A Golden Opportunity?

Over the last 12 months we have seen unprecedented changes in the property market, in terms of legislation and tax changes. Such that many investors are wondering if it is still such a good idea to invest in property.

The reality is that the property market is constantly changing, and as professional investors know we need to learn to adapt to and make the most of the changes.

I believe it is a golden opportunity which is open to us for just the next 12 months.

I think we will see a lot of amateur and accidental investors sell off their portfolios because of the new proposed tax changes for property investors

Surprisingly some investors are not aware that they are sitting on a property time bomb

Koru ConnectionsSo how we can adapt to the ever changing property market?

  • We still live on an island
  • There is not enough accommodation
  • What will happen regarding immigration?
  • The Government is not going to kick people out of the UK
  • Population is growing even without immigration

Interest rates have been reduced to a record low so the cost of borrowing will fall; the expectation is that rates will remain low while the economy recovers. This is good news for existing and new property investors but not good news for savers!

We are also seeing competition between mortgage lenders which can only be good news if you are buying a property.

Why I believe the next 12 months represents a once in a lifetime, Golden Opportunity

  • Take advantage of the uncertainty
  • Buy whilst others are waiting
  • Make sure it stacks up and hold for the long term
  • Be careful of flipping ( buying , refurbishing and selling on )in this market
  • Educate yourself and take action now
  • The next 12 months could be the best opportunity for you to build your property portfolio

Sally & Kevin Cope – Koru Connections – 0845 0569513 – https://www.facebook.com/koruconnections/

I think I’ll buy it myself!

Many times over the years, I’ve been to value a property that I really liked and having shown the details I’ve produced to the vendor they’ve said ‘You’ve made it sound so good that I think I’ll buy it myself!”

This is not that surprising, and not because of my ability to describe an airing cupboard, it’s due to the fact that most people have at some stage in the past made a choice to buy the property they currently live in so are obviously going to have some positive thoughts about it.  There are of course exceptions to the rule such as those who have inherited a property or moved in with a new partner.

lovemyhouseWhat all sellers have to remember is that not every potential buyer is going to be wanting to buy their property for the same reason as you did all those years ago, you probably don’t live in the property now as you did at the start either.  It’s all well and good focusing on what you like about the property, why you think it’s good value and what you ‘need’ to buy your next property, that will have no bearing whatsoever on what someone else will be prepared to pay for it.

The key thing is to identify the most likely purchasers for your type of property and to dress your property up accordingly to appeal to them.  If you have a 3 bed semi in a popular location that’s ideal for a family, there’s little point in presenting your 2nd bedroom as a gym or a library. Having a garden that would win a prize at the Chelsea Flower Show is all very nice but if all the garden is going to be used for is to play football in it is unlikely to add much value.

There are rare occasions when it’s not immediately obvious who we need to attract with the home staging, on those occasions we will always advise to appeal to the masses by making things as neutral as possible enabling people to easily see how they could make the property work for them.

Legislation, Regulation & Aggravation

We’re very close to launching our new website and I’ve been busy writing all the copy from scratch which is quite a mammoth task. One section I’ve just started is about all the rules and regulations for landlords to abide by and having written the list it even surprised me how many different pieces of legislation there are that we have to adhere to.

We have to work hard to keep up to date with all the changes that could cause a problem for us as agents and it got me thinking what chance does an individual landlord have of knowing exactly what to do to protect themselves?

Rules & RegulationsRecently I had a call from a landlord arguing with me about the need to protect a tenant’s deposit within one of the government approved schemes, this is legislation that changed back in 2007 and could very easily result in the landlord not being able to issue notice to the tenant and/or being fined up to 3 times the amount of the deposit paid.

The legionella risk assessment that is now an obligation for all businesses regardless of whether you have a water tank or not also applies to landlords.  This was disputed recently by a landlord who said that other agents had told him it wasn’t necessary, the confusion appears to stem from the fact that the Health & Safety Executive have stated that testing for legionella is not an automatic requirement, which is true. I am not too bothered what other agents advise their own clients but it is annoying when it is incorrect and causes us to have to spend more time confirming to our landlords that it is necessary to assess the risk adequately.

When I think about landlords with a family, managing one or two properties alongside their full time job or business, it amazes me how many people want to spend their free time doing things such as viewings, decorating or dealing with problems when they could be paying an agent to take all the hassle away from them.

When not to call the Fire Brigade

I had a call on Saturday afternoon from our out of hours call answering service informing me that one of our tenants boilers was on fire.  I was quite shocked to hear this and obviously asked them to put the call straight through to me, it turns out that it wasn’t actually on fire but the boiler cover did have some scorch marks on it.  I was pleased that they had decided to call me on my mobile to ask if I wanted to take the call as it really could have been an emergency.

fire-engineI discovered that the tenant had an electric shower and an immersion heater and was therefore able to cope without the boiler for a couple of days. I asked him to turn the boiler off until we could get a gas engineer out after the weekend which he was very happy to do.  It would have been very easy to call out a heating engineer over the weekend but it just wasn’t necessary on this occasion.  The landlord thanked me for not incurring him in extra cost, he’ll still have the cost of someone going out to look at it but not at a premium rate.  Our general rule of thumb on deciding what action to take, is what I would do if it was at my own house and common sense usually rules.  Tenants don’t always appreciate this unfortunately as they sometimes feel that because they are paying to live there, we should be able to magic up a solution when despite our best efforts it is not always immediately possible.

When you manage as many properties as we do, maintenance issues come up on a daily basis, some of which need instant attention whilst others are naturally less pressing.  We have an online reporting tool which is also available as a mobile phone app to allow our tenants to report any maintenance issues clearly and easily.  It’s amazing how often we receive several almost identical queries in a short space of a time, as people start turning boilers back on after the summer we’re bound to get a number of boiler faults so it looks like our heating engineers will be kept very busy over the coming months.

Are Estate Agents worse than Double Glazing salesmen?

When the lists of least trusted occupations are published in the newspapers each year Estate Agents usually rank quite highly (or lowly, depending on how you look at it!). According to an Ipsos MORI survey in 2015, as an industry we are trusted by just 25% of the public which is the same as journalists and only 3% higher than politicians.  It doesn’t specifically mention mechanics or double glazing salesmen so maybe that’s why they’re not below us (apologies to any mechanics or UPVC salesmen reading).

double-glazingI visited a property last week where the vendor seemed somewhat confused about my arrival at his door but he invited me in anyway.  I provided my opinion on likely marketing figures and suggested what could be done to enhance the appeal of the property to which the vendor told me to ‘Give it a go!’.  I felt that he didn’t understand exactly what I had gone through with him and wasn’t keen to get him to sign any agreement, despite the fact it would probably have been very easy to get him to do so at almost any rate of commission.  I had his son’s number, as he had initially called up to book the appointment and called him to discuss the situation, he confirmed that his Father was suffering from some form of dementia and that the family were helping him to move closer to them.  My view was that I was going to treat the gentlemen just like I’d have wanted anybody to deal with a relative of mine and I felt secure in knowing that I was doing the right thing by not taking advantage of the situation.

Having started in the business 25 years ago I have spent enough time seeing and hearing of how some agents feel the job should be done and can fully understand why the profession is held in such low regard by many.  When you look abroad, the real estate agent is generally a licensed profession where you have to have relevant qualifications and accordingly is far better thought of.  There are moves to further regulate the Estate Agency business, which most trustworthy agents will welcome, as it will hopefully weed out those who perhaps shouldn’t be entrusted with people’s most valuable asset.

Thankfully in our local area we mostly have good agents with plenty of integrity to go along with their qualifications, but as we dive headlong into the world of online only ‘agents’ who get rewarded regardless of whether the property gets sold or not, I’m sure that there will be some characters who will do their best to give the public what they really expect of us.