Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Top 10 Tips for Using Online Estate Agents

Online estate agents are a fairly new concept and if you are about to sell your home, you may be looking in to this alternative, cheaper way to market your property. Online agencies work slightly differently from the average high street agent, so here are the top 10 tips for success with an online estate agent. 

1. Don't start marketing until your home is ready to sell  

It may sound a little too obvious, but often vendors begin to advertise their homes using some cleverly chosen photos, or even old photos that show the property in a very positive light. Make sure your home lives up to its sale package and that there are no nasty surprises for your first viewers because you forgot to mention in your sales package that you haven’t mown the back lawn for 2 years.

2. Decide how much you want to spend 

A lot of internet estate agents have a choice of different marketing packages. Some packages are based entirely upon an upfront fee. Others require just a small deposit to start selling, with the remainder of the estate agent fee to be paid upon completion of the sale. This is a good option if funds are limited when the selling process is first initiated. 

3. Decide on your asking price

 The benefit of using an online estate agent to help you sell your house online is that you will receive guidance and advice on the asking price for the property. In collaboration with your estate agent, make sure your asking price is appealing enough to potential buyers, has room for negotiation and will also leave you with enough money to purchase a new property easily when you have accepted an offer. 

4. Check out the competition 

Before you put your home up for sale with an online estate agent, carry out a little research around the other types of property for sale within a small proximity of your house. This will help you realise the good and not so good points of your home in comparison to other properties.

5. Dress your home  

If you have ever visited a show home on a new housing estate, you will have seen how the homes are decorated with furniture and flowers just like a real home, to sell the lifestyle of the property to potential buyers. Do the same with your home before you have any sales pictures take of the property. 

Image courtesy of

 6. Get ready for viewings

Once your home is on the market you will receive viewing requests, and to avoid missed sales opportunities you should ensure your home is neat and tidy all of the time it is on the market so that you can accept last minute bookings and urgent visits

7. Keep your phone nearby 

Online estate agents like to conduct their business remotely, so you should be available to speak on the phone throughout the day in case any problems arise, and also to receive calls with offers from potential buyers. 

8. Check your feedback reports

Online estate agents are able to provide vendors with statistic on the amount of internet visitors to their adverts, as well as leaving feedback reports online from anyone that has viewed the property. Make sure you check your selling account regularly to see the effects of your marketing efforts.

Image courtesy of

9. Choose a good conveyancer

Some online agents are also able to assist with the conveyancing process for an extra fee. Sometimes it’s easier to keep the whole process with one supplier, and as always online is cheapest so there shouldn’t be any need to shop around for conveyancing. 

10. See the savings  

Online estate agent websites usually have a comparison calculator – you can use this to type in the amount of commission (as a percentage of your sale price) that you would have paid if you used a high street agent to sell your home. The calculator with then show you that you have indeed save hundreds, if not thousands of pounds by using and Online Estate Agent.


Tuesday, 27 March 2012

The 10 best Christmas hamper treats

Christmas hampers combine the two best things about the festive period – food and gifts. But what are the best things to put in a festive hamper?

1. Smoked salmon

Smoked salmon is a real festive luxury, and also incredibly easy to prepare. Wild Scottish smoked salmon is considered the best, as the fish eat a natural diet.

2. Dessert wine

This goes well with Christmas pudding, and the traditional Christmas evening snack of cheese and biscuits. And if you have some left over on Boxing Day, try raisins soaked in dessert wine with ice-cream.

Tip: Wine buffs say that dessert wines should always be sweeter than the dessert you eat them with.

3. Coffee

After a Christmas roast, you need a coffee you can taste! Choose one that has been roasted a long time, as this brings out a strong, smooth flavour. Arabica coffee is particularly good – remember to save some for your first day back at work!

4. Dark chocolate

Connoisseur chocolate is the perfect way to finish off a Christmas meal, and it also goes well with strong coffee. Chocolates by artisan makers like Paul Wayne Gregory and Damian Allsop are a perfect addition to Christmas hamper gifts.

5. Christmas pudding

The best Christmas puddings contain beer – its slightly bitter taste counteracts the sweetness of the pudding and also seems to improve the texture. The pudding should also contain fruit soaked in a stronger alcohol. The leftovers can be sliced and fried in butter, or used to make Christmas pudding ice-cream.

6. Soup

Soup is a perfect light dinner for Christmas Day. Festive flavours include broccoli and stilton, carrot and cranberry, lobster bisque, spiced pumpkin and bacon.

7. Goat’s cheese

A good ingredient to have on standby, goat’s cheese can be used to add a distinctive bit of flavour to just about anything. Try rolling out some ready-made pastry, adding sundried tomatoes, goat’s cheese and olive oil, and baking for 30 to 40 minutes.

8. Porchetta

An Italian delicacy, porchetta is a large sausage-shaped joint of pork, big enough to replace the Christmas turkey if you fancy a change. It is traditionally stuffed with herbs, but sometimes caramelised apples and brandy are used instead.

9. Lebkuchen

Lebkuchen is a traditional German treat, which was invented by monks around 700 years ago. It is a bit like gingerbread and traditionally eaten at Christmas. You don’t often see it in Christmas food hampers, which is a shame, because it is a tasty and fairly healthy treat.

10. Wild boar salami

Boar looks set to come back into fashion, as it is used in Heston Blumenthal’s Fat Duck restaurant, and the Waterside Inn in Berkshire – both of which have three Michelin stars. Boar apparently works well as salami, and though not very festive, it will at least provide a good talking point.

Resource box

The Guardian’s Christmas food and drink page

The BBC on how to make Christmas hampers

The Telegraph on a British boar farm that makes well-regarded salami

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Top 10 tools for a dream garage

From the bench vice to the calliper, these top ten tools are must-haves for anyone who spends time in their garage. Invest in the proper equipment and you will reap the rewards in your finished projects and repairs.

If you’re a dab hand at DIY or have got to grips with mechanics, you’ll already have a range of basic tools at your disposal. As you take on more complicated jobs it is important to have the right tools to hand. Invest in any of the following and your work will be safer, quicker, and provide a more professional finish.

1.      Bench vice

No garage workspace is complete without a good bench vice. Lock in an object on top of a work surface and your hands will be free to saw, cut, measure, sand, and shape to your heart’s content. They needn’t break the bank, with affordable models available online at sites like

2.      Tool board

OK, so it may not be a tool in the traditional sense. You could even consider it a project and make your own. But the tool board should not be underestimated. Having your hammers, screwdrivers, pliers and hacksaws all in their place will make your life easier and save you hours of searching.

3.      Digital calliper

This handy gadget will accurately measure the width of any gap or material. Digital callipers record minute differences in measurements so your pieces will have a perfect fit. Many digital callipers also convert measurements between inches and millimetres, so you don’t have to.

4.      Portable generator

Power tools have now made their way into most UK garages. If you need a convenient source of reliable power, choose a portable generator. Models such as the Clarke FG3000 use a 6.5hp 4-stroke petrol engine, with a solid metal frame for easy carrying.

5.      Nail gun

A hammer may work well for the occasional job, but for more extensive use try a nail gun. This tool is now the mainstream among builders and carpenters, proving to be an invaluable time-saver.

6.      Jack stands

Whether it’s a fluid leak or a problem with the extension pipe, seeing the state of the underneath is a quick way of identifying the problem with a vehicle. If you do not have experience, leave this job to the professionals. With jack stands or wheel ramps, however, you can get under the body of the car and get to the root of the problem.

7.      Safety gear

It may not be exciting, but a good selection of safety gear will keep your fingers and toes in situ. Invest in strong gloves, safety glasses, dust masks and some first aid basics, and you’ll be ready to get down to business.

8.      Power sander

From the small scale palm sander to larger rotary disk sanders, this tool is useful for woodwork tasks. Use a power sander to create a smooth, even finish to the surface of your materials.

9.      Hilti gun

The Hilti gun is similar to other powered nail guns, but with much more power. This tool can be used to join materials to steel or concrete surfaces.

10.    Planer

For a flat, even surface, use a planer in your woodwork. You can cut materials to a specified thickness to create a high quality finish to your DIY projects.

Resource Box:
A list of some of the most important garage essentials
Information and advice for DIY experts in the making
Tips for keeping your tools in top condition

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

The top 10 experiences for thrill seekers

This article provides information about the top 10 experiences for thrill seekers, from flying a helicopter to bungee jumping. Other options include skydiving, sphereing and driving a supercar.

Are you an adrenaline junkie looking for your next big thrill? There are plenty of amazing activities that are sure to get your blood pumping and chest swelling with pride. We’ve picked out the top 10 experiences for thrill seekers, from zorbing and coasteering to bungee jumping and skydiving.

Image source

Bungee jumping

Do you want to feel the adrenalin course through your body? Then a bungee jump is the experience for you! Whether you want to jump forwards or backwards, on your own or attached by the ankles to a friend, you can take the leap indoors or outdoors.


Zorbing, or sphereing as it’s also known, is fast becoming one of the most popular experience days available. Strap yourself into a big inflatable ball then hurtle down a hill! You can go with a friend or make it wet with an aqua sphereing experience.


Do you want to throw yourself from a plane? Well you can! Do a tandem skydive from 15,000 feet, a parachute jump from 3,000 feet or just visit a simulator. Whichever skydiving experience you go for, it’ll be an experience to remember forever.

Image Source

Driving a supercar

Take the wheel of a supercar and enjoy high speed action on a famous race track. There’s a huge range of cars to choose from, including Ferrari, Audi R8 and Porsche. Fancy a Lamborghini, Aston Martin or Lotus Elise? Drive whichever motor your heart desires!

Aerobatic flight

Have you always secretly considered yourself Top Gun material? Then learn how to loop the loop and go tail chasing. You’ll also get amazing views from your Cessna 150, Bulldog or World War 2 Chipmunk.

High ropes

A day of fun on high ropes and zip wires above the forest floor is an ideal adventure for big kids. This is an especially massive challenge for those with a fear of heights, but the tightrope walking and G-force 3G swing will make it all worthwhile.



Test your nerve as you climb up sheer rock faces, hurl yourself off cliffs and explore caves. This adventure sport combines cliff jumping, rock climbing, swimming and scrambling. Explore the might of nature under expert guidance.

Face your phobias at the zoo

Have you always had a fear of snakes? Do spiders and creepy crawlies make your skin crawl? What better way to beat your phobias than a hands-on day at the zoo! Discover the friendly side of animals that terrify you, from exotic birds to rare lizards.

Paintball battle

Gather a group of mates and declare battle at a paintballing event! Test your tactical and physical skills through a series of challenges as you explore the British woodlands. Junior paintballing is also available for young thrill seekers.

Fly a helicopter

Take to the sky in a Robinson R22 or R44 helicopter. You can get behind the controls of a helicopter under the supervision of a qualified professional. Some packages even let you take passengers too, so you can show off your skills in front of your friends.

Resource Box
The Guardian’s articles on activity and adventure vacations.
Take the BBC’s questionnaire to discover where you rank on the sensation seeking scale.
The official James Bond 007 website.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Top 10 Puddings

Sometimes there’s nothing better than something sweet after a nice meal. If you’re like me and find it quite hard to choose that perfect pud, then take a good look at this top 10 taste bud tinglers:

1 - Banoffee Pie
Consists of a crushed-biscuit base, toffee/caramel, condensed milk, bananas and a whole lot of double cream blended to perfection. 

2 - Cheesecake
This can be made with various different fruits- the main two would be lemon or strawberry. This would also be made on a biscuit base, with a sweet, creamy topping. This topping would normally be flavoured with a particular fruit with fruit zests mixed and sprinkled on top.

3 - Pavlova (Eaton Mess)
Made of meringue, cream and fruit; this would tend to be lots of berries (raspberries, blueberries, strawberries etc.) Eaton mess is a quicker, smaller alternative to a Pavlova.

 4 - Apple crumble
This consists of crumbled pastry, sugar, cooked apple (other fruits/vegetables such as rhubarb), raisins & cinnamon could also be added.

5 - Cheese Board
This can consist of lots of different types of cheese; Brie, Camembert, Cheddar, Stilton just to name a few. These can be presented with a variety of crackers and biscuits, some grapes (red and white), various chutneys (such as onion to go with your cheddar) and a large glass of red wine!

6 - Frozen Yoghurt with Fresh Fruit
This could be considered as the alternative to ice cream- probably the healthiest option on this list, this is smooth, refreshingly sweet dessert.

7 - Profiteroles
This is a simple dessert which consists of pastry balls filled with cream, covered in warm, chocolate sauce. This also tends to be served with ice cream.

8 - Tiramisu
Made of sponge dipped in coffee, which is then layered with a whipped mixture of egg yolks and mascarpone, then flavored with liquor and cocoa.

9- Ice Cream Sundae
A sundae is usually is usually served in a classic Sundae glass. It normally consists of ice cream, topped with either a sauce or syrup. Other ingredients would include fruit, chopped nuts, sprinkles and whipped cream.

 10 - Chocolate Gateau
A nice filling dessert that consists of cooking chocolate, almonds, egg, caster sugar, double cream and crumbled chocolate flake.

Would you say that this is near enough your top 10? Let us know what you think should be in the list or if it should be a different order!