The National Garden Scheme has unveiled the private Northern Ireland gardens set to open to the public later this year in partnership with sponsor, leading estate agent John Minnis.
Visitors to each of the beautiful gardens opening in Northern Ireland will contribute to the provision of much needed funding to charities supported by the National Garden Scheme, including Macmillan, Marie Curie, Parkinson’s UK and Hospice UK.
Trevor Edwards, Area Organiser, National Garden Scheme Northern Ireland commented: “We are hugely excited to reveal our plans for this year’s National Garden Scheme Northern Ireland, and to announce that John Minnis Estate Agents has joined us as official sponsor.
“2022 saw the launch of the very first National Garden Scheme here in Northern Ireland, and we were pleased to have received a fantastic response from visitors across the region who helped us to raise an amazing £30,000 for our designated partner charities.
“The support of local businesses is invaluable to organisations like ours, and we are very much looking forward to welcoming visitors to some of Northern Ireland’s most impressive gardens and to be working in partnership with John Minnis to build on this previous success.”
The National Garden Scheme gives visitors unique access to over 3,500 exceptional private gardens in Northern Ireland, England, Wales and Guernsey, including Old Balloo House and Barn in Killinchy.
John Minnis, of John Minnis Estate Agents which has branches in Bangor, Belfast, Comber, Donaghadee and Holywood, added:
“At John Minnis, we’re committed to lending our support to the local community while showcasing wonderful places across Northern Ireland, and partnering with the National Garden Scheme provides the perfect opportunity to do this.
“Northern Ireland is home to some truly spectacular private gardens, and it is wonderful to be involved in a scheme which not only offers members of the public the opportunity to experience these spaces for themselves, but also raises funds for a variety of very worthy causes.
“A huge thank you and congratulations must go to all who take part and take the time to nurture these beautiful gardens. They really are fantastic and I would certainly recommend visits to see for yourself, whilst supporting these excellent charities.”
Further information about the gardens included in the National Garden Scheme and open days can be found at: findagarden.ngs.org.uk
What is an Annex and How Can it Add Value to your Home?
An annex is a self-contained living space that is either attached to or detached from your main property. It typically includes a bedroom, living area, bathroom, and kitchenette. Building an annex can increase the value of your property by providing additional living space, a home office, or even a rental opportunity. Furthermore, an annex can improve the overall appeal of your property to potential buyers, as it offers a versatile space that can be tailored to suit various needs.
Benefits of Building an Annex
When considering building an annex, it may be for an elderly relative or to expand your living space, but you might be wondering what other advantages there are. It's good to consider all of the benefits that you may reap from having an annex, and if you decide to move home later down the line, you can use these selling points to attract potential buyers.
Extra space for a growing family or aging parents: An annex can provide the additional living space needed to accommodate a growing family or to care for aging parents, without having to move to a larger property.
Potential rental income: If you choose to rent out your annex, it can generate a steady income stream, helping to offset the costs of the project and potentially providing a long-term return on investment.
Increased property value: The additional square footage provided by an annex can significantly increase the value of your home, making it a worthwhile investment for homeowners looking to sell in the future.
Greater flexibility: An annex can be used for various purposes, such as a home office, guest suite, or even a private retreat for family members seeking some peace and quiet.
Attractive to potential buyers: If you decide to sell your home, having an annex can make it more appealing to potential buyers who may be looking for additional living spaces or rental income opportunities.
Thinking about the benefits and different uses for an annex could help you come to the decision on whether building an annex is right for you.
The Downside to Adding an Annex to you Home
There are a lot of benefits involved in adding an annex to your home, but it may not be the right solution for you and your home. Let's take a look at some factors that might affect your decision:
Initial cost: Building an annex can be a significant financial investment, with costs ranging from £80,000 to £100,000 or more, depending on factors such as size, location, and construction method. It is crucial to carefully consider your budget and long-term financial goals before embarking on such a project.
Planning permission: Depending on the size and scope of your annex project, you may need to obtain planning permission from your local council. This can be a time-consuming and potentially costly process, with no guarantee of approval.
Construction disruption: Building an annex can be a disruptive process, as construction work may cause noise, dust, and inconvenience for you and your neighbours.
Potential impact on neighbours: Depending on the location and design of your annex, it may impact the privacy and enjoyment of your neighbours' properties. This could lead to objections and strained relationships.
These are important factors to include in your decision-making, and if any of these issues are making you reconsider building an annex, think about what other alternatives there are.
Alternatives to building an annex
If you need more space, building an annex isn't your only option. Here are just a few alternative options:
Moving home: If you need more space or want to increase the value of your property, one option is to move to a larger home or a different location. This can be a costly and time-consuming process, but it may be more suitable for your needs and circumstances.
Converting existing space: Rather than building an annex, you could consider converting an existing part of your home, such as a garage, loft, or basement, into additional living space. This can be a more cost-effective and less disruptive option, but it may not provide the same level of flexibility and rental income potential as an annex.
Building an extension: Another option is to build an extension onto your existing property, which can also provide additional living space and increase the value of your home. However, this will still involve construction work and may require planning permission.
It is worth costing up these alternatives or thinking about how they might be a better fit for your home and lifestyle.
Who would benefit from an annex?
An annex can cater to a wide range of users and their specific needs. Here are some common types of users who could benefit from an annex on your property:
Multi-generational families: An annex can provide a private and comfortable space for elderly parents or grandparents who wish to live close to their family. This arrangement offers independence for the older generation while also allowing them to maintain close ties with their loved ones.
Young adults: As housing costs continue to rise, many young adults are struggling to afford their own homes. An annex can provide an affordable and convenient living arrangement for adult children who need time to save for their own property or who prefer to live close to their parents for support.
Home-based professionals: With remote work becoming increasingly popular, an annex can serve as a dedicated home office or workspace for those who need a separate area to focus and maintain a work-life balance.
Guests or lodgers: An annex can be used as a guest suite for visiting friends and family, providing them with a comfortable and private space during their stay. Alternatively, you could rent out the annex to lodgers, generating additional income while offering affordable accommodation to tenants.
Individuals with special needs: An annex can be adapted to provide a safe and accessible living space for family members with disabilities or special needs. Customised features such as wheelchair ramps, handrails, and accessible bathrooms can be incorporated to ensure a comfortable and supportive environment.
Artists or Hobby enthusiasts: An annex can serve as a dedicated space for artists, musicians, or hobby enthusiasts who require a separate area to practice and create without disturbing the rest of the household. This can be especially beneficial for those who need a quiet, inspiring, and organized environment to focus on their craft.
Home-based businesses: Small business owners or entrepreneurs may find an annex a suitable location for their home-based business operations. This could include a consultation room for professionals like therapists or consultants, a treatment room for beauty or wellness practitioners, or even a small workshop for artisans.
Short-term rental opportunities: If you live in a desirable location or near popular tourist attractions, you could turn your annex into a short-term rental space, such as an Airbnb. This can provide additional income and give you the flexibility to use the space as needed.
By understanding the various types of users and their needs, you can design and build an annex that caters to their specific requirements. This not only ensures that the annex serves its intended purpose but also maximises the potential return on investment through increased property value or rental income opportunities.
Breakdown of Costs
Building an annex in the UK can be a substantial financial investment, with costs varying depending on several factors such as the size, materials, location, and construction method. In this section, we will provide a breakdown of the estimated costs you can expect when building an annex in the UK, with the average cost ranging from £80,000 to £100,000.Basic construction costs: The most significant portion of the budget will be allocated to the actual construction of the annex. Basic construction costs can range from £1,500 to £2,500 per square metre, depending on the complexity of the design and the materials used. For example, a 40-square-metre annex could cost anywhere between £60,000 and £100,000 for the basic construction.
1. Planning and design fees: Before starting construction, you may need to obtain planning permission and enlist the services of an architect or designer to create the plans for your annex. Planning fees can vary depending on the local authority, while architect or designer fees typically range from 3% to 7% of the total construction cost.
2. Utilities and connections: To make your annex habitable, you will need to connect it to essential utilities such as water, electricity, and gas. The costs for connecting these utilities will vary depending on the existing infrastructure and the distance between the main property and the annex. You should budget approximately £3,000 to £7,000 for utility connections, but this may vary depending on your specific circumstances.
3. Interior fittings and finishes: The costs of interior fittings and finishes will depend on your preferences and the level of quality you desire. This includes items such as flooring, lighting, bathroom fixtures, kitchen appliances, and cabinetry. A basic level of finishes and fittings could cost around £10,000 to £15,000, while higher-end options can easily exceed £25,000.
4. Landscaping and external works: Depending on the design and location of your annex, you may need to allocate funds for landscaping and external works, such as paving, fencing, or planting. These costs can vary widely depending on the scope of the project and your desired outcome but expect to budget at least £3,000 to £10,000 for landscaping and external works.
5. Contingency fund: It's always wise to set aside a contingency fund to cover any unexpected costs or changes during the construction process. A recommended contingency fund is typically around 10% to 15% of the total construction cost.
To ensure you stay within your budget, it's crucial to carefully plan and monitor your expenses throughout the project. Additionally, it's a good idea to obtain several quotes from different builders and contractors to compare prices and services before making a final decision.
Make the most of your investment, by working closely with experienced professionals, such as architects, designers, and builders, who can help you navigate the planning and construction process. Additionally, researching and understanding the local property market will help you gauge the potential return on investment for your annex project.
Will Building an Annex Affect my Council Tax?
Council Tax is an important consideration when building an annex on your property, as it can impact your overall financial obligations. Depending on your situation, take into consideration the following:
Council Tax Bands: Council Tax is charged based on the property's value and its assigned Council Tax band. When you build an annex, it may be given its own Council Tax band separate from the main property. This means that you could be liable to pay Council Tax for both the main property and the annex, potentially increasing your overall tax obligations.
Council Tax Discounts: In certain situations, you may be eligible for a Council Tax discount on your annex. If the annex is occupied by a dependent relative, such as a person aged 65 or older, an adult with a disability, or a young person under 18, you may qualify for a 50% reduction in Council Tax for the annex. It's essential to check with your local council to determine your eligibility for this discount.
Council Tax Exemptions: Some annexes may be exempt from Council Tax altogether. If the annex is unoccupied and cannot be let separately from the main property due to planning restrictions, it may be exempt from Council Tax. Additionally, if the occupant of the annex is a full-time student or someone with a severe mental impairment, the annex may also qualify for a Council Tax exemption.
The best way to find information how building an annex will affect your council tax is by speaking to your local council. Each council area has different council tax rules and regulations, so by speaking to your local council, you can find out how building an annex may affect you and your council tax bill.
An annex provides versatile living space for various users, including multi-generational families, young adults, home-based professionals, and individuals with special needs.
The average cost of building an annex in the UK ranges from £80,000 to £100,000, depending on factors such as size, materials, location, and construction method.
Consider the pros and cons of building an annex, such as the potential for rental income, increased property value, and planning permission requirements, before making a decision.
Explore alternative options, such as moving to a larger home, converting existing space, or building an extension, to determine the best solution for your needs.
Collaborate with experienced professionals, such as architects, designers, and builders, to ensure a smooth planning and construction process.
Research local property market trends and potential financial assistance or grants to maximise the return on investment for your annex project.
Spend time researching how much it will increase the value of your home, and take a look at other similar properties in your area with annexes.
According to a recently published index from Nationwide Building Society, house prices across Northern Ireland have increased in the first three months of 2023.
Commenting on the findings, John Minnis, Company Director at leading local estate agent, John Minnis Estate Agents Ltd, said:
“Those hoping to sell their property might be buoyed by the latest news of rising house prices, however, it always pays to set realistic expectations and seek expert advice.
“Northern Ireland’s housing market is made up of many local markets, meaning house values can vary area to area, sometimes on a street-by-street basis!
“Of course, this is great news for home owners. Speaking to an estate agent is the best way to ensure your property goes on the market at a price that will attract interest and result in a completed sale at the very best price.
“Our advice to those seeking to purchase property is to not be concerned. This increase in house prices may be at odds with the UK as a whole, but Northern Ireland remains one of the most affordable regions to buy property.
“The latest increase in Bank Rate levels had been forecast by many mortgage lenders, and it is hoped that inflation will fall throughout the rest of this year, which is good news, and lenders are already beginning to reduce their rates.
“Buyers can also benefit from an increased variety of mortgage products, meaning there are plenty of options available to help them progress up the property ladder.
“We have seen strong demand throughout the first months of this year and looking ahead, we hope that this confidence in the market continues. Our experienced team is always on hand, so whether you’re buying or selling your property John Minnis Estate Agents have the expertise to help.”
Understanding the Rental Market in Northern Ireland
Before beginning your search for a rental property, it's essential to understand the rental market in Northern Ireland. Rental prices and trends vary depending on the area, the type of property, and the size of the property. For instance, a one-bedroom apartment in the city centre will likely cost more than a three-bedroom house in the suburbs.
Private tenancy agreements are the most common type of rental agreement in Northern Ireland. These agreements can be short or long-term, and the landlord will typically require a refundable tenancy deposit. It's worth noting that a tenancy deposit protection scheme must protect all tenancy deposits.
Preparing to Rent
When preparing to rent, there are several factors to consider, such as:
Check your credit score and ensure that it is in good standing. Most landlords and letting agents will review your credit score to determine your financial stability and ability to pay rent on time.
Create a budget and determine how much you can realistically afford to spend on rent each month. Consider other expenses, such as utilities, internet, and transportation costs when calculating your budget.
Research the different neighbourhoods and areas in Northern Ireland to determine which location would be most suitable for your lifestyle and needs. Factors to consider may include proximity to work, public transportation, schools, shops, and restaurants.
Understand the rental agreements and contracts that you will be required to sign when renting a property. Ask your letting agent or landlord to clarify any terms or conditions that you do not understand.
Factor in upfront costs, such as the tenancy deposit, which is typically required before moving in. Other upfront costs may include the first month's rent, application fees, and any administrative fees.
Consider seeking the assistance of a professional letting agent, such as John Minnis Estate Agents, to help guide you through the rental process and ensure that all your needs and requirements are met.
Finding Your Ideal Rental Property
Finding a suitable property is key to the rental process. At John Minnis Estate Agents, we offer a wide range of properties, from apartments to large houses. We advertise all our properties online, including on the biggest dedicated property websites. Our property adverts provide comprehensive information about each property, including the monthly cost, upfront costs, service charges, and any other relevant information.
We also offer a dedicated team of letting agents who are on hand to help you find your ideal property. We will work closely with you to understand your needs and preferences, ensuring we only show you the most efficient properties that meet your requirements.
Preparing to Move In
Once you've found your ideal property, you'll need to take care of the necessary paperwork and upfront costs, such as the tenancy deposit, which we ensure is protected by a tenancy deposit protection scheme. Our estate agents will guide you through the process, ensuring that everything runs smoothly.
Review the rental agreement and ensure that you fully understand the terms and conditions before signing. Ask your letting agent or landlord to clarify any terms or conditions that you are unsure about.
Arrange for utilities to be set up in your name before moving in, including gas, electricity, water, and internet.
Arrange for a professional cleaning service to clean the property before moving in, if necessary.
Schedule a move-in inspection with your landlord or letting agent to document any pre-existing damage or issues with the property.
Pay the tenancy deposit, which is typically required before moving in.
Ensure that the tenancy deposit is protected by a tenancy deposit protection scheme, as required by law.
Arrange for renter's insurance to protect your personal belongings in the rental property.
Change your address with the postal service and update your address with your bank, employer, and any other important contacts.
Start packing and organising your belongings in advance to make the move-in process smoother.
By taking care of these steps, renters can ensure a smooth and stress-free move-in process and have a positive experience in their new rental property. The team at John Minnis Estate Agents can guide renters through this process to ensure that everything runs smoothly and they are fully prepared for the move.
Living in a Rental Property
During your tenancy, you may encounter issues with the property or your landlord. In these instances, our letting agents are on hand to assist you. Here are a few examples of ways we can assist you during your tenancy:
Resolving disputes - If you encounter any issues with your landlord or the property, our letting agents can assist you in resolving the matter. We work to find a mutually agreeable solution to any problems that may arise, ensuring that your rights as a tenant are protected.
Flexible tenancy agreements - We offer assured-shorthold tenancies, which give you the flexibility to renew or terminate your rental agreement as needed. This allows you to adapt to changes in your circumstances, such as a new job or a change in a family situation.
Providing information - Our letting agents are knowledgeable about all aspects of renting a property and can provide you with the information you need to make informed decisions. Whether you have questions about your rental agreement, your rights as a tenant, or the property itself, we are always here to help.
Maintenance and repairs - If any maintenance or repairs are required on the property, our letting agents can assist you in arranging for the necessary work to be carried out. We work with trusted contractors to ensure that all repairs are completed to a high standard and in a timely manner.
At John Minnis Estate Agents, we believe in providing our clients with a quality service that covers all aspects of renting a property. Our letting agents are on hand to assist you throughout your tenancy, providing you with the necessary support to ensure that you have a positive renting experience.
Understand the rental market in Northern Ireland by considering the area, the type of property, and the size of the property.
Prepare to rent by setting a budget, finding a suitable location, and understanding rental agreements, and upfront costs.
Find your ideal rental property by searching for properties online and working with dedicated letting agents.
Prepare to move in by taking care of the necessary paperwork and upfront costs, including the tenancy deposit.
Live comfortably in your rental property by maintaining a good relationship with your landlord, resolving disputes efficiently, and renewing or terminating your rental agreement if necessary.
John Minnis Estate Agents offer a quality service that covers all aspects of the rental process, including finding suitable properties, moving in, and living comfortably. Contact us today to find your ideal rental property in Northern Ireland.
To begin your property investment journey, you'll need to research the local property market, pinpoint high-demand locations, and consider the property type and size.
By understanding market trends, selecting properties in up-and-coming neighbourhoods, and diversifying your portfolio with different flat sizes and layouts, you'll be better positioned to attract tenants and maximise rental income.
Research the Local Property Market
Before you start building your property empire, it's essential to understand the local property market. By keeping an eye on property prices and tracking market trends, you'll be able to identify the most lucrative areas for investment. Plus, you'll get a better understanding of property rolling income and how to maximize your returns.
Location, Location, Location!
Location is a critical factor when it comes to property investments. The right location can significantly influence the demand for your rental property, your rental income, and the overall appreciation of your property's value.
One of the secrets to successful property investment is choosing flats in high-demand areas. Investing in up-and-coming neighbourhoods can offer excellent returns on your investment. These areas are often characterised by new developments, an influx of businesses, and increasing property prices. By identifying and investing in these emerging neighbourhoods, you can potentially benefit from higher rental income and long-term capital growth as the area continues to develop and gain popularity.
Tenants prioritise convenience, which is why properties close to public transportation and essential amenities are often in high demand. By investing in properties near transport hubs, shopping centres, schools, and recreational facilities, you can attract a larger pool of potential tenants who are willing to pay a premium for easy access to these amenities. This, in turn, can lead to higher rental income and a lower vacancy rate for your property.
Considering Property Type and Size
Flats offer several advantages for property investors. Firstly, they often have a lower entry cost compared to houses, making them more accessible for first-time investors. Additionally, flats in multi-unit buildings typically have shared maintenance costs, which can help reduce your expenses as a landlord. Finally, flats in urban areas are generally in high demand, particularly among young professionals and small families who value convenience and proximity to the city centre.
Having a diverse portfolio of flats with varying sizes and layouts can cater to a wider range of tenant needs and preferences. For example, studio flats or one-bedroom apartments can appeal to single professionals or couples, while larger two or three-bedroom flats might be more suitable for families. By offering a variety of flat sizes and layouts, you can minimize vacancy periods and ensure a steady rental income. Furthermore, a diverse property portfolio can help mitigate risks by spreading your investments across different segments of the market.
Evaluating the Investment Potential
Before you commit to a property, it's crucial to evaluate its investment potential by calculating the return on investment (ROI), assessing the property condition, and estimating ongoing costs. This step will help you make informed decisions and ensure you're generating the highest possible returns from your investment.
Calculating the Return on Investment (ROI)
When assessing prospective properties, it's important to calculate the potential return on investment (ROI). This includes considering factors such as rental income, advance rent, benefits of rent, and capital growth potential. By doing this, you'll ensure that you're making the most money from rent possible.
For a step-by-step guide on how to calculate the ROI on an investment property, check out our handy guide.
Assessing Property Condition
Don't be fooled by a pretty exterior! Before investing in a property, make sure to thoroughly assess its condition. This includes checking for any necessary repairs or renovations that might impact your rent agreement and monthly rent. Remember, tenants are more likely to pay a premium for a well-maintained property!
Estimating Ongoing Costs
Property investment isn't all about the income from property; it's also important to consider the ongoing costs. This includes mortgage interest payments, Buy-to-let mortgage rates, standard mortgage fees, and maintenance expenses. By factoring in these costs, you'll have a better understanding of your potential profit per month and profit margins.
Securing the Right Property
Once you've identified a promising property, crafting a competitive offer and preparing for a smooth closing process is essential. With a strong negotiation strategy and knowledge of the local property market value, you'll increase your chances of securing the property and reaping the rewards of your investment.
Crafting a Competitive Offer
Now you've found the perfect property, it's time to make an offer. Keep in mind that a competitive offer isn't just about the price; it also involves understanding the local property market value and having a strong negotiation strategy. By doing your homework and making a fair yet enticing offer, you'll increase your chances of securing the property and generating returns from rent.
Preparing for a Smooth Closing Process
The closing process can be a bit daunting, but don't worry – we've got your back! Make sure you're prepared with all the necessary legal requirements and documentation. Additionally, explore various financing options for investors, such as buy-to-let mortgage deals and repayment terms. Remember, knowledge is power, and being well-prepared will make the process much smoother!
Optimising Your Investment Property
To get the most out of your investment property, selecting the right property management services and staying informed about market trends and opportunities is key. A great property management team will handle the day-to-day responsibilities whilst keeping up-to-date with market changes and will ensure your property empire continues to flourish.
Selecting the Right Property Management Services
To minimise the hassle of property ownership and maximize your rental income, it's essential to select the right property management services. A great property management team will handle everything from tenant screening to maintenance, ensuring that your normal rent payment and payment of rent process runs smoothly.
Staying Informed About Market Trends and Opportunities
The property market is constantly changing, so it's crucial to stay informed about market trends and opportunities. Regular market updates will help you make smart decisions and ensure that your property empire continues to grow. Plus, staying up to date on the latest mortgage deals and mortgage payment options will help you save money in the long run!
Managing Your Tax Responsibilities
Knowing tax obligations, deducting allowable expenses, and seeking professional tax advice are essential aspects of property investment. By staying informed about tax laws and regulations, you can minimise your tax liabilities and maximise your profits.
Armed with these insights and strategies, you're now ready to embark on your property investment journey. Partnering with an experienced estate agent like John Minnis Estate Agents will provide invaluable support and expert guidance every step of the way.
Understanding Your Tax Obligations
As a property investor, it's essential to understand your tax obligations. This includes paying tax on your rental income, tax on profits, and any capital gains tax when you sell a property. By staying informed about tax laws and regulations, you can minimise your tax liabilities and maximise your profits.
Deducting Allowable Expenses
Don't forget that you can deduct certain expenses from your taxable rental income. This includes mortgage interest payments, running costs, and responsibility for costs related to property management and maintenance. By taking advantage of these deductions, you can reduce your tax bill and keep more of your hard-earned money.
Seeking Professional Tax Advice
When it comes to taxes, it's always better to be safe than sorry. We recommend seeking professional tax advice to ensure that you're fully compliant with all tax regulations and taking advantage of every deduction available. After all, nobody wants an unexpected visit from the taxman!
Research the local property market to understand trends and identify high-demand areas
Diversify your property portfolio by considering different property types and sizes
Calculate the potential ROI by considering rental income, capital growth, and ongoing costs
Assess the property condition and address any necessary repairs or renovations
Craft a competitive offer by understanding the local property market value and employing strong negotiation strategies
Stay informed about market trends, mortgage deals, and tax obligations
Seek professional property management services and tax advice to minimise hassle and maximize profits
Now that you're equipped with the knowledge and strategies for finding and securing profitable flats, it's time to take action and begin your property investment journey. Partnering with an experienced estate agent like John Minnis Estate Agents will provide you with invaluable support and expert guidance every step of the way.
For more information, speak to our friendly and experienced team on 028 9065 3333 or head to our available properties to search for the perfect investment.
The coastal town of Donaghadee has been named the best place to live in Northern Ireland, according to a recent report by The Sunday Times. Situated on the Ards Peninsula in County Down, Donaghadee has become increasingly popular among homebuyers and tourists alike, thanks to its picturesque scenery, rich history, and strong community spirit.
Helen Davies, the editor of Best Places to Live 2023, said: “When times are tough, where we live matters more than ever. Attractive surroundings, good neighbours and a comfortable home are the best defences when the stresses of modern life seem overwhelming."
Enniskillen and Belfast's Ormeau Road also feature in the Sunday Times Best Places to Live guide, giving Northern Ireland three spots out of the 72 sites named.
A hidden gem, Donaghadee offers the perfect balance of coastal living and accessibility to city amenities. Here are the top five reasons why Donaghadee has been named the best place to live in Northern Ireland and why we at John Minnis Estate Agents agree:
Stunning Scenery and Beautiful Beaches
Donaghadee is home to a picturesque harbor, a lighthouse, and beautiful sandy beaches. The coastline offers breathtaking views of the Irish Sea, making it the perfect location for scenic walks and outdoor activities. Residents can enjoy the tranquility of the beach or take a stroll along the coastal path, which connects Donaghadee to the nearby towns of Millisle and Groomsport.
Rich History and Heritage
The town's history dates back to the 17th century and features a wealth of historical buildings and landmarks. The iconic Donaghadee Harbour and Lighthouse, constructed in the 1830s, remain operational to this day. Other significant sites include the Moat, an ancient motte-and-bailey castle, and Grace Neill's pub, reputedly the oldest pub in Ireland, dating back to 1611. The town's historical charm adds to its unique character and appeal.
Thriving Community Spirit
Donaghadee is well-known for its friendly and welcoming residents, who take great pride in their town. The strong sense of community spirit can be seen through the numerous clubs, societies, and organizations in the area. Annual events such as the Donaghadee Lights Up festival and the RNLI Raft Race bring the community together, while local sporting clubs provide opportunities for residents to get involved in rugby, golf, sailing, and more.
Excellent Local Amenities and Schools
Donaghadee boasts a range of local amenities, including independent shops, cafes, restaurants, and leisure facilities. The town also offers a selection of highly-regarded primary and secondary schools, making it an ideal location for families. With its excellent facilities and strong community focus, Donaghadee ensures a high quality of life for its residents.
Proximity to Belfast and Other Major Towns
Located just 20 miles from Belfast, Donaghadee offers the perfect balance of coastal living and easy access to Northern Ireland's capital city. With excellent road connections, residents can enjoy the benefits of city employment and entertainment opportunities while still experiencing the charm of a coastal town. Additionally, the town's proximity to Bangor and Newtownards provides further shopping and leisure options.
The picturesque town of Donaghadee, with its stunning scenery, rich history, thriving community spirit, excellent local amenities, and proximity to major towns, has earned its title as the best place to live in Northern Ireland. John Minnis Estate Agents' recognition of these attributes highlights the growing appeal of Donaghadee as a prime location for homebuyers and families seeking an idyllic coastal lifestyle.
Taking place on Thursday 16th March, the highly anticipated boys’ senior schools final will see the two schools come together for the first time since the group stages of the McCullough Cup, where Wallace won 4-0.
Speaking of their bid for the silverware at a press conference at John Minnis Estate Agents, Ballyhackamore, Gareth Kidd, Coach of Wallace’s first XI hockey team, said:
“We are a very young team this year, and we probably didn’t expect to make it to the final so it means a great deal to me, the players, and the entire school to have come this far in the John Minnis Burney Cup.
“We’ve been lucky to have reached five of the previous nine finals, but we don’t feel under pressure – we’re aiming to enjoy the match. If we’re relaxed and we’re confident then we hope we’ll come out on the right side.”
Echoing his coach’s comments, Captain Josh Kamalarajah added: “It’s been a long process and reaching the final is a great way to end the season – we’ve all spoken to each other and we know how much we want it.
“We want to win it – we’ve been giving it stacks all season and it would be amazing if we could go out there and get the result.”
While Wallace has had more success in the John Minnis Burney Cup in recent years, Campbell College rose to top of its tough group stages, proving a formidable opponent in the semi-finals when the team won 2-0 against Bangor Grammar School.
Damien Styles, Master in Charge of Hockey at Campbell College, said:
“We have a group of guys that have worked exceptionally hard, and it means the world to have reached the final.
“This year we introduced a new coach, Jonny Carron, who has helped the team develop their technical and tactical know-how, and we’re really seeing the difference.
“A lot of the younger guys coming in behind are watching, and they’ve been so inspired by what the team is doing.”
Captain Lawson Adams added:
“We had a rough start to the season, but we’ve really progressed as a team and are ready to give it our all in the final.”
One spectator certain to be in attendance for the final on Thursday is John Minnis, Company Director at John Minnis Estate Agents, the headline sponsor of the prestigious competition.
“For the last number of years, we have been proud to support the John Minnis Burney Cup, advocating for youth development, fitness, and friendly competition amongst peers.
“The local community is at the heart of what we do, and we are thrilled to give a helping hand to keeping this much-loved event alive, with this year’s final expected to be the biggest yet.
“It’s been fantastic to see school hockey continue to grow in popularity since the John Minnis Burney Cup began, and we can’t wait to see who will take the trophy home on Thursday.”
John Minnis Estate Agents has an expansive portfolio of properties across its five offices in North Down and Belfast, specialising in property services including valuations, land sales, residential lettings, and financial advice.
The John Minnis Burney Cup will be held on Thursday 16th March, with pushback at 7.30pm, at Stormont’s Playball Pitches. Family, friends, and supporters are all welcome. Tickets are not required.
With one foot in the United Kingdom and one foot in the European Union, the Northern Irish property market is unlike any other.
Of course, the quirks that make Northern Ireland such an appealing destination for homeowners can’t be credited to politics – it is also home to a world-class education system, top-notch public transport, and a fantastic mixture of business and leisure.
With this in mind, we are experiencing a surge in the number of people purchasing homes in Northern Ireland from outside the region.
Rarely a property enters the market without interest from buyers in England, the Republic of Ireland, and even further afield.
From families relocating to Northern Ireland to grandparents investing in a second home closer to loved ones, the rate of Northern Irish properties being snapped up by buyers from elsewhere continues to grow at a steady pace.
As the exclusive Guild member for the areas in which we operate, John Minnis is in a unique position to capitalise on this.
Our membership signals that we are a reputable and trustworthy agent and having access to its nationwide network ensures that, when our counterparts in the UK are asked for recommendations in Northern Ireland, John Minnis is the first port of call.
Looking ahead to 2023, we expect that the property market will continue to perform well. It has proved resilient through the current economic climate and demand for properties across all price ranges remains strong.
While there are concerns about the cost of living and its impact on the property market, Northern Ireland remains one of the most affordable places to purchase a property in the UK, and our standard of living is excellent – in fact, Northern Ireland was named as the happiest place to live and work in a survey by Lloyds Bank.
As an established agent with five strategically located branches across the region, John Minnis is perfectly aligned to meet this demand.
Our expansive portfolio and committed team are here to make buying and selling a property in Northern Ireland as straightforward and hassle-free as possible.
Leading estate agent John Minnis is partnering with specialist property advisers Mortgage IQ and Northern Irish regional body Co-Ownership to deliver a community-friendly Mortgage Clinic on 25th February.
Open to everyone from first-time buyers to those wanting advice on remortgaging, the Clinic will give local people access to experts in the field of home ownership and the chance to ask any questions they may have.
Chosen as the exclusive Guild of Property Professionals member for the Bangor area, the team at John Minnis are well-quipped to provide specialist advice.
John Minnis, Company Director at John Minnis, said:
“Buying and selling a home can be a confusing time for people, so we are thrilled to partner with Mortgage IQ and Co-ownership with the aim of making the mortgage process as stress-free and seamless as possible.
“Following the signing of the first ever City Deal in Northern Ireland, and the forthcoming investment of £73million to enhance the City, we have seen a surge of interest in buying property in Bangor.
“The stunning views of the coast, great schools, and countless restaurants means that Bangor is an extremely desirable location, and we look forward to helping people turn their dreams of owning a home here into a reality.”
The event will take place in John Minnis’ Bangor branch, which, due to its in-house partnership with Mortgage IQ, is a one-stop shop for those looking to get onto the property ladder, invest, relocate, downsize, or simply seek some financial advice.
Janine Cunningham, Operations Director at Mortgage IQ, added:
“Together with John Minnis, we are excited to launch our Mortgage Clinic for people in Bangor and beyond.
“Our team of dedicated specialists will be on hand to provide advice and help find the best mortgage deals, tailored to suit the needs of the individual.
“From application to the turning of the keys in a new home, Mortgage IQ is there each step of the way to ensure complete satisfaction with the purchasing process.”
The Mortgage Clinic will take place on 25th February between 10am and 1pm at 84 Main Street, Bangor.
This is the best place to start your flat-buying journey. It is easy to get carried away when you are ready to find a new property, but understanding how much you can realistically afford is the first step to finding a home. This way, it will help you to understand what area and property conditions you can afford to buy or rent.
Assessing your lifestyle and housing requirements
Before you start your search, it's crucial to assess your lifestyle and housing requirements. Consider factors such as the location, size of the property, number of bedrooms, type of property (single-family home, apartment, etc.), and parking arrangements. Also, think about the local amenities and transportation options you will need. All of these factors will help you determine what type of property is suitable for you.
Calculating your budget and expenses
Once you have a clear idea of your housing requirements, it's time to calculate your budget and expenses. Rent in advance, tenancy deposit, and additional costs such as council tax and energy bills must be taken into account when calculating your budget. You should also check if you are eligible for any additional help such as Housing Benefits or Universal Credit.
It's important to set realistic expectations and be flexible in your search. If you have a strict budget, it's unlikely you'll find a spacious three-bedroom apartment in a central location. Instead, consider other areas or alternative housing options, such as shared accommodation, which can help lower your costs.
Or, you may decide to consider different locations. By being flexible about living in different areas, you can cut costs quite significantly.
Where to Look for Flats
Now you know your budget and what you can realistically afford to buy or rent, it's time to check out the property market. If this is your first time searching for a property, you might not know where to start. It's worth asking friends and family for recommendations, as well as checking out the local estate agents and searching online for properties on the market.
One of the most popular ways to search for flats is online. There are many property search websites, such as Rightmove, Zoopla, and PropertyPal, where you can find a wide range of properties to rent or buy. You can easily filter your search results based on your budget, location, and other criteria.
Each estate agent will usually have their own website and social media accounts, so don't forget to search for estate agents local to you. Often, you can sign up to hear about new properties coming onto the market before they are online!
Estate agents specialise in helping people find properties to rent or buy. They can assist you in finding the right property and negotiate on your behalf. They often have access to exclusive properties and can provide valuable insights into the local property market.
If you are searching for a property in Northern Ireland, why not take a look at the flats that we have for sale and rent?
Networking with friends and family
Networking with friends and family can also be an effective way to find a flat. They may know of a property that is available for rent or may have connections with private landlords. This approach can also provide peace of mind, as you are likely to get a more personal and accurate recommendation.
However, the downside to this is that the options are more limited and might not be a suitable route if you are looking at moving to a new city.
Making the Most of Viewings
The time is here to book a viewing for a flat that you are interested in. The area looks promising and the price is within budget, so what next?
There are a few important steps to take when you are viewing properties to ensure that you are certain that this is the right flat for you to buy or rent. Prepare a list of questions to ask the estate agent, research the neighbourhood and keep an eye out for any signs of damp or damage to the property, this could end up being an issue down the line!
Preparing a checklist of questions
Before you attend a viewing, it's important to prepare a checklist of questions to ask the landlord or estate agent. This includes questions about the lease or purchase agreement, the condition of the property, and any potential problems. Examples of questions to ask at your viewing are:
1. What is included in the lease or purchase agreement?
2. What is the length of the lease or contract?
3. What are the monthly rental payments?
4. Are there any additional costs or charges to be aware of?
5. What is the process for making repairs or requesting maintenance?
6. Who is responsible for paying utility bills, council tax, and other expenses?
7. Are there any restrictions on decorating or making changes to the property?
8. What is the parking situation like?
9. Are there any local amenities such as shops, restaurants, and transport links nearby?
10. What is the neighbourhood like?
11. Are there any issues with crime or safety in the area?
12. Are there any planned developments or construction projects in the neighbourhood?
13. Is the building in good condition and well-maintained?
14. Are there any issues with noise or disturbance from neighbours or traffic?
15. What is the availability of public transportation in the area?
16. Are there any local schools or education facilities nearby?
17. What is the job market like in the area?
Asking these questions can help you get a better understanding of the property and the neighbourhood, and ensure that you make an informed decision when choosing a flat to rent or buy.
What to look for in a flat
During the viewing, make sure to inspect the property thoroughly. When viewing a property, you should:
Thoroughly inspect the condition of walls, flooring, windows, and doors.
Check heating and hot water systems for proper functioning.
Evaluate electricity and plumbing systems.
Assess the condition of light fixtures and switches.
Inspect kitchen and bathroom for cleanliness, functionality, and good repair.
Check appliances in the kitchen and bathroom.
Evaluate storage space, including cupboards and wardrobes.
Inspect any outdoor spaces, such as balconies or gardens.
Take note of any red flags during the viewing, such as dampness, mould, or safety concerns. These issues can cause significant problems in the future and can impact the cost of repairs.
By taking the time to inspect the property thoroughly, you can get a good understanding of its condition and suitability for your needs. This will help you make an informed decision and ensure that you find the right flat for you.
Evaluating the neighbourhood
It's also important to evaluate the neighbourhood during your viewing. Consider the local crime rate and whether the neighbourhood is prone to break-ins or other safety risks. Research the local schools and their reputation to see if they would be suitable for any children in your family.
Think about the job market in the area and whether there are any opportunities for employment nearby. Consider the potential for future development in the area and whether it is likely to change in the coming years.
It's important to be mindful of these factors when evaluating the neighbourhood as they will impact your quality of life and the overall value of your property. By taking the time to consider these factors, you can ensure that you find a flat that is not only suitable for your current needs but also provides long-term value.
Negotiating the Best Deal
You have found a property that you love, so it's time to negotiate a deal. If you are in a position to put down a higher deposit on a rental property or move quickly if you are buying, it could mean that you are in a better position to negotiate. Identify the key terms you would like to negotiate, if you are renting this could be the cost, deposit and length of tenancy. If you are buying then you may negotiate the price of the property and what is included in the sale. Here are a few tips to follow when negotiating:
1. Know your budget and what you're willing to pay - Before you start negotiating, make sure you know exactly how much you can afford and what you're willing to pay for the property. This will help you determine what terms you want to negotiate.
2. Wait until you have found the right property - Negotiating is more effective when you have found the property you want to buy. It is easier to negotiate when the seller is motivated to sell, and you have a better bargaining position.
3. Look for potential problems - If you notice any potential problems with the property during the viewing, use this as an opportunity to negotiate. For example, if there is a need for repairs or renovations, you can ask the seller to reduce the price or complete the repairs before you move in.
4. Know the market conditions - It's important to know the current market conditions and how they may impact the price of the property. If it's a buyer's market, you may have more bargaining power, while if it's a seller's market, you may need to be more flexible in your negotiation.
5. Be prepared to compromise - Negotiating is about finding a solution that works for both parties. Be prepared to compromise and find a solution that works for both you and the seller.
And remember, it's crucial to understand the responsibilities of both parties before signing a lease or purchase agreement. This includes who is responsible for maintenance and repairs, and what happens if either party breaches the agreement.
Making a Decision and Securing a Flat
Once you have found a flat that you like, it's time to make a decision and secure it. It's important to take your time and choose the right flat for you, taking into consideration all of the factors that are important to you, such as location, size, and budget.
Completing the paperwork and paying any fees
Once you have made your decision, you will need to complete the paperwork and pay any fees that are required. This may include paying a rental deposit, rental in advance, or a tenancy deposit. You will also need to sign a tenancy agreement, which outlines the responsibilities of both parties and the terms of the lease.
Checking for any hidden costs or potential problems
Before you move in, it's important to check for any hidden costs or potential problems. For example, you should check if there are any additional costs, such as council tax or utilities, that you will need to pay on top of your rent. You should also check for any issues with the flat, such as damp or leaks, and make sure that these are addressed before you move in.
Preparing for the move
Finally, it's time to start preparing for the move. Make a list of all of the things you need to do, such as arranging for utilities to be connected, buying any necessary furniture, and packing up your belongings. You should also make sure that you have adequate insurance in place to protect your belongings and give you peace of mind.
Moving in and Settling into your New Home
Once you have moved into your new home, it's time to start settling in. Take your time unpacking and organising your belongings, and make any necessary repairs or improvements. Get to know your neighbours and the local community, and start making your new home your own.
Unpacking and organising your belongings
Once you've moved into your new flat, it's time to start unpacking and organising your belongings. The first step is to prioritise which items you need to unpack first. For example, you'll probably want to unpack your bed sheets and towels first so you can start getting settled into your new home. You should also focus on unpacking the items you'll need for day-to-day living, such as your kitchen utensils, plates and cups, and any cleaning supplies.
Organising your belongings is an important step in making your new flat feel like home. Take some time to figure out what storage solutions will work best for you and your belongings. You may need to buy some additional storage containers or shelving units to help keep your flat organised. You should also think about how you want to arrange your furniture to make the most of the space you have.
Making any necessary repairs or improvements
As soon as you move into your new flat, you should start looking for any repairs or improvements that need to be made. If you find any problems, such as a leaky faucet or a broken window, you should contact your landlord as soon as possible. It's important to address any repairs or improvements as soon as possible to avoid further damage or problems in the future.
If you're looking to make any cosmetic improvements to your flat, such as painting the walls or replacing the flooring, you should also speak to your landlord. You may need to get their permission before making any changes to the property. However, some landlords may be willing to let you make improvements in exchange for a longer lease or a higher rent payment.
Getting to know your neighbours and community
One of the benefits of living in a flat is that you have the opportunity to get to know your neighbours and the wider community. You can start by introducing yourself to your neighbours and striking up a conversation with them. You can also attend community events and join local groups to meet new people and get involved in the community.
You should also consider joining a local Facebook or WhatsApp group to stay up-to-date on any local news and events. This can be a great way to get to know your neighbours and stay connected with the community.
Making your new home your own
Finally, it's important to make your new flat feel like your own. You can do this by adding personal touches, such as photographs and artwork, and by incorporating your own style into your decor. You should also think about how you want to use your space and what furniture and items you'll need to make your flat feel like home.
It's also important to maintain your flat and keep it clean and tidy. This not only helps to keep the property in good condition but also helps to create a comfortable and inviting living space.
Understanding your needs and budget is crucial when flat hunting. This includes assessing your lifestyle and housing requirements, calculating your budget and expenses, and setting realistic expectations.
There are various options when it comes to finding your perfect home, including online platforms, estate agents, and networking with friends and family.
Making the most of viewings involves preparing a checklist of questions, evaluating the neighbourhood, taking note of any red flags, and what to look for in a flat.
Negotiating the best deal includes understanding the lease or purchase agreement, identifying key terms to negotiate, getting the best rent and deposit terms, and understanding the responsibilities of both parties.
Making a decision and securing a flat requires choosing the right flat, completing the paperwork, checking for hidden costs or potential problems, and preparing for the move.
Moving in and settling into your new home involves unpacking and organising your belongings, making any necessary repairs or improvements, getting to know your neighbours and community, and making your new home your own.
Other key terms to consider in your flat hunting journey include rental property, rental income, council tax, single people, private landlords, additional costs, Housing Benefit, tenancy deposit, tenancy agreement, and housing associations.
Flat hunting can be a challenging and time-consuming process, but by following these tips and tricks, you can find your perfect home with peace of mind.
If you are looking to buy or rent a property in Northern Ireland, speak to our friendly and knowledgeable team on 028 9065 3333, or take a look at the properties we currently have on the market.