• How to choose the right Estate Agent for your house sale
    Posted on 11 July 2023

    How to choose the right Estate Agent for your house sale

    1. Ask for recommendations
    Of course, the most obvious trick is to ask everyone you know who they would recommend.  You want to know which friends have moved recently and who they used. Make sure you find out if there were any issues. The other thing you can do is have a look around the area or online and see which estate agents are getting a lot of business. Online reviews from real customers can be a big help in swaying your decision.

    2. Check industry credentials
    All estate agents are required to be members of the Property Ombudsman so make sure that yours is. Many will also be members of various trade bodies. Memberships of these will mean that the estate agent has to follow a code of conduct. This likely implies that they will have higher standard of professionalism and diligence and therefore are going to be better for you.

    3. Go undercover
    One trick you can use is to go into an estate agency and pretend to be looking to buy a property like yours. You can then evaluate how they treat you. Are they showing the property in the best light? Would you buy your property from them? This will give you a realistic idea of whether they are going to be able to sell your house easily.

    4. Have a list of questions
    You want to make sure that you ask the estate agents certain questions- things like, if you go for a sole-agency contract what is the tie in period and how much do they charge? How will they advertise your property? Who will handle the viewings? How long has the estate agent been established and what is their level of experience.

    5. Decide between Sole-Agency or Multi-Agency
    When selling your property, you want to decide whether to go with Sole-Agency or Multi-Agency. Multi will mean that your property is marketed through a number of different agencies and in theory will be seen by more people, but it costs more. Really, a great agent should be able to get you the reach you need without another agent's help. If they're not able to sell the property, getting multiple agents on board isn’t going to help. Instead, why not research thoroughly for a great agent before you start. They may cost a little more than a cheap agent, but it'll cost less than a multi agency contract, and they can get you the price you want and need.
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  • 5 Quick ways to put your own stamp on your new home
    Posted on 11 July 2023

    5 Quick ways to put your own stamp on your new home

    On occasion, someone will buy a property for renovation to put their own stamp on it. But for the majority of home movers, a complete refurbishment is not on the cards.

    And what if you are a tenant? You can't renovate a rental property so that you feel more at home.

    So, how can you settle in quickly and make a new property feel like yours without breaking the bank?

    It is said that over 90% of people deep clean property as soon as they get the keys. Even if it was spotless when they arrived. Even if they know it has been cleaned by a professional. It makes sense, really, though, doesn't it? You want to ensure that you are not living in someone else's mess. One of the biggest causes of complaints in the hotel industry is cleanliness. You don't want to be sitting there looking at someone else's fluff and muck. As soon as you have deep cleaned everywhere, you have seen every inch of the house, every nook and cranny, you are well acquainted, allowing you to settle in properly.

    Photographs and personal items
    Put your photos and personal items up straight away. Don't leave them in a box in the garage until you find the time. If you feel like an imposter in your new place, hanging your everyday items and family photographs will make it feel like you belong.

    Curtains and soft furnishings
    Hang your own curtains as soon as you can. You will usually find curtains left in the property by the previous occupant. Although, we have all had to try to stick a bed sheet up at the window with drawing pins just to get you through the first few days in a new place. Hanging curtains you have chosen for the property or brought from your previous property (if they fit) will instantly put your own stamp on the rooms. A window usually dominates at least one wall in every room, so curtains can make a big difference to a home, and it takes no time at all.

    Definitely not what you would consider a priority box to unpack, but ornaments and decorations often have sentimental value and can spark fond memories. Although not essential for living, perhaps you won't feel so lost if your memories are all around you.

    Emotions can be triggered by all 5 of the senses. Sometimes a place just doesn't smell right. Try lighting scented candles or air fresheners that you used in your previous property to spark familiar feelings.

    I know some of this sounds a little 'woo woo’. But moving house is stressful, and it is easy to overlook the work involved once you have moved in because the legal process is so final. Everything rests on the completion of the legal transaction. You tell yourself that everything will be fine once you have completed the sale. And then you move in. But rather than feeling overjoyed or relieved that you are finally moved, you spend a few weeks effectively living in someone else's house.

    If you can feel settled quickly, you can start to enjoy the new home that you have been working towards for the last few months!

    I have often heard of people who moved just before Christmas, and the only real thing they unpacked was the tree. They were surrounded by boxes but had their tree up and decorated because it felt like home!

    Feeling at home is so emotional. It is way more than just bricks and mortar. But it can take time to get that cosy feeling when you are in a new space. The sooner you can feel at home, the sooner you can enjoy your new property.

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  • Why Rental Property Is a Good Investment Right Now
    Posted on 11 July 2023

    Why Rental Property Is a Good Investment Right Now

    Have you ever considered becoming a landlord? Investing in property can be a great way to make the most of any money you have to invest. Generally, it’s best if you’re prepared to invest over a long period of time. So, why is right now a great time to get into property?

    High numbers of tenants
    The latest stats* from May 2021 showed that numbers of prospective tenants continue to increase. Per letting agency branch, the average number of tenants jumped from 82 up to 97. In 2020, the highest average number in May was 70.

    Low numbers of properties
    The average number of properties managed by each letting agency branch for this year was at 203 in May. The year before, it was 208. This seems like a small reduction per branch but that’s an average and multiplied across the whole of the UK, it has a significant impact.

    Limited negotiating
    Some tenants want to negotiate over rent. Perhaps because of the lack of available properties, this number has reduced. This could be because they would rather secure the property than worry about negotiating. The number of tenants that negotiated rent reductions is at the lowest since records began – at 0.9% in May.

    Mark Hayward, the Chief Policy Adviser from Propertymark, a respected estate agent industry organisation, said: “Yet again, we continue to see incredible demand from home seekers. There has been a record-breaking number of people registered per branch for the month of May. This demonstrates the continuation of a booming rental market.

    We will be keeping a close eye on the sector in the coming months. The current strength of the sales market may be off-putting to private rental investors. Also, any potential impending taxation on property will be a consideration for all landlord types. But overall, it remains fantastic to see rent continuing to flow this month.”

    Contrary to opinion
    Between April 2020 and March 2021, the numbers of landlord possession claims have fallen. This suggests that tenants and landlords have invested in a collaborative approach to the challenges of the pandemic. This bodes well for the future of those relationships and the industry.

    If you’re not sure how to become a landlord, or are a seasoned pro but want to maximise your yield, get in touch with Pinkertons for a free, no-obligation chat.

    *Figures from ARLA Propertymark
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  • Checklist for letting out your property
    Posted on 7 July 2023

    Checklist for letting out your property

    Make sure the property is safe
    The first thing you want to do is visit the property and ensure that everything in the place is safe. All the electrics are up to standard, there are no loose floorboards, or other dangerous items that could cause your tenants an injury. Failure to do so could see you facing fines or even a jail sentence. Landlords are legally required to put smoke alarms on every floor that contains living space, and also install a carbon monoxide alarm if there is a solid fuel-burning appliance in the property.

    Arrange an EPC
    All landlords are now required to provide tenants with an Energy Performance Certificate or EPC on the day they move in. Additionally, all advertisements are required to give the energy rating for the property. Therefore, if you haven’t had it done yet you would be wise to get it completed sooner rather than later.

    Advertise in the right places
    Nowadays it is easy to publish listings on the internet yourself or put the property up for rent on places like Facebook but you want to make sure that you are attracting the right type of tenants, so you want to think if you want to list the property through an agency, or whether you go direct. Agencies will help filter the potential tenants and will take care of things like viewings etc, so this may be helpful for you.

    Carry out an immigration right to rent check
    Since early February 2016 Landlords are required to check that their tenants hold the relevant Right to Rent in the UK. This will normally require the landlord to perform an immigration check using an official document of the tenant such as a passport. Landlords are able to perform the checks themselves or let a letting agency do it, but failure to do so could see fines of up to £3000 against the landlord.

    Reference your tenants
    You want to make sure that your tenants are what they seem so that you minimise the risk of letting your property. This may include getting references from previous landlords or employers as well as checking bank statements and id on your tenants. You want to get piece of mind that you are renting to the right people.

    Arrange the tenancy agreement
    This is the legal contract upon which your letting is based, so it is important to make sure that you have this in place. If you make any alterations to the tenancy agreement you will have to get agreement from your tenants before you do. This is for your protection as well as for theirs.
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  • Can furnishing your property increase your rental yields?
    Posted on 7 July 2023

    Can furnishing your property increase your rental yields?

    Furnished apartments are high in demand
    Furnished apartments move more rapidly than the unfurnished. Yes, you may incur great costs while furnishing your rental houses, but the advantage to this is that you can recoup that amount and even more by slightly increasing the rent to cater for your costs. Also, consider furnishing your houses with furniture and other fittings that can withhold wear and tear, although this might be expensive, you won’t need to replace it for a long time.

    Furnishing is tax-deductible
    Landlords usually benefit from particular tax deductions and breaks. By furnishing your rentals, you are basically investing in consumable products necessary for your business; in this case, the purchases can be deducted as the business expenditure. Due to the fact that self-employment taxes are onerous, most of the landlords are always looking forward to any benefits or breaks that could save them money.  

    Through furnishing, you narrow down your target market
    Pre-furnishing your rentals is one way of targeting a specific group of tenants that you consider as ideal tenants. Furnished rentals attract tenants from different locations as well as age. For such tenants, the question of how do they transport their bulky furniture all across the country is out of the picture as they readily have a fully or partially furnished house.
    Furnishing may cut maintenance needs
    We can all agree to the fact that a lot of damages are made in the course of moving furniture in as well as out of the apartment. This includes the chips and dents on the walls, the carpets wear and tear, scraped tiles, etc. As a landlord, by pre-furnishing your apartments, you greatly reduce the maintenance costs caused by such instances.

    The downside
    Generally, there are many benefits you can enjoy as a landlord which includes an increase in rental yields upon furnishing your houses. However, furnishing has its downside as well. One of the main reasons why house owners resist the idea of furnishing is dealing with cases of careless, short-termed tenants. While moving out, they may leave the fixtures and fittings in a deplorable state, that would definitely be an added cost to the landlord. To some extent, the security tenancy fee might not be enough to cover for the damages.

    Another disadvantage of pre-furnishing your house arises from probable tenants’ specific preferences. Each individual has his/her own preference. As a landlord, you may furnish your apartments in particular colours or designs, which may not be the preferred client choice. In this case, you may lose some clients who might be looking for a house with a particular design and set up.

    Note, people move miles due to various reasons, as well as, young people continually in search of apartments, which makes the furnished apartments the best option to take.

    Yes! Furnishing your property brings some great benefits compared to the disadvantages.
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  • The little details tenants appreciate
    Posted on 7 July 2023

    The little details tenants appreciate

    Most tenants are different and it can be hard to always know what they want, however, if you are looking to keep your tenants happy, then you might want to know some secret details that they really do appreciate.

    Leave them a housewarming gift
    We all know what it feels like to move into a new home, especially those initial few days. A great way to welcome in new tenants is to leave them a little housewarming gift (such as everything that they need to make a cup of tea or a box of chocolate) with a note welcoming them to the new home. Not only will they feel welcomed but they will also see that you are thinking about them too.

    Make a guide to the property
    It can be hard work getting to know how everything works in a new home, so, if you want to make things easier for your tenants, write them a guide. Note down all the little quirks of the house and tell them things that they are going to need to know, such as bin collection days and also where they can find meters and thermostats. It is these little snippets of information that can really help people to feel settled in their new home.

    Sort problems out quickly
    Chances are that you are going to be letting your property through a letting agent rather than directly, however, when the agent comes to you with an issue it is a good idea to resolve it as quickly as you can. It might not seem like much of a problem to you, but you never know how much that leaky tap or faulty window might be affecting the person who lives in that property. They will really appreciate you doing your best to fix things quickly.

    Be pet friendly
    There are lots of people now who are looking to rent with a pet. It isn’t an ideal situation for all landlords, but if you don’t mind having a cat or dog in your rental property, then make sure that this is known. Not only will you be likely to appeal to a brand new pool of tenants but you also get the satisfaction of knowing that you have helped an entire family to find a home.

    Make sure the house is up to scratch
    One common trap that many landlords fall into is thinking that it doesn’t matter what type of state their rental property is in. After all, they are not the ones living there. This definitely isn’t the way to think, your rental property might not be your home, but it is someone’s home and this means that it should be in the best condition possible.

    It might mean a bit of extra effort, but if you do your best to appeal to your tenants, then not only will you attract more, but you should also find it easier to keep hold of the tenants that you want to long term.
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  • Choosing The Right Solicitor
    Posted on 7 July 2023

    Choosing The Right Solicitor

    Shop Locally
    Of course, it is your decision who you choose to act on your behalf but we advise that you choose a local firm. This means you can call in, leave paperwork in, sign contracts and speak face-to-face with ease. Solicitors who work in the area of the property will also have knowledge of any issues that may arise in that location and will be able to advise. Ensure you check they are experienced in conveyancing and their conveyancer is reputable. Also ensure that they are on the panel of solicitors that your mortgage lender will instruct.

    Get recommendations
    Have a chat with people you know that have recently bought or sold a house and ask their opinion on their solicitor. Ask people around you who have the same expectations of service as you. People are often happy to recommend a good and efficient solicitor and will also be keen to steer you away from one who caused some issues.

    Don’t use relatives
    You may have a brother who is a solicitor and is giving you a really good deal, but our best advice is to use someone who is completely impartial to the transaction. Conveyancing is a business, not a social engagement. You want a solicitor who is quick, efficient and is prioritising chasing your contract. It is more difficult for you to push your solicitor for answers when it is a family member.

    Talk about money
    One of the most crucial questions you need to ask is how much it will cost. If a firm will not give you a written quote, get quotes from other solicitors. You don’t want them to be vague from the very beginning! Make sure you have a written quote with an upper and lower figure. You don’t want to get to the end of the sale and get a large bill for expenses that the solicitor has incurred making enquiries for you.

    Get two or three quotes
    Just because a firm may have lower fees does not mean they will provide the best service. Don’t be afraid to ring around two or three firms and weighing up your options. You need to go with the solicitor who is right for YOU!
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  • How to Ensure You Get Your Tenancy Deposit Back
    Posted on 7 July 2023

    How to Ensure You Get Your Tenancy Deposit Back

    Always leave the house in good shape. This is one way of ensuring you get your deposit back. Take care of any minor repairs, and cleanliness while leaving your house to ensure there's no reason barring you from getting your money back.
    Follow the given steps below, as well as adhering to your lease agreement, to get your tenancy deposit back.

    Read through Your Lease
    As soon as you decide to leave, read through your lease agreement. Each agreement has a clause on terminating terms which you need to read inorder to get your deposit back. Figure out exactly how much notice you should issue to your landlord, and any other additional requirements your landlord may have included.

    Notify Your Landlord
    You may consider lettering your landlord, and clearly state when you intend to move out. You don’t need to justify yourself as to why you are moving, although you may add a few details such us unattended repairs, severe bug infestation, etc. as your reason for moving out. Do not forget to include your new address, as well as the date and signature. You may keep a copy of the letter, just in case your landlord claims he never received your mail. You may also consider tracking your mail to ensure it has delivered within the required time frame and back it up by sending him/her an email.
    Ensure you pay the last month’s rent
    Many tenants tend to assume that their deposit can serve as their last month’s rent. Is this stated on your contract? Probably not. Always pay your final month’s rent within the agreed period, and keep a copy of your payment receipt.

    Make Minor Repairs
    One of the reasons why you may be denied your tenancy deposit is if the landlord finds that the house is not in shape as expected. To avoid all the drama, you may opt to do small and cheap repairs, which you should not overdo.

    Clean! Clean! Clean!
    Do a top-to-bottom clean up exercise before and even after moving out. Pay extra attention to the kitchen and the bathrooms as they tend to be the dirtiest.

    Do not leave behind any of your stuff

    Having unwanted junk? Well, carry it with you or throw it away… don’t leave it behind. This may irritate your landlord, and in some cases, he may opt to hire someone to clean or take it away, which would automatically be on you.

    Return Your Keys
    Once you are out of your rental, ensure you hand over the keys to the landlord, including the mailbox and gate keys. Failure to, the landlord may charge you from your deposit as they will need to replace every key you failed to hand over.

    Follow up
    Ensure you follow up on your deposit, and if within the agreed period (30 days in most cases) passes and you have heard nothing from your landlord, you can write to him/her as a reminder, and keep a copy with you. If this persists, you may file a civil suit at your local court. Remember to carry with you all the relevant documents to the courthouse.

    Further precautions
    To make this easy, you may take further precautions to eliminate any chances of failing to get your tenancy deposit back. These include;

    Inspecting the house with the landlord

    Taking pictures

    Moving in with caution to avoid maybe scratching on the floors and walls

    Reading the lease agreement thoroughly before signing or making changes

    Paying your rent on time

    Keep the house in good shape, etc.

    If you keep your records clean, do your part and have a close follow up, there is no reason why you shouldn’t receive your tenancy deposit back.
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  • Choosing the right mortgage for your home
    Posted on 7 July 2023

    Choosing the right mortgage for your home

    Choosing the right mortgage company or bank for your loan can save you thousands of pounds, but choose the wrong one, you could end up with massive fines, turning your dream house into a expensive mistake.

    However, don’t panic, we are here to guide you through…

    What you need to know:

    First-time buyers
    If you are a first time buyer, hopefully you will have been saving for a while now for your first deposit. The mortgage you can get depends upon your initial deposit along with your annual salary (e.g. how reliable is it?), and any other income you receive, your outgoings, including credit card and loan debts, household bills, childcare, travel, and general living costs. With a good overall credit score, you can aim to get the amount you need.

    Decide your needs
    Once you know the mortgage amount, start looking for houses which best meet your needs. By doing this, you can avoid having to spend extra money on putting these things (such as a conservatory or a parking space) into place. Saving a little which you can put towards your deposit, searches, fees etc.

    Will I need a mortgage adviser?
    Yes, there are many advantages! A good mortgage adviser can get you a better deal. With proper market research, they can guide you with unbiased opinion to meet your needs. They work for you, hence why they don’t need to push you into a deal, instead they will comply and guide you with proper understanding as per your budget and situation. Moreover, with a deep understanding of the process, they can help you with documentation and get you the deal you are looking for!

    To avoid

    Pilling up Debt
    Try to pay off whatever debt you have, and don’t accrue any more in the months up to applying for your mortgage. While they are reviewing your application, they will take into account your debt, and if it is above a particular threshold, you can be marked as a risky borrower.

    Always keep a check on your credit score
    A lot can be judged based on your credit score; it shows the lender how responsible you are and how good the chances are that you will be able to pay back the lender’s amount. This being the most basic criteria lenders use, it is always better to check your credit score and maintain or improve it beforehand.

    A few other factors to keep in mind are to make sure you are never not paying bills on time, maxing out credit cards, closing a credit card account, frequently switching jobs, being with someone with bad credit or making big deposits, as this will reflect badly in your application.
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