Monthly Archives: July 2015

Greener cleaning for your home

Keeping your home clean and tidy is essential for any home owner. The chemicals found in some household cleaners can be highly toxic, harmful and not to mention pricey, by making a few small changes day to day it can save you money and make your home more eco-friendly.

There are a variety of natural alternatives available and most are already in our cupboards. These alternatives are safer for us and gentler on our homes, so we’ve taken the hard work out of cleaning with a few helpful tips for natural, greener cleaning in your home.

Top tips

Against all ammonia

Bleach is a household favourite, tough on dirt but also tough on the materials it cleans. The pollutants and toxins in bleach can irritate eyes and skin and cause respiratory problems, begging the question, why do we still use it? Leave behind the bleach and opt for a more natural approach to cleaning.


Very effective vinegar

You might associate vinegar with an old wives tale but it’s been a really effective cleaner for generations. Mixing white vinegar and water can clean floors, fridges, windows and stains. It’s cheap, effective and unlike other harsh products, can be used on a range of delicate materials.


Love the Lemons

Lemons have long been used to tackle the most difficult of cleaning problems and is still used in many brand leaders today. It’s a long serving, natural alternative with properties allowing for a sparkling clean finish with a refreshing scent.

Dispose of the disposables

A great way to begin your greener cleaning is to use reusable cleaning materials, a range of these eco-friendly renewable products such as mops and a variety of dusting and cleaning materials are available, saving you money and helping the environment by minimising the volume of rubbish in landfill sites.

Look for better brands

If you can’t leave the branded products behind and go au naturale there are still steps you can take towards greener cleaning in your home. Looking for brands with eco-friendly ingredients and that support environmentally friendly initiatives is a step in the right direction.

Employ eco-friendly services

If cleaning’s not your thing but you still care about your environmental footprint, hiring a cleaning service that encourages a more natural approach and kinder products can also lead to greener cleaning in your home.

Home Buying Jargon Buster

Buying a property can be complicated and stressful at the best of times. To get the most from your estate agent, you both need to be on the same page, have clear and open communication and understand exactly what is going on through each stage of the sale. If you’re not well acquainted with buying or selling, you may be unfamiliar with the terms frequently used. We don’t want you to be left in the dark, so we’ve created a jargon busting blog to guide you through home buying.


Jargon buster Glossary of terms

Chain – The sequence of buyers and sellers

Chain free – Owner of the property doesn’t need to sell their house to buy a new one

Completion – This is when the sale has gone through, and everything has been completed, the house is legally yours

Exchange – The point at which the buyer and seller exchanges contracts

Fixed rate mortgage – The interest rate remains the same through the term of the loan

Flexible mortgage – A mortgage that is flexible in how you repay

IFA – An Independent financial advisor (May be recommended to use to help find a mortgage)

Loan to value – Ratio of a loan to the value of an asset purchased, usually mentioned when discussing mortgages

OMV – Open market value – The likely sale price of a property

Stamp duty – A tax paid to the government after buying a property

Survey – A report produced to determine the value of the property and if it is structurally sound

Under offer – When a seller accepts an offer, the legal process begins

Vendor – The name given to the person selling the property

Housing supply dries up

My newspaper this morning predicted that house prices could rise by as much as 25% over the next five years following a Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) report. The report shows that the number of homes for sale has fallen to its lowest level since records began in 1978.

It is suggested that this shortage of supply comes as a consequence of people living longer and moving house less frequently.   Low cost mortgages are also a factor where people have taken advantage of the cheapest ever interest rates and locked into a long term deal rather than moving home.

This reduction in available properties is puzzling as the General Election result was expected to provide a much needed boost in confidence and a consequential increase in the activity levels.  Instead, whilst sales and rentals have been active, properties which have been sold or let have not been replaced by new properties coming to the market and, as a consequence, we have seen prices rising in all of the most popular residential districts locally.

RICS has also predicted that people’s lifestyles may be changing. One particular new trend is that parents, conscious of the difficulties facing young people getting onto the property ladder, rather than move, have chosen to release some equity from their property to help their offspring. Alternatively they are purchasing a Buy to Let property.

For our part, the declining number of available properties is also a direct result of a shortage of housing in our country and the problems related to the lack of new building over the last twenty years. These factors are now coming home to roost.  Not only is there pressure on house prices but there is also pressure on rent levels with properties being let often within a matter of hours of becoming available and at ever increasing rent levels.

All of our towns and villages face pressures of development with nobody enjoying the prospect of green belt encroachment.  Unfortunately however, without some selective relaxation, the onward increase in house prices and rent levels is inevitable.

John Halman is Managing Director of Gascoigne Halman, an estate agent with eighteen offices in South Manchester and is the North West Regional Residential Spokesman for the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.


Local independent estate agent, Gascoigne Halman is still accepting entries for their £25k Community Challenge, which was launched in February.

The independent estate agent is inviting all local charities, organisations and community help groups to apply for their chance to receive a slice of the prize fund. The £25k prize fund has been set aside to help and support a large number of organisations, in particular smaller groups working at grass roots level.

Gascoigne Halman is celebrating their 25 year mile stone, which prompted the Community Challenge as a way of rewarding the organisations that give something back to the community they serve and which have a positive impact on the lives of local people.

Shortlisted applicants, announced in September, will be invited to make a short presentation to the judging panel in November, prior to the successful applicants being announced later that month.

In closing, John Halman, Managing Director said, “We are really excited about hearing from many local groups.

“We have put together a judging panel of prominent local people who will work with us to make decisions about who is shortlisted and where the money eventually goes. I would urge local groups, no matter how large or small, to get in touch.”

With the closing date for entries being Friday July 17th this really is a final call for everyone to get involved. For more information or for an application form, visit their website.

Photo caption: Peter Higham and John Halman

Peter Higham and John Halman 'small'

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