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In this two-minute read, we look at the increasingly sophisticated scam that fraudsters are using to separate homebuyers from their hard-earned cash.
Even though we’re in lockdown, criminals are still out there trying to swindle people, so if you plan to buy a new home in Havering in 2021, please heed UK Finance’s latest warning about an email scam that is on the rise.
Here’s how it works. Fraudsters hack into the system of a conveyancing firm and monitor their emails. When a deal nears completion, they send the buyer an email that looks like it has come from the conveyancing solicitor. There has been an administrative error, it says, and the bank account details for the transaction have changed.
The buyer, anxious to secure their dream home (and, in the current climate, take advantage of the Stamp Duty holiday), follows the instructions and sends the funds – to a fraudster.
UK Finance, which promotes secure financial transactions, says this type of crime is on the rise with £16.2 million lost in the first half of 2020. While it’s not the largest type of scam in the UK, it is particularly ruthless as large sums of money are involved; one poor soul lost £300,000.
Tips to avoid being scammed
- Don’t assume that fraudsters write or speak in a certain way – their emails can be polite and polished and feature logos and letterheads that are perfect copies of the real thing.
- If you have even a quiver of doubt, step back from the situation and take a breath. Buying a home can be a fraught process and it’s easy to get caught up in the moment.
- Never send money without verifying the authenticity of the account information – call, or even better, visit your solicitor’s office to confirm the details. (Note: Don’t call the number listed on the invoice that has raised your suspicion, this could be a fake.)
- Work with people you trust. Go with conveyancing solicitors and estate agents with longstanding reputations.
Fraud red flags for homebuyers
- Emails that notify you of a change of bank details.
- Duplicate invoices, one will be real, one will be fake.
- Pressure to act ASAP. Fraudsters often strike on a Friday afternoon. They’re hoping you won’t realise your mistake until after the weekend (and they’ve had time to move the money on).
- A change – no matter how minor – to an email address. Often the fraudulent email will come from an address that is similar to the legitimate one.
Here at Accord Sales & Lettings, we’re here to support you through the homebuying process. We’re happy to provide expert advice and share our years of knowledge and experience.
Copyright 2021 Accord Estates Ltd
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In this two-minute read, we look at why landlords who self-manage their buy-to-lets can never really put their feet up at Christmas.
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In this three-minute read, we look at the key themes that emerged in the UK property market in 2020.
Here at Accord Sales & Lettings, we’re proud to have nearly made it through 2020. We’re a little bit older, wiser, and looking forward to serving the people of Havering in 2021.
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In this two-minute read, we look at five ways to stave off cravings and eat well this winter.
Many of us turn to food when we’re bored or stressed, so it’s no wonder that the pandemic has played havoc with so many people’s waistlines.
Spending lots of time at home this year, amid ongoing uncertainty, has meant that bad habits have crept in. Do any of these descriptions resonate with you?
The all-day grazer: Mid-morning you reach for the biscuit tin and then keep going – and going. You eat little and often (by that we mean almost constantly) and lose track of how many bourbons/crackers/cookies you’ve devoured.
Late-night binger: You skip breakfast and stick to a simple eating plan for most of the day – until about 9pm comes and BAM! you snaffle a tub of Ben & Jerry’s at lightning speed.
Zombie eater: You always eat in front of the TV or while on your laptop. You shovel it in on auto-pilot, unaware of how much you’ve packed away, if it has any nutritional value or even if it tastes nice.
Afternoon snack fiend: Your mood and willpower plummet mid-afternoon. You start to feel hangry (that’s hungry plus angry) and need a sugary snack to give you an energy hit.
If any of these descriptions ring a bell with you, then here are five tips to help get your eating habits back on an even keel.
Plan meals and shop in advance
Create a meal plan, stock up on healthy produce and get cooking. (Meals made from scratch are typically lower in salt, sugar, and fat than processed foods and takeaways.) Foods to add to your shopping basket include sweet potatoes and spinach (they’re packed with vitamin A) and oily fish (for a hit of vitamin D). If snacking is your weakness, have berries and oranges (full of vitamin C) on hand for when the cravings hit.
Sit down at the table to eat
Avoid eating on the run, or while multitasking. Sit down to eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner at the same time every day. This structure will help stop you grazing or bingeing.
Frozen vegetables are packed with vitamins and minerals, so make sure you have some in the freezer. That way, if you wind up having to quarantine, you can still get your daily dose of veg.
Food isn’t supposed to be a source of guilt, it’s meant to be nourishing and joyful. If you have a blowout, don’t be too tough on yourself. We are living through strange times. Move on, tomorrow’s another day.
Exercise boosts your mood, and gives you more energy, so you won’t need sugary treats to give you a lift. Schedule exercise for the time of day when you typically feel low or lethargic.
Here at Accord, we’re here to help you get through these uncertain times. Look after yourself and take care.
Copyright 2020 Accord Estates Ltd
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In this three-minute read, we share our five-point plan for a smooth move in six months’ time.
Moving can be stressful – some people rate it right up there with divorce in the aggravation stakes – but there are ways you can take the drama and disruption out of the process.
The first step is to acknowledge that buying a new home is likely to be one of the biggest purchases you make in your lifetime.
And if you plan to sell a property to fund your next move, you’re effectively carrying out two incredibly important transactions in one hit. (No pressure then.)
Given the magnitude of the task, if you want to move in 2021, we advise you to start working towards that goal now.
The process always takes longer than you expect, so use your time wisely now so that you can move when the time is right next year.
Here are five tips to pave the way for a successful move.
Research prospective areas
You probably have an inkling already of where you would like to live, but until you get into the nitty-gritty, you won’t know if your dreams are realistic. Review local property prices, pinpoint favourite streets, revise school catchment boundaries and check if there are any major residential or transport projects in the pipeline that will impact the area.
Sort out your budget
Scrutinise your finances to get a clear picture of your income and spending. Be honest about what you can afford. Consider how your responsibilities might change in future if, for example, you plan to have children or change careers. Identify the size of the deposit you will need, along with costs such as Stamp Duty, legal bills, surveying fees, mortgage insurance, and removals.
The good news is that interest rates are currently low. However, uncertainty in the market means those looking for a high loan-to-value mortgage may struggle to secure one as many lenders have pulled them altogether. Analyse a wide range of deals to get the best product for your situation.
Basic maintenance and refurbishment
Once you know what you’re aiming for, it’s time to get your house, quite literally, in order. Give tired rooms a lick of paint, and mend broken windows, doors, and cupboards. Plant spring bulbs in the garden so that your yard is brimming with colour by March. If you’re considering complex renovations, such as installing a new kitchen or bathroom, get a second opinion. Will you recoup the costs of a major refurb when you sell? Ask an estate agent for their expert opinion.
Working on a room-by-room basis, get rid of unwanted items. If an item has some value, sell it online. If not, take it to the tip. Sorting out all your belongings now will mean you won’t have to do it closer to moving when you have other things on your plate. It will also make marketing your property much easier and help you achieve maximum selling price.
If the events of 2020 have made you consider moving, come and talk to us here at Accord. We can give you friendly, expert advice about where the market is heading and the outlook for 2021.