How To Properly Secure Your Property’s Exterior

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As we know, tenants like to feel provided for, and to feel that you’ve done a stand-up job with the space on offer. But this isn’t just relevant to inside the home. You and your lettings agent should consider outdoor features too, which can make a tenant’s life easier, safer and more convenient.

There are many options to consider when approaching this challenge, from transport options, to social space, to recycling facilities. Yet there is one certainty – the fact that, without proper security, such investments could be stolen or damaged by harsh weather.

Here’s how to ensure that never happens…

Give tenants somewhere for bicycle storage

Cities and suburbs have a growing number of cyclists to cater for. As an alternative to tram, bus or car, it’s a breath of fresh air – but how will your tenants look after their bike if indoor storage is out of the question?

Bicycle hooks are a great idea, simply because they’re quick to attach and cheap to source. Alternatively, look into chrome racks that’ll resist rust and scratches over the years. Give each tenant a lock of their own, for starters, to ensure they keep their equipment safe. There’s bonus appeal in crafting a low-ceilinged hut over the storage area, to keep the bikes dry when it rains.

Create a haven for wheelie bins

Wheelie bins are subject to many hazards such as theft, arson and abuse from neighbouring households. They’re also prone to blowing over in high winds; enough reason, then, to safeguard your bin collection for current or future tenants.

Install or build a wheelie bin storage shed – there are many one, two or three-door units available from outdoor retailers. These are generally fitted with locks and bolted access, covering the bins on all sides when they’re packed away. In addition to being a locked deterrent, these sheds obscure your wheelie bins from view, so thieves don’t know where to look and the bins don’t become an eyesore.

Concrete your parasols in place

Parasols are a thoughtful addition to your outdoor space, adding to the appeal of your property and creating a focal point for socialising. Yet, while homeowners may want to take their parasol around as a freestanding item, we suggest grounding it on a floor space.

This isn’t as hard as it sounds. All you have to do is extract a few patio slabs (as many as the base diameter will take up), stick the cross-stand in the open area, and fill it with cement. When it dries, your premises will have a staunch, immoveable parasol that can’t be carried off or toppled on a whim.

Creating an attractive rental property means covering every base – even those outdoors – for a stunning, secure place to live. As a lettings agent and property management team, Summermere is perfectly placed to advise on what your portfolio may be lacking, and how you can boost its appeal.

Call us now to gain valuable insights on renting your property on the North West.

What The Millennial Market Wants From A Tenancy

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Photo: Huffington Post

Whichever news website you happen to stumble upon, you’re almost guaranteed to discover some sort of discussion about millennials. A seemingly unpredictable generation, this demographic group have prompted great interest from sociologists and economists with regards to their behavioural and buying traits. Millennials are the first group of true digital natives, so it is perhaps unsurprising they receive so much attention. They’re leading the way and shaping the future, after all.

You can’t move for studies about millennial preferences on culture, fashion, and communication, but what about when it comes to property? This group accounts for more than a quarter of the total UK population (16 million +), so landlords can benefit enormously from taking the time to cater for their tastes. But what exactly are millennials looking for in a tenancy? Let’s take a look…

Contract flexibility

A job isn’t for life anymore: a trend that millennials have made abundantly clear. Young workers hop from one place to the next with intriguing regularity (at least, compared to the generation who came before them), so contract flexibility is important to many of these potential tenants. Their career path may veer off into an entirely new direction without warning, so a bit of wiggle-room in a tenancy agreement is preferred.

Strong transport links

The high and complex costs associated with car ownership mean that a large proportion of millennials opt to use public transport to get around, both when it comes to the work commute and visiting places in their spare time. Even those young adults who don’t take the bus, train, or tram regularly still like to have the option nearby if the weather is too wet to walk. Resultantly, any property that’s positioned close to excellent transport links holds massive appeal for a Generation Y tenant.

Affordable fun

Millennials love to go out and enjoy themselves, although a lot of them don’t necessarily have the funds to do so on a regular basis. That’s why a lot of Generation Y’ers are factoring their environment into their decision before they settle on a property. If the local area serves up affordable evening fun (cheap bars, quirky and inexpensive restaurants, a gym with reasonable rates) then the neighbouring properties are likely to appeal to this particular crowd.

Digital and appliance-friendly environment

Millennials don’t just like the internet – they are utterly dependent on it. That’s why signal strength is always a major factor for them when they pick a property. Many members of this group are also tech-savvy, possessing a number of digital machines and appliances that require electricity to charge and/or operate. Subsequently, a plentiful supply of sockets are also important to Gen Y tenants.

Natural light

People all over Britain cringe when they open up their energy bills at the breakfast table. Gen Y in particular. Given their adoration for technology, millennials are looking for every possible way to cut back electricity consumption. A house with lots of natural light, for instance, will tickle their fancy as they won’t need to switch on the lamps.

Get in touch with Summermere today for further guidance on how to make your property millennial-friendly. According to many, this demographic group are a maligned generation and consider themselves as much. By offering residences designed perfectly for Generation Y, you can start to attract a whole new cluster of appreciative tenants and gain a fresh foothold in the market.

5 Signs It’s High-Time To Switch Property Manager

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Care and attention: qualities we all need, in some way or another. Landlords may require them to a finer degree, seeing as they have a portfolio to protect and nurture. A property management service, there to help with maintenance, repair work and tenant relations, must be counted on for however long you need it.

 

Yet, as you may know, it’s a genuine roll of the dice, since property managers can so often fall short. If any of these five signals appear, take it as a sign that it’s time to explore alternative suppliers:

 

  1. Never flagging up compliancy issues

 

Whether it’s the gas, circuit board or boiler system, no appliances work at their peak continuously. Industry compliance is designed to show, at face value, what’s meeting the bare standard for efficiency and safety measures. Property managers should be checking everything, and fixing or upgrading it when the time’s right. A slip-up on their part could be catastrophic for your business.

 

  1. Being lax with repair work

 

Say there’s a big problem: a shower leaking onto the ground floor, or broken stairs that have to be replaced. The solution needs to come as fast as it can, right? Of course – a property management service must know what to do in a matter of relative emergency. But if they drag their feet on repair work, or deliver a poor solution, the tenants will be confused, angry and on your back for an answer that isn’t forthcoming.

 

  1. Not keeping you informed

 

The buildings under your wing form some of the most precious, personal investments in the world. Property ‘experts’ have to recognise this, just to be worthy of the label. The stream of communication must be clear between the two of you. A call now and then (not just email!) will do wonders for your peace of mind.

 

  1. Inspections aren’t a priority

 

As a rule, we’d suggest that a management service performs a full-property look-over once a year, or every six months if possible. It’s there to satisfy any concerns you have about the property, furnishings, or tenants. For this reason, you’re well within your rights to expect regular inspections as part and parcel of the property management remit.

 

  1. Costs are eclipsing the benefits

 

Reputable companies may price themselves at a higher rate, assured of their status in the market. But this is nothing without true, lasting demonstration of the value they deliver. Can your property manager break down your monthly fee into tangible services and benefits? Do you feel you’re getting value for money? If not, it might be time to shop around…

 

So as the klaxons of bad property management appear, you have to be honest: are they really delivering the service you need? For a strong, capable and consistent alternative, get in touch with Summermere today. We’d love to discuss what makes us different.

 

Why Cheaper Is Rarely Better When Choosing A Lettings Agent

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If you eat out on a shoestring, you’d expect to find bog-standard food instead of a fine dining experience. Similarly, the rental market can leave you cold and hungry for a better service if you take on a cheap lettings agent.

Around the UK, landlords are spoilt for choice in bargain agencies. All of them are priced as such for a reason – they take the good taste out of your relationship, and do an ‘okay’ job when five-star services could be on the table.

Don’t believe us? Here’s why your yield could suffer from a cheap and decidedly not cheerful lettings agent…

 

Close contact is a hardship

No-one should have to struggle for me-time when they’ve paid for ongoing advice. But by slashing their price tag, a lettings service has no reason to provide a sincere level of attention when you need it.

They know that you’ve come to them based on physical currency; therefore, they’ll assume you won’t go anywhere else, because their rates are still the lowest around. Battling through other callers on the phone could be a nightmare, as will arranging a catch-up to see how they’re bettering your portfolio.

 

There’s a distinct lack of local expertise

Often, the most ‘reasonable’ lettings agents are nationwide, with offices smattered over all sorts of towns, cities and rural areas. Their expanded presence has, in many ways, accounted for cheap rates i.e. the cookie-cutter approach has worked for them up to this point, and they see no merit in changing it.

Yet any landlord worth their weight in brick and mortar must realise that regional specificities are key. Agencies should be able to wax lyrical on what makes a neighbourhood special for every viewing. That might take in information about schools, shops, transport networks, and how reasonable the advertised price is, by comparison to other rental homes nearby.

 

You’ll risk a slow or untrustworthy performance

As we’ve said, budget estate agencies don’t see much cause for going above what you expect. Yet beyond that, they can court shady tactics, designed to make up for the fact that you likely won’t be over the moon with what they deliver. A common issue, for instance, is the upfront payment – a great service should only charge you on a ‘no let no fee’ policy, reflective of their proven track record.

So you could be paying for meagre results, or none at all, just because the initial price was lower than expected. Unfortunately, poor service might cross over into the nitty gritty of their agreement, such as contractor repairs (forcing long delays in sending someone out to the property) and background checks for tenants (they may just approve without looking, to up their rental numbers).

At the end of the day, it comes down to a question: do you want to use foresight or knee-jerk instinct when choosing a lettings organisation? The cheaper they are in the here and now, the less they’ll do for you when it really counts.

 

As chartered surveyors, our lettings agents give you confidence when renting out properties in Manchester. Call our friendly team today, and let’s talk about your portfolio in the North West…

 

Top Tips For A Gorgeous, Low Maintenance Garden

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Nature is in high demand these days. Far from staring out at regiments of brick or concrete, tenants yearn for an open, green space at their property, even if it’s modest. As a landlord, you must never undervalue the hook of a garden, and what it can mean for people who love a tranquil spell in the sun.

It does, admittedly, take a measure of care to ensure the garden – however large or small – remains an enticing offer. To boost the appeal of your outdoor space, and reduce maintenance work, here are a few tricks for keeping it spruce and shapely…

 

Choose your plants wisely

Garden upkeep never ends – this much is true, but certain features can drain your time more than you may realise. Fast-growing plants, for instance, will throw the orderly character of your turf off-course, as they need to be trimmed every handful of weeks and can surprise you with changing, seasonal behaviour.

Nip the problem in the bud, so to speak, by planting flowers with less intense growing cycles. Quartz Rose, Thyme and Verbena are just some that develop steadily over the year (for hedges, we suggest yew or holly bush). Aim for ground cover plants, which stick close to the soil, limiting the intrusion of weeds. To make watering easier, put them in grouped containers at the flanks of the garden path, or just beyond the front door.

 

Invest in outdoor edging

Few things are more unsightly than a garden with different textures – grass, decking, flower beds, gravel – spreading over into one another. To guard against this, implement some edging materials where you want to form a distinction. They’re designed to keep turf in their own spot, or to neaten your pebble and paving lines.

Doing so means tenants won’t have to trim stray shoots from the boundaries of your arrangement. Stone wave edging is popular, especially when paired with a pond or a bird bath. Wooden ‘fixing pegs’, as they’re known, are a rustic choice that wall off your most delicate saplings. The latter also create height distinctions, literally raising the profile of any eye-catching shrubbery.

 

Make good use of mulch

Mulch is a wonder cure for backbreaking garden tasks. Think of it as a warm, invigorating blanket that protects and feeds your soil. It’ll aid plants when the winter frost arrives, saving you the trouble of buying and tending to a whole new batch. As it degrades, the ground will absorb its nutritional components, protecting the lawn from disease.

You can buy pre-prepared mulch, or use your own – the clippings from a mower (combined with any leave you manage to rake together) form a ready-made pile, which you can spread around key sections. The drainage attributes of your soil will increase too, as the grass won’t become waterlogged.

 

All of these solutions can help you create a gorgeous, low maintenance garden that your tenants will love. However, it’s only reasonable to admit that you – or any other landlord – may be struggling with property management as a whole. Contact Summermere to see how we can lend a hand to the appeal, maintenance and promotion of your portfolio in the North West.

How To Prepare Your Rental Property For Viewings

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Advertising has its limits. No matter how well your property is presented online, it has to suffer the biggest test of all: the viewing. Prospective tenants will be dying to see the space for themselves, weighing up the reality of an interior before they sign any kind of agreement…

What does this mean for landlords? Inevitably, it demands a little care and attention, as the property has to look and feel like a home. But this doesn’t require a huge investment of time and money – here are some tips to help you prepare for a successful viewing:

Make the entrance inviting

No-one likes to gawp over an ad online, only to arrive at a battered, flaking door and a grubby set of windows. As first impressions go, the entrance to the building will absorb a lot of those associations for what lies inside. Clean up the doorstep, give the entrance itself a lick of fresh paint, and (perhaps) stick two potted plants at either side for a naturally warm greeting.

Then, in the hallway, get rid of any clutter/old mail that’s clogging it up. A welcome mat can’t hurt, and shows you care about keeping the carpet free of dirt. Open all nearby windows a fraction to clear any stale air, whilst parting the curtain or blinds so light can filter through to the rooms.

Don’t block your best features

Are you in possession of a fireplace, or a bare-bricked interior wall? Great – don’t hide it! These sorts of unique, stately complements can sway a tenant towards the dotted line faster than they may realise. Whatever strange, impressive, or downright one-of-a-kind features you have, it’s best to draw attention to them.

You can, for instance, angle the furniture so it’s pointing subtly towards the fireplace area. Pillars and alcoves should be free of any items, either leaning on them or stuck to the surface (i.e. wall posters), to make them seem like a blank visual canvas.

Any wall art, trinkets and decorations that come with the property should be in a neat, appropriate display. Appliances, like washing machines and dryers, also shouldn’t be masked by anything, lest someone overlooks them.

Clean, clean, clean…

It’s a common sense concern, but dirt, dust and grime can accumulate practically anywhere in the property. Aside from those typical areas – bathroom tiles, living room rugs and doorway frames, to name a few – you must tackle the rest of the house’s hygienic sore spots.

By this, we’re referring to the inner condition of your oven, fridge and freezer, if you include them with the rental agreement. It’s well worth having a professional clean between lettings if your property is already vacant. Not only will it attract tenants, it will also set the benchmark for their own cleaning standards when looking after your property.

Now that you know what to ready yourself for, why not further the appeal of your portfolio with Summermere at the helm? Our letting agents can promote your investments in the local area, and handle the paperwork, character references and introductions that follow a rental enquiry. Call us today for more information…

Landlords: Are You Aware Of Your Obligations?

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The rental market continues to absorb more demand across the country, and new landlords are springing up everywhere, realising the value of a buy to let investment. Some, however, are unprepared for what the role entails. It isn’t as simple as handing someone the keys, stepping back, and watching the cash roll in…

Like any business, buy-to-let properties carry obligations with them. Such laws are designed to protect you (and your tenants) from any issues. So we’d like to clear the mist from your eyes, and show you what they are:

Electrical and gas safety

To keep the home warm and safe, you’ll need to get a Gas Safety Certificate for the boiler, vents and pipework. In terms of electrics, your appliances should have a CE industry badge, and you legally have to get a full house inspection every five years if more than one person lives there. It’s advisable to hire an electrician anyway, once a year, to check the switchboard is in good shape.

Checking the ‘right to rent’

You can face fines for granting rent to someone who doesn’t have permission to live in the country. Background checks must be done; UK nationals are fine, as are tenants who’ve received asylum or the ‘right to abode’ (e.g. a foreign spouse). Time-limited rent rights are permissible as long as you conduct further checks. But don’t worry, a service like ours will take care of this for you.

Functioning fire alarms

There should be a smoke detector on every floor of the house or flat, including hallways and stairwells. Alongside them, a fire extinguisher is mandatory for HMOs (Homes with Multiple Occupants). It’s also important to ensure that entrances/exits aren’t blocked, so people can escape if a fire breaks out. Finally, every piece of furniture – except mattresses and bed bases – must be fire-safe: you can find the label on any reputable product.

A legionella assessment

Ever heard of Legionnaire’s Disease? It’s similar to pneumonia, caused by a water system that’s hit a 20C-45C range, which encourages bacteria to spread and multiply. People can ingest these organisms in their drinking water, or inhale them through re-circulated moisture droplets. Hire an accredited body for a legionella assessment to ensure you don’t have any stagnant water in your system.

Deposit protection

Lastly, it’s vital to register your tenant’s deposit with a recognised scheme. Should a dispute occur, there has to be a third party involved, refereeing what damage claims are applicable. Full details of the DPS should be sent to the tenant – both in written and email form – as soon as they pay you the holding sum. Again, we can take this burden off your shoulders.

There’s a lot to think about when renting out a property, but with a property management service like Summermere, you can ensure you’re staying compliant. Our lettings agents, property managers and associated contractors are always just a phone call away. See our FAQs for more information, and call us on 0161 798 6633 for a chat about your portfolio.

5 Easy Ways To Spruce Up Your Property

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The clocks have moved forwards, and everyone is heading out to stock up on dusters, mops, and scouring pads. The first signs of spring cleaning season are officially upon us, and if you’re a landlord, there’s no better time than now to dress up your properties for the summer.

But this doesn’t have to be a costly procedure. There are all kinds of different ways to freshen your houses and apartments for affordable fees and minimal effort this spring… Here are 5 easy ways to spruce up your property:

1. Go green

There are few better ways to enhance the look of a house during spring than with a bit of natural greenery. Hanging up outdoor plants can give gardens an added twinkle, and taking out the hedge trimmers will ensure backyards look tidy when the sun is shining down.

Bring botanicals inside for viewings too, and remember to rotate the flowers when they’re beginning to fade. Never underestimate the ability of plant life to brighten a room.

2. A lick of paint

Decorating can be expensive, but it doesn’t have to be this way. Avoid a brush with the bank this spring by picking up a regular brush instead. Adding a new lick of paint to your properties is a cheap fix that requires nothing more than a bit of elbow grease.

The front entrance and doorstep is a good place to start (first impressions count, remember) and make sure to perform a thorough job on the walls without forgetting the windows sills and skirting boards.

3. Lighten up

Invite the light into your properties by dusting down the windows, attaching some brand new blinds, or installing a fresh set of colourful curtains.

Screw in some new lightbulbs too, and consider covering any naked bulbs with lampshades. Different tenants have different tastes – but all of them want their property to be well-lit.

4. Clear out clutter

It’s surprisingly inexpensive to create a clean and tidy property with neat and orderly arrangements. All you need is some basic housework equipment and a willingness to get right into the corners for a real deep clean.

Have a good rummage round each of your properties and throw out anything that doesn’t have any use or value. By strapping on your sorting hat, you can transform their appearance and keep them looking spick and span for viewings.

5. The finishing touches

If your furnishings still have all the sofa threads intact, there’s really no need to hire the removal men and take a trip to the nearest furniture shop just yet. Instead, add a few finishing touches to make rooms appear sunnier during the spring season. Vibrant pillows and throws work a dream, as do colourful rugs.

A few little gestures can go a long way to bringing the best tenants in through the door. Looking for a letting agent who can help you market your properties? Summermere are the answer. We’ve been helping landlords in the North West maximise returns on their properties for years. Give us a call on 0161 798 6633 – we’ll be delighted to hear from you.

Why Are Buy-To-Let Properties In Prestwich So Popular?

 

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Copyright: David Dixon http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/1796058

The rental market is undergoing radical transformation in the north of England. As students, professionals and young families decide that the overcrowded, expensive south isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, other areas are rising to prominence. Greater Manchester is one of them, meaning the region has some of the healthiest buy-to-let rates in the country.

Properties in Prestwich are high on the list of lucrative rental yields. They’re hitting a 7.7% return on a one-bedroom premises; much more than the national average. But why are buy-to-let properties in Prestwich so sought-after? Let’s take a look…

A growing, green community

Like Didsbury and Chorlton on the opposite face of the city, Prestwich is abundant with green spaces and communal areas. It straddles Heaton Park, a huge expanse of fields and woodland, which makes for an incredible day trip in the heat of the summer.

There’s an annual literary festival to look forward to, adding to Prestwich’s market stalls and heritage events. St. Mary’s park offers another attraction, featuring outdoor ping pong and basketball and tennis courts. There are many spots to relax in on a lazy day, or to pass the time with friends on weekends.

Excellent transport links

The A56 cuts right through Prestwich, crossing over the M60 motorway. These roads carry a glut of commuters from across the UK, drawing jobs and innovation to the town as a result. Prestwich is not a bustling, hemmed-in locale, but it is very close to a lot of north western cities – an hour’s drive, give or take, between Liverpool and Sheffield. That means properties can attract a wider pool of potential residents throughout the region.

However, for those who do live and work in Prestwich itself, Manchester is a short tram ride away for a change of pace. Their social life can open up enormously with the amount of clubs, exhibitions and gigs running non-stop in the Capital Of The North. Prestwich therefore symbolises the best of both worlds: relaxed or frenetic, depending on the individual.

Outstanding amenities

Briefly, we’d like to touch on the restaurants and drinking establishments that are energising the buy-to-let market in Prestwich, as their doorstep allure can’t be ignored.

There’s a wealth of options for wine, real ale and delectable cocktail tasting. On the gastronomic front, Prestwich boasts a fine menu of curries, Turkish kebab grills, and stone-baked pizzas. These are all big, shining ticks in the box of many a prospective tenant, seeing as a great evening can arise from any corner, just a few minutes down the road.

Landlords should capitalise on the Prestwich rental property boom while they still can. This well-kept secret is going to spread soon enough; Summermere can launch your investments onto the local market, and strengthen the pull of whatever you’re offering. Advertise your buy-to-let property in Prestwich today, and benefit from the experience and local knowledge of our Manchester lettings agents.

Climbing Kilimanjaro For Breast Cancer Care

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As some of you may know, our Director, Caroline, loves the great outdoors. When she’s not taking care of our clients and tenants here in Prestwich, she enjoys nothing more than driving to the Lake District and stretching her legs with her husband Robin and dog Nellie.

Next year, she’s taking her passion for walking to the next level, quite literally, as she embarks on a Kilimanjaro challenge with her good friend Sue Waxman. It’s all in the name of charity, and we hope you’ll support her cause….

Raising money for breast cancer care

 Despite huge leaps and bounds in medicine and genetics, breast cancer continues to affect the lives of thousands of people every year. Many of us know at least one person who has suffered from breast cancer; a number of Caroline’s closest friends have been diagnosed over the years.

While preventative surgery delivers amazing results in combating the disease, there’s still a lot of work and research to be done. That’s why Caroline has chosen to climb Kilimanjaro on behalf of Breast Cancer Care, a charity she holds very close to heart.

This UK support charity provides much needed care and guidance for anyone affected by breast cancer. They offer free confidential advice, practical information and emotional support, to help people find a way to live with, through and beyond breast cancer.

 Training for the trek

 Caroline and Sue will set off on their 11-day trek up Kilimanjaro on the 28th June 2018. In the meantime, training is already well underway here in the UK. Over the past year, Caroline has walked an impressive 149 of the 215 Wainwright walks with Robin and Nellie, and plans to complete the final 66 before her trip to Tanzania.

Her fitness regime also includes weight training sessions and weekly ‘Luvcycle’ classes, which combine arm weights and cycling, mad music and a great atmosphere at a local gym called The Hub in Radcliffe.

Support has been overwhelming so far; she has already raised over three quarters of her initial fundraising target of £3,000. However, every little helps in the quest to combat cancer, and Caroline will be doing everything she can to raise funds and awareness over the coming year.

Donating is easy: Caroline has set up a JustGiving page that allows you to send a donation in minutes. It goes directly to the charity, so you don’t have to wait until June 2018 for your funds to start making a difference…

Want to know more about Caroline and Sue’s Kilimanjaro challenge? Pop into Summermere for a catch up or contact us – we’d love to update you on the fundraising efforts!