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Off-Grid Heating: What Are My Options?

Off-Grid Heating Options

What off-grid heating options are there? Around four million homes in the UK are not connected to the national mains gas grid. These homes are cut off from the infrastructure that gives most of us our gas. Whether you’re buying or selling one of these homes, you’ll need to know your off-grid heating options. We’ve compiled a list of the possible options.

LPG

Liquid petroleum gas (LPG) is a versatile fuel that’s suitable for cooking, heating water, and gas fires. According to Which?, LPG is an efficient fuel that provides a cost-effective way of heating the average home.

While there are cheaper fuels available, most aren’t as efficient. LPG boilers are also efficient, and they cost as little as £900. And unlike oil and coal, LPG is impossible to steal.

LPG is a relatively clean fossil fuel. But if you want an even cleaner version, consider Bio LPG, made from waste materials such as vegetable oils, plant matter, and animal fat.

Solid fuel

Off-grid heating options - coal

A lot of older properties in rural areas still rely on solid fuel for heating. In most cases, heat is created in stoves or fires. Most people like an open fire, but it’s usually not an efficient way to heat a space. You can’t control when the heat comes on and goes off with any accuracy. And a lot of the heat generated is lost through a flue or chimney.

While wood and coal are relatively inexpensive, you have to find somewhere to store them. And the task of carrying the fuel into your home is dirty, time-consuming and inconvenient.

Crucially, you may need large immersion tanks to heat water, which are notoriously inefficient.

Oil is one of the most widely used off-grid heating options

Oil is still one of the most commonly used fuels in off-grid properties. It must be stored in a large tank outside the property, which can be unsightly. And it’s easily stolen in rural areas. You also have to continually monitor oil levels in your tank to ensure you don’t run out.

One of the major problems with oil is its fluctuating price which is why a lot of people shop around for good deals and sign up to fixed-price supply agreements.

Electricity

There are some very capable electric boilers on the market, but they’re costly to run. According to Ovo Energy, heating a home with electricity is two to three times more expensive than with oil, LPG or solid fuels.

off grid heating solutions – Renewable sources

off-grid heating options - solar
Solar panel on a red roof

Renewable heating technologies are improving all the time. But despite their increasing popularity among homeowners, they’re still costly to buy and install. Air and solar heat pumps aren’t always capable of delivering all your heating requirements. After all, they’re reliant on weather conditions. But they can cut energy bills when used in conjunction with other non-grid heating fuels.

Off-grid heating can affect house prices in certain circumstances. If you’re struggling to sell your home because of this issue, Flying Homes may be able to help with a fast, competitive offer.

How to Spot We Buy Any House Scams

We Buy Any House Scams can be difficult to recognise when you’re in a rush to sell your home

So-called we buy any house scams are on the rise. Unscrupulous companies are involved in a range of dishonest practices aimed at cheating homeowners out of the true value of their home.

Selling a house to one of these house buyers can be a great idea. But you need to know that you’re dealing with a reputable, trustworthy property buyer that won’t rip you off.

At Flying Homes, we’re passionate about providing an honest and fair house buying service. That’s why we’ve compiled a few questions to ask yourself when looking for a service you can trust.

Is the house buying company legitimate?

Avoiding we buy any house scams

Fraudsters and unscrupulous operators will go to enormous lengths to earn the trust of homeowners. They’ll create glossy websites, believable social media accounts, and a professional brand to fool you into thinking they can be trusted.

Don’t let these factors cloud your judgment. Before you even approach a “we buy any house” company, check the Internet for scams, such as fake customer reviews and testimonials. A big, established firm should have several decent reviews on Google and sites like Trust Pilot, and they won’t all be five stars!

The next thing to check is the company address. This is easily done by searching through company records or Internet listings. And you can verify the business is real by checking Property Ombudsman or Companies House

How fast can they sell your home?

Be wary of companies that promise buy your home within seven days, what they really mean is that they agree to enter into an agreement within 7 days, not finalise the purchase in 7 days, although it is possible. A timescale nearer 28 days is more realistic. Which Company is the fastest house buyer? Who knows, it probably varies from the buyer and sellers circumstances at the time.

Reach out to people on forums and discussion boards who’ve dealt with the company. How long did the company take to sell their property? Did the firm stick to its promises on timescales? A lot of “we buy any house” scams are predicated on tying people into house buying contracts with false promises.

Is the initial offer surprisingly high? Maybe it’s a We Buy Any House Scam!

One common scam involves house buying organisations offering a very attractive price at the beginning of the process. Just before the purchase completes, the firm suddenly reduces its offer to reflect “changing circumstances”, the last-minute price drop scenario. And because the buyer needs a fast house sale, they can’t go anywhere else.

Do a little research on house prices. If one of these fast house buyers is offering full market value for your property, proceed with caution.

Does the agreement include a “lockout” clause?

A “lockout” clause is something that stops you from dealing with other companies. So, if you agree to sell your home to a house buying company, you can’t then decide to take your business elsewhere. Or if you can, you’re required to pay a hefty release fee.

If you’re ever asked to sign a “lockout” agreement, don’t. Reputable firms offer fair prices and reliable service. They’re confident that they can deliver, so they don’t need or want to lock you into an agreement at the very beginning of the process. If a company does want this, it’s probably because they know you’ll find something better somewhere else.

Were you asked for upfront payments?

Never sell your home to a house buyer that asks for upfront payments. Companies that do this are probably involved in “we buy any house” scams. You should never have to pay for a valuation — this is something any reputable house buyer would do.

A trustworthy house buying firm will make a modest profit by selling your house — not by squeezing fees and upfront payments from homeowners at the beginning of the process.

Flying Homes is a trusted house buying company that doesn’t ask for upfront fees!

How Does Probate Work?

If you’re wonderinghow does probate work?” you’ve probably just lost a loved one. This is a very difficult time in any person’s life. And dealing with legal issues is the last thing anyone wants to do. Nevertheless, it’s often unavoidable.

But there’s nothing to fear from probate. As long as you have the facts, you can navigate the process without too much stress and worry.

What is probate?

Probate is a type of court order that allows someone to deal with the financial affairs of the deceased. You need to have a Grant of Probate if you want to deal with significant financial assets — even if you’re the named Executor or the next of kin.

If you’re the spouse of the deceased, you may not need probate to transfer relatively modest assets to beneficiaries. Contact each institution to find out their rules and guidelines.

How does probate work?
Signing Last Will & Testament

If the deceased left a Will, you get a Grant of Probate. If there isn’t a Will, you get Letters of Administration. Either way, these important permissions give you the legal right to access bank accounts and transfer assets. This might be necessary to calculate the estate value and pay off any debts.

What happens during the probate process?

Tackling the probate process for the first time can be intimidating. But if you take one step at a time, it’s usually straightforward. Yes, it involves a lot of administration, but financial institutions will help you as much as they can.

Determine the final value of the estate

You have to make an accurate list of all the deceased’s assets. These include property, cash, possessions, pensions, savings, and anything else of value. Add all of these assets together to calculate the final value of the deceased’s estate.

Submit the estate value to HMRC

Whether the estate exceeds the inheritance tax threshold or not, you have to submit the final value of the deceased’s estate to HMRC. You will need to provide identification details to HMRC before you can do this on behalf of the estate. If you’re a surviving spouse, this is easy. If you’re an Executor or a close relative, you’ll need a Grant of Representation from the Probate Registry.

How does probate work?

Settle the estate

Once you have a Grant of Representation, you can start using the assets in the estate to pay off debts. The first debt to satisfy is inheritance tax — if applicable. You should then pay off any existing credit cards, loans and other liabilities. You may need to sell off assets to satisfy these debts, even if that means selling a home.

Distribute the assets

Once all liabilities have been settled, the Executor or Administrator can distribute the remaining assets according to the Will. If there isn’t a Will, the Probate Registry will let you know what to do next.

Speed up the process

If there’s a property in the deceased’s estate and you inherit it, you might need to sell it fast to pay off debts. Or you simply might want to move on from your loss as quickly as possible. Flying Homes specialise in buying houses quickly. There’s no negotiation, marketing, or drawn-out legal process. In some instances, we’re able to complete a house purchase within a month of making the initial offer.

A Brief Guide to Property Fraud

Property Fraud is on the rise — partly due to the increasing influence of the Internet. There were more than three million recorded cases of property fraud in 2017 alone. And it’s clear that buyers and sellers need to be aware of the risks.

The nature of the problem is changing rapidly. The range of scams is broader than ever. And buying, renting and selling property are all affected by the issue. And the scammers continue to conjure up new ways to fool people into parting with their assets.

Whether you own property, rent it or you’re in the market for a new home, you’re at risk of property fraud. That’s why we’ve put together this guide to the problem.

What is property fraud?

Property fraud is a broad term used to describe the act of dishonestly acquiring a person’s assets through the use of a home, business premises or land.

The issue now takes many forms. Some scammers steal personal details to remortgage property. Others create elaborate equity release schemes that are designed purely to steal. Sadly, the authorities are struggling to keep up with the changing nature of this burning issue.

Property fraud

There are currently three major types of property fraud in operation today:

Money interceptions

Sophisticated criminal gangs scour property markets for vulnerable people selling their home. At a crucial stage for a house sale, the gang contacts the buyer, pretending to be a solicitor or conveyancer.

The fraudsters then trick the individual into sending the cash to them — instead of the vendor’s representatives. This particular scam is often initiated through the hacking of an email account.

Investment fraud

Fraudsters contact people to invite them to invest in property schemes. The schemes range from new developments to the renovation of derelict properties. Once the money changes hands, the fraudsters vanish.

Identity theft

Fraudsters pose as homeowners to remortgage their property. They do this by acquiring personal details about the victim. This is often done digitally. But some fraudsters resort to crawling through trash for old bank statements and other financial documents.

Who does property fraud affect?

We’re all at risk from these property fraudsters. However, some of us are more vulnerable than others. Gangs regularly target the elderly, as well as owners who live abroad. Other at-risk groups include those with mortgage-free properties, those with empty properties, and people whose home is being renovated.

Like all fraudsters, property scammers look for people who are vulnerable to attack. They prey on those who find it difficult to defend themselves.

How do I know I’m a target?

There are several tell-tale signs of a property scam — here are just a few of the most common:

  • You received a surprise letter from your solicitor.
  • The offer you’ve received seems too good to be true.
  • You’ve been invited to a presentation about a property investment scheme.
  • You’ve been asked for money to arrange a viewing for your home.
  • A solicitor or conveyancer asked you to transfer money to an unknown account.

Identifying property fraud

There are several things you can do if you think you’re a target for fraud. Call the police, or report the incident to Action Fraud. You can do this online or by phone. The Land Registry also has a property fraud hotline, which you can reach by calling 0300 0067030.

What can I do to protect myself from property fraud?

It’s important to stay vigilant, as property fraudsters are constantly thinking of new scams. Take the following steps as a bare minimum:

  • Keep in regular contact with elderly relatives and vulnerable people in your life.
  • Question every email you receive, and never respond to it by clicking a link within the message.
  • Ask a friend or relative to look after your financial affairs when you’re away.
  • Never hand over cash without checking the request is coming from a legitimate source.
  • Destroy all financial paperwork before throwing it away.

If you’re in any doubt, or if you sense something isn’t right, trust your instincts.

What’s the Difference Between Leasehold and Freehold Home Ownership?

What’s the difference between freehold and leasehold?

There are several differences between leasehold and freehold ownership, and you need to know about, them before buying a new home. This issue can affect the market value of your property. And it can change the legal process involved.

We’ve put together a brief guide on the differences between leasehold and freehold ownership. Make sure you know what they mean for your future plans before buying or selling your home.

What is a freehold?

A freehold property includes ownership of both the building and the land it sits on. You’re responsible for the upkeep and management of this land.

Buying a freehold property is usually the preferred option. You don’t have to pay ground rent. You don’t have to deal with a landlord. And you don’t need to worry about a lease for the land expiring while you still own the building.

Shared freeholds

A shared freehold is something you might end up with if you buy a flat. All of the property owners in the building can get together and buy the land from the landlord. Each owner then receives an equal share of the freehold. While expensive, this course of action gives you more control over what you can do with your property.

What is a leasehold?

Differences between freehold and leasehold

A leasehold gives you ownership of a building for the duration of your lease. The land always remains the property of the landlord. And unless an agreement can be reached once the lease has expired, ownership of the property returns to the landlord.

One of the biggest drawbacks about owning a leasehold property is that you often have to get permission from the landlord to perform building work, extensions, and major renovations.

Should I be concerned that I own a leasehold property?

If your lease is coming to an end in the next few years, your property’s value will probably decline rapidly. Mortgage providers are very wary about lending for leasehold properties with less than 30 years remaining. This means you could run into difficulties if you need to sell your home for its true market price.

But there’s some good news if you already own a leasehold property. If you’ve lived in the home for at least two years, you have the legal right to request 90 years to your lease. Of course, you’ll have to pay a fair market price for this extension, but it’s usually far better than the alternatives.

Reach out to your landlord if you want to arrange an extension. It’s always better (and cheaper) to do this by agreement. However, if an accord can’t be reached, the matter might have to be settled in court.
Leasehold properties incur charges and ground rent

As the owner of a leasehold property, you’ll incur charges and ground rent during over the course of your ownership. However, the rent is usually very low — less than £100 a year.

Differences between freehold and leasehold

Particularly if you’re living in a shared building or community, you may also have to pay charges to cover the following:

  • Maintenance of communal gardens.
  • Repairs and maintenance on buildings and structures.
  • Service charges (security, reception, etc.)
  • Utility bills for blocks of flats.

What are your rights as a leaseholder?

Although you don’t own the land on which your property sits, you do have certain rights as the leasehold owner. They include:

  • You must be consulted if improvement works are to last more than a year.
  • You must be consulted if the cost of planned building work will exceed £250.
  • You have the right to see a breakdown of how your service charges are spent.
  • You have the “Right to Manage” — where you can take over management of the building along with your fellow tenants.

Don’t worry if you’ve just discovered your home is leasehold. You have several options available, including extending the lease or buying it outright. If you’d like to sell, however, Flying Homes may be able to help.

What is Negative Equity and What Can I Do About It?

You may have heard the term ‘negative equity’ quite a lot in recent years. The housing and banking crashes of the late noughties resulted in thousands of UK homeowners succumbing to the property phenomenon.

Negative equity doesn’t just affect property owners at times of financial crisis. It can strike at any time — making life difficult for people who want to move on or cash in on their home.

We’ve put together a short guide to negative equity, so you have an idea of how to react if it affects you.

What is negative equity?

If your home is in negative equity, it means you owe more for your home than it’s worth. If you were to sell your home for its market value, you wouldn’t have enough to pay off your mortgage.

In most cases, this scenario is caused by a sudden fall in house prices. Imagine you bought a home for £200,000 with a mortgage of £180,000. After a sudden drop in prices just a few weeks after the purchase, your home’s value plummets to just £160,000. This means you owe £20,000 more than your home’s new value.

A lot of people fall into negative equity because they remortgage to fund home improvements. And when this happens, selling can become impossible.

Am I in negative equity?

Am I in negative equity?

The truth is negative equity doesn’t affect everyone in the same way. For instance, if you’re planning to live in your current home for the rest of your life, you’re unaffected as long as you keep up with mortgage repayments.

A lot of people don’t realise they have negative equity until they try to sell. It’s not until a home is valued that the problem becomes apparent. Call your mortgage lender and get the exact figure you still owe. Then get your home valued by a local estate agent. If you owe more than the likely sale price your home will fetch, you’re in negative equity.

Can I sell a home that’s in negative equity?

This depends on whether or not you have money in the bank to pay off your mortgage after the sale goes through. Most people don’t have this sort of cash to spare. And as a result, they’re trapped in their mortgage and their home. If you can afford to pay the mortgage lender what you still owe after selling, you can sell. But this doesn’t mean selling is the best option.

A lot of people keep up with their mortgage repayments and wait for things to improve. After all, house prices are volatile in the UK, and they rise as quickly as they fall. And as you pay off your home loan, the negative equity gradually reduces.

Can I get out of negative equity?

Yes, but there’s no quick or cheap fix. You either have to wait it out or stump up the difference. Here are your options:

Can I get out of negative equity?

Dealing with negative equity – make extra mortgage payments

The obvious choice is to repay more of your mortgage to eradicate the negative equity faster. Speak to your lender about making additional payments. However, be aware that there may be financial penalties for making extra payments.

Sell and pay the difference

Sell your home, and the money raised will go towards paying down your mortgage. You’re liable for what’s left, so you’ll need to pay this as well. If you have money in the bank, great. But you might also be able to borrow what you need from a commercial lender, a friend or a relative.

File for bankruptcy

Bankruptcy should always be the nuclear option. It can affect your ability to obtain credit for several years afterward. You should only consider this solution if you’re in serious negative equity and can’t afford monthly repayments. Even then, there are ways out — including selling your house to a specialist home buyer such as Flying Homes.

Choose voluntary repossession

If you’re struggling to keep up with repayments and you’re in serious negative equity, speak to your bank about voluntary repossession. This will affect your credit rating, but it’s not as life-changing as bankruptcy can be.

If your home is in negative equity, don’t panic — but don’t bury your head in the sand. Speak to your lender or a financial advisor about what you can do to tackle the issue.

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