Is Energy Efficiency really that important?

EPCs?

If you are selling or letting a property, it requires by law to have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC).

Most of the time having me carry out a survey is just part of the process you go through, I come round, I draw a plan, I take pictures of your lightbulbs and I stick my head in your loft space. It’s a tick off your ‘to do’ list!

You also probably only see the coloured grid that looks like the stickers on a new freezer but the report is actually about 4-5 pages long and includes details of construction, any insulation and heating system, along with estimated running costs, and any recommended improvements

It is also a public document which can be seen by potential buyers and tenants online.

The EPC is actually valid for 10 years so you may think of it as a ‘done and forget’ piece of paper but does it still represent your property? If you have made improvements to the heating system, added insulation or made any changes to the structure of the property then does it still represent your property? If you had gone to the necessary expense of installing a new boiler would you want the EPC to still have a recommendation to ‘install a new boiler’?

sue-colemanLikewise when you are looking at a property to buy, if you looked thoroughly at the EPC and looked at the recommendations and saw a list – loft insulation, replace boiler, draughtproofing, heating controls….. Would that not make you look a little closer, or does it even give you a little bargaining power.

Whatever you may think. energy costs can only go one way and that it up, and the running costs of our homes impacts greatly on our comfort and lifestyle.

Admittedly we are all generally swayed by a nice kitchen, spacious bathroom or easily maintained garden, don’t overlook the EPC.

Sue Coleman

DEA Torbay

www.deatorbay.co.uk

01803 400094

sue@deatorbay.co.uk

When is a bedroom a bedroom?

On the face of it, it seems a fairly straightforward question that should have a straightforward answer but when it comes to marketing your property for sale, there are certain regulations you have to be aware of before it can be The World's Smallest Bedroom?counted.

Generally speaking a bedroom can only be called a bedroom if it has a window, is up to current building regulations (or the building regulations at the time it was built/converted) and is of a sufficient size.  Examples where this would not be met is a loft conversion without standard stairs to access it, a room with only an internal window using borrowed light or a room you simply couldn’t put a bed in.  We recently had a property to let that you could fit a cot in but a bed would have almost filled the room so we made the decision to not call it a bedroom, to avoid misleading anyone.

It is possible to call a dining room a bedroom if in common usage it would be used as a bedroom even if the current occupiers don’t use it as such.  It would only be possible to do so if there were no connecting doors or access to other rooms though.  For us most of the time it’s about the balance of the house, there is no point in having 6 bedrooms if that leaves you with a small lounge, a kitchen and a bathroom.

Ikea Studio flatThat’s not to say that you can’t make the most out of  a very small room with some very clever interior design, just take a look at what Ikea do with their studio flat layouts in store.

If you have a very high ceiling in the room there is always the possibility of using a cabin bed with wardrobes etc underneath.  Another alternative is to steal a bit of extra space from a neighbouring room, it doesn’t have to be as complicated or expensive as it may at first seem. Just be careful not to be left with 2 single bedrooms instead of a double and a study or a nursery!

How to save 3% on your next buy to let…

After the government brought in the 3% stamp duty surcharge for 2nd home owners back in April there was initially a slight decrease in the number of buy to let purchases. A lot of buyers have now simply factored the cost in to the overall return from their investment and assuming a property is kept for 10 years it is only the equivalent of 0.3% a year.

Save 3% on your next buy to letOne way to avoid the surcharge is to look at buying a mixed use development as these do not attract the charge whatsoever.  Whilst traditionally small investors have shied away on the basis that it may need a different set of skills to manage a commercial property, most landlords should be capable of dealing with a shop, an office or a service business.

We’ve currently got a mixed use development on the market for £260,000 just up the road from our Town Centre office in Tor Hill Road. It comprises three 1 bedroom flats and a hairdressers on the ground floor, generating in excess of £23,000 per annum with potential to grow that to around £25,000 giving a gross yield of around 9%.  The stamp duty would be £3,000 as opposed to £10,800 if it had been a fully residential building.  There are some mortgage considerations to be aware of when buying a mixed-use development in that some lenders won’t consider them but there are enough that will to make it still a competitive market.

Back to School & the ‘Empty Nest’ Syndrome

Back To SchoolAs I write this, my youngest daughter has just returned from her first day in year 12 (or Lower 6th as most of us will remember it), in another couple of years we’ll probably be just a few weeks from her starting at University.  We’ll then be empty nesters and at the stage in our lives when we might consider if our current house is too big for our needs or not.  We get called out by a lot of people in a similar situation who are assessing their options for the future.  Most of the time the decision is not an easy one and on reflection the majority tend to opt to wait a bit longer before starting downsizing.  What we often see is the way the house is lived in changing, that long awaited hobbies room can finally become a reality or the dining room can become a little more sophisticated.

At the other end of the spectrum is when the children start a new school, a friend of mine’s daughter started at her primary school today and they ended up with a different school than they were initially hoping for.  It’s still a good school but they’re a lot closer to a couple of others they’d have been equally happy with.  As it happens they’re not planning on moving to be closer to the school yet but maybe in the future that will be something they’ll consider.

Empty NestProperties in good school catchment areas can make a massive difference to both the desirability and value of them, it is not unknown for properties on one side of a street to be 10% or even 20% more expensive than the other just based on the primary school you can get your child into.  It’s a classic verification of the old Location Location Location adage but of course catchment areas can change, new schools can open up and Ofsted reports can vary dramatically with each inspection.  All you can do is plan ahead based on the information that is currently out there!