How Smart is your Home?

Smart technology in your home means that you have electrical items connected to the internet – they could be linked by WiFi, Bluetooth or 4G. It allows you control your electrical items through your smart phone or other device such as an iPad or tablet. It enables you to turn plugs on and off, use voice control for your lights, link up devices to Google or Amazon Alexa and even see and talk to someone who’s at your front door whilst you’re out. As technology gets smarter so do our homes and even now, you can put on the kettle or heating ready for when you walk through the door.

Homes built today are smart, energy efficient and secure. It is estimated that 45% of homes in the UK have smart home technology and this is expected to rise to 85% by 2026 according to research by Statista. They can help you to save time, money and even the energy you use in your home.

By adding integrated smart technology to your property, it could even add value as many buyers are looking for more convenient ways to live and smart home integration does exactly that.

Energy efficiency

When you purchase a newly built home you can rest knowing that your home has a high EPC rating which means that your home will be energy efficient. An Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) measures the energy efficiency of a property and is represented by a scale from A (most efficient) to E (least efficient). This rating indicates the energy use of a property along with the typical energy costs, as well as recommendations about what you can do to make the home cheaper to run.

How does a smart home help you save on energy?

When you purchase a newly built home, you will usually have the best available bandwidth for broadband. This will make it easier to connect smart technology to help you run your home.

Smart technology lets you turn appliances on and off as you need them – whether you’re in the home or not. If you forget to turn off the lights or heating when you leave the house, you can do it as soon as you remember from your connected device, without having to be in the property.

In addition, you can set timers and schedules and even analyse your usage to help you make changes that will save you money.

How does a smart home keep your property safe and secure?

The great thing about a new home is that it will be safe and secure from the minute you move in. Windows and doors will be high quality with modern locking mechanisms.

By installing smart systems, you will be able to keep an eye on your home wherever you are and at any time of the day. Surveillance cameras which are now cheap and easy to install can be used inside your home and outside and can be accessed via your mobile device. You can set the system to alert you to movement and on some cameras, you can sound an alarm or even talk on a speaker to ask people what they want. Just the presence of a camera can sometimes be enough.

A smart doorbell lets you see who’s at your door when you aren’t at home and instruct them to either come back or, if you’re expecting a delivery, to ask them to redeliver or take it to a trusted neighbour.

You can also run smoke and C02 detectors from your devices.

Energy efficiency is also high on the list for buyers, and smart homes can help keep energy usage to a minimum.

Here are some simple things you can do to make your home smarter!

Choose a system that you can easily add to – by choosing one system for example Apple, Google Home or Amazon, you can work all of your smart devices from the same system rather than relying on several. Some plugs only work with Alexa for example, and so you’ll only need one app on your phone. However, you can still mix and match if you need to.

Speakers

Smart speakers enable you to control many aspects of your home including cameras, doorbells, lights, heating and appliances. This will need to be compatible with any plugs or bulbs you purchase.

Plugs

Smart plugs are a simple way to make your home smarter. They act like a barrier between your existing plug and your appliance. Once you have set it up on your phone or device you can simply log into the app or use voice control with your speaker and turn it on and off as needed. You can also schedule some plugs to turn on and off.

Heating

Smart heating is one of the most popular ways to make your home smarter. You can connect your phone to the thermostat and have control over your heating from anywhere in the world. It can also work with your phone’s GPS and turn the heating on when it knows you are on your way home. It also knows when you have left via the front door and will turn off the heating for you.

This is a great way to save energy and keep your bills down as you won’t ever be in a situation where your heating has accidentally left on all day and you can adjust the schedule to your plans as soon as they change. They also give you advice on how to save energy and suggest changes to help you manage the temperature in your home.

Security

Security is at the forefront of everyone’s mind. As well as choosing a home with new windows and a secure entry system, you can install cameras and video doorbells to give you control over your home and let you see who’s outside. You can be alerted to movement or sound and can record any events so you can see who has been at your property whilst you are at work or on holiday.

We hope these tips have been helpful – starting with a newly built home means that you’ll have super fast connectivity and energy efficiency as standard, giving you the perfect basis to make your home smarter and more efficient.

Will Longer Mortgage Terms Be the Norm?

If you are considering purchasing your first home, you are probably watching the mortgage rates with interest. Over the last few years, we have seen historically low interest rates which have made mortgage borrowing more affordable.

The cost of living has been rising. Energy price caps have been pushed up (and they will rise even further in October), interest rates have risen five times since December, petrol and diesel are reaching record highs and food prices are increasing. With so much uncertainty around the cost of living, it is important to consider how much you can afford to pay for a new property and budget for your general living costs.

Mortgage payments have gone up since the start of the year and the average first-time buyer monthly mortgage payment for someone taking out a 90% loan-to-value mortgage, fixed for two years is currently 20% (+£163) higher it was at the start of the year.

If you are considering moving this year, work out what you can afford to pay and talk to a mortgage broker about fixing your mortgage for a longer term.

Buying new

By purchasing a newly built home, you can be safe in the knowledge that you won’t need to worry about costly repairs, renovations, or decorating work to make your home habitable.

You can move straight in with brand new appliances, secure windows and doors and a high EPC rating to keep your monthly energy bills down. You’ll have a warranty for peace of mind and when it comes to the purchase price, you can be safe in the knowledge that it has been competitively priced against the market in that area – and that you won’t have to put in an offer over the asking at closing date. At present, some areas are seeing offers over in excess of 15% making a first home out of reach for many first time buyers .

Fixing your mortgage

When you take out a mortgage, it will either be on a variable or fixed-rate basis. When you take out a fixed-rate mortgage your rate is guaranteed for a specific time frame. Most lenders enable you to fix your rate for anything from two to ten years – sometimes even longer although this is rare. A fixed rate mortgage gives peace of mind knowing exactly what you have to pay each month regardless of what happens with interest rates.
Usually, it’s cheaper to fix for just two years – with the mortgage rate increasing slightly the longer you fix your mortgage for. Over recent years, the gap between interest rates for two and five- or ten-year fixes has been closing and some deals are very similar. Previously the difference could be as much as 1%.

Fixing for more than two-years could give you peace of mind if you’re planning on staying in your home for a long time.
Once the fixed rate period ends, you will be automatically moved onto the lenders’ Standard Variable Rate (SVR) which is a higher rate of interest than a fixed rate. However, you can usually start to look at taking out a new mortgage deal up to six months before your deal ends.

If you’re considering a new home at a fixed price and with no renovation or decoration costs, talk to us at Urban Union.