Househunting? Read our insider top tips

Looking for a new home is often one of the most stressful times of your life. It’s probably also the most expensive purchase you’ll make. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed with the sheer amount of information and advice out there, but there are a few important things to remember.

After a viewing, you’ll probably remember a couple of things you forgot to ask! We’re here to help, with our top list of questions to ask when viewing a home. Some are common sense, and some are insider tricks; read on to find out more…

Is the seller able to offer vacant possession?

It’s an important question to ask either the estate agent, of if you feel comfortable, asking the seller directly, as it could make a big difference on time scales. If the seller already has an alternative property to move into then that benefits a buyer. It could be that the seller needs to find a property to buy first which will happen in time, however you will then know early on and be able to factor this into your time frames. Alternatively, it’s not uncommon for a seller to ‘break the chain’ to assist which means that the seller will agree to move out regardless of any further onward chains, hence speeding the process up.

Do your research, but not too much!

Where would everyone be without the internet? With every estate agent up and down the country marketing their properties on multiple property portals, buyers are spoilt for choice when it comes to doing their homework on a property that they are interested in purchasing.  Whether it’s researching the house prices for the area or an individual street, it’s easy for a buyer to have doubts and think they may be possibly paying too much for something. However, buyers are best to consider the market conditions at that time in relation to available property stocks, and lastly and most importantly of all, trust your gut instinct.

Is the property listed?

If you’re planning on making any major changes to the property, it goes without saying that you’ll need to find out if it’s listed first. This will probably be answered during the survey process, but it’s worth asking the agent too.

Can you tell me about the area?

If you’re looking to buy in a new area, it’s definitely worth getting some advice from your agent. Factors such as congestion problems, street parking and safety could all impact on your final decision.

What is included in the sale?

Make sure you know exactly what you’re paying for. Garden sheds, fixtures and fittings – these are all extras that may be overlooked at first, but it’s important to know what’s included.

Which way does the house face?

This last one may seem insignificant – but the orientation of the house could be the difference between a sunny or gloomy garden in summer!


Getting your property rent-ready

With a quarter of households predicted to be renting privately by the end of 2021, letting your property is becoming big business. Whether you’re a first-time landlord, or have a host of properties under your belt, getting your property viewing friendly can sometimes be a headache.

Luckily Craven is here to help! From property prep to choosing your tenants, here are our top tips for letting successfully…

Your property

First things first, you need to make sure your property is ready to let! If you want as many prospective tenants as possible to be interested, it’s a good idea to make your property a blank canvas.

If you are letting unfurnished, this is slightly easier – think white walls and neutral carpet and floors. If you’ll be offering your property furnished, ensure items are fit for purpose and functioning properly! Take away anything tired or worn, and again – think neutral.

Once you’ve secured your tenants, before they move in make sure you set the right standards by giving the property a deep clean. Hiring professional cleaners is wise and won’t break the bank.


Consider what kind of tenants you’re looking for. Are you happy with families living in your property? Think about the property’s size, and judge accordingly.

There are many other factors to consider, such as potential tenants who have pets or smoke. Make sure you communicate your preferences to your lettings agency – you could even request to meet tenants before signing over.

Find a reliable lettings agent

Finding the right lettings agent can make a huge difference to the renting and letting process. Choose badly, and it could end up costing you in the long run. Choose wisely, and the right lettings agent can make the process a breeze.

Here at Craven, we carry out comprehensive credit, affordability and employer checks, as well as references on all prospective tenants. We also refurbish properties to an impeccable standard, meaning that you maximise your potential rental income. Read our last blog post to find out more about selecting the right lettings agent.


Choosing a Lettings & Property Management Company? What to look for

Choosing the right lettings and property management company can have a huge impact on the success of your property portfolio.  Not all lettings and property management companies are made equal, so we’ve compiled five questions to ask and things to consider when you’re deciding who to entrust with the management of your property portfolio.


In the Craven office we have a full-time team of four experienced and highly qualified specialists in lettings and property management.  It’s important to partner with an agency that doesn’t specialise in sales with a bit of lettings on the side: lettings and property management is core to our business and it shows in our knowledge and experience: we’ve been in the business since 1984!



It’s well worth a little recce, as if you’re trusting your property portfolio to a management company, you want to know that it’s in good hands.  At Craven we believe in keeping properties in peak condition, throughout tenancies, not just when it’s time to renew or re-let.  Key indicators include whether the front of the house looks neat and tidy with fresh paint, through to a quick check that tenants are keeping on top of putting out the bins, are obvious but important points.



At Craven and Company, we’ve invested in an in-house team of property maintenance professionals.  They’re trusted, good at what they do, and importantly reliable.  When you’re considering which company to opt for to manage your property portfolio, ask what the policy is on how quickly repairs and maintenance are carried out and how much this will cost.



Asking about void periods is extremely telling – and you want a company who can back up their claims with statistics about how quickly they can fill your rental property with quality tenants. Call us to ask about our rapid rental turnaround – we’d love to share our stories of speed!



What other landlords and what tenants have to say about a company is extremely telling.  Look out for messages around reliability, doing what they say they will and dedication to deliver.  Here are just a couple of examples from the hundreds of testimonials we have from happy customers:


Trudy Burns

‘’My partner and I have been tenants of Craven for nearly 6 years. Any issues we have ever needed to report, have been dealt with promptly and professionally.
Gary has always been excellent in giving us advice when it’s been needed.
On the afternoon of Christmas Eve we had a major gas leak. We contacted the emergency number and a plumber was sent out to us within the hour. The problem was sorted within a few hours.
Would highly recommend them as landlords.’’


John Chapman

‘’Good company to work with. They’ve managed a couple of my properties for over five years and done so very professionally and efficiently.’’



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Top tips for winter property maintenance

How to stay warm, and safe in your home in winter

Let’s face it, not many people are winter-friendly. Besides Christmas and the start of a New Year, there aren’t too many of us that enjoy the bitterly cold weather, or leaving for work in the morning in the dark and coming home in the dark. It’s the season of broken boilers, mouldy walls and frozen pipes, but such issues are nearly always preventable, especially with the correct maintenance from both landlords and tenants.

Here at Craven, we have collected comprehensive advice from our trusted team, to keep you warm and safe during these crisp and chilly winter months.

  • If you’re going on a winter break, keep the temperature at an even level

The possibility of pipes freezing in winter temperatures is a fairly common issue, but one that can be avoided with the right preparation. To further help prevent this problem, a pointer for homeowners and tenants would be to cut off the water supply at the stopcock, and to drain the taps. Unfortunately, such precaution might result in a cold and damp house upon your return, which leads to our next tip.

  • Keep the property well ventilated

Our properties are nearly always well insulated because of double-glazed windows, but this certainly won’t prevent mould growing on your walls and windows. Mould condenses in the winter months because of warm air reaching a cold surface, so it’s important to ensure that your home is well ventilated, whether that be through opening a window or investing in an exhaust fan. Mould also grows in damp areas, so prioritise tackling wet areas immediately.

  • Don’t hesitate to bleed your radiators

An early sign of trapped air within your radiator is it being colder at the top than the bottom. When this occurs, heat won’t be able to circulate properly, and your house will soon start to feel cold even when the central heating is switched on. If you’re well organised, you’ll quickly be able to grab your radiators key and find its valve and turn it to allow air to escape. Note – Central heating must be switched off before this procedure, as an active radiator will allow more air to build up.

  • Look after your boiler – you’ll need it

Energy efficiency is key here, as a poorly serviced boiler will undoubtedly cause you to reach into your pocket a little further for gas bills. Even worse, avoiding boiler maintenance leaves the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning, which can be fatal. Impossible to smell or see, the most accurate way of detecting this odourless gas is by installing a carbon monoxide detector. Upgrading your boiler or having it repaired may initially seem like a costly investment, but the short and long-term rewards speak for themselves, both on your health and your wallet.

  • Insulate your loft space

Keeping warm and cosy during the winter months is more than just layering up in thicker clothes. Fortunately, most homeowners are able to easily access their loft to install proper insulation, which can result in a significantly warmer home with less expensive bills at the end of the month. Preparation is key, so simply calculate how much loft roll is required, and get down to either B&Q or Wickes to start saving on your energy costs.

  • Keep on top of the gutters

If you haven’t done so already, your gutters will likely be overflowing with autumnal leaves and debris, causing water to cascade down the brickwork of the house, penetrating your walls with damp, and you guessed it, mould. The exterior of your home is just as important as the interior, so don’t put off cleaning out any gutter blockage, even as we approach the latter stages of winter.

  • Look after your garden

Whilst we’re discussing the importance of the outside of your home, ensuring that outdoor furniture such as chairs and tables are folded away is essential to avoid any unwanted damages in high winds. We’re in Britain remember, where the weather is often unpredictable, so protect the look of your garden by regularly checking how secure fence panels are, and that when inviting guests around, the first they don’t notice is the clutter of leaves that have been left to build up.


Craven & Company Valentine’s Day VOUCHER GIVEAWAY

As February kicks in, the January blues should certainly be starting to fade away by now. Whilst the Manchester weather doesn’t appear to have any signs of improvement, we can already tell that our customers are becoming optimistic about the coming months.

Smack in the middle of February comes Valentine’s Day, and here at Craven & Co we’re feeling particularly generous towards our loyal customers. That’s why we’re giving YOU the chance to win a £50 Love2Shop gift voucher for you to treat your loved one this Valentine’s Day (or even spend it on yourself).

To enter the competition, simply like OUR PAGE and share THIS POST to give yourself a great chance of winning this voucher, which is redeemable in a wide selection of high street stores.

Entrants must be UK residents and aged 18 or older. There are no alternative prizes. Participating and entering this promotion will be acknowledged as a complete release of Facebook by each participant. This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook.


Top tips for selling a property

Thinking of selling your home before buying a new one?

With the cost of housing continuing to rise in the UK, it may seem increasingly difficult to find the right market when selling your property. Average houses in the UK are reaching soaring figures of over £220,000, and whilst everybody knows that January isn’t always the busiest month for property sellers, now is the time to start preparing your home for a successful spring sale.

We want you to get the best possible value for your home, which is why we’ve comprised a list of advice from our experienced team here at Craven Properties.

  • Invite a knowledgeable & experienced estate agent around to give a realistic and optimistic valuation for your home – Whilst this feels like an obvious one, it’s important to invite an agent who can provide an honest value for money, but one that can generate a high volume of viewings.


  • Be considerate with space – Nobody likes an overly assertive salesman, and the same applies when selling your home. Allow the viewer space to take photos if necessary, and explore each room without following their every move, and ready to answer any questions they might have about the property.


  • Don’t wait until you find a suitable property yourself, sell your home first – This may initially come across like a bold move, but the advantages of this will far outweigh any disadvantages. Selling before buying will make sure that you aren’t pressured into selling quickly, or cheaply, because of how costly buying a new home can be.


  • Increase your property’s ‘kerb appeal’ beforehand – Creating a good first impression is pivotal when selling a property, but you really want to achieve a lasting impression that will stick around after the viewing. Consider investing in a fresh lick of paint for the wallpaper, some attractive flowers for when you walk into the kitchen, or a colourful hanging basket to greet the viewer by the door. After all, you want your home to be as clean and presentable as possible, otherwise, how do you expect anyone to want to move in there?


  • Don’t forget the little things – This is where attention to detail matters, as the little things are likely to be noticed. Your light bulb has needed replacing for days, so now is the time to replace it. As great as your home may be, it could get a little embarrassing to invite a potential buyer round to a house that is craving some DIY.


  • Make the most of your outdoor space – A recent Zoopla poll (link) found that 25% of potential buyers would hesitate towards a property if they were introduced to an overgrown garden. A messy garden can say a lot about a person, with a messy outdoor space even making the property itself look smaller and cluttered, so this is an absolute must. It might cost a little, but reach into your pockets and hire a professional gardener to make your home as easy-on-the-eye as possible.

Sale Property Prices on the Rise

Property prices are on the rise in Sale, which is good news if you’re thinking of selling your home in early 2018.


January 2018 property price statistics, for the Sale postcode M33, show a rise of 1.84% since September.  Compared to this time last year, property prices in Sale have boosted by 4.22%!


At Craven we’re not surprised to see this upward shift in house prices in the area.  After all, Sale was recently crowned the fourth best place to live in England!  The Centre for Economics and Business Research along with Royal Mail looked at a number of criteria to award the title.  High on the list are good schools, how easy it is to access green spaces, employment prospects, working hours, affordable housing and commuting times.


Any Sale resident will rightly wax lyrical about the area’s sense of community, great schools, including Sale Grammar, and the wealth of things to do and places to eat.  From Sale’s Waterside Arts Centre which puts on dozens of plays and events over the year, to hotspot eateries like Mustard Diner and VAO, we’re lucky with our local area.


When it comes to the property on offer, Sale is hard to beat: there’s something for most budgets, with prices starting from around £180,000 through to £880,000 +.


From traditional Edwardian homes to contemporary apartments, Craven is proud to act as the selling agent to a wide range of homes in Sale. January’s been a busy month so far, with many sales in our portfolio set to complete and new instructions too.


Our latest instruction to market is Norton Avenue.  We were really pleased with the feedback from the vendor when he instructed Craven as his estate agents, saying he chose us because he liked Ryan, our head of sales’ warm, approachable manner and great service.


With property prices and sales on the rise, it looks like there are plenty of reasons to be cheerful this January for the people of Sale.


If you’d like one of our experienced team to pop over to provide a free market valuation on your home, please get in touch on: 0161 973 6969.




Condensation and how to control it

It doesn’t matter what type of property you live in, whether it’s an old, single glazed house or a newly built, double glazed apartment – condensation can be a nightmare. It might start off a small issue, but if you don’t deal with it right away it can develop into a much bigger problem. These include damp and mould, which can damage your walls and furniture, and become health hazards to both you and your family. Condensation is caused by lifestyle and not a defective building.

What causes condensation?
Condensation occurs when warm air collides with cold surfaces, or when there’s too much humidity in your home. This is especially common in winter, when your central heating system comes on in the cooler hours of the mornings and evenings. In addition to central heating, everyday activities like cooking, showering, drying clothes and even just breathing can release warm moisture into the air inside your home. When this moisture-packed warm air comes into contact with a chilly surface, it cools down quickly and releases the water, which turns into liquid droplets on the cold surface. While condensation is rarely a problem in the summer, the amount of water in the air (otherwise known as the humidity) inside our homes is much higher during the colder months. This is because we tend to have the heating turned up high and the windows closed. That’s why condensation is a bigger problem during this season, as it’s no longer confined to the bathroom. When the outside temperature drops, water can start to appear inside your home, especially on windows and walls. While a bit of water might sound harmless enough, if condensation isn’t dealt with immediately it can go on to encourage black mould to start growing on your walls, ceilings, and around your windows. Not only is this stuff unattractive, having a lot of it in your home can lead to certain unpleasant health issues including sinus problems, skin rashes, and even bronchitis. If the condensation problem in your home has already progressed to this stage, there’s no need to worry: you can read our guide on how to banish mould from your home for good.

How do I control condensation in my home?
The first step is to control the amount of condensation in your home. Use a window cleaner’s squeegee to clean water droplets from windows, mirrors, and glass shower doors whenever it starts to build up. When you’re done, use a soft towel to dry down any condensation you find on walls and other surfaces. Once your home is nice and dry, it’s time to start looking into ways to prevent your condensation problem reoccurring.

You could start by buying a dehumidifier to reduce the amount of humidity in your home. These are great at pulling air through a fan and removing the vast majority of the moisture, helping to keep your surfaces dry. If you can, invest in two or three, and place them in rooms where you’ve noticed the most condensation: these will most likely be your kitchen, utility and bathroom. You could also move one into your bedroom on cold nights, as the heat from your breath can condense on the windows and walls. You can also help the problem without spending anything. When cooking, avoid excess steam being released into the air by keeping lids on your saucepans and making use of your cooker extractor fan. If you don’t have an extractor fan or it’s not the most effective, try to keep a window open when cooking, using the tumble dryer, or taking a shower. Whenever you use the kitchen or bathroom, it’s important to keep the door closed. Although it may seem logical for ventilation, keeping the door closed is better for your home as it stops the humid air travelling to other rooms. It’s also a good idea to try and avoid condensation from forming in cold spots in the first place by making sure your home is heated evenly throughout. Keep the thermostat at the same temperature in every room, and if there’s a room in your home that you don’t use often, keep that door closed and open the windows in that room for a couple of hours each day to prevent condensation and damp from forming. Remember to leave a small gap between the walls of your home and your furniture as this allows the air to circulate and move away from the bottom of the walls and circulate around the room. If air lingers between the furniture and walls it will condense onto walls and could eventually form into black mould. Keeping windows on vent will help ventilate a property and if your property has air vents fitted, be sure not to block them off as they provide vital air circulation of the home.

Is there a long-term solution to condensation?
Preventing condensation is much easier than attempting to cure it once you have it. The only viable way to avoid condensation in the long-term is to invest wisely in both ventilation and insulation. Ventilation is key to keeping condensation at bay. We all know it’s impractical to always keep your windows open throughout the winter, so an extractor fan in your bathroom and kitchen can help so if you have one, in the bathroom it should be running whenever you have a bath, shower, or shave. If the room is still steamy when you’ve finished, leave the extractor running for a while and keep the door shut. If your property does not have an extractor fan fitted and you are noticing the signs of condensation then a portable electric dehumidifier will do the job really well. Run the dehumidifier throughout the winter months especially if the water collection chamber is constantly filling up as this means there is still excess moisture in your home. In addition to ventilation, you could also improve the insulation in your home to keep your walls above the dew point – the temperature at which the moisture in the air turns into beads of water. If you own your property and don’t already have double glazing, consider an upgrade. Double-glazed windows stay much warmer than single-glazed ones, and therefore don’t experience as much condensation.

We hope this helps!


Shall I put my home on the market in December?

Well actually, December can be a great time for smart homeowners, who are thinking about making a move. Here are our top tips on why now might be the right time to sell!

“Let’s leave it until January!” That would be the first instinct of many people who think about putting their homes on the market towards the end of the year, with a view to moving in the New Year.
It seems like the sensible thing to do doesn’t it? Everyone is far too busy buying Christmas presents and decorating their homes with tinsel in December to concentrate on house-hunting aren’t they? Well actually, you might want to think again! A house decorated for Christmas will create an instant feel-good factor which is much harder to achieve in the quieter days of January.

One of the busiest days of the year on property portals is Boxing Day. According to figures from Rightmove, there is about a 20 per cent uplift in people house-hunting online from Christmas Eve to New Year’s Day so it makes sense to make sure your property is in the shop window at the optimum time. Browsing for homes is a classic post-Christmas recreation, just like browsing holiday websites for your next summer break is.
Given that most people will follow the conventional wisdom and not put their properties on the market in December, you will be entering a less crowded market place – which will help your home to standout.

Also many people start new jobs in January and will naturally start focussing on their new living arrangements before the New Year, rather than leaving it to the last minute. This, along with millions of people who visit relatives at Christmas time, may take them hundreds of miles from their home towns. Some of them will also eye up the property market in unfamiliar parts of the country, checking prices, contemplating possible moves and trawling the internet for new homes. There is a window of opportunity here to consider.

Many workers get their Christmas bonuses before Christmas and, in some cases, make moves in the property market on the basis of those bonuses. Christmas tends to be a comparatively quiet time, both on the stock markets and in the political sphere. That makes would-be property buyers a little less jittery, which can be a good thing. They may be few in number, but there are some people whose idea of a perfect Christmas present to a loved one, is a stunning home in a beautiful location. If you have decided to move, you should just get on with it, regardless of the time of year, and not use Christmas as an excuse. Stalling for time can sometimes be costly.
You may enjoy the festive season more if you decide to sell now, rather than worrying when you will find time in the New Year.

If you are considering putting your house on the market, have a chat to our Sales advisor for advice, whether you are looking to buy, sell, rent or let?