<preform>Q&A: Quick-fix gardening tips; property chains; property development</preform>

Your property questions answered
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The Independent Online

Your property questions answered

Q. My garden, which is approximately 20 by 40 feet, is very overgrown. I'm now selling my house and wonder if you have any quick-fix suggestions to make it more appealing to potential buyers?

T Spooner, by email

A. You will need to set aside at least a day or a weekend to make some progress. Uncover any path or stepping stones and look for decent shrubs that may just require cutting back, but take care not to hack away at them. Mowing the lawn and cutting back in the beds along the borders will make the garden look instantly tidy. Create a focal point with a garden table and chairs in the sunniest spot and place pre-planted pots in groups to bring some colour to the garden. Wash down any outside window sills and give them a coat of paint if necessary. It's important for buyers to be able to see that there is some outside living space that they can use immediately.

Q. I have been ready to exchange contracts for three weeks but the person at the beginning of the chain (I'm number three and there is one after me) has had to switch lenders and is now waiting for a valuation. The person I'm buying from is moving abroad and is waiting to complete on a new property and they are being pressurised by the developer. Is there anything I can do to speed things along; I really don't want to lose the house I'm buying?

C Daly, by email

A. Your estate agent should be phoning down the chain to make sure that this really is the situation. He or she will be able to speak to the various lenders and solicitors to get a clear picture. If it would help, you should also ask your agent or your vendor's agent to speak directly to the developers to allay any fears they may have that the sale is not going to go through. It will be up to you to chase your agent for answers on a daily basis; that way you can be sure that the sale is progressing.

Q. I have a piece of land with a detached garage to the side of my property, about 40 feet wide and 60 feet in length. I would like to see if there is any development potential. Where could I go for information?

K Linden, by email

A. You could try the planning office of your local council as a first stop for a general enquiry as to the location and likelihood of development. You could then contact either local developers directly (numbers can be found on the boards of other developments near to you) or a land and new homes department of a local estate agents. Speaking to several people should give you a clear indication of the possibilities and the costs.

If you would like a query answered, e-mail: propertyq&a@independent.co.uk. Only those questions featured will be answered. Any advice given will not be legally binding

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