• Property turn-offs: 7 red flags when viewing a property
    Posted on 7 July 2023

    Property turn-offs: 7 red flags when viewing a property

    So how can you make your home more sought-after with buyers? We have compiled a list of the biggest red flags that could delay and ruin your chances of selling your home.

    Putting your house on the market can be a long, drawn out and often stressful process, so you want to make sure it goes as smoothly as possible to prevent any delays and get it sold quickly. To see your property through buyers' eyes is essential – you have to be as objective as possible about your home.

    This means making it as easy as possible for prospective home buyers to imagine themselves in your home. Tidying up rooms and gardens, fixing anything that could present significant issues, and even getting rid of garish décor will all help to make your home sought-after with buyers.

    Here are 7 red flags to avoid:

    1. Clutter
    Dirty rooms, appliances or furniture are a sure-fire way of putting doubt in buyers' minds as to how well the rest of the property has been looked after, so keeping your home clean and tidy is really important.

    2. Damp/mould
    Signs of damp and mould are enough to stop the majority of homebuyers in their tracks, no matter how smitten they are with the rest of the house. Damp stains, stained ceilings and crumbling plaster work are all red flags, signalling a problem that could be expensive to sort out.

    3. Dark rooms
    Nobody enjoys living or even sitting in dark and dingy rooms, so you might want to consider getting brighter light bulbs or position lamps in strategic spots for viewings. Also, think about replacing curtains or blinds with something light and translucent, and position a mirror in the darkest corner of the room to reflect light.

    4. No kerb appeal
    First impressions are a huge factor in selling a property, and often decisions will be made before buyers even set foot through the door. This means you need to present your house in the best possible way and consider how it presents from the street. You might have to replace a front door or windows, paint tired woodwork, and give everything a good clean. You could also plant a welcoming flower bed and jet wash walkways.

    5. Cracks
    Home buyers' number one concern is that the house they purchase may be hiding an expensive secret, so visible cracks in walls or ceilings are sure to set alarm bells ringing. But this doesn’t mean you should just bodge it or try to cover up the issue. If you can’t repair it, you need to be upfront with the buyers.

    6. Overgrown garden
    If your property has a garden with grass, make sure it has been cut, the hedges have been trimmed and flowerbeds weeded before viewings. This goes for all garden areas but particularly front gardens, as this is the first impression potential buyers will get. You don’t want to fall at the first hurdle!

    7. Garish décor
    You’ll want to make it as easy as possible for prospective home buyers to imagine themselves living in your home, so that might mean giving it a quick paint job before arranging any viewings. If your personal décor choices are too garish – think elaborate wallpaper patterns or gaudy paint colours – buyers will have a hard time seeing past it. Instead, choose inoffensive, neutral tones.

    Is your home guilty of any of these red flags? Are you wondering what jumps out to buyers on a viewing? Get in touch and we can give you free, personalised advice on your home sale.
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  • The benefits of having your property managed by professionals
    Posted on 29 June 2023

    The benefits of having your property managed by professionals

    While the income from the rental property is appealing, it comes with a lot of work. That is why it is recommended to work with a professional estate agent or a property management company to assist with all letting needs. This not only takes the stress out of your hands to deal with the admin work but also ensures that you are complying with the legal aspects of letting the property. That, if ignored, could incur massive fines and turn your investment property into an expensive mistake.

    We have listed out some of the main benefits below:

    Getting the right tenants
    The success of an investment property depends on finding the right tenants, people who will treat your property with respect, pay rent on time and hopefully live in your property for a longer duration. Finding and checking the backgrounds of tenants is a lot of hassle. Property managers use targeted advertising and then the tenants are carefully vetted to ensure they are the right people for your property.

    Handling all the legal formalities
    Protecting yourself legally requires having the right official documents in place. You are also expected to remain within the law in terms of health and safety and will need to undertake specific checks on your tenants, under the Right to Rent Act. Handling all legal formalities is included in a fully managed letting service, which means that you don’t have to worry about unintentionally breaking the law and being subject to penalties.

    Reduce vacant units
    Every landlord has concerns about their property standing vacant for an extended period. Working with a good letting agent will help you find the good tenants and also ensure they stay for as long as possible. If they choose to leave, your agent will then work towards filling the vacant unit by advertising the forthcoming vacancy in the relevant online portals and on other platforms. This means reduced void periods and a more reliable cash flow.

    Peace of Mind
    The managing a rental property can be tricky, especially if you don’t live nearby. Even if you plan to make periodic inspections of the house, or check in to ensure your tenants are happy, it is difficult to keep up if you are not living close. Property letting agents take this stress out of the equation as they will regularly inspect your property, look into the maintenance needs, check if tenants are happy, collect the rent and resolve tenant issues.  

    These are the benefits of getting your property fully managed by professionals.
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  • Taking ownership of rental problems - are you as responsible as the tenant?
    Posted on 29 June 2023

    Taking ownership of rental problems - are you as responsible as the tenant?

    When you rent out a property, all responsibility related to care and maintenance of the property is not passed to the tenant. In short, you cannot simply forget about property maintenance after letting it out. Similarly, a tenant cannot ignore the maintenance issues of a home just because they do not own the property. It is their responsibility to keep the property clean and livable. There is often confusion over who needs to take ownership of repair and maintenance issues encountered on a property.

    The best way to define ownership of any rental problem is through the rental agreement. In some cases, instead of the landlord or tenant, the letting agent takes ownership of any problems faced in the rental property. So, it is really important to have a clear and well defined rental agreement. Here are a few maintenance things defined under the law –

    Landlord responsibilities

    Condition of the exterior

    Structure of the property

    Drains, pipes, sinks and other fittings

    Electrical wiring

    Ventilation, gas pipes, appliances and flues

    Any damage caused during repair

    Repairs to the common areas of a building like stairs

    It is the responsibility of a landlord to provide trash bins for tenants to dispose any garbage or waste. A landlord needs to contact the local authority to know the requirements regarding garbage bins and their enclosures for a property.

    It is the responsibility of the landlord to ensure there is running water available for the tenant. They are also responsible to clearing any pest infestations on the property.

    Mold and damp

    One of the common areas of confusion is who is responsible for mould and damp present in a property. Well, it is a problem related to the structure of the home, so it is the landlord’s responsibility. Also, in this case, it becomes critical to hire a professional company to find the root cause and fix the problem.

    When a tenant faces problem like damp or mould in the property, it is their responsibility to bring it to the notice of the landlord. A landlord won’t be able to fix any issue unless they are aware of it. The tenant needs to report the problem as soon as they notice it. Under the law, the landlord is required to provide in writing what they are going to do to solve the problem and when. This needs to be done within 14 days of receiving information about the problem.

    If the tenant does not receive any response from the landlord, they must approach their local authority with the problem. The authority will serve a notice to the landlord. There are several acts and regulations in UK that govern how repair and maintenance problems are handled.

    Tenant responsibilities

    Keep the property free of any sanitary hazard, including piling up of garbage.

    Maintain the safety - keep all emergency exits accessible at all times.

    They are also responsible to follow all of the housing and building rules. They are not allowed to have more than the required amount of people to stay in the house in regards to the rental agreement.  

    They need to be respectable towards the property, maintain the condition of appliances provided by the landlord and ensure there is no damage to the property.
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  • Moving On after Splitting Up: Tips for Sellers after Divorce
    Posted on 29 June 2023

    Moving On after Splitting Up: Tips for Sellers after Divorce

    There’s only one thing more stressful than getting divorced – and that’s moving home.*

    Spare a thought then for people who sell their home when their long-term relationship ends. They find themselves dealing with two of life’s most challenging moments at the same time.

    Here are some property-related tips to help people navigate such a scenario.

    Get good advice
    Seek good, independent legal advice. Many factors can influence how assets are divided, such as the length of the relationship, each party’s income and responsibilities, and if children are involved.

    Consider your options carefully
    Could you buy your ex’s share of the property (or vice versa)? Or would it be best to sell up altogether? If you and your former partner can’t agree, a court will decide for you (and you’ll have to abide by the decision).

    Notify your lender
    Discuss the situation with your lender; they’ll have seen this type of thing before and will be able to advise you. Remember, if you and your ex-partner have a joint mortgage, you’re both liable for any missed payments – even if one of you has moved into alternative accommodation.

    Don’t short-change yourself
    Beware of home-buying companies that swoop in and purchase properties at lightning speed from people in tricky situations. In return for a quick sale, these operators will hammer you on price. (You’ll kick yourself later for accepting a measly sum.) The more you make from the sale of your home, the more you’ll have to put towards starting the next chapter in your life.

    Get an independent valuation
    Whether you’re doing a deal with your ex or selling on the open market, always get an independent valuation from an experienced estate agent.

    Be realistic about future costs
    If you plan to buy a new home post-divorce, you’ll need to budget for a removal firm, stamp duty, and legal fees (all good reasons to maximise the price you get for your home).

    If possible (and we accept that in some circumstances, it’s just not), try to keep the lines of communication with your former partner open. If you can work together to present your home at its best, you can achieve the maximum price.

    Work with an experienced agent
    Choose an agent with a good track record. They’ll streamline the process as much as possible and minimise stress and disruption.

    For confidential, expert advice about selling your home, get in touch with us here at Pinkertons.
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  • Tips for Buyers Looking for Their Dream Home
    Posted on 29 June 2023

    Tips for Buyers Looking for Their Dream Home

    Searching for your next home can be an exciting process, but it can also feel daunting and even frustrating at times. Try using these suggestions to ensure that when you’re house hunting you remain as calm as possible.

    Get your ducks in a row
    There is little point going shopping without your wallet. The same thing applies to property. Before you even begin looking for a property, make sure you have spoken to an independent financial adviser first. They will help you uncover the possibilities and ensure you’re starting your search with a realistic budget in mind.

    Use the internet
    This is nigh on a moot point as the internet is such a ubiquitous force in all our lives nowadays. Many people begin their online browsing many months before making a move. This gives you a good understanding of what’s available in your price range. Try not to limit your ‘must-have’ features using the online filters. You could miss something simply because of an input error.

    Speak to estate agents
    The best way to find out about the best properties for you and your needs is to speak to the experts. Estate agents that cover your preferred area will hear about properties coming to the market long before paperwork, photos, videos, etc. are done and finally put online.

    Also, estate agents are trained to hear the ‘needs’ in your description of your dream home. When we search for ourselves, we can struggle to find what we really need because we’re too focused on what we ‘want’. At Pinkertons we pride ourselves on our local knowledge and experience.

    Be patient
    It can be tempting to view properties before your house has agreed for sale, or before your funding is in place. This can lead to heartbreak.
    If you aren’t agreed or able to proceed with the purchase straightaway, the seller is unlikely to accept any offer. You could lose out to someone in a better buying position than you. Wait until you are in a position to buy before viewing. This will save you a lot of time and potential heartache.

    Don’t lowball
    It’s normal to want to try a ‘cheeky’ offer but in such bouyant market a really low offer runs the risk of offending the sellers. Once that’s happened, people’s defences can be raised and even if you offered over the asking price, they may decide not to sell to you on a matter of principle.

    If you really want the property and it’s potentially your dream home, pay the correct price.

    If you’re looking for your dream home in Bangor/North Down/ Comber or Ards, get in touch with Pinkertons on 028 9147 9393 and we can talk you through your ‘must-haves’, ‘would-likes’, and the whole process.
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  • Top Tips for Selling an Empty Property
    Posted on 29 June 2023

    Top Tips for Selling an Empty Property

    Most estate agents will tell you that to secure a good property sale, it’s best to market a home fully furnished. But to quote the Rolling Stones, ‘You can’t always get what you want’.

    Whether it be due to a death in the family or a sudden change in circumstances, sellers sometimes find themselves with an empty property to market.

    When this happens, what’s the best strategy?

    Let’s think about visuals
    Empty homes tend to ‘stick’ because we humans are visual creatures. We find it easier to imagine ourselves living in a property that looks ‘lived in’. Photographs of empty rooms don’t ‘tell a story’.

    Buyers also struggle to judge the size of a room without everyday items, such as beds or sofas, to provide visual perspective.

    Bearing this in mind, if you’re selling an empty property, here’s what you should do.

    Create a blank canvas
    Invest time into presenting the property as a blank canvas onto which a buyer can quickly stamp their own personal touch.

    Remove junk from inside and outside and give everything a good clean. (Empty doesn’t have to mean grotty.)

    Patch up the walls and paint them in a neutral colour.

    Clean the carpets or, if they’re beyond saving, pull them up and tidy up the floorboards.

    Cut back any overgrown bushes in the garden.

    To stage or not to stage
    Once you’ve got the bare bones of your home shipshape, consider whether to ‘stage’ the property.

    You could go big and rent furniture and furnishings from a professional staging company. While this will require a financial outlay, if your property is in a high-value area, it’s a move that could make you money in the long run.

    If this isn’t a realistic option, you could still bring in some furniture – borrowed or nabbed from your own home – to help buyers understand the layout. Think beds in the bedrooms, a table and chairs in the kitchen, and a sofa in the living room. It’s a kind of ‘staging lite’ approach that can give a property an extra push.

    A final word about security
    Whatever you decide to do, prioritise security ¬– thieves and squatters target empty homes. Check the locks and make regular visits to the property to remove any tell-tale signs that it’s empty. Install lamps that operate on a timer, so that the lights go on at night.

    For more advice on marketing your property, contact us here at Pinkertons.
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  • How to Avoid a Home Seller’s Biggest Frustration
    Posted on 29 June 2023

    How to Avoid a Home Seller’s Biggest Frustration

    We’re about to banish a myth that many people still believe about selling a home.

    The misconception is that once you’ve accepted an offer for your property, the hard work is done.

    Unfortunately, that’s not the case.

    Yes, it’s fabulous to receive an acceptable offer you’re delighted with, but there are still lots of potential twists and turns along the road to selling successfully.

    You don’t want your sale to hit roadblocks that slow the moving process down and raise the chances of it falling through and sending it back to square one.

    When that happens, it’s frustrating, stressful, and time-consuming.

    The good news is that you can do simple things to raise your chances of getting the sale through to the finish line in a timescale you’re happy with.

    The tips below can help speed up the process by up to two months.

    Tip 1: When looking to instruct a conveyancing solicitor to handle your sale’s legal side, pick one who agrees to give you a weekly update. Ask your agent for recommendations of conveyancers who communicate consistently.

    Tip 2:
    Before putting your home up for sale, get ‘market ready’. It’s a great idea to fill in a Property Information Questionnaire (a good agent will be able to provide you with one). It’s a form that asks several questions your conveyancer needs to know. This will help them review the information you have supplied and help you resolve any issues or replace missing documents. Doing this before your home is under offer (or even on the market) will significantly speed things up when a deal (subject to contracts being exchanged) has been agreed upon.

    Tip 3:
    Remember that the conveyancer is working on your behalf and should be responsive to your calls for updates.

    This isn’t an article bashing conveyancers – quite the opposite. Good conveyancers work wonders with agents and for their clients.

    A communicative conveyancer AND a proactive estate agent are often the differences between a successful sale carried out in a quick timeframe or a slow, frustrating experience that raises the risk of a fall-through.

    If you have any questions about the selling process, get in touch with us on 02891 479 393 and we’ll answer them expertly and honestly for you.
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  • How to Avoid Buyer’s Remorse When It Comes to Your New Home
    Posted on 29 June 2023

    How to Avoid Buyer’s Remorse When It Comes to Your New Home

    We’ve all had it – that gnawing sense of buyer’s remorse when we’ve made a purchase.

    It could be the make of that new car you’ve ordered. Or the colour of that dress that looked good online, but will it have a wow factor when the delivery driver drops it off?

    Or something as simple as ordering a dish in a restaurant that you suddenly wish you hadn’t as your friend’s requested meal sounds infinitely more appetising.

    On a more serious (and expensive note), according to research by insurance company Aviva, over a quarter of people who bought a home during the pandemic now have some regret linked to it.

    It was either the cost, location, or the property itself that created the nagging feelings of doubt.

    The good news is the risk of buyer’s or renter’s remorse can be reduced by following these nine simple steps.

        Have a realistic budget and stick to it.
    2)     Work out what you want from a home and what you actually need.
    3)     Think ahead, will this home be providing what you need in five years’ time?
    4)     Consider all the moving costs like removals, storage, legal fees etc.
    5)     Consider any commute time, transport links, and even broadband speeds.
    6)     Research the area if it’s new to you. The steps below are worth following.
    7)     Consider speaking with people who already live in the area you’re looking at. If you’re brave enough, knocking on doors in the neighbourhood and asking direct questions can be priceless and very revealing.
    8)     Jump on social media and ask in Facebook (other social networks are available) community groups what the area is like to live in.
    9)     Speak to us. As local property experts, we’ll give you an honest opinion on areas and the types of property you’re interested in.

    And remember, it’s natural to have second thoughts about something as big as moving home – so don’t beat yourself up about it. But by taking a little more time and applying some more research, you’ll be more confident and comfortable about moving.

    If you're looking to move home and would like to have an open and honest chat, don't hesitate to call us on 02891 479 393.
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  • How to help your child get on the property ladder
    Posted on 29 June 2023

    How to help your child get on the property ladder

    Hundreds of thousands of first-time buyers are turning to the ‘bank of mum and dad’ this year to help get a foot on the property ladder – including older children who have long since cut the apron strings.

    One of the main reasons parents are keen to help is to improve on their child’s credit rating by acting as a guarantor or providing a deposit. This will help them get a better mortgage rate. These options are different from giving a financial gift of money (which could have a tax implication.)

    If parents go down the route of offering to deposit a lump sum with a mortgage lender, as a form of financial guarantee, this will have the least tax implications because the funds are only there to act as security. It is the same if parents offer their own property as security.

    If you’re keen to help your children but are still wondering how, here are some ways to consider doing so:

    Guarantor mortgages
    With a guarantor mortgage, a parent or close family member guarantees the mortgage debt. This means that if the buyer misses their mortgage repayments the guarantor will have to cover them.

    Family offset mortgages
    With family offset mortgages, parents or grandparents put their savings into an account linked to their child’s mortgage. The money in the savings account is then deducted from the mortgage, making the child’s repayments cheaper.

    Family deposit mortgage
    With family deposit mortgages, a family member deposits cash in a special savings account and the money is then held as security against the mortgage.

    Flexible family mortgages
    A parent or family member can use some of the value in their own property as security. Another option is for the family member to place savings in an offset account which reduces the amount of the mortgage on which interest is charged.

    Gifted deposits
    The parent gives a deposit to their child for the purchase of the property.

    Joint ownership
    In this case, both the parent and the child will be named on the mortgage and the deeds. The size of the loan will be based on the earnings or assets of both parent and child and if one of them stops paying, the other one will become liable for the debt.

    One of the best ways to find the right mortgage is to seek help from a mortgage broker. They will work on their customer’s behalf and negotiate between them and the mortgage lender.

    For first time buyers or people with a poor credit history, a mortgage broker can offer advice on how to build a credit score that attracts lenders. Often it is about knowing the right lenders to approach.

    If you want some recommendations for mortgage brokers locally, or some advice about how you can help your children obtain a property, please get in touch and we will be able to give you our expert advice.  

    As there is a risk of repossession if mortgage payments are not maintained, it is always important to make an informed choice. Your home may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage.

    *All information up to date at time of publishing.
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  • Maximise your rental yields with these key strategies
    Posted on 29 June 2023

    Maximise your rental yields with these key strategies

    Because of this, an increasing number of first-time buyers, single professionals and many families are moving in rental properties. This is great news for those letting a property, however, there is no guarantee that just because the demand is high, a property will be let successfully and gives you a high return.

    There is high competition for good tenants and the experienced landlords put in all the efforts to avoid any dreaded and costly voids. However, many of the measures taken by landlords to get higher rental yields are a mystery to people who are new to the rental business or have become accidental landlords as a result of not being able to sell their home.

    However, you need not worry; we are here to help you out. Here are the key strategies to help you maximise your rental yield…

    Location and target market
    Anyone considering an investment property must research locations before buying it. This is essential because if there are a lot of developments in your location, your property value may increase along with the demand over time. For instance, properties near the shopping centres, parks and other amenities will give you a higher rental income. Also, knowing the kind of people who want to live in your investment property’s neighbourhood is the key to optimising your investment property.

    You should take note of the kind of residents that have shown interest in the neighbourhood and what kind of things they are looking for in a rental. For example, if they are looking for furnished rentals, you can try furnishing your apartment. If they are looking for brand new appliances or top of the line fixtures such as showers or faucets, you should spend your renovation expenses on those things. Knowing this will help you reduce expenses on not-required items and you can charge a higher rent as you will be catering to their needs.

    Condition and decoration
    A rental property that has been well looked after and kept clean is what most people look for. One which is run-down, in need of a repaint, and has leaking faucets and smells is not going to be easy to let out. It’s common sense to look after your rental property, but many properties fall short of a decent condition. It might necessitate some extra work, but ensuring your property is in good condition will maximise your rental yields.

    Safety Measures
    The rental property that offers safety and security to tenants is more likely to gain a higher return. You don’t need to go overboard with high-tech alarms or CCTV, but ensure the doors and windows lock properly and are safe. You could go a step further and invest in swipe card security measures.  

    Follow these tips and you’re bound to achieve maximum rental yield.
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