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/

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.

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

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.