Archive: November 2015


30 November 2015



As winter sets in and many vulnerable older people consider property decisions which could potentially reduce running costs and housework or release equity to help with pension income; residential estate agent Natalie Clarke gives her top tips on making difficult decisions about what is typically an older person’s biggest asset - as well as what is often their most emotional possession.

Natalie said: “As temperatures drop and heating and maintenance bills start to rise, older people become more conscious of their homes and the costs and practicalities surrounding them, particularly if they live alone. I work with a lot of older people who are in the process of making difficult downsizing decisions, but also with some savvy singletons in their latter years who are keen to make some money when they find themselves empty nesters. Neither kind of decision is simple, and not every older person is well placed to make difficult planning applications even if they had the capacity to build in their back gardens, so my approach is usually a very bespoke but honest and transparent one, taking into consideration personal situations and what back-up networks the individuals have, should things get complicated.”


“My six-step guideline is something I go through with most older people who approach me about selling their home or downsizing. It seems quite straight forward, but selling a property is one of the top five stresses in life, so I try to make it as easy and smooth a transition as possible for those who are at their most vulnerable and not as dynamic about making decisions.


  1. Think first about where you would like to move to – the size and cost of the house as well as bathrooms and ground floor facilities should you become unwell or incapacitated for stairs. Think also about things like proximity to public services and amenities, even church or community groups for social outings – and also think about how life might be if you weren’t able to drive all of a sudden due to illness.
  2. Get a valuation, in fact; get a few if you can. And keep an eye out for properties in your area to see what they are selling for – or if they’re selling at all.
  3. Consider renting a property. It’s often the case that when you decide to downsize, the house that might tick all your boxes it not available to purchase. A popular option is selling your own and renting until your ideal property comes onto the market. It also means that you are in great position to make an offer as you are not subject to sale.
  4. What to look out for when purchasing a new house. Use your agent as a sounding board for advice, check out the EPC Rating (Energy Performance Certificate) this will highlight what you need to do to the property to make it more energy-efficient.
  5. Start to consider what items of furniture you want to take with you and those you are happy to part with. Remember that downsizing a home also means downsizing in belongings. Using an auctioneering service to pick up and sell items for you can be handy.
  6. Clarify the service that your agent will provide. Ensure you agent will do all the viewings for you. Often an agent will facilitate in the purchase of a new home also, so make the most of him or her should you have a good relationship.


There are other things to consider of course, but these key tips can help focus on what needs to be done and help assess if a move or even a downsize is the right thing to do.


Brenda Kearns, Head of Advice at older people’s charity Age NI  said: “Last year we received over 700 calls to our advice service about housing concerns, with many of these taking place in the winter months.  Many older people want to stay in their own home, but need it adapted so that it’s easier to get around. Some find that they are able to manage better if they downsize to a smaller property. This can release equity which can supplement your pension if you’re a homeowner, and reduce running costs, housework and maintenance. Many older people see the benefits of moving to a smaller property – from financial to practical.  The process can be challenging for someone who is vulnerable or living with ill health. Think about what you might need in the future, as well as what you want now. Talk through the possibilities with family or friends but remember that choosing where and how you live should be your decision.’


Mr Raymond Hunt, a downsizer who is 71 from Malone Road in Belfast said: “It was a tough but really great decision to downsize. Life is easier now that we don’t have a big house to maintain or the bills that go along with it. It was important for us to have an estate agent who would be patient and understanding, because change at our age isn’t easy! Natalie looked after everything for us, she gave us great advice on how to stage the house and get it ready for viewing, and she did all the viewings for us and gave us regular feedback. She found a buyer quickly and we got a great price (£30,000 over the asking price). She guided us through the various surveys and the conveyancing process and she even helped us secure our new home.  I think it’s vital to find an estate agent who you can build a strong relationship with and who understands your personal and commercial needs.”


For those seeking personal advice around downsizing or moving home, please contact Natalie Clarke on 028 9031 0500 or visit


Issued on behalf of Natalie Clarke by CMPR. For further information, pictures of Natalie or properties for sale or interviews and property advice from Natalie, please contact Cathy Martin on or via 07823882095


10 November 2015

“Ethical entrepreneur Linzi Rooney from city centre non-profit store ‘Studio Souk’ has invited shoppers to get ready for the festive season this month by celebrating local creativity and design at the Souk’s interactive Makers’ Market event on 12 November. A wide selection of the Souk’s ninety creatives and residents will be showcasing their work and demonstrating crafts and skills on site. Ceramacist Stephen Farnam will be firing pottery, while others will be weaving, carving, sewing, stitching and painting, among other crafts.

Linzi said: “This will be a perfect opportunity to pick up lots of unique, local gifts, while having an alternative shopping experience. The atmosphere is always relaxed and very inspiring with so many creative people under one roof. It's Christmas shopping, but the Souk way! There will be complimentary drinks and treats on arrival, plus the first 100 guests on the night get a goodie bag containing some beautifully designed and hand-made Christmas baubles, created by the artists and artisans from Studio Souk. They’re very covetable actually and I have my eye on a few for myself!”

The event is open to all shoppers and runs from 6-9pm on Thursday 12 November at Studio Souk, Church Lane, Belfast. For further information, log on to


03 November 2015

From Bangkok to Belfast, the Lady Boys of Bangkok are due back in town this November at Custom House Square Belfast with their latest production ‘Beauties and the Beats’, a brand new, cabaret-infused show which has had audiences dancing the night away as the Ladyboys tour around the UK for a record breaking seventeenth season!


Bringing the beat back to Belfast like no one  else can from Friday 06 to Saturday 21 November, the Ladyboys will certainly add some tantalizing Thai spice to the city’s autumn nights. This year’s fever-pitch of a show includes 16 of Thailand’s most alluring and arresting Lady Boys – who just happen to be men – and their blazing hot production has been composed seamlessly, mixing comedy and chart topping hits with beautiful choreography.


Returning to Belfast for a seventh year running, the Lady Boys of Bangkok have fast become the country’s favourite touring cabaret show, with thanks to their live and immersive performances. Creative Director Phillip Gandey said he is thrilled to be returning to Belfast: “Finishing a year’s tour off in one of our favourite cities is exciting for me.  The people of Belfast truly immerse themselves in the cabaret spirit of the show and it makes the city an annual highlight in the tour diary. This year’s brand new production ‘Beauties and the Beats’ has been in the making since last November, so we’re very excited to come full circle this November and go out with a BANG in Belfast.”


“The Sabai Pavilion, the tour’s custom-built show tent, is decked out with two fully licensed bars and the resident chef is always on hand to delight the audience’s taste buds with some authentic Thai cuisine. From the moment you enter the foyer, the smells, sights and sounds permeate the pavilion, transporting you to the Ladyboys’ very own oriental world.”


Audiences should prepare to see over 400 specially designed lavish costumes – everything from fabulous feathers to diamante-draped, designer-inspired couture – backed by an eclectic mix of musical genres including movie hits, superstar pop favourites and a splash of dance added to keep the fun going long into the night.

Gandey continued: “With more songs and production numbers than you could shake your hips to, from Jersey Boys to The Sound of Music and even a special homage to Frozen, this year's show will once again be paying tribute to the stars of both stage and screen; old and new... from Liza Minelli to Cher and then, with a glistening twirl, Rhianna or Nicki Minaj! Plus, with ticket and meal packages to suit any needs - from Hen Parties to Birthday Celebrations and extra special treats - the Ladyboys party is like no other party, the girls like no other girls, it really is a night you’ll never forget!” 

Latest News
News Archive