• Spotlight On... The Best Cafe's in South Belfast
    Posted on 28 November 2023

    Spotlight On... The Best Cafe's in South Belfast

    Introducing Spotlight On..., a new series of blog posts that focus some of the amazing small businesses that make living in Northern Ireland so good. In the first blog, we take a look at some of the best cafes in south Belfast, and more specifically, on Ormeau Road.

    Ormeau Road starts with a collection of roads in the centre of the city and cuts southwards across the Lagon and through the residential suburb of Ormeau itself. 

    With many commuters, pedestrians and vehicles using this as a route to the city centre, as well as a diverse range of properties in the surrounding areas, this has resulted in the fantastic range of cafes in their area.

    In this article, we will pick out a few of our favourites and shine a spotlight on the local businesses that are the beating heart of our local communities. One thing is certain, for coffee lovers Ormeau Road's cafe scene is definitely worth exploring.

    General Merchants

    Nestled at 361 Ormeau Road, General Merchants is a beloved neighbourhood cafe, renowned for its exceptional coffee and Antipodean-inspired brunches. The cafe exudes a warm, inviting atmosphere, making it a perfect spot for both leisurely mornings and bustling afternoons.

    Their commitment to quality is evident in every cup of coffee and meticulously prepared dish, offering a taste of the Southern Hemisphere in Belfast.

    First Avenue Coffee

    First Avenue Coffee stands out with its promise of serving the finest and freshest coffee in Belfast. A hub for coffee aficionados, this cafe prides itself on its vibrant atmosphere and exceptional food offerings, creating a welcoming space for all who step through its doors.

    Located on Ormeau Road and Stranmillis, it's a perfect stop for a morning pick-me-up or a leisurely afternoon break.

    Kaffe O

    Inspired by the coffee culture of Copenhagen, Kaffe O brings a slice of Nordic charm to Belfast. This cafe is more than just a coffee shop; it's a cultural experience, offering double shots of hand-roasted coffee and an array of Nordic-inspired fare like Brøds, soups, and salads.

    The minimalistic decor and focus on quality espresso make it a haven for coffee lovers and those seeking a taste of Scandinavia.

    Shed Belfast Bistro

    Since its opening in 2012 at Ormeau Road, Shed Belfast Bistro has been a culinary landmark, known for its unique dining experience. The bistro, run by Jonny and Christina Taylor since 2018, features an open kitchen concept, allowing diners to engage with the cooking process.

    Their award-winning cuisine and the thrill of watching your meal being prepared to make Shed an unforgettable dining experience.

    387 Ormeau Road

    This vegan cafe and shop provides a health-conscious and ethical dining option on Ormeau Road. Embracing vegetarian and vegan diets, the cafe serves a variety of meals suitable for breakfast, lunch, and brunch.

    It's not just a place to eat but a community hub that promotes sustainable and compassionate eating choices, all within a cosy and inviting environment.


    Canteen, at 322 Ormeau Road, is a culinary delight, offering a range of mouth-watering breakfast and brunch dishes. Known for its scrumptious poached eggs, pork, sausages, and brioches, the cafe also boasts an impressive latte selection.

    The welcoming staff and great service enhance the dining experience, making Canteen a must-visit for those seeking a hearty and satisfying meal in Belfast.

    LWR Oremeau Cafe & Guest House

    This establishment, located at 144-146 Ormeau Road, doubles as a cafe and guest house. It's known for its traditional approach to food, offering a variety of fresh, hand-selected ingredients that come together in its delicious breakfast, brunch, and lunch offerings.

    The cafe provides a warm, friendly setting that complements its tasty and nourishing meals, making it an ideal spot for both locals and travellers.
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  • Avoiding Interior Design Pitfalls: A Guide to Preserving Property Value
    Posted on 22 November 2023

    Avoiding Interior Design Pitfalls: A Guide to Preserving Property Value

    Everybody wants to make the place where they live to feel personal and tailored to them. Design is a way of expressing oneself, and as a result, this can often mirror your interests and personality.

    But when it comes to the time to try and sell your house, could your house design actually be holding back interest from prospective buyers?

    In this article, we will look at the common design pitfalls to avoid, or even rectify to improve your chances of a swift and successful sale.

    Over Personalisation and Trend-Chasing

    Your home is a reflection of your taste and style, but when it comes to preserving property value through interior design, it's crucial to strike a balance between personalisation and broad appeal.

    One of the common pitfalls homeowners face is over-personalisation, where the design becomes so personalised that it limits the potential pool of buyers. This doesn’t mean that you should completely remove all evidence of you living there and make your home completely sanitised.

    It just means if you have any intensely personal touches like excessive family photographs, niche hobby collections or overt colour schemes that may not resonate with others, then it may be worth removing.

    Similarly, with trends, this can be risky as design trends may come and go. Whilst it may be tempting to do so, things can quickly be extremely popular one day and quickly look dated and out of fashion.

    Potential buyers may see trendy-looking rooms as additional work to rectify, which would come as an additional expense, affecting their perceived value of the home.

    Three key tips for achieving timeless appeal:

    1. Neutral Foundations: Start with neutral foundations for significant elements like walls and furniture. This provides a timeless backdrop that can easily adapt to different styles.

    2. Selective Personalisation: Instead of saturating the entire space with personal items, choose specific areas to showcase your personality. This allows buyers to envision their own style within the home.

    3. Classic Elements: Integrate classic design elements that have enduring appeal. Timeless pieces of furniture and decor can add sophistication without succumbing to fleeting trends.

    Neglecting Functionality for Style

    In the pursuit of creating visually stunning interiors, it's easy to fall into the trap of neglecting functionality. A home that prioritises style over practicality can lead to frustration for its occupants and potentially decrease its overall value.

    Stylish furnishings and decor can undoubtedly elevate the visual appeal of a home. However, when these elements compromise the functionality of a space, the allure can quickly fade.

    Imagine a beautifully laid-out living room with uncomfortable furniture, impractical layouts, or insufficient storage. While on the surface it may look impressive, the lack of functionality can make daily living frustrating.

    A well-designed home seamlessly integrates style and functionality. It's not an either-or scenario but a delicate balance that ensures each room serves its purpose while still being aesthetically pleasing.

    Homebuyers, especially those with families or specific lifestyle needs, prioritise spaces that are not only visually appealing but also practical and adaptable to their daily routines.

    Four tips to avoid functionality pitfalls

    1. Space Planning: Prioritise efficient space planning that allows for comfortable movement and usability. Avoid overcrowding rooms with too much furniture or decor.

    2. Comfortable Furnishings: Invest in furniture that not only looks good but is also comfortable and functional. Balance style with ergonomics to create inviting and livable spaces.

    3. Storage Solutions: Adequate storage is key to maintaining a clutter-free environment. Choose furniture that doubles as storage, and consider built-in solutions to maximise space.

    4. Traffic Flow: Arrange furniture to facilitate smooth traffic flow through rooms. Ensure that pathways are clear and unobstructed, promoting both safety and convenience.

    Ignoring Lighting and Ventilation

    Often underestimated, yet still crucial elements of design and Lighting and Ventilation. Overlooking these aspects can not only diminish the comfort of your living spaces but also have a significant impact on the perceived value of your home.

    Let's shed light on why proper lighting and ventilation should never be ignored in your design considerations. Lighting is a powerful tool that can transform the ambiance of a room.

    Insufficient or poorly planned lighting can make spaces feel cramped, dull, or unwelcoming. On the flip side, thoughtful lighting design enhances the aesthetic appeal and functionality of a home.

    Three common lighting pitfalls:

    1. Insufficient Natural Light: Neglecting to maximise natural light can make spaces feel smaller and less inviting. Consider ways to amplify natural light, such as using sheer curtains or strategically placing mirrors to reflect light.

    2. Over-Reliance on Harsh Lighting: Harsh, overly bright lighting can create a stark and uncomfortable atmosphere. Opt for a mix of ambient, task, and accent lighting to create layers and evoke a balanced, cosy feel.

    3. Ignoring Room-Specific Needs: Different rooms have varying lighting requirements. For instance, kitchens benefit from bright task lighting, while bedrooms may benefit from softer, more subdued lighting.
    A well-ventilated home is synonymous with a healthy and comfortable living environment. Poor ventilation can lead to issues such as stale air, moisture buildup, and even potential health hazards.

    Proper airflow not only enhances comfort but also contributes to the longevity of your property.

    Three common ventilation pitfalls:

    1. Inadequate Ventilation in Bathrooms and Kitchens: These areas are prone to moisture buildup. Install proper ventilation systems like exhaust fans to prevent issues such as mould and mildew.

    2. Blocking Natural Ventilation Paths: Ensure that windows and doors are not obstructed, allowing for natural cross-ventilation. This simple yet effective method can improve air circulation throughout the home.

    3. Ignoring Outdoor Spaces: Overlooking the connection between indoor and outdoor spaces can impact ventilation. Consider incorporating features like windows that open to outdoor areas or using landscaping to promote airflow.

    Lack of Cohesion Throughout the Home

    A common design pitfall that can impact the overall harmony and appeal of your home is the lack of cohesion from room to room. When each space feels disjointed, it diminishes the flow and can leave occupants and potential buyers feeling disconnected.

    A home without a cohesive design can create a sense of chaos and visual clutter. It may feel like a collection of individual rooms rather than a unified living environment. This lack of continuity can make it challenging for prospective buyers to envision the home as a cohesive and harmonious living space.

    Common causes of cluttered design include mismatched and abrupt styles as you go from room to room, inconsistent colour schemes throughout different areas of the house and neglecting these transition spaces, which are often overlooked.

    Cohesion is about creating a sense of continuity and unity throughout your home. When each room complements the next, it fosters a seamless transition from one space to another, enhancing the overall living experience.

    Three key tips for creating a cohesive flow from room to room

    1. Consistent Colour Palette: Choose a cohesive colour palette that spans across different rooms. This doesn't mean every room has to be identical, but there should be a unifying element, whether it's a common colour or complementary shades.

    2. Transitional Elements: Incorporate transitional elements that guide the eye from one space to another. This could be a consistent flooring material, a repeating design motif, or thoughtfully placed decor that visually connects adjacent areas.

    3. Furniture Placement: Pay attention to the furniture placement in relation to the overall layout. Ensure a logical flow that allows for easy movement between rooms. Consider open sightlines and avoid obstructing pathways.

    Key Takeaways:

    • Personalisation in your home reflects your taste and style, but balance is crucial for broad appeal, especially when selling.
    • Overpersonalisation, such as excessive family photos or niche collections, can limit the pool of potential buyers.
    • Trend-chasing in design may lead to a dated look, and buyers might see trendy elements as additional work and expense.
    • Prioritise functionality alongside style to avoid frustration for occupants and potential devaluation of the property.
    • Well-designed homes seamlessly integrate style and functionality, catering to both visual appeal and practical needs.
    • Proper lighting and ventilation are often overlooked but significantly impact comfort and perceived home value.
    • Insufficient or poorly planned lighting can make spaces feel cramped, dull, or unwelcoming.
    • Proper ventilation is crucial for a healthy living environment and contributes to the longevity of your property.
    • Lack of cohesion throughout the home can impact overall harmony and appeal.
    • Cohesion is about creating continuity and unity throughout your home for a seamless living experience.
    To find more tips to improve the attractiveness of your home, visit our blog archive, where we have a range of different tips and ideas.

    Our team of experienced and knowledgeable agents are always on hand to help with any of your questions regarding any part of the house selling and buying process – to find out more get in touch with us today.
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  •  Results: North Belfast Harriers and Annadale Striders take home the gold at Bangor 10K
    Posted on 17 October 2023

    Results: North Belfast Harriers and Annadale Striders take home the gold at Bangor 10K

    Andrew Milligan (North Belfast Harriers) and Robyn McKee (Annadale Striders) won the top prizes at the 2023 John Minnis Estate Agents Bangor 10K on what was a record-breaking day for the run.

    Organised by North Down Athletic Club and Ards and North Down Borough Council, the much-anticipated NI & Ulster Championship 10k event reached new heights with John Minnis Estate Agents on board as new principal sponsor.

    Having recommenced for the first-time last year after a COVID induced break, the Bangor 10K saw almost 1000 entrants compete – a 25% increase from last year.

    In what was a very strong field of top athletes, Andrew Milligan of North Belfast Harriers won the men’s race in a time of 30 minutes and 26 seconds, with Conor Bradley of City of Derry Spartans AC finishing second ahead of Conall McClean from St Malachys AC in third.

    Robyn McKee of Annadale Striders took the honours in the women’s event, crossing the finishing line after 36 minutes 11 seconds. Dearbhla Cox, also Annadale Striders, was second, with Sarah McNutt (Lagan Valley AC) coming third.  

    Jamie Stevenson, Chairperson from North Down Athletic Club, said:

    “It was truly amazing to have such a strong participation rate at this year’s Bangor 10K having only recommenced last year following the COVID-19 pandemic.

    “The support from John Minnis Estate Agents as our new principal sponsor has been instrumental in the success of this year’s race, where we were proud to see nearly 1000 runners cross the finish line.

    “The Bangor 10k continues to attract some of the strongest athletes from across the country to compete and I would like to congratulate Andrew and Robyn on their respective victories.

    “As well as the elite runners, we also had a number of fun runners taking part, all of whom enjoyed the scenic route along the coastal promenade.”

    The 2023 Bangor 10K prize fund is in excess of £3,100.

    John Minnis, Company Director at John Minnis Estate Agents said:

    “As a dedicated supporter of local initiatives, we were thrilled to partner with North Down Athletic Club to back this exciting community event and promote positive health and well-being.

    “Bangor is widely regarded as one of Northern Ireland’s most scenic locations, and the route for the Bangor 10K – which passes directly past our Bangor branch - does not disappoint.

    “It was an incredible day for runners and spectators alike, and I would like to say a big well done to everyone that took part.

    “We’re already looking forward to next year!”

    As an exclusive member of The Guild of Property Professionals for Bangor, Holywood, Comber, Belfast and Donaghadee, John Minnis Estate Agents offers a comprehensive range of property services, including residential sales, lettings, and property management.

    For more information and the full list of results, visit www.northdownac.co.uk

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  • Donaghadee Golf Club celebrates 50th anniversary of RNLI lifeboat trophy competition
    Posted on 11 October 2023

    Donaghadee Golf Club celebrates 50th anniversary of RNLI lifeboat trophy competition

    Donaghadee Golf Club has recently celebrated the 50th anniversary of its prestigious Lifeboat Perpetual Challenge Trophy competition in aid of Donaghadee RNLI.

    Originally presented to the Ladies' Branch Committee of the club in 1972 as a token of gratitude from the Coxswain and crew of Donaghadee Lifeboat, the trophy was contested for the very first time in 1973, marking the beginning of a tradition that continues to thrive today.

    Leading local estate agent John Minnis, who is a native of Donaghadee with over four generations of family history and has sponsored the tournament for over a decade, commented:

    “The Lifeboat Perpetual Challenge Trophy, or ‘wee lifeboatman’, holds a significant place in the heart of Donaghadee Golf Club, and John Minnis Estate Agents is honoured to sponsor this cherished annual competition.

    “As an avid sailor and member of one of Northern Ireland’s top racing teams, I recognise the significant role the RNLI plays in helping to save lives at sea and it is great to be able to support the work of this very important organisation.

    “Making a positive contribution to our local community is something which is hugely important to us, and it is wonderful to sponsor an event which represents the rich history of Donaghadee Golf Club.

    “On behalf of the John Minnis team, I would like to extend my congratulations to this year’s winner, Nicole Lyons - here’s to the next 50 years!”

    The Lifeboat Perpetual Challenge Trophy is presented to the top lady player at an annual open tournament hosted by Donaghadee Golf Club, with all funds raised donated to Donaghadee RNLI.

    This year’s event saw the ladies branch of Donaghadee Golf Club donate £460 to Donaghadee RNLI.

    The open competition format allows female golfers from various clubs to participate, provided they have a handicap from their respective clubs.

    This year's winner was Nicole Lyons, with Kerry Gooding as runner-up, both of whom are members of Donaghadee Golf Club.

    The best gross score was achieved by Nikki Currie from Clandeboye Golf Club.

    Lady Captain of Donaghadee Golf Club, Cynthia Smith added:

    "Donaghadee Golf Club is very grateful to John Minnis Estate Agents supporting this event over the past decade, ensuring that the Lifeboat Perpetual Challenge Trophy continues to be a tradition that attracts talented golfers from both our own club and others in the region.

    “Over the years, this trophy has become a symbol of our club, etched with the names of countless skilled golfers who have competed in the tournament over the 50 years since its inception.

    “With barely any room left for names on the trophy, it's evident that this occasion has made its mark on Donaghadee's history, and we look forward to many more years of celebrating this iconic tournament.”

    Chairperson of Fundraising at the Donaghadee Lifeboat Station, Evelyn Bennett, said:

    “We at Donaghadee RNLI are delighted to receive this cheque for £460 from the Ladies Branch of Donaghadee Golf Club.  

    “Since the “wee Lifeboatman” Trophy was presented to the Ladies Branch Committee of the Golf Club in 1972 there has been a close relationship between Donaghadee RNLI Lifeboat Station and the Club for which we are very grateful.  

    “We appreciate that each year the Ladies Branch of the Club kindly organize a competition, the proceeds of which are presented to our volunteer Fundraising Team.  We would also like to thank John Minnis for his sponsorship and support of this competition for the last 10 years.”

    John Minnis Estate Agents, which is the exclusive Guild of Property Professionals Member for Donaghadee, specialises in residential sales and lettings, property management, new developments, land consultations, and valuations.
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  • From Renting to Owning: A First-Time Buyer's Guide
    Posted on 13 September 2023

    From Renting to Owning: A First-Time Buyer's Guide

    In this guide, we will focus on the first time buyer, and the unique experience in Northern Ireland's property landscape.

    We'll explore the ins and outs of making that first home purchase and why it matters so much to you in particular.

    The First-Time Buyer Experience in Northern Ireland

    Starting on your journey to homeownership in Northern Ireland is a is something is always worked hard for, in which you want to make sure you ar making the right decisions. marked by several unique aspects that set it apart from other regions.

    In this section, we will look a little bit into the experience of buying your first home in Northern Ireland, and what sort of things you can expect in the process.

    Stamp Duty Relief

    In the United Kingdom, Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) is applied when you buy a freehold property, buy a new or existing leasehold, buy a property through a shared ownership scheme, or if you are transferred land or property in exchange for payment.

    However, the tax has thresholds, one of which is a relief for first-time buyers. This means that you can claim a discount or relief if the property you buy is your first home. This means you’ll pay no SDLT up to £425,000, and 5% SDLT on the portion from £425,001 to £625,000.

    Financial Considerations

    Understanding how much it takes to save up money for a deposit is a key responsibility that a first-time homeowner will always need to consider.

    Before making any commitments, an individual should do thorough research on budget, specific but crucial areas of payment and a broader understanding of the Northern Ireland property landscape.

    This means that once you have a clear picture of your financial situation, set a budget for your home purchase. Remember to factor in not only the purchase price but also ongoing expenses like property taxes, maintenance, and utilities.

    Some tips for saving for a deposit should include:

    Open a Dedicated Savings Account: Consider opening a separate savings account specifically for your home deposit. This will help you keep your savings organised and separate from your day-to-day expenses.

    Automate Your Savings: Set up automatic transfers from your main account to your savings account on payday. This "pay yourself first" approach ensures that you consistently save a portion of your income.

    Cut Unnecessary Expenses: Review your monthly spending habits and identify areas where you can cut back. Redirect the money you save into your deposit fund.

    Explore Government Assistance: In addition to stamp duty relief, Northern Ireland offers various government schemes and grants to assist first-time buyers. Research these programs to see if you qualify for any financial support

    Consider Help-to-Buy ISAs: Look into Help-to-Buy Individual Savings Accounts (ISAs), which can provide a boost to your savings by offering a government bonus on your contributions.

    Mortgages for first time buyers

    As part of your research, you should look at what different types of mortgages there are. Lets explore the different types of options that there are, followed by some crucial tips to help you negotiate this next step.

    1. Fixed-Rate Mortgages: With a fixed-rate mortgage, your interest rate remains constant for a set period, typically two to five years. This offers stability and predictability in your monthly payments.
    2. Variable-Rate Mortgages: Variable-rate mortgages have interest rates that can fluctuate based on market conditions. While initial rates are often lower, they can rise over time, making your payments less predictable.
    3. Help-to-Buy Equity Loan: This government scheme provides an equity loan to first-time buyers in Northern Ireland, allowing you to purchase a newly built home with a deposit as low as 5%.

    Tips for finding the right mortgage:
    • Compare Lenders: Shop around and compare mortgage offers from various lenders, including banks, building societies, and mortgage brokers. Look beyond interest rates and consider factors like fees and flexibility.
    • Understand the Total Cost: Don't focus solely on the interest rate. Calculate the total cost of the mortgage, including fees and any additional charges. This will give you a clearer picture of the long-term affordability.
    • Check Eligibility Criteria: Different mortgages have different eligibility criteria. Ensure you meet the lender's requirements before applying, and be prepared to provide necessary documentation.
    • Seek Professional Advice: Consider consulting a mortgage advisor who specialises in the Northern Irish market. They can provide expert guidance on suitable mortgage options based on your financial situation and goals.
    • Factor in Future Plans: Think about your long-term plans. If you anticipate changes in your circumstances, such as starting a family or career shifts, choose a mortgage that offers flexibility in terms of repayments and early repayment options.
    • Read the Fine Print: Carefully read and understand the terms and conditions of your mortgage contract. Pay attention to details like early repayment penalties and what happens if you fall behind on payments.
    • Get Pre-Approved: Getting pre-approved for a mortgage can give you an advantage when making an offer on a property. It shows sellers that you are a serious and qualified buyer.
    • Consider Mortgage Insurance: Explore mortgage insurance options to protect yourself and your family in case of unforeseen circumstances that impact your ability to repay the mortgage.
    Remember, take your time to research, compare, and seek professional advice to make an informed decision that aligns with your financial goals and circumstances.

    Our role as an estate agent

    We understand how big a step it is to buy your first home. That is why we understand our role and duty in helping your first experience of buying a house as smooth as possible, with the risk of mistakes being mitigated.

    As your estate agent, we will provide local expertise. As a  knowledgeable estate agent brings a deep understanding of the Northern Irish property market.

    Our team in five different offices can provide you with insights into different areas, property values, and market trends.

    We give our customers access to a wide range of properties, which range in budget, helping you find the perfect home. Additionally, as experienced estate agents excel in negotiations, our highly trained and experienced team can help you secure the best possible deal.

    The process of buying a home involves significant paperwork and legalities. As your estate agent, we will guide you through these steps, ensuring that everything is in order.

    Having us by your side can provide peace of mind. At any point during your journey, we can offer support to any queries or questions you may have.

    Once you have completed your house purchase we are still here for you. We can help you with post-purchase matters and provide recommendations for local services.

    For further information on how we can help you in your move to your first home, get in contact with us today.
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  • Property Investment Pitfalls - What to Look Out For
    Posted on 25 August 2023

    Property Investment Pitfalls - What to Look Out For

    Investing in a property can hold the promise of comfortable living, financial growth, but it's not without its challenges.

    Real estate markets can be tricky, and a misstep can lead to financial setbacks.

    In this blog, we'll explore common pitfalls that people looking for a property encounter, whether it's their first home or moving from one to another, and provide practical advice on how to avoid them.

    Do Your Research

    One common pitfall in real estate investment is the lack of thorough research. Rushing into a property without understanding the market can lead to costly mistakes:

    Financial Projections: Create detailed financial projections that include expenses, expected rental income, and potential for property appreciation.

    our Priorities and Needs: Not just what you financially need, but what you need to live in a comfortable home. Considerations include if you have a young family, pets or other living arrangements that need specific attributes in a home.

    Insurance Costs: Research insurance costs for houses in the area to help with future budgeting. Ensure you can afford the necessary coverage.

    Don’t Ignore Financial Planning

    Inadequate financial planning is another pitfall for real estate investors. Going over budget or underestimating expenses can lead to financial strain. Here's how to avoid this pitfall:

    Set a Budget: Determine your budget before starting your property search. This includes the purchase price, renovation costs, and ongoing expenses.

    Emergency Fund: Allocate a portion of your budget for unexpected expenses. Having an emergency fund can prevent financial stress.

    Cash Flow Analysis: Calculate your expected cash flow, factoring in mortgage payments, property management fees, and maintenance costs. Ensure your rental income covers these expenses.

    Navigating the Home Buying Process

    Navigating the home buying process can feel like embarking on a complex journey, but with the right guidance, it becomes a rewarding adventure. In this section, we'll cover crucial steps from financing your purchase to successfully making an offer and more.

    Financing Your Home:

    Mortgage Types: Understand the various mortgage options available, such as fixed-rate, adjustable-rate, FHA, VA, and more.

    Credit Considerations: Learn about credit scores and how they impact your mortgage eligibility. Discover strategies to improve your credit profile.

    Saving for a Down Payment: Explore practical tips and savings strategies to accumulate the necessary down payment.

    Making an Informed Offer

    Offer Process Overview: Gain insights into crafting a compelling offer. Learn how to navigate negotiations and contingencies.

    Earnest Money: Understand the role of earnest money in making offers and securing a property.

    Contingencies: Discover the significance of contingencies in safeguarding your interests during the offer process.

    Navigating Closure

    Closing Costs: Explore the types of closing costs and how they fit into your budget. Discover negotiation strategies for closing cost coverage.

    Closing Process: Get a clear picture of the final steps leading to the closing day, including the paperwork involved.

    Final Walkthrough: Learn the importance of the final walkthrough to ensure the property matches your expectations.

    Rushing the Buying Process

    Rushing the buying process is a common pitfall that both first-time buyers and experienced ones should avoid.

    At John Minnis, our mission is to guide you through a well-paced journey toward homeownership.

    Rushing into a property purchase without due diligence can lead to several negative consequences:

    Overlooking Better Options: Hasty decisions might cause you to miss out on properties that better match your needs and budget.

    Hidden Issues: Skipping important inspections and assessments can result in unforeseen problems post-purchase.

    Buyer's Remorse: Rushed decisions often lead to buyer's remorse when you realise you didn't thoroughly evaluate your choices.

    Taking your time in the buying process is essential for several reasons:

    Comprehensive Evaluation: It allows you to thoroughly evaluate properties, assessing their condition, location, and fit for your lifestyle.

    Informed Decision-Making: Taking time provides the opportunity to gather all necessary information, empowering you to make informed choices.

    Negotiation Leverage: A well-paced process gives you negotiation leverage, enabling you to secure favourable terms.

    How John Minnis Can Help:

    • Market Expertise: We have an in-depth understanding of the local Northern Irish property market. We can help you identify suitable properties that meet your criteria without rushing the process.

    • Property Access: As professionals, we have access to listings, including off-market properties, giving you more options to explore.

    • Negotiation Skills: Our experienced agents excel in negotiations, ensuring you get the best possible deal without compromising your interests.
    By working with us, you'll benefit from our expertise, access to valuable resources, and a commitment to ensuring you make a confident and informed choice.

    Don't rush into one of the most significant decisions of your life; let us help you navigate the process smoothly and successfully.

    Key Takeaways

    • Thorough Research Matters: Whether you're a seasoned investor or a first-time buyer, in-depth research is the foundation of successful real estate venture. Understand the market, property values, and your own needs before diving in.
    • Financial Planning is Crucial: Avoid financial pitfalls by setting a clear budget, establishing an emergency fund, and analysing cash flow. These steps ensure your investment remains financially viable.
    • Navigating the Home Buying Process: Navigating the complex journey of buying a home requires patience and knowledge. Seek expert guidance to make informed decisions at every stage, from financing to closing.
    • Rushing is Risky: Rushing the buying process can lead to missed opportunities and hidden issues. Take your time to comprehensively evaluate properties and negotiate favourable terms.
    • Leverage Professional Help: Engaging the services of experienced real estate professionals, like John Minnis, can significantly ease your journey. Market expertise, property access, and negotiation skills are invaluable assets.
    • Confident, Informed Choices: Ultimately, your goal is to make confident and informed choices that align with your financial goals and lifestyle. With the right guidance, you can navigate the property market successfully and secure a promising future in real estate.

    If you need any more advice when approaching property investments do get in touch with our team of experts, who will be more than happy to help.

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  • The Art of Home Staging
    Posted on 23 August 2023

    The Art of Home Staging

    With the main goal of making private residences attractive and appealing to a high percentage of potential buyers, home staging could increase the value of your home by thousands of pounds.

    Various staging techniques create a welcoming product that can immediately be recognised and as a result, would normally increase the desirability of the property.

    Sometimes known as property presentation or property styling, the techniques range from small changes making use of what you already have to bigger sums of monetary investment – it isn’t just a quick redecoration of a room.

    The overall goal of this is a return on investment of these tasks, and in this article, we will look at a few of the best techniques that you can pick and choose from.

    Declutter and Depersonalise

    One of the fundamental principles of effective home staging is creating a blank canvas that allows potential buyers to envision their own lives in the space. This means decluttering and depersonalising your home. Here's how to tackle this crucial step:


    Decluttering involves removing excess items and creating a sense of space. Follow these tips:

    Start Early: Begin the decluttering process well in advance of listing your property. This gives you time to methodically go through each room.

    Room-by-Room Approach: Take one room at a time. Begin with common areas like the living room and kitchen, then move to bedrooms and bathrooms.

    Keep, Donate, Discard: As you go through your belongings, categorise items into three groups: keep, donate, and discard. Be ruthless and try to keep only what is necessary.

    Storage Solutions: Invest in temporary storage solutions, such as bins or boxes, to keep your items organised during the selling process.

    Clear Countertops: In the kitchen and bathroom, clear countertops of appliances, personal products, and clutter. This creates a clean and spacious look.


    Depersonalising your home means removing personal touches that make it uniquely yours. Here's how to achieve a depersonalised look:

    Family Photos: Take down personal photographs and replace them with neutral artwork or mirrors. This allows buyers to imagine their own family in the space.

    Personal Decor: If you have strong personal decor themes, consider toning them down. For instance, if you're an avid collector of a particular item, it's a good idea to pack most of them away.

    Neutral Colour Palette: If your walls are painted in bold or highly personalised colours, consider repainting in neutral tones. Neutral colours provide a clean slate for buyers.

    Personal Items: Remove personal items such as religious or political artefacts, and items that may be considered unusual or off-putting to some buyers.

    Minimise Personal Memorabilia: While your personal memorabilia and collections may hold sentimental value, it's best to store them away during the selling process.

    Furniture Arrangements

    Another quick and often free, in that it makes use of your existing possessions is furniture arranging.

    Effective furniture arrangement not only creates a comfortable living environment but also helps potential buyers visualise how they might utilise the space. Here's how to go about it:

    Assess Your Furniture: Before you start rearranging, take stock of your furniture pieces. Consider what's essential for each room and what could be temporarily stored elsewhere. This will help you create a more open and inviting atmosphere.

    Create a Focal Point: In each room, identify a focal point. It could be a fireplace, a large window with a view, or a striking piece of furniture. Arrange your furniture around this focal point to draw attention to it.

    Consider Traffic Flow: Think about how people naturally move through space. Ensure that there are clear pathways from one area to another. Avoid blocking doors, windows, or walkways with furniture.

    Scale Matters: Pay attention to the scale of your furniture in relation to the room. Oversized furniture can make a room feel cramped, while undersized furniture can make it look sparse. Aim for a balanced and proportional arrangement.

    Neutralise the Layout: Your goal is to create a neutral and universally appealing layout. Symmetry often works well, but it's not the only option. Experiment with different arrangements until you find one that showcases the space effectively.

    Kerb Appeal

    Kerb appeal is the first impression your home makes on potential buyers, and it can greatly influence their decision to explore further or move on to the next property.

    We have written another blog recently that goes into more detail about kerb appeal, but here are a few strategies that you can take to enhance the kerb appeal of your home:

    Landscaping and Lawn Care

    A well-maintained landscape immediately catches the eye and communicates that your property is cared for. If you have a lawn, or front garden areas follow these landscaping tips:

    Lawn Maintenance: Keep the lawn neatly mowed and edged. Remove any weeds or bare patches.

    Flower Beds: Plant colourful flowers and fresh mulch in flower beds to add vibrancy and freshness.

    Trimmed Shrubs and Trees: Trim overgrown shrubs and trees to create a manicured look.

    Container Gardens: Use potted plants near the entrance or on the porch for a welcoming touch.

    Exterior Cleaning 

    A thorough cleaning of the exterior can do wonders for your home's kerb appeal:

    Pressure Wash: Use a pressure washer to clean the exterior of the house, including siding, sidewalks, and the driveway.

    Windows and Gutters: Clean windows inside and out to let natural light shine through. Make sure gutters are clean and free of debris.

    Front Door: Polish or repaint the front door, and consider adding a stylish new handle or knocker.

    Entrance Appeal:

    The front entrance is a focal point, so make it inviting:

    Wreath or Decor: A seasonal wreath or other appropriate decor on the front door can add charm.

    Clean Doormat: Invest in a clean, new doormat that welcomes guests.

    Symmetry: If space allows, consider symmetrical arrangements, such as matching potted plants on either side of the door.

    Repairs and Maintenance:

    Attend to any needed repairs or maintenance:

    Roof and Gutters: Replace damaged shingles and repair any gutter issues.

    Exterior Paint: If your home's exterior needs a fresh coat of paint, consider doing so before listing.

    Postbox: Ensure your postbox is in good condition and freshly painted.

    Repair Work and Upgrades

    Repairs and upgrades are key elements in the home staging process, as they can significantly impact the perceived value and appeal of your property.

    With repairs, this is of more importance, as it is crucial to address these ahead of any property surveys, however, upgrades should be judged on their cost and potential to improve house value.

    Necessary Repairs:

    Before listing your home, it's crucial to address any needed repairs. These repairs not only enhance the overall condition of your property but also provide assurance to potential buyers that they won't be faced with immediate maintenance issues. Consider the following:

    Structural Integrity: Inspect the home for structural issues, such as roof leaks, foundation cracks, or plumbing problems. These should be repaired by qualified professionals.

    Electrical and Plumbing: Ensure all electrical and plumbing systems are in good working order. Replace any faulty outlets, switches, or fixtures, and fix leaks or plumbing issues.

    Cosmetic Fixes: Repair minor cosmetic issues like chipped paint, cracked tiles, or damaged drywall. Small repairs can greatly improve the overall appearance of your home.

    Upgrades for Value:

    While not every home will require major upgrades, strategic improvements can increase both the appeal and value of your property. Consider these upgrades:

    Kitchen: The kitchen is often a focal point for buyers. Consider upgrading appliances, countertops, or cabinets if they are outdated. A fresh coat of paint or new hardware can also make a significant difference.

    Bathrooms: Modernising bathrooms with new fixtures, vanities, and tiling can make a strong impression. Ensure that all plumbing is in excellent condition.

    Energy Efficiency: Upgrading to energy-efficient features, such as LED lighting, a programmable thermostat, or energy-efficient windows and insulation, can appeal to eco-conscious buyers and potentially lower utility bills.

    Kerb Appeal: As mentioned earlier, enhancing kerb appeal is an upgrade in itself. Invest in landscaping, outdoor lighting, and exterior improvements that boost your home's overall desirability.

    Flooring: If your home has outdated or worn-out flooring, consider replacing it with a more contemporary option. Hardwood floors or quality laminate are popular choices.

    The Finishing Touches

    The finishing touches are what turn a staged house into a warm and inviting home. These subtle details can make a significant difference in how potential buyers perceive your property. Let's explore how to add those final, essential elements:

    Fresh Flowers and Greenery:

    The simple beauty of fresh flowers and indoor plants can instantly breathe life into any space. Consider the following:

    Table Centrepieces: Place fresh flower arrangements on dining tables or coffee tables. Opt for seasonal flowers to add colour and vibrancy.

    Indoor Plants: Strategically position indoor plants in well-lit areas to add a touch of nature and freshness to your home.

    Artwork and Decor:

    Artwork and decor should be tastefully chosen to complement your staged spaces:

    Wall Art: Hang artwork that complements the style of each room. Avoid controversial or overly personal pieces.

    Decorative Accents: Use decorative cushions, throws, and rugs to add texture and warmth to living areas.

    Mirrors: As mentioned earlier, mirrors not only reflect light but can also add a decorative element to walls.

    Soft Lighting:

    Soft and inviting lighting can create a cosy atmosphere in your staged home:

    Lamps: Add table lamps with warm-toned bulbs to living spaces and bedrooms.

    Candles: Consider scented candles in the bathroom or on dining tables for a soothing ambience.

    Set the Table:

    If your home has a dining area, setting the table can help buyers envision themselves sharing meals in the space:

    Table Settings: Arrange place settings with stylish dinnerware, flatware, and glassware.

    Centrepiece: Create an appealing centrepiece using fresh flowers or a decorative bowl.

    Towels and Linens:

    In bathrooms and bedrooms, fresh towels and linens contribute to a sense of cleanliness and comfort:

    Folded Towels: Display neatly folded towels in the bathroom. Consider using a coordinated colour scheme.

    Bed Linens: Make beds with fresh, well-pressed linens in neutral or calming colours.


    Appeal to the senses with subtle scents that evoke a feeling of home:

    Air Fresheners: Use natural and subtle air fresheners to create a pleasant fragrance throughout the home.

    Baking or Fresh Coffee: If you have a showing, consider baking cookies or brewing fresh coffee for a welcoming aroma.

    Personalised Touches:

    While depersonalising is important, subtle personalised touches can create a sense of home without overwhelming potential buyers:

    Books and Magazines: Arrange a small selection of books or magazines on coffee tables or bookshelves.

    Cosy Throws: Drape a cosy throw over a chair or sofa to evoke a sense of comfort.


    Home staging is not just about making your property look nice; it's about strategically preparing it for sale to maximise its appeal and value.

    Whether you're selling a family home or an investment property, the techniques discussed in this article can help you create an environment that resonates with potential buyers and encourages them to make an offer.

    Key Takeaways:

    • First Impressions Matter: Kerb appeal sets the stage for a positive first impression. Invest in landscaping, exterior cleaning, and small upgrades to make your property inviting from the moment buyers arrive.
    • Declutter and Depersonalise: Create a neutral and spacious canvas for potential buyers by decluttering and depersonalising your home. Remove personal items and leave only what's necessary to showcase each room's potential.
    • Make Effective Furniture Arrangement: Arrange your furniture to maximise space and flow. Create clear pathways and highlight focal points in each room to help buyers visualise the space.
    • Repairs and Make Upgrades: Address necessary repairs to ensure your home is in top condition. Consider strategic upgrades that can enhance value and appeal, but be mindful of your budget and return on investment.
    • Add the Finishing Touches: Add finishing touches like fresh flowers, artwork, soft lighting, and tasteful decor to make your home feel warm and inviting. These small details can create an emotional connection with potential buyers.

    If you are looking to sell your house and need any more tips to help boost the appeal of your home, contact our experienced team who can help offer practical advice, tips and guidance.
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  • WE ARE HIRING: Residential Sales & Lettings Staff
    Posted on 9 August 2023

    WE ARE HIRING: Residential Sales & Lettings Staff

    Of vital importance will be your ability to make and maintain positive and professional relationships with clients, this includes viewers, vendors, landlords and contractors. You will be an excellent communicator and be very organised and efficient.

    Responsibilities of the role:
    - Ability to work in an extremely busy office environment whilst maintaining a positive outlook
    - Dealing with day to day general enquiries face to face / telephone and administration
    - Registering clients to mailing list
    - Organising, booking and confirming viewings
    - Dealing with and actioning website enquiries
    - Booking viewings and valuations
    - Landlord and vendor updates
    - Conducting viewings out of the office
    - Identifying opportunities for new business
    - Recording maintenance issues reported by tenants and reporting these to the landlord before assigning a contractor to the job.
    - Ensuring properties comply with key lettings legislation and safety regulations
    - Being proactive in maintaining landlord and tenant relationships

    - Customer service experience
    - Previous experience of hitting and exceeding targets
    - High levels of energy and drive to achieve goals and targets
    - Can do attitude
    - Knowledge of all aspects of our business
    - Excellent communication and interpersonal skills
    - Knowledge of Microsoft Office Software and ICT proficiency
    - Excellent organisational and time management skills
    - Clean, current UK Driving Licence 

    To apply, please send your CV to Naomi Adams-English at nadams@johnminnis.co.uk
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  • WE ARE HIRING - Valuer
    Posted on 9 August 2023

    WE ARE HIRING - Valuer

    We have an exciting opportunity for a Valuer to join our dynamic team.

    A minimum of 2 years' experience along with a proven track record, positive, energetic, professional approach and and self-starter attitude is essential.

    Responsibilities of the role:
    · Working within a team to achieve the branch revenue targets
    · Offering first-class service to customers to improve market share
    · Liaising between buyers and sellers to negotiate prices by utilising marketing abilities and knowledge
    ·  Identifying the vendors needs and matching these to the proposition to help win new business
    ·Hands on day-to-day support with the branch operations including conducting viewings, valuations and negotiating a sales or sales progression
    · Identifying opportunities to increase revenue streams through maximising opportunities
    · Reporting to senior management

    Required Experience / Skills:
    · At least 2 years' experience
    · Strong communication and excellent interpersonal skills
    · Natural sales ability
    · Ability to identify business opportunities and put them in to practice
    · Full driving licence

    · Industry leading salary
    · Generous holiday allowance
    · Long-service rewards
    · Competitive commission structure

    This is a great opportunity for a passionate Valuer eager to join a fantastic team with a senior role within the company.

    Please send your CV to jsmith@johnminnis.co.uk
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  • Top 10 Tips for Selling Your Home
    Posted on 27 July 2023

    Top 10 Tips for Selling Your Home

    Making the choice to sell your home can be a daunting one, but the process doesn’t have to be a hassle!

    Ross McKnight, Senior Valuer at John Minnis Belfast, outlines his top 10 tips and insights to help make your home stand out and sell.

    1. Set the right price: Determining the right price for your home is essential. If the price is too high you risk deterring potential buyers, but if it’s too low you risk financial losses – this is why we take market analysis and local pricing seriously, ensuring you get the fairest (and most realistic) price.

    2. Enhance curb appeal: First impressions are everything! Make sure that prospective buyers are attracted to your home by tidying up the exterior – this could mean mowing the lawn, adding some bright plants or giving the front door a fresh lick of paint.

    3. Declutter: Possessions add character but try to avoid too much clutter as this can make it difficult for buyers to visualize themselves living in the property. Decluttering and organising each room can go a long way towards creating a clean and spacious environment that allows buyers to envision their own style within the space.  

    4. Make those home improvements: Got some DIY projects you’re avoiding? From chipped paint to cracked tiles, what may seem like minor issues can have a detrimental impact on how buyers perceive your property’s condition. Avoid these concerns by making sure to address any home improvement tasks prior to listing your home for sale.

    5. Highlight standout features: Every home has unique features that truly set it apart. Identify these standout qualities and make sure they are highlighted during viewings and in your property marketing
    materials. Whether it's a stunning view, a refurbished kitchen, or impressive outdoor spaces, emphasising these features can attract the right buyer.

    6. Comfort is key: Creating a cosy and welcoming atmosphere for viewings and make prospective buyers feel at home. Invite the light in by opening all blinds and curtains, consider turning the heating on, or add some bright and eye-catching flowers – there are a number of small touches that can make a big difference.

    7. Be flexible!: To maximise your chances of selling, it pays to be accommodating when it comes to viewings. Offering flexible viewing times – including weekends and evenings - can ensure that as many interested parties as possible have the opportunity to see your home.

    8. Get your paperwork in order: Having your paperwork sorted out early in the selling process including title register and plan documents, proof of ownership and energy performance certificate (EPC) will help things move along more quickly and reduce the potential for any legal mishaps or hold-ups.

    9. Communication is key: Planning a holiday? Making any major design changes? Let the right people know! Maintaining frequent communication with your estate agent, conveyancer, and the buyer ensures that everyone is on the same page throughout the selling process and any concerns or issues are addressed quickly.

    10. Choose the right agent: When it comes to selling property, your estate agent should be there to make your life easier. It’s important to look for an agent with experience, in-depth local knowledge and a confident sales approach. As an exclusive member of The Guild of Property Professionals for Bangor, Comber, Donaghadee, East Belfast, and Holywood, the John Minnis team is on hand to help you sell your home.

    To speak to our expert team about selling your home, or to book a free, no-obligation valuation, contact us today. 
    Read more
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