouraged to spend 15 minutes looking for and recording 17 species of common butterfly and two day-flying moths, during three weeks of high summer.

The Count has the backing of Sir David Attenborough and Chris Packham and has rapidly become the world’s biggest butterfly survey, with over 100,000 people taking part in the UK last year and over one million butterflies counted in total.

A room-by-room guide to giving your home a fragrance makeover

Kitchen - A room-by-room guide to giving your home a fragrance makeover

A room-by-room guide to giving your home a fragrance makeover by Rich Quelch, Global Head of Marketing, Lifestyle Packaging

It’s true; many of us are guilty of ignoring how our home smells or simply placing gifted candles and diffusers on spare surfaces without giving it much thought.

However, home fragrance should be a key consideration when it comes to styling your home. That’s because scent plays a bigger role in how you feel than you might think. In fact, smells are processed by the part of the brain where emotions and memories are processed. 

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%).