inside index.cshtml
image
image

View articles published in:
View posts tagged with:

Landlords – Are You Crazy?

image

Published: 08/11/2017   Last Updated: 08/11/2017 15:58:48   Author: JG    Tags: Landlords

For those of you that know me, I’m a quiet thoughtful kind of a chap. Someone not prone to outbursts or high emotion. But every now and again I have to have a bit of a rant to get it off my chest. Maybe I’ve had too much coffee this morning, or maybe I got out the wrong side of the bed. Who knows. But today is one of those days.

If you’re a Landlord and you’re managing your own property/properties, could I ask you a question? Here it is...

ARE YOU CRAZY? 

I don’t mean to be rude, but I really believe you are. But I also believe you don't know it yet. Here are some reasons why.

Legislation has gone through the roof! Your liability is massive! There are pitfalls everywhere that you probably don’t know about. Bear traps you’re walking into blind. You’re almost certainly breaking the law and not realising it. We see it all the time. If your tenant knows more about lettings legislation than you do, then you could be in trouble.

Our blog page covers some of these landlord pitfalls and how to avoid them, as well as changes in legislation to educate, inform, and spread awareness. Although covering them all is going to take a very long time! And you can’t afford to wait because getting it wrong can be very expensive!

But all of this aside – I’m here to tell you, you are not valuing your time properly! You can’t be. Because to do everything the government expects you to know and do would take you hours and hours every month. What is your hourly rate in your job? Even if you’re not working, do you really want the hassle and worry of getting it wrong? You can’t possibly have the time, energy, and processes in place to manage your tenancies effectively. You cannot focus on this and your career, family, hobbies, or a combination of these things if you’re worrying about all the things you need to do to comply with the law. Not without the stress, worry, and a lack of peace of mind. Unless of course you’re a full time landlord and this is your job. But if that’s the case, I’ve really got to question your sanity! Man, that’s a tough job. Believe me, I know.

It’s my belief that Landlords wanting to manage their own properties don’t see the issues that they will face given time. They don’t know what their responsibilities are, what can go wrong, or what the implications are for getting it wrong. It’s usually naivity – after all, you don’t know what you don’t know. But if it wasn’t for this, there are very very few landlords that would take this responsibility on. The ironic thing is that those new to being a Landlord are more likely to fall into this camp, and because of a lack of experience they’re the ones that are even more likely to have problems.

How do you know you are providing a safe environment for your tenant? What about gas and electrical safety, smoke and CO regs, legionella and the HSE, HHSRS, the De-Regulation Bill, deposit regs, the Immigration Act... Are you still with me? Do you know exactly what is required under each of these areas?  It's hard enough for the professionals to keep up and remain compliant, and we do this all day! If this isn't your job, how are you going to manage all of this? Why would you choose to have this on your shoulders?

For the more experienced and full time Landlords out there - if you want to grow your property business, wouldn’t you be better focusing on sales rather than operations? In other words, wouldn’t you be better acquiring more properties with your time instead of managing tenants? Outsourcing the management to a company that is equipped to deal with it. It’s far more effective to spend your time focusing on the on the top line, not on cost saving. You do realise you can outsource all the time consuming, nitty gritty, the tie-you-in-knots paperwork, the tenant issues and disputes, the visits to the property, the contractors, the list goes on. It's stressful!

So what can you do about it?

You can get rid of all of this by using a company with the software, systems, technology, experience, knowledge, training, qualifications, accreditations, great customer reviews, insurance, time… A company that is set up to do all of this stuff for you. For just 10-12% of the rent? Wow! If that isn't really great value, I don't know what is!

Look, I know I’m biased. This sounds like scare tactics. It may even sound like preaching. If that’s the case, then I’m sorry.

But the truth is that I passionately believe this. I ask myself, "If I didn’t run a Letting Agency, would I attempt to manage my own tenants and properties..."?

...Not a chance! Nada. No way. I’d look for a Letting Agency that I know would do a great job to free up my time to spend on the important things in my life. Letting Agencies are everywhere, but great ones are hard to find. But they are there, and you can find them. And the value they add can change your life. Big statement I know, but it’s true.

Time is your most valuable asset. It's the only thing you can't get more of. Spend it on what you love. My guess is, it's not this.

I could be wrong of course and I’m interested to hear your thoughts and comments. Hit me up, let me know.

If you agree, hit share now.

Jon



8 Things Every Successful Landlord Knows About Tenancy Renewals That You Ought To Know Too

image

Published: 05/11/2017   Last Updated: 07/11/2017 16:04:54   Author: JG    Tags: Tenancy Renewals, Property Management, Landlord Tips

Every Landlord that carries out tenancy renewals knows it’s not as simple as photocopying a piece of paper.

In fact our research shows that most Landlords managing their own properties actually choose not to do them at all.  The reason being that it’s a hassle, it’s time consuming, and they are busy with other things.
That’s completely understandable given the process. It is a hassle and it does take time.

If a tenancy isn’t renewed by a further fixed term agreement, and neither party serves notice, then the tenancy will roll onto a statutory periodic contract.  This is of course fine, but there are hidden pitfalls with this method. Read on to find out what they are.

THE RENEWAL PROCESS GOES LIKE THIS

  • Have a system that alerts to a renewal date coming up in future and allow time for correspondence with the tenant to establish if they wish to renew their tenancy, and if so, for how long. Given that statutory notice outside of a fixed term tenancy is 1 month’s notice from the tenant (before a payment date where the rent is paid monthly) and 2 month’s notice from a Landlord (before a payment date where the rent is paid monthly) the renewal correspondence would normally take place approximately 3 months from the end of the tenancy
  • The Landlord would also want to decide whether to renew the tenancy, and if so, for how long.
  • In order to make an informed decision it’s wise for the Landlord to visit the property to carry out a routine visit. This will help the Landlord to understand how the property is being looked after and to see if there are any repairs that need to be actioned that the tenant has not reported. It will also give the Landlord the opportunity to establish if the number of occupiers at the property is the same as what is expected. There are legal implications if the tenant is found to be subletting. Not only that the Immigration Act 2015 makes the Landlord legally liable for housing occupants that don’t have the legal right to reside in the country. There is a £3000 fine to the Landlord per illegal occupant.
  • The Landlord should then check the current level against the current market rent for the property. Rents may have gone up or even down since the start of the previous tenancy period. If the market rent has gone up, then it may be worth negotiating an increase to the rent in line with market conditions
  • If the rent is to be increased, the Landlord should serve a Section 13 notice at least 1 month before the end of the tenancy (from a payment date where the rent is paid monthly)
  • The renewal paperwork can now be drawn up and sent out for signatures. Landlords should ensure that their AST’s are up to date and inclusive of recent changes to legislation
  • The Landlord must issue the government’s How To Rent Guide (and be able to prove they issued it). If this is not done, the Landlord cannot legally serve a Section 21 notice. This means they cannot legally ask the tenant to leave the property. This could mean they will have to simply wait until the tenant wishes to leave, which could be months or many years down the line. Which is clearly a potentially very big problem.
  • The Landlord needs to ensure the tenant has also signed the AST and both parties retain a signed copy

WHY BOTHER WITH THIS? 


Given that it’s quite a convoluted process, why would Landlord’s choose to do this and not rely on statutory periodic contracts? Here’s why

  • By carrying out inspections of the property to establish if the Landlord would choose to renew the tenants agreement, the Landlord will be able to see if the property is being looked after properly and it often helps to catch small maintenance issues before they turn into large ones. It’s quite common for tenants not to report maintenance issues that the Landlord should be aware of. Landlords expect that there isn’t a problem until one is reported, but often that is just not the case. For example condensation or a constantly dripping upstairs tap that gradually get worse and have knock on effects several months down the line. We know many instances where Landlords chose not to carry out renewals or inspections to find out the property needed a full refurbishment at the end of the tenancy at a cost of several thousands of pounds which greatly exceeds the deposit. This could have been avoided by following the above process
  • The Landlord may discover the property is being sublet
  • The Landlord may discover they are housing illegal immigrants and avoid a large fine and possible prison sentence
  • The Landlord will ensure they are not leaving money on the table by charging market rate for their property
  • Having organised the renewal early on in the process results in having a longer run up to re-letting. Having more time to advertise the property and find a new tenant often reduces void periods in between tenants.  
  • The Landlord will have the peace of mind that the tenant may not give 1 month’s notice at any time and will help them plan further ahead
  • Some insurance policies will insist on fixed term tenancies
  • Some buy to let mortgages will insist on fixed term tenancies

SUMMARY 

We know that tenancy renewals are valuable but they are also time consuming and complex. Getting it wrong can and does cost Landlords a fortune. Unfortunately we’ve seen it many many times and unfortunately we know we’ll see it many more times yet.

A good managing agent is set up to handle this process for their Landlord customers and they take care of it all for them.

If you’re a Landlord and you could use some assistance with the process, give us a call and we’ll see how we can help you best.

Your Online Letting Agency Doesn’t Want You To Read This. Here’s why…

image

Published: 25/10/2017   Last Updated: 31/10/2017 09:46:01   Tags: Online Agents, Property Management, Letting Agents

“Online” or “Call Centre” Letting Agents have arrived, and although they have had nowhere near the impact the Online Estate Agents have had in recent years, they are almost certainly here to stay.

Having researched a number of Online Letting Agents, we thought we’d summarise the pros and cons of these types of agents to save you hours of research, and so you can make an informed decision on which type of Letting Agency suits your circumstances best.

Pros

  • Modern and easy to use website
  • Online chat
  • Viewings can be booked online 24/7
  • Cheaper entry price (usually 10-20% lower than local agents)
  • Fixed fees
  • Minimum service options
  • Clear definitions
  • Clear service options
  • Sign terms online
  • Local agent often available in your area
Cons

  • The landlord is required to upload their own photos
  • The landlord is required to write and upload their own detailed property description
  • Viewings carried out by the agent are often not included but available as an additional add on (Landlords can expect to pay anywhere up to £300 extra!)
  • Inspections are often not included in standard package
  • Inventories are often not included in standard package
  • No follow up on maintenance works
  • Incomplete arrears service. An example being 2 phone calls and 2 letters only – if the arrears remain out standing after that no further action is taken
  • Gas certificate is not carried out – just an email reminder is sent to the landlord! This is a legal requirement under Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998
  • Agents do not test smoke alarms. This is a legal requirement under the Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Regulations 2015
  • No involvement in complex management issues
  • Tenancy renewals often not included
  • No rent reviews or rent increases at renewal
  • Untrained call centre staff reading from scripts
  • Impersonal centralised Property Management and Accounts centres
  • No local offices to visit if there is a problem
  • Customers unaware they are being provided a vastly reducing service compared with a full management service offered by local agents

Summary

Online Agents have a place in the market and offer a good solution for many landlords. However care needs to be taken when choosing as it’s not immediately obvious that the services by provided by each type of Letting Agency are simply not the same.

Online agents are good at illustrating what is included in their service, but often aren’t forth coming about what is not included. Landlords may be able to reduce cost by 20%, but may not also realise they may well be reducing service by 80% at the same time.

We believe online agents are a good option for landlords who understand all of the legal framework, compliance and the complexities of management and are fully up to speed with all the regulations. The landlord also needs to be hands-on and heavily involved in the letting and management of their property.

For those who want a hassle-free service that offers total peace of mind, we believe that a local agent offering a comprehensive management service would always be more appropriate, offering peace of mind along with a personal service.

If you have any queries about our management services, don't hesitate to get in touch.

The 7 things every landlord must do to be able to get possession of their property

image

Published: 24/10/2017   Last Updated: 24/10/2017 15:26:17   Author: JG    Tags: Section 21 Rules, De-Regulation Act, Landlord Legislation



 
Why use Section 21? 

When finding a tenant, landlords often don’t consider what action would be required if they ever wanted to ask the tenant to leave – but it is a very important factor to bear in mind.

The quickest and easiest route for a Landlord wishing to regain possession of their property is by using Section 21 notice, as there is only a 2 month notice period.

However recent changes in legislation have made the process more complex and there a number of things every Landlord must know. Not understanding the new rules could mean that a Landlord could not get the property back, even if they wanted to. This could be absolutely disastrous for example in cases where the Landlord needs to sell, or where they had a problem tenant.

Even if a landlord was aware of how to serve the Section 21 Notice, they may not be aware of the steps they would have needed to take before getting to that stage.


7 Crucial Things Every Landlord Needs To Know
 
The 7 steps a Landlord has to take to ensure they can regain possession legally are as follows:

  1. Issuing the Department for Local Communities and Local Government’s ‘How To Rent Guide’ at the start of the tenancy. Proof of issue is required also.
  2. Issuing the Gas certificate at the start of the tenancy. Proof of issue is required also.
  3. Issuing the EPC at the start of the tenancy. Proof of issue is required also.
  4. Issuing Prescribed Information relating to the protection of the tenant’s deposit at the start of the tenancy. Proof of issue is required also.
  5. Registering the deposit - this is usually with TDS, My Deposits, or DPS.
  6. Serving the new Section 21 notice (from 1st October 2015). The new form replaces the previous Section 21(4)a and 21(4)b forms for tenancies beginning after 1st October 2015. The new Section 21 form can be used for tenancies pre dating the 21st October, but the old Section 21(4)a and 21(4)b forms cannot be used after this date.
  7. Maintenance requests need to be logged and adequately responded to within 14 days. This relates to the De-Regulation Act which seeks to clamp down on so-called retaliatory evictions which is the situation whereby the tenant complains about the condition of the property, and instead of seeking to resolve the issue, the landlord instead serves notice to quit on the tenant.
A Landlord cannot regain possession of their property (using Section 21) if they fail to comply with any of the 7 points above. It should also be noted that a tenancy cannot be ended this way during the first 4 months of a tenancy. Finally if the property is licensable, and the landlord does not have a license, possession through section 21 cannot be achieved.


Other Ways To Get Possession

Possession of the property can be gained using a number of other grounds of the Housing Act, however a possession order must be granted first by a judge and the legal process takes around 5 months on average and it’s by no means guaranteed. The grounds of the Housing Act are said to be either mandatory or discretional, and therefore only mandatory grounds can be relied upon. However mandatory grounds are only given for serious breaches of tenancy, for example the tenant being at least 2 months in arrears (on the date of the hearing. This can be pursued under Section 8).


Summary 

To be able regain a property, it is vital that the Section 21 rules are understood and adhered to by the letter. If not the Landlord would simply have to wait until the tenant decides they wish to move. That could be a few months, but it could also be 10 years! Getting this wrong could be extremely problematic. To ensure you don’t fall foul of ever-changing and increasingly complex legislation, and to ensure you can re-gain your property should you ever need to, we strongly advise that the property is managed by a Letting Agent that is fully compliant and an ARLA member who will be able to take care of all this for you as part of their Management Service.

If you would like to learn more about how a managing agent can provide more peace of mind, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

How To Get A HMO License In Leeds

image

Published: 04/10/2017   Last Updated: 04/10/2017 17:02:55   Author: JG    Tags: HMO License, Leeds

Inner Leeds has an Article 4 direction which monitors and controls the use of properties as HMO’s. What this means is that if your property is within the Article 4 area and you wish to use the property as a HMO, you will have to apply for planning permission to change its use. If the property is outside of the Article 4 area, then there is no requirement to apply for a change of use.

Here is Leeds’ Article 4 area

The use class in question is a change from C3 (dwelling houses) to C4 (shared dwellings/HMO)
A common misconception is that you cannot be granted a change of use inside an article 4 area. This is incorrect but there are no guarantees on whether the planning department will accept the application for change of use.

We have written article about this which can be viewed here

Once you have established you can let your property as a HMO as far as planning is concerned, then you will need to apply for a HMO license from Leeds City Council.
To be granted a HMO license in Leeds, you will be required to meet various requirements that are set out by the council. These relate to a number of areas which are designed to properly address the suitability and safety of the property as a HMO.
The council define different categories of HMO’s so yours may be classed as either a Category A or Category B HMO, depending on how the property is to be used and who you plan to it to.
The areas that need to be addressed to meet the council’s HMO requirements include:

  • Fire safety measures
  • Heating
  • Ventilation
  • Storage space
  • Number of bathrooms
  • Washing and sanitary facilities
  • Cooking facilities
  • Room sizes
Each of these areas need to meet the specification and guidelines set by the council according to the category of the HMO you are applying for. For example the required fire safety measures may include fire doors, interlinked smoke detection, fire alarm, fire blanket, emergency lighting, and escape routes. The exact specification required may vary depending on the layout of the house.
Whilst this seems complicated at first, once you have a copy of the council’s guidelines the task becomes easier. Once you have done 1 or 2 HMO conversions they will become straight forwards.
Whilst obtaining change of use for a HMO can be challenging, obtaining a license is generally seen as being fairly straight forwards, provided you have followed the specification and guidelines of the council. If you have then there is no good reason for the council to refuse a HMO license.

Commonly asked questions:

Can I get planning for change of use in an Article 4 area? 
Yes, subject to a successful planning application, however the decision is certainly not guaranteed. Read more about this here
 
When should I apply for the HMO license? 
Generally once you know you have planning consent to use the property as a HMO, and after the conversion works have been done

Can I let the rooms before I have applied for my HMO license? 
If you have C4 planning consent, you can let the first 4 rooms without applying for the HMO license. You cannot let the 5th room until you have applied for the HMO license.

When will the HMO license by granted? 
There is no set timescale for this but Leeds City Council will often grant the HMO license within 6 months of the application being made. The license will be granted subject to a set of conditions that must be met and maintained. Surprisingly, the license is usually granted without a HMO inspector visiting the property, however an inspector will visit the property at some stage to verify the property is as described in the application.
At the time of writing and in recent previous years, the HMO team are generally under resourced and it may take them up to 5 years before they can inspect the property. Following the inspection, if they find something that is not to their satisfaction they will give a notice to rectify the issue which must be actioned. The HMO license may be revoked and possible large fines, as well as even a prison sentence may be applicable where there is a serious breach of the license conditions.

Can I let the rooms before my HMO license has been granted? 
Yes, provided you believe you have met the specification required AND you must have applied for the license before the 5th tenant moves in. We would advise obtaining receipt of application from the council before letting the 5th room.

What else do I need to know? 
The person classed as being in control of the property, or the managing agent must go on a HMO course to ensure they understand their obligations. This is currently being run by the RLA.

Dwell Leeds are the professional HMO specialists in Leeds. If you have any questions, please get in touch and one of our HMO experts can help you.


Leeds Article 4 Area

image

Published: 03/10/2017   Last Updated: 03/10/2017 12:31:55   Tags: Article 4 Leeds

If you're an investor thinking about purchasing a HMO or purchasing a dwelling house to convert to a HMO, you will be interested in where the Article 4 boundaries are.

Outside of the article 4 area planning permission for change of use (C3 to C4) would not be required.  This takes uncertainty out of the investment decision and makes the process simpler for you. It may also make lending easier for you.

Provided there is strong demand from tenants, investing in HMO's outside of Article 4 may be a good strategy for you. For that reason we would like to share the Article 4 map supplied by Leeds City Council.

The Article 4 areas covers all of inner Leeds running through Cookridge to the north east of Leeds, through Roundhay, Gipton, and down to Beeston to the south of Leeds. It run back up through Armley and Wortley, then through Bramley and up to Horsforth to the north of Leeds.

If you need a high resolution version of the map, get in touch today and we'll send one over to you.

If you need some advice on HMO investing in Leeds, we're specialists in this area. Get in contact today so we can help with any queries you may have.


Do you have what it takes to become a landlord?

Published: 20/09/2017   Last Updated: 20/09/2017 11:13:27   Tags: Letting Agent Leeds

There are lots of different types of landlord – some do it professionally, others as a hobby, and some find themselves in the role of ‘accidental landlord’ for a variety of reasons such as moving in with a partner or relocating for work.  If you are considering becoming a landlord it’s important to have a good understanding of what’s involved so that you go into it with your eyes open and stay on the right side of the law


The strong arm of the law

You may or may not have heard about the recent changes to legislation surrounding landlords - there have been lots! It’s becoming much more time consuming and complex to manage your own property so unless you’re very experienced, live locally and have lots of time on your hands to deal with all of the admin, maintenance and the tenants themselves, then you’d be far better leaving your property in the hands of a reputable letting agent.

That being said, we’ve covered a few basics that you’ll always want to consider when letting out your property, whether you’re putting in the hands of letting agent to look after it for you or not. 

Read on ...


Safety first

It probably won’t surprise you to find that your key responsibility as a landlord is to provide a property that is safe to live in. This means having gas appliance services regularly by a Gas Safe registered engineer and keeping the certificates to demonstrate this has been done annually. You will also need to install smoke alarms on every floor and a carbon monoxide detector in any rooms where appliances burn solid fuel, such as a wood burning stove.  You must also make sure the property is secure and has adequate cooking and bathroom facilities. 

If anything occurs which makes the property unsafe to live in, for example gas is leaking, or the property becomes insecure, eg. a window gets broken, you as the landlord are responsible for putting things right as soon as possible. If you live any distance away from the property, a letting agent may be the answer, as they will be able to provide support in getting emergency repairs fixed quickly. 


Right to rent?

Before taking on a new tenant you will naturally want to ask for references, but did you know you are also obliged to check they are legally allowed to rent a property in England and Wales? This applies to all residents living at the property who are over the age of 18, even if they are not named on the tenancy agreement. Documents that can prove right to rent in the UK include a Home Office Immigration Status document or a certificate of registration or naturalisation as a British citizen. 


Deposit protection

You also need to make sure your tenant’s deposit is protected. This is the money your tenant pays at the start of a tenancy agreement, normally one month’s rent, which all being well will be returned to your tenant at the end of the agreement, but can be used to rectify any damage caused by tenants if any arises, or cover the rent if tenants leave without honouring their notice period.

By law you are not allowed to keep this money yourself, it needs to be placed in a Tenancy Deposit Scheme. If you use a letting agent, they will put the money in a suitable scheme on your behalf, but if you are renting a property out privately you will need to do this yourself within 30 days of receiving the money. 


EPC Certificate

Since 2008 it has been a legal requirement for all landlords to provide tenants with an EPC certificate which tells them about the energy efficiency rating of the property. To find a suitably accredited assessor in your area fill in the form on the Government’s website here. Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) begin in April 2018 which will make in unlawful to rent out some properties (scroll down for our blog post on this below)


Open all hours?

You may assume that as the owner of the property you can access it whenever you want, however legally once a tenant is in situ you should give them 24 hours’ notice if you need to enter for any reason, and agree a convenient time to do so, after all it is now their home, even if they don’t own it. 


Protect your property

Before you rent out the property it is a good idea to check the home insurance policy. Some have exclusions relating to renting out the property, and most will require you to let them know if you are letting the property out. In order to ensure you are adequately insured for most eventualities, it is worth considering switching your insurance to a policy that is designed to meet the specific needs of landlords, and includes cover for things like defaulting on rent or damage caused by tenants, which most standard home insurance policies wouldn’t cover. 


The price is right?

To be in with a chance of finding the right tenant, you need to be offering to rent the property at a monthly rental which gives you a decent yield without pricing yourself out of the market or appearing too expensive to prospective tenants. Looking at websites such as Zoopla or Rightmove can help you decide what to charge, as well as checking ads in regional media. If you are still unsure, discuss it with your letting agent. 


Legal eagle

As mentioned at the beginning of this article, there have been a large number of legislative changes, particularly in the last 2 years,  which apply to landlords, such as the Housing and Planning Act 2016, changes to legal notices, changes to how evictions can be enforced, smoke and CO regulations, energy efficiency measures and more. Many landlords are now unlawful without even realising it. This can result in fines, being unable to gain possession of their properties when they want to, or even a prison sentence.  


Tax

As well as the recent hike to stamp duty (SDLT) for landlords purchasing properties, there are also new rules about mortgage interest relief and 'Section 24' announced in the 2015 budget, which is now being phased in. Landlords need to be aware of this now so they can see what a major effect this could have on their income in the very near future and plan accordingly. 


It pays to advertise!

So hopefully after reading this you now feel well informed and ready to welcome your first tenant – but where are they? More than likely they are online, hopefully searching for a property just like yours, so you need to make sure they can find you, by showing your property in the best light and via the right channels.

This means getting some really fab photographs that showcase the property, as people tend to look at these first before deciding whether it’s worth reading the details.

Most tenants find their properties on Rightmove these days, so being on there is a must. You should also advertise via an ARLA letting agent who is qualified and insured to provide a great service that safeguards the interests of their customers.  They will also have tenants waiting for local properties.


We hope you have found this guide helpful, but if you need any more help, or are looking for a letting agent to help you, why not come and talk to us?

Prepare your property for sale this autumn

Published: 15/09/2017   Last Updated: 15/09/2017 09:06:04   Tags:

Autumn can be a great time to put your house on the market, as people who are considering moving home are often keen to get in by Christmas, making September and October peak times for viewings.


In order to take advantage of this great opportunity, now is the perfect time to spruce up the home and get ready to showcase it in all its glory.  If your home is on the market, or you are considering selling, but feel the home looks a little tired or unloved, there are lots of tricks that can boost its appeal without breaking the bank.


First impressions

The outside of the home is the first thing people will see, so make sure it looks its best. If the front door and window sills need a lick of paint, make sure they get one, and if the summer flowers are dying off, replace them with some more seasonal blooms and evergreens. If the lawn gets a tidy up, the hedges are trimmed, and the flowerbeds are weeded, this can also go a long way to making the home more attractive.


Cleaning’s not just for spring

A good deep clean all around the home can make a huge difference to how appealing it is to viewers, so get those rubber gloves on and make everything sparkle from top to bottom!


De-clutter

Getting rid of any clutter and unwanted items in the home will help you to keep it looking tidy, and could help you to demonstrate to prospective buyers that the home has adequate storage space, always a good selling point. If you have any unwanted clothes, toys, furniture or kitchenware that is in good condition, why not give it to charity or sell it on Ebay? It’s amazing how spacious a home can feel once you de-clutter.


DIY

If you’ve been putting off any minor repairs and DIY jobs, now is the time to get these fixed. Dripping taps, mildew on grouting and blackened mouldy bath seals can make a home look tired, but can all be repaired quickly and cheaply with a few basic items from your local DIY store. 


Mood lighting

Autumn means shorter days and darker evenings, which can make it harder or viewers to see the home in its best light, literally, but with some clever lighting you can use the darker evenings to your advantage to create a warm glow. Try using candles, floor lamps and dimmer switches to create a cosy welcoming glow. 


Common scents

Your home may look clean and tidy but what about the smell? If you have pets, often cook fried food, or smoke in the home, chances are it may not smell as sweet as it could do, but often homeowners don’t notice odours that can gradually build up over time. To be confident your home smells sweet, open all the windows and let the fresh air blow through before viewings (but make sure it doesn’t get too cold, a major turn off!).


If you’d like some more suggestions about how to sell your home, why not come and talk to us? We’d love to help. 


BTL Underwriting Changes for Portfolio Landlords 2017

image

Published: 04/09/2017   Last Updated: 04/09/2017 14:18:22   Author: LL    Tags: Btl Mortgages, Underwriting, Landlords


The implementation of a tougher rental stress test by mortgage lenders at the start of the year, following a review of BTL underwriting standards by the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA), has the industry gearing up for phase 2 of the new rules. From the 30th of September, providers must carry out affordability on any providers who are classed as a portfolio landlord. By definition, a portfolio landlord is a borrower with four or more distinct mortgaged buy-to-let properties, either together or separately in aggregate.

Lenders will have to stress background portfolios and base lending decisions in the context of your entire “rental business”, in other words, they will take your entire buy to let property portfolio into account when making a lending decision. Your property experience, total mortgage borrowing, assets and liabilities, income, cash flow and how the lending sits within your existing borrowing will all be considered as a result.
Providers such as Paragon and Accord have already confirmed what their criteria will be moving forward, and will continue to support this market.

The increased regulations provide a great opportunity for professional landlords who understand the changes taking place in the industry, so having an expert mortgage broker who understands the BTL market can be a real advantage. The extra requirement will result in applications taking longer to process, so make sure your paperwork is in order upfront.

The documents lenders could ask for are as follows:


- Property portfolio spreadshee
- Business plan
- Cash flow forecasts
- Your last three months’ bank statements
- SA302s and submitted tax returns
- ASTs
- Income and expenditure statements

If you would like to discuss your re-financing options ahead of these changes, let us know and we'll connect you to our independent Mortgage Broker, Lee Langley.




Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) 2018

Published: 08/08/2017   Last Updated: 08/08/2017 17:59:06   Tags: EPC, MEES, Minimum Energy Standards, Green Deal


Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) 2018


OVERVIEW


From the 1st April 2018 there will be requirement for any privately rented properties to have a minimum energy performance rating of E detailed on the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). The regulations will apply for new lets and renewals after the 1st April 2018 and for all existing tenancies after 1st April 2020.


It will be unlawful to rent a property with an Energy Rating of F and G unless there is an applicable exemption (see below). Properties with an energy rating of F or G will be deemed to be substandard (unless an exemption exists) and the legislation prohibits landlords from letting substandard properties.


A civil penalty of £4000 will be charged for breaches of the legislation.


The rules apply to all AST’s in the England and Wales as well as regulated tenancies, protected tenancies, and assured agricultural tenancies. The scope also extends to all commercial properties.




EPC'S


No changes have been made to the provision for EPC’s which is a requirement for almost all (see below for exemptions) residential and commercial property that is either let or sold. New EPC’s are not required to be carried out and existing EPC’s are to be relied upon provided they are no more than 10 years old (at which point they must be renewed, which lasts for a further 10 year period).




Buildings currently exempt from EPC and MEES requirements 

  • Temporary buildings with a planned use of 2 years or less
  • Protected buildings and monuments including some Listed buildings
  • Residential buildings that are intended to be used for 4 months or less per year
  • Stand alone buildings with a total usable area of 50 square metres or less


Exemptions 


Exemption to reaching the minimum standard exist to Landlords where they can provide evidence for at least one of the following circumstances:
  •  The landlord requires consent from the tenant to make necessary improvements, and the tenant withholds that consent
  • The landlord is required by a contractual or legislative obligation to obtain consent by a third party and such consent is withheld, denied, or given but with unreasonable conditions
  • The Landlord has undertaken cost effect measures to make the improvements, but the energy rating remains below E
  • The Landlord is unable to install cost effective measures without upfront costs because the funding entails Green Deal Funding and they or their tenants fail their credit checks
  • There will be no requirement to install wall insulation, where the Landlord has obtained advice in writing from a suitably qualified person, that such installation would negatively impact the fabric or structure of the building
  • If, in the opinion of Royal Institute Of Surveyors (RICS), measures to improve the energy rating sufficiently would cause the capital value of the property to fall by 5% or more. However only the measures causing the depreciation would be exempt from installation
  • For an exemption to be recognised it must be notified to the PRS Exemptions Register which will be operated by the government. The Enforcement Authority will be entitled to request that Landlords provide them with the evidence for a claim that supports exemption.




Penalties, Reviews, and Appeals


The maximum cumulative penalty for a single offence is £5000. Fixed fee penalties may be charged for non compliance from either the local authority or from the PRS Exemptions Register as well as publication of non compliance.


A Landlord may request a review of the local authority’s decision to serve a notice. Local authorities must consider any representations made and all the evidence to decide whether a penalty charge would be made. Appeals may also be made on penalty notices and this would be heard at First Tier Tribunal.



Improvements that can be made or required


The following options are available to Landlords wishing to improve the energy efficiency of their properties:

  • Air source heat pumps
  • Thermostat boilers
  • Thermostat room heaters
  • Cavity wall insulation
  • Solid wall insulation (internal or external)
  • Cylinder thermostats
  • Draught proofing
  • Duct insulation
  • Hot water showers/systems (efficient)
  • Hot water taps (efficient)
  • External wall insulation systems
  • Fan assisted replacement storage heaters
  • Flue gas recovery devices
  • Ground source heat pumps
  • Heating controls (for wet central heating systems and warm air systems)
  • Heating ventilation and air conditioning controls
  • High performance external doors
  • Hot water controls (including timers and temperature control)
  • Hot water cylinder insulation
  • Internal wall insulation (or external walls)
  • Lighting systems fittings and controls (including roof lights, lamps and luminaires)
  • Loft or rafter insulation (including loft hatch insulation)
  • Mechanical ventilation with heat recovery
  • Micro combined heating power
  • Micro wind generation
  • Pipework insulation
  • Photovoltaics
  • Chillers
  • Gas fired condensing boilers
  • Replacement glazing
  • Oil fired condensing boilers
  • Warm air units
  • Radian heating
  • Roof insulation
  • Warming roof insulation
  • Ceiling improvements (including duct ceiling)
  • Secondary glazing
  • Solar water heating
  • Solar blind, shutters and shading devices
  • Transpired solar collectors
  • Under floor heating
  • Under floor insulation
  • Variable speed driers for fans and pumps
  • Waste water heat recovery devices attached to showers
  • Water source heat pump




Important final note


Research has also identified that energy performance certificates (EPCs) understate the thermal efficiency of solid walls. Many PRS properties have solid walls. Usually they were built pre-1918 but can be later. Again the Government are proposing to recalibrate EPCs to give a truer reading. This could mean that some solid wall properties currently rated F under an EPC will no longer require any work and less work may be required in the case of a G rated property. The Government has yet to bring forward the relevant regulations to implement these changes.


Landlords of F and G rated solid wall properties may therefore be advised to await developments. Should changes be made then a new EPC will be required. Existing EPCs cannot be adjusted. Once EPCs are recalibrated, in these cases, obtaining a new EPC may mean that you no longer need to comply with the Regulations or less work may be required.


If you would like to discuss the impact of the minimum energy standards for your rental property in advance of the 1st April 2018, please get in touch. We'd be happy to help you to review to your options and plan ahead.   

How to guarantee your deposit back

Published: 10/07/2017   Last Updated: 10/07/2017 10:17:08   Tags: Get Deposit Back


If you are renting a property, chances are you have had to pay a deposit, and chances are that at the end of the tenancy agreement, you will be anticipating getting this money back. Meanwhile your landlord will be expecting that if the property has been vacated in a condition less than it was when you moved in, your deposit will be used to cover any necessary repairs, replacement of items, and cleaning.
It’s a fair arrangement, however sometimes disagreements can arise about the condition the property was in when tenants arrived, compared to the state it has been left in. It’s been known that (a minority of) unscrupulous landlords may try to cash in, by claiming items have been damaged or the property needed cleaning, in order to make a claim on the deposit.

To avoid this type of disagreement arising, it is important to make sure that a thorough inventory of the property is issued at the start of the tenancy agreement. This should include all furniture, fittings and fixtures and other items that are provided by the landlord, as well as the condition of the property overall. The more detailed this is the better, as this will avoid disputes arising later.

You should also make sure that any items belonging to the landlord remain at the property, and that the property is thoroughly cleaned before you leave. Any maintenance issues such as broken appliances should always be reported to the landlord at the time they arise, as it is their responsibility to repair these for you if they are included in the tenancy agreement. If you wait until you vacate the property to report issues, you might find it leads to problems later on.

A good landlord or agent will write to you to remind you of your responsibilities with a check list of items that you should go through before you leave so that nothing is missed. This may include cleaning, carpet cleaning, blown lightbulbs, and removal of rubbish or other items that belong to you. It is however your responsibility to ensure you are thorough at this stage as you waould not be allowed to re enter the property after the end of the tenancy.

If you are currently experiencing rental deposit problems, yet you feel the property has been left in excellent condition, you do have some options. If you are on an assured shorthold tenancy agreement (and most renters are, unless you are a lodger) your landlord or letting agent should by law be in a Tenancy Deposit Scheme. This is a Government backed scheme to ensure tenant’s
deposits are protected. Your landlord has to pay your deposit into the scheme, and unless they have a valid reason not to return it to you at the end of the tenancy, you should get all of your deposit back.

If you feel your landlord is withholding your money without good grounds, and you need some rental property deposit help, you can use the ADR (Alternative Dispute Resolution) service, which is provided as part of the Tenancy Deposit Scheme. Under the ADR, your situation will be assessed by an independent third party, and they will determine how the deposit is to be split considering the evidence.

We hope this guide has been helpful, and of you need any support in finding your next property, whether renting or buying, we’d be happy to help.

How to get started in property investing in leeds

Published: 27/06/2017   Last Updated: 28/06/2017 16:57:04   Author: JG    Tags: Property Investing, Leeds, Buy-To-Let

If you’ve struggled with finding a property that you know will work, you’re not alone. We’ve had many clients tell us they’ve faced similar challenges.

What to buy?
Where to buy?
What will give the best return?
Where can I be assured there is great demand from tenants?
What are the prospects for capital growth in this area?


These are some of the basic key questions that investors ask themselves every time they look for their next property.

If you haven’t defined your criteria and your goals yet, but you do want to buy a property – work this out first! Do not buy until you have defined this clearly!

If you’re just starting out, these questions could become a big headache, which in turn can become a big problem that becomes very difficult to solve without experience. Many people get stuck here and go no further with their investment dreams. There are many reasons not to buy, many unanswered questions, grey areas, and our greatest enemy – fear. Fear of the unknown and getting it wrong. It’s ok to feel this, in fact it’s perfectly normal! They key is to realise that fear is basic human nature (which comes from the fight or flight mechanism), and to move on and try to overcome it.

But just jumping in to get the experience could be very costly, especially once you weigh up your deposit and buying costs. What if it doesn’t work and you need to sell? Can you be assured you’ll get your money back and cover your costs? You don’t want to learn the hard way here, that would be very expensive, stressful, and time consuming!

So what is the solution?

The best thing you can do, is to seek out good information, relevant knowledge, and quality advice from others that have been there and done it, and are still doing it. And are still doing it well!

Build your team of advisors who can help you when questions arise. Some call this a ‘Power Team’ and in property investing that could include an Estate Agent, Letting Agent, Sourcing Agent, Mortgage Broker, Solicitor, Planning Consultant, and Architect. ‘Your net worth is down to your network’, goes the adage.

The team here at Dwell Leeds have 30 years experience working day-to-day in the Leeds property market.  This includes letting, property management, sales, and sourcing for investors and landlords, like yourself. We advise first-time landlords through to seasoned investors across many strategies including buy-to-let, single lets, family let, HMO and multi let, and serviced accommodation. Not only that we’re experienced investors ourselves too, so we understand first hand the challenges that you face as a property investor.

Beware of taking advice from someone without plenty of direct experience - this isn’t advice! And be sure, remember that when you’re down the pub and you hear that bloke that talks like he knows everything there is to know about everything!! You know the type...

If you want to invest in property and need help working out your goals, or advice on what works in the Leeds property market right now – go no further.

Contact us today for your free and no obligation Investment Consultation so that we can show you we can help you best.

To Buy or Rent – A Guide for Graduates

image

Published: 05/06/2017   Last Updated: 07/06/2017 10:36:43   Author: Holly Barry    Tags:

So far in the way of living arrangements, you have experienced the works.

From the family home you grew up in, to living with a bunch of strangers in halls or off of campus, and now you are about to come face to face with a whole new chapter of living. Not as a student, but as a fully-fledged graduate.

You may have already started to consider your options and how to go about making your first steps, but it always pays off to receive some extra guidance when it comes to making the next big decision in your life. Everybody’s situations are different too. So in this guide, we hope to provide a thorough breakdown for those considering solely buying, renting and for those stuck in the middle


Sensible Saving

As you approach the end of your academia, it is important to consider your spending and budgeting. Most students are blessed with a weighty student loan. If you are one of the lucky ones, allocate a small part of your time to sitting down and budgeting your remaining loan to enable yourself to put aside some of it for when you finish. This is important to do, buying or renting, as you will require a deposit for wherever you decide to move to and being strapped at the beginning of your move isn’t a position you want to be in. However, if your student loan wasn’t substantial, you can still be thrifty with your spending. It wouldn’t be unfair to sit out on a few student nights out so you can save up what you would have spent that night and also, make sure you budget your food shop by shopping at cheaper supermarkets to save extra pennies. The whole point of saving now is to make your money go as far as possible and to spend what you really need to live off. By getting  into the habit of careful budgeting and regular saving now you will give yourself the best chance of staying on track and building up a sizeable savings for when you come to make your decision.

As well, getting a job, either on or off campus will help you to gain some extra money together and help boost your credit rating which will give you a head-start when it comes to applying for a mortgage, as you will need payslip evidence of a regular income to qualify for mortgage financing if you believe buying is a more suitable option for you.

The House Hunt

Buying a house is a massive commitment but an amazing opportunity to get started on the property ladder sooner rather than later if you are in the position to do so. If you are seriously considering this option make sure to do your research. It is all too easy to fall in love with properties at first glance, but don’t rush into anything without seriously weighing up some other choices. Assess the market and the area you’re interested in. If you don’t have a car, are there shops and supermarkets nearby? Are you near to a train or bus station? These are aspects which need weighing up so the property matches your lifestyle.

If you’re looking to rent instead, the same applies in the way of suitability to your wants and requirements. If you use the gym, is there one within walking distance? Is the neighbourhood what you want? Additionally, with renting you will need to make sure that the property is within your budget, so you can afford to pay additional bills which you may incur such as gas and electricity, water and TV licence.

Being a graduate, you won’t have the years of experience that your parents have in buying and selling property, so you need to research the local property prices to spot any market fluctuations and to get the best possible deal when making an offer on a property.

Remember, if an advert seems too good to be true, make sure to do some homework. Identify where any hidden costs may catch you out down the line. If you decide to buy, you may need to deal with damp or structural repairs. If this is the case, you can make a low offer that takes into account the costs of putting things right. Alternatively, if a careful and objective appraisal of a property reveals significant issues, it might be best to walk away on that occasion, to continue searching elsewhere.

 
Bountiful Borrowing

As a studious graduate, you are probably aware of how difficult it is to save money for property which continues to rise at an ever growing rate. But, where there is a will, there is a way. The government offer a variety of schemes to help you on the pathway to affording your very own home. It will pay off to work out the best loans, ISAs and deals available to you so that you know exactly the ins and outs of what you are being offered and how it will work in the long-run.

One of the most popular and successful options is the government’s Help to Buy ISA. What this entails is that if you put money into this ISA once a month at a maximum of £200, the Government will boost your savings by 25%. So, for every £200 you save, you will also receive a government bonus of £50. The maximum government bonus you can receive is £3,000 if you have savings of £12,000 or more.

Additionally, you could look into the Help to Buy loan, which provides a loan of up to 20% of the purchase price of a new-build home. This loan is also interest-free for five years.

Many parents are also on hand to chip in with their children’s first home, but only consider this option if you are sure that your parents can do this without putting themselves into any financial difficulty.

Do make sure to research all of the peripheral costs of buying a property, such as stamp duty and valuation fees, as well as understanding how the process of buying a property works.

If you decide to rent for a while, give yourself this time to build up a deposit to buy in the future.

Both options need careful planning and organisation so find out what deposit you’ll need, what your monthly repayments will be, and what the other costs of owning a property are likely to be. Additionally, make sure you are clued up about renting your chosen property and the area you are looking at, so you don’t end up living somewhere you’re unhappy with.

So, to conclude, whether you end up buying or renting, make sure that your moving checklist is planned down to a ‘T’, so that your move from Uni to adulthood goes as smoothly possible.  

What’s happening to house prices in LS4, Leeds?

Published: 18/04/2017   Last Updated: 26/04/2017 12:18:17   Author: JG    Tags: House Prices In Leeds, Property Prices In Leeds

We’ve taken sold data over the last 10 years and we’ve split this into 3 property types that are common to Burley, Leeds, to get a further insight into what is happening to property values in our area.

It’s important to note that the following data shows averages for the property types, not their size/how many bedrooms, or condition. Neither does the data account for any other features such as gardens, parking, or any refurbishment works. This average data was taken from 2007 just prior to the crash and 2017.


Flats sold in LS4 



We can see from the graph below that the average pre crash sold price was just under £115,000 (from 64 recorded sales). A drop of 10% can be observed during the following 5 year period before prices began to recover. A huge spike can then be seen during the last 12 months with the price in the last 3 months of £145,000. It’s important to note however, that there was only 1 flat sold in the last quarter however meaning that this isn’t reliable enough data to conclude that prices have recovered from pre-crash levels.



Terraced houses sold in LS4 




Pre-crash levels have averaged just under £130,000 (from 725 recorded sales). Prices were fairly resilient during the crash with only a £6000 loss in capital values. Seasonal highs and lows are shown by the high and low during the last 12 months. The average value currently has exceeded pre crash levels by 5%.


Semi detached houses sold in LS4



As you would expect, we can see that semi detached property values are higher than both flats and terraced properties. It’s really interesting to see that semi detached property prices didn’t decline during the crash and in fact rose during the period 2007-2012 – this is most uncommon in Leeds and shows just how popular these properties were in Burley. Then a large spike occurs during the period 2012-2016 seeing averages jump to £173,642 from £155,102.  Prices then dipped a little during the winter and have started heading upwards again going into Spring 2017.


*Data taken from zoopla.co.uk



If you're looking to see how much your property in Leeds is worth now on, call us today on 0113 357 2260 and we'll be able to help you with a free and no obligation valuation for your home. 

Consultation on Tenant Fees has opened

Published: 12/04/2017   Last Updated: 26/04/2017 12:21:01   Tags: Tenant Fee Ban, Housing Policy, Letting Agent Fees

Consultation on Tenant Fees has opened


The consultation on on the proposed ban on Tenant Fees by Department for Communities and Local Government has opened on the 7th April 2017 and will remain open for eight weeks, closing on 2 June 2017.

           

Key points taken from the consultation:

The Government proposes to introduce legislation which will mean that:

1. No agent, landlord and any other third party will be able to charge tenants any fees, premiums or charges that meet the general definition of facilitating the granting, renewal or continuance of a tenancy; and

2. Tenants should only be required to pay their rent and a refundable deposit.


However, there are certain costs that arguably should continue to be met by the tenant:

1. Holding deposits to take the property off the market whilst reference checks are undertaken; and

2. In-tenancy property management service charges arising because of the action of the tenant – such charges could include arranging for replacement keys, repairs carried out as a result of deliberate damage or breach of the tenancy agreement, or late rent payment charges.

 

Agents may occasionally provide bespoke, non-standard services to tenants at the top end of the market, for example, when arranging a property for someone currently living abroad who is relocating to the UK. The Government is keen to understand whether there are premium parts of the market where a different approach to handling letting fees may be warranted.

            

The Government believes that robust and effective enforcement is central to the successful implementation of the ban on letting agent fees paid by tenants. The Government proposes that the ban should be enforced by local authorities, primarily Trading Standards but recognises that Trading Standards may require additional support in order to ensure that enforcement of the ban is effective. The Government is therefore keen to explore the views of the sector on a number of issues including further regulation of the sector.


The leading industry body, the Association Of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA) to which Dwell Leeds are members, described the Government’s housing policy as 'shambolic' and said that their consultation contradicts its already stated aim to encourage longer term tenancies. Independent analysis launched at ARLAPropertymark’s annual conference last week revealed that if an outright ban was introduced, rents will increase by £103 per year which will punish long term tenants financially.


David Cox, the Chief Executive of ARLA said "The decision is a short-term crowd pleaser and we are disappointed DCLG has not considered our proposals in today’s consultation. We urge the Government to use this process to think again to ensure that consumers, and the wider economy are not penalised by contradictory Government policies."

Dwell Leeds celebrate new protection for landlords and tenants

Published: 01/04/2017   Last Updated: 26/04/2017 12:21:55   Author: SA    Tags:


Dwell Leeds supports new Government measures on Client Money Protection

 

This week, Government announced that it intends to make Client Money Protection (CMP) mandatory for all letting agents. SAFEagent has campaigned for the last six years for this decision, which will protect consumers by ensuring all agents holding rent money and deposits must protect it in a CMP Scheme.


Dwell Leeds a professional letting agent with CMP in place since the business began, is delighted at the decision, but is reminding consumers that mandatory CMP is not yet law, and their finances are at risk if their chosen agent does not have client money protection.


The market is huge, with an estimated £2.7 billion* held by letting agents in client accounts, but unfortunately there are still too many cases of criminal letting agents stealing landlord and tenant cash. This is why it is crucial that consumers check their agent is part of an agent regulatory organisation which already provides CMP.


Glynis Frew, Acting Chair of the SAFEagent Steering Group, says:

We did it! For all of those SAFEagents who have carried the banner for consumer protection – the Government has finally taken on board our call for all agents to be part of a Client Money Protection Scheme.

“It’s wonderful news that Government will make CMP mandatory, but it isn’t in place yet. That means both landlords and tenants are still at risk of losing money. It is so important that consumers understand that they need to choose their agent wisely by asking if they are part of a CMP scheme before entering into a contract with them.”


This May, 3,000 professional lettings firms will unite for SAFEagent Awareness Week 15-19 May 2017 – continuing to highlight to consumers the importance of choosing an agent who is part of a Client Money Protection (CMP) Scheme run by an agent regulatory body or trade association.


Tenants and landlords / consumers should always look for the SAFEagent logo, an easily identifiable consumer mark denoting agents subscribed to a Client Money Protection (CMP) Scheme.


Go to www.safeagents.co.uk to find a SAFEagent in your area 

What do Estate Agents actually do, and what is ‘Sales Progression’?

Published: 15/03/2017   Last Updated: 26/04/2017 12:20:01   Author: JG    Tags: Estate Agents, Sales Progression


If you’re wondering what ‘Sales Progression’ is, then don’t worry – you’re not alone.


Much of what an Estate Agent does isn’t widely understood. To the public, an Estate Agent is just a company that lists your property for sale and shows potential buyers around your property.


But wait, there’s got to be more to it, right? .....Correct!


Finding buyers is most often not the hardest part of what an Estate Agent does, this is just the beginning; but is that is the part that is visible to the outside world.


Sales progression is the process of getting the property from the ‘Under Offer’ stage to ‘Completion’.


Let’s look under the bonnet at Sales Progression and what Estate Agents actually do and why you might want to use one.


1. ‘ Under Offer’ – once a potential Buyer (sometimes called the ‘Applicant’) puts in an offer, which is agreed by the Seller (often referred to as the ‘Vendor’), the status of the property becomes ‘Under Offer’.  This is where sales progression begins for the Estate Agent.


At this point the Estate Agent will need to take the following actions:


  • Establish that the Applicant is in a position to proceed with the purchase of the property.  If the purchase is being funded with a mortgage, then the Estate Agent would usually ask to Applicant to produce evidence that a mortgage has been agreed in principal. This is provided by either the Applicant directly, or by the Applicant’s Mortgage Broker. A deposit would usually be required to part fund the purchase, and therefore the Estate Agent would usually ask the Applicant to provide evidence of their deposit at this stage also.
  • In order to fulfil compliance requirements with regards to ‘Anti Money Laundering’ legislation, the Estate Agent will need to verify the identity of the Applicant.
  • The Agent will need to gather the details of the Solicitor acting on behalf of the Applicant and the details of the Solicitor acting on behalf of the Seller.


2. At this stage the Estate Agent will send out the ‘Memorandum Of Sale’ which is a document that contains the details of the sale/purchase, and the details of all the parties involved in the transaction – the Applicant, the Applicant’s Solicitor, the Seller, and the Seller’s Solicitor. This document is then sent to each of these parties as notification that the sale process is beginning and it gives both of the Solicitors the information they need to begin the ‘Conveyance’. 


3. ‘Mortgage valuation’ or a ‘Survey’.  If the purchase relies on a mortgage, then the Lender will send out a Surveyor to confirm the valuation of the property. The Applicant would pay a fee for a ‘Valuation Report’ and often a fee to the Broker for their work in helping to line up a suitable mortgage. For added security and peace of mind for the Applicant, they may choose to get a more detailed survey done. A ‘Homebuyers Report’ will provide much more detail than the valuation report and will find highlight any potential problems with the property. The most comprehensive survey that is done is a ‘Full Building Survey’ which is often beyond the scope of most residential property purchases. 


4. ‘Conveyancing’. This is the term given to the legal process that takes place in transferring the title of a property through to ‘Exchange’ and ‘Completion’. This is carried out by Solicitors, not by the Agent. However it falls to the Agent to stay in touch with all parties within ‘the chain’ to ensure that things are moving along as they should be.  There are several steps in a conveyance that will include the following:


  • Issue of draft contracts
  • Completion of protocol documents (this confirms the fittings, fixtures, contents, and inclusions that come with the sale of the property)
  • Searches. This is carried out by the Applicant’s Solicitor to establish any potential issues the property might face. Several separate searches are carried out which include ‘local authority’, ‘coal mining’ ‘water’, and ‘contamination’.  When the searches are complete, this often raises enquiries from the Applicant’s Solicitor which are sent to the Seller’s Solicitor for clarification. This process is often the lengthiest part of the transaction as correspondence goes back and forth between Solicitors before each party is satisfied.   


4. Managing ‘the chain’. ‘The chain’ refers to the string of sales that are required to go through in order for your sale to go through. Unless the property is being purchased by a First Time Buyer, or an Investor, then there will usually be a chain. The length of the chain can vary, but the longer the chain, the more people are involved, the more variables there are and the higher the chance of there being a problem along the way. Chains of 10 aren’t unheard of – 10 buyers, 10 sellers, 20 Solicitors, and possibly 10 Brokers – that’s a lot of people to manage! A good Estate Agent manages this process. Long chains require a great deal of skill holding them together when problems arise.


5. ‘Exchange’. This is the shortened term for ‘Exchange of Contracts’. This is where the conveyance has been completed and each party have signed the legal documents to transfer the title of the property. The Applicant is often required to transfer a deposit for the purchase to their Solicitor at this point. Once exchange has happened, the sale has legally taken effect.


6. ‘Completion’. This often takes place a week after exchange to allow for the mortgage funds to be drawn down from the Lender and the exchange of funds between Solicitors.  Once this has happened the Buyer will be advised to collect the keys from the Agent and the process is complete.


As you can see, there is much more to an Estate Agents role in the sale process than first meets the eye!


If you need someone to help you sell your property in Leeds, give us a call today. Our experienced and skilled team are experts in completing sales affordably, smoothly, and within convenient timescales.

How to protect your home before your Easter holiday

Published: 08/03/2017   Last Updated: 26/04/2017 12:24:26   Author: CW    Tags: Protect Your Home, Home Security


 Don’t make it obvious you’re not home


Nothing says ‘I’m an empty house, help yourself’ like a pile of post by the door. Before you go away, give your neighbours your spare key and ask them to pop round every now and then to collect your post. If you don’t have neighbours, or maybe wouldn't trust them with a key to your house,take advantage of the Royal Mail’s Keepsafe service. This service will hold your post for up to two months for a small charge. Be sure to cancel milk and grocery deliveries too.


Switch off!


Every single appliance should be switched off at the plug, except your fridge/freezer! Not only does this reduce risk of fires, will also save you money on your utility bills. While you’re at it, turn your central heating off - to avoid paying to heat an empty house.

Keep them guessing

 Now you don’t have to do it Kevin McAllister style and trick any burglars into thinking you’re hosting a party, but you can purchase timer switches for your lights and set them to turn on and off at specific times, so that your house look lived in.

If you’ll be driving to the airport or your resort, see if you can find somebody to park on your drive while you’re away.

Lock up 

 

It sounds obvious, but make sure you check all doors and windows are locked before you leave. This includes garages and sheds! If you were to be burgled and your insurance provider found out your doors or windows were unlocked then they may be unwilling to pay out for a claim. Once the doors are locked, make sure keys are completely out of sight and reach of and windows or your letterbox!

Finally, leave a spare set of keys with your neighbours so that they can access your property if something was to go wrong.


 If you’d like any more advice from a top Estate Agent in Leeds, please get in touch.  We’d be very happy to help.

Overcoming challenges to HMO investing – Regulation

Published: 01/03/2017   Last Updated: 26/04/2017 12:24:45   Author: JG    Tags: HMO Regulation Leeds, HMO Property Investing Leeds

In a recent article, we discussed the challenging subject of obtaining planning permission for HMO’s in an article 4 area. 

There are a number of other hurdles to consider if you are looking to invest in HMO’s.  Here we will tackle another of them so you are prepared and to arm you with the knowledge that you will need.

This article will focus on the regulation requirements.


It’s no secret that HMO’s are a more complex area than typical buy-to-let and single let properties. Regulation can be broken down into different areas, for example:

  • Planning requirements. See our previous article on this, entitled ‘How to get planning permission for a HMO (in an article 4 area)
  • Licensing  requirements (this comes into effect when you are letting to 5 or more unrelated sharers from 2 or more households. For example letting a 5 bed property room-by-room almost always falls under this area)


There are a number of resources available on the subject and many of them can be found on your local authority’s website.

Of course, it may be easier for you to find an experienced Letting Agent in Leeds that is highly knowledgeable and specialises in this area (such as Dwell Leeds!). This will save you a lot of time and make sure you don’t miss anything. Mistakes can be dangerous and very costly if you find out the hard way!


Cost to set up a HMO

This can vary. You will need to understand that there are certain requirements that you will need to meet in order for your HMO to comply with planning and licensing requirements. Each HMO is different and needs consideration on an individual level, but for the purposes of the blog we will give some general rules here on how you will need to fit out your HMO. Most of these relate to fire safety.


Small HMO’s (3-4 beds)

Although these usually require planning permission for C4 use, these properties don't require a license, therefore there is usually less to do in the property to ensure it’s compliant. However, you will need to ensure you have:

  • Fire doors throughout the property
  • Interlinked hardwired smoke detectors with a battery back-up


Licensable HMO’s  (5+beds)

Again the exact requirements will vary depending on the property. It will also usually vary based on whether the council would classify the property as a category A or category B HMO. The different categories exist due to the intended use of the property. For example Category A is usually where all rooms are to be let to individuals that don’t come as a group and don’t know each other when they move in (AST’s on individual rooms). Category B is usually where the property is to be let to groups that come as a unit, for example students (one common AST). Category A usually has a more extensive list of requirements than Category B.  Common requirements are:

  • Fire doors throughout the property
  • Interlinked hardwired smoke detectors with a battery back up
  • Fire detection system
  • Fire blanket(s) close to cooker(s)
  • Emergency lighting with battery back-up
  • Escape routes in case of fire
  • Adequate cooking facilities
  • Adequate washing facilities
  • Adequate work surface space

This is not an exhaustive list and the precise spec is beyond the scope of this article.


If you are looking for more information on HMO regulation in Leeds, please get in touch and we will send you information that is relevant to you, for example Leeds City Council’s HMO guides, planning or licensing application forms, and detailed HMO specifications.

Do I need a 'For Sale' board?

Published: 22/02/2017   Last Updated: 26/04/2017 12:22:13   Author: Story    Tags: For Sale Boards

The Sale/To Let board is one of the oldest marketing tools used by Estate Agents! Even today, with the success of online marketing it is still considered one of the most important! The boards benefit your estate agent, and you, as you are likely to be keen to sell your house in a reasonable amount of time.


The boards are a symbol of a property being For Sale / To Let or Sold / Let. They get people talking, which can lead to a sale! Often homeowners are worried about their neighbours gossiping once they find out their house is on the market. However, chances are that at least one of your neighbours will have subscribed to Rightmove’s local property updates, and will have been notified as soon as you put your property on the market - board or no board!


If you live by a busy road, commuters will pass your house every day. These commuters may have no intention of buying your house, but will remember that it is on the market when talking to friends wanting to buy in the area! People talk and words spreads fast. This is a great marketing tool for your home! 


The relocators! These potential buyers don’t know the area well at all, but are visiting the area to get an idea of the kinds of properties on offer. If they like the look of your property, and the area, then they might take the time to contact the agents selling your house for more information, or find you online later.


Your home may have great curb appeal. It may be a striking design, it could be double fronted, or you may have had lovely new windows fitted. Whatever the reason your property looks good from outside is another reason the board will attract attention from Buyers. 


Many buyers take the time to walk or drive by a property before booking a viewing, to see if they like the look of it. If your estate agent doesn't give away the full address before a viewing, it is likely that your viewers will be looking out for your Sale / To Let board when trying to find your property.


It may not be a new tool, but it's still an extremely effective tool when it comes to selling your home. 


If you’d like any more advice on selling from an Estate Agent in Leeds, please get in touch.  We’d be very happy to help.

Should I use an online estate agent or a local independent estate agent to sell my property?

Published: 14/02/2017   Last Updated: 26/04/2017 12:25:17   Tags: Online Estate Agent, Local Independent Estate Agent, Sell My Property


The use of online agents has increased in the last couple of years. When it comes to sell your property, you will likely be weighing up the pros and cons of selling online or the more traditional way, through a local agent.

In this article we’ll look at both approaches so that you’re well enough informed to make the best decision for you.


Online agents


Online agents generally don't have local offices and have lower overheads. They state that these savings can be passed onto consumers through lower fees.

Some online agents have huge advertising budgets and you may recognise some of these brands from TV (you may have noticed that their advertising is aimed at you, the Seller, rather than the Buyer, ie. your property).


Pros

  • Lower fees
  • Convenience. The online agents have invested in technology which sometimes can put them ahead of the local independent agents in terms of convenience to the consumer, for example online 24/7 booking systems.  
  • Strong modern brand
  • Good online advertising through portals

 

Cons

  • You usually pay up front for the service. This may lead you to query how motivated your online agent is to complete your sale, after they have been paid.
  • If they don’t sell the property, you usually still need to pay their fee regardless. This may lead to a lack of responsibility, commitment, and or accountability
  • Lack of local knowledge. With no physical presence in your area you will need to question how well they actually know your area. This could have several implications – the obvious one being accuracy of valuation, but also it is unlikely they will have the network of local people – the buyers and sellers – who are known to them. Access to large numbers of local buyers, who are known to you, is key when selling your property.  Online agents cover huge territories and naturally are unable to know your area intimately
  • Lack of personal relationship or personal service. It’s not always easy to speak to the person doing the viewings on your property! Feedback is important so you need to make sure you’re receiving it effectively.


Local independent agents

Pros

  • Intimate local understanding. Local agents are rooted in their community and know the area like the back of their hand. Their kids go to the local schools, their friends meet in the local pub, they bump into you in the local supermarket. Your local agent has countless relationships with the people living in your area.
  • Accurate valuation. Because of such an intimate understanding of their patch they know what happens to house prices on your very street or development every month. They know what sells and what sticks and each fluctuation in price every month.
  • Access to local buyers. 75% of home movers move locally. By knowing and having helped these people move in the past means a relationship has often already been formed by your local agent with your next buyer. These buyers will still be on the agents mailing list, ready to receive details of your property when it hits the market.
  • Local agents are the masters of compromise. Let me give you an example - no buyer would put living on a main road on their criteria for their next home. If your home is on the main road, it’s value will often lie in the property itself, for example the size or spec, but getting people through the door could be a challenge.. Local agents have the foresight and intuition to offer the property to buyers who want to see their other properties that are close by. They would take the keys with them on another viewing and say something like this to the buyer: “I know you haven’t asked to see this next property Mrs Smith, but I have the keys and it’s just around the corner – I think you’re gonna love it…”
  • No sale, no fee. Local agents usually give this guarantee, despite their up front costs – if they don't perform, you don’t pay! What could be fairer than that? The local agent only get paid as a result of their actions to sell your property. There’s no question of motivation!
  • Good online marketing including the portals, print, email marketing, and social media presence
  • Personality. Good local agents have this in bundles and they are able to communicate this well with their audience via their brand and presence. Is your local agents personality one that would draw the attention of a buyer to your property?
  • Few points of contact. Usually you will be dealing with just 1-3 people from start to finish who you know, and are easy to get hold of when you need them.
  • Shared responsibility, commitment and accountability. Every customer is important to the local independent agent and they are invested in selling your property with you. Their role is to help you move and they want to be there with you once a buyer is secured – you and the sale of your home really matters!
  • Fees. We’ve put this as a pro and as a con. It’s a con since since online agents are usually cheaper. It’s a pro because UK Estate Agencies are by far the cheapest in the world. Worldwide fees are almost without fail in the region of…. wait for it….. 5%-15% of the selling price of your property! Yes, we are being serious.

Cons

  • Higher fees. The average fee charged by an agent is around 1.5%+vat of the selling price, which is usually higher than an online agent. But remember, this only based on the agent actually selling your home. The reason for the difference in price is that local independents have higher overhead than their online counterparts. These higher costs include a physical premises, staff salaries, and no benefit of economies of scale for example print, marketing and advertising. Around the world fees usually range from 5%-15% to sell your property.


Summary


The choice will come down to your personal preferences and values and which type of agent is the best fit for you and your property.

Clearly online agents are becoming a good option for many people in the modern world. However we believe there will always be great value in local independent agency that can never be truly replicated or replaced.

If you're looking for first class service from an independent Estate Agent in Leeds, look no further. Give us a call today, we'd love to come and meet you to give you some advice of how to sell your property in Leeds. 

Where Do Channel 5 News go when they want to discuss government's Housing Policy? Dwell Leeds of course!

Published: 08/02/2017   Last Updated: 26/04/2017 12:21:46   Author: J Graham    Tags: Channel 5 News, Housing Policy And First Time Buyers,


We welcomed Channel 5 News to the Dwell Leeds office yesterday, 7th February. They got in touch with us to get our input on the government’s long-awaited white paper on housing, that was released on the 7th February.


Channel 5 correspondent, Peter Lane, interviewed our Moving Maestro, Dan Finder. They discussed the current plight of First Time Buyers. Dan has a unique insight on this being both an Estate Agent, and a First Time Buyer.


A section of this interview was broadcast on the national news on the 7th February.  Did you manage to catch it? If not here it is on You Tube. A snippet of Dan’s interview is right at the start of the clip.





The paper aims to tackle the housing crisis and raised 29 action points for the government to get back on track towards meeting demand for homes in the UK. Amongst these included:


  • A provision for longer tenancies
  • Backing for institutional investment for Build To Rent schemes
  • A Starter Homes initiative to tackle “unfair leasehold terms for homebuyers”
  • A simplified plan making the process for developers
  • Making more land available for development, except in the green belt which will continue to be heavily protected
  • Improved resources for planning departments to speed up the planning process
  • Backing for small and medium sized developers under a Building Fund
  • Support for Housing Associations and local authorities to build more homes
  • Plans to bring empty homes back into usage


There has been early criticism for the report, with some branding it “too little too late” and not far reaching enough to meet pent up demand and the government’s own targets for much needed housing.


What are your thoughts? Get in touch and let us know.


What's the best time of year to sell my property?

Published: 03/02/2017   Last Updated: 26/04/2017 12:25:39   Author: Story    Tags: Sell My Property

If you are thinking of selling your home, it’s important to get it on the market at the right time of year to give yourself the best chance of securing a good offer.

Traditionally, spring is the peak time to sell houses, when the flowers are coming into bloom, evenings are warmer and lighter, and people have more time to view, away from the distractions that Christmas and summer holidays can bring. It also means that the move would most likely take place in the summer. This is appealing for parents, who might want to get their children settled into a new area before the next academic year starts.


If you are thinking of getting your home on the market this year, now is the ideal time to spruce it up ready for selling (see our blog on ‘staging’ the home for tips on how to do this).


If you don’t feel quite ready to sell yet, early autumn can be another good time to sell, but don’t leave it too late as you could hit the Christmas lull, when it’s cold, kids are off school, and everyone is too busy partying to think about viewing properties. The danger here is that your home could end up on the market for some time, leaving prospective buyers asking themselves, “Why is this house still on the market, what’s wrong with it?”


But what if you need to sell quickly, perhaps because you re relocating for work for example? You might not be able to choose exactly when you put the house on the market, in which case you may need to just bite the bullet and go for it anyway.


There may be some argument to say that in the winter months only the more serious property hunters are looking, so if your home is priced competitively for a quick sale and is well presented, you could still be in with a chance.


Whatever your circumstances, we can help you sell your home at a time that is convenient to you. So why not call us or drop in for an informal chat?


How to get planning permission for a HMO (in an Article 4 area)

Published: 24/01/2017   Last Updated: 26/04/2017 12:23:44   Tags: HMO Leeds

If you’re looking to buy a HMO (House in Multiple Occupation) in Leeds to let to 3 or more unrelated sharers, the thorny issue of planning permission may be on your mind. Leeds City Council brought in an ‘Article 4 Direction’ on the 10th February 2012 in order to control the use of HMO’s within a defined area. The Leeds Article 4 area map can be found here for reference. From the date onwards, properties within this area have become subject to a planning application for change of use from C3 (ordinary residential dwellings) to C4 (houses in multiple occupation) status. More information on this can be found on the council’s website here . This information on planning should not be confused with licensing, which we will discuss in a later blog.

It is important to know that HMO’s are not forbidden within the Article 4 area. But it does introduce an element of uncertainty into investing decisions.

It is also important to know that if the property has been continuously as a HMO since prior to the 10th February 2012, and this can be proven (usually via signed AST’s), then planning permission for change of use will not be required. ie the local authority accepts that the property may be operated under C4 usage without any further consent in this situation. However if the usage of the property has had any interruption in HMO usage, for example, if a family moved in since 2012 for any period of time, then this will not apply and an application for change of use as described above will still apply.

This means that HMO’s with continuous proven HMO history , or having obtained C4 through planning since 2012 may be sold at a premium. This is because the property is able to generate a higher income and yield as a HMO than C3 dwelling and therefore can justify a higher re-sale price. It grants the investor with piece of mind and security, which of course comes at a price. That said the price may well be worth paying!

Savvy investors will be thinking of the opportunities all of this raises at this point. If a clear understanding of the planning process and decision can be understood, then this can be used to their advantage.  For example:

1. It is possible to buy C3 obtain C4 usage, then flip for profit, or re finance to pull further funds out later.

2. The complex nature of planning, combined with the hassle an time involved is enough to put most would be property investors off in favour of something easier. This gives rise to a less competitive field, where the juiciest fruit is left for those that know how to find it.

So how do we go about understanding whether we can get planning for our HMO’s?

The planning department will treat every case uniquely and each application is assessed on a case-by-case basis. The process takes into account a lot of variables that include:
 
- Concentration of HMO’s already in use in that immediate area
- Parking provisions
- Bus stops and transport links close by
- Access to local employment
- Local demographic (ie families, students etc)
- Housing shortages
- Refuse
- Anti social behaviour
- Noise
- Would changing the use of property become and benefit or a detriment to the local area benefit ?

Clearly it’s not a straight forward decision. This is the reason the process is shrouded in uncertainty. There is no one size fits all approach. To make matters trickier, planners are notorious for keeping their cards close to their chest, providing vague responses to enquiries, and speaking in jargon. Not only that, the process takes a remarkable length of time to reach a decision and a fair amount of patience is required on behalf of the investor.

For this reason, we strongly suggest enlisting the help of a qualified Planning Consultant as a key member of your investing Power Team early on in the process. Speak to your Planning Consultant early on, and in advance of making your offer to buy the property. His evaluation will allow you to understand your chances with the likely planning decision.

You should also look for 3 exit strategies in case you do not get the planning decision you were hoping for. For example your options may look like this:

1. Obtain change of use to C4, refurb, let room-by-room, re finance, hold
2. Obtain planning to title split to 2 dwellings, refurb, let, re finance, hold
3. Refurbish, flip as C3 dwelling
 
You should be happy with the numbers of all of your exit strategies, should plan A not be possible.



If you are looking for a HMO or you already have one contact us today and we can show you how to get the best results.

12 top tips to sell your home

Published: 20/01/2017   Last Updated: 20/01/2017 10:20:16   Tags: Tips To Sell Your Property

12 top tips to sell your home

If you want to sell your house quickly for the best price possible, you need to show-case it in the right way so that others can see all the potential it has to offer as their future dream home.

If you can afford to push the boat out, some major renovations such as a new kitchen or bathroom could be a great investment, as you will recoup what you spent and lots more besides. For many though, the aim is to get the ‘wow’ factor without having to splash the cash, as many people prefer not to spend a huge amount on a property they will soon leave behind.

There are also lots of simple and cost effective measures you can take by ‘staging’ for sale:

1. It goes without saying that a good spring clean can go a long way to showing a home in its best light, but if you are not keen on household chores, you might want to pay a professional to give your home a really good deep clean.

2. A lick of paint in a light neutral colour can work wonders to freshen a place up, but take care not to make the home too much of a blank canvas - try to retain some personality.

3. Address any small issues that could make the place appear scruffy by filling in cracks in plaster, replacing lightbulbs where necessary and fixing minor maintenance problems such as loose door hinges or handles etc.

4. Get rid of any clutter that can make rooms appear untidy and cramped. Use storage boxes and pack any unused items away out of sight. Don’t go too mad though or the house might look cold and un-lived in. But simplicity is important so that viewers can appreciate the space, without being distracted by clutter.

5. One of the key things people look for in a property is lots of light, so if you have big windows with plenty of natural light make sure you mention this and show it off, by cleaning the windows inside and out, and removing any large plants, ornaments or clutter on windowsills that could block light out.

6. If your home tends to be dark in places, invest in some lamps to brighten up any dark corners. Clever use of mirrors can also help to bounce light back into the room and make it feel bigger.

7. Bathrooms and kitchens sell houses, so if yours are looking a bit tired there are a few things you can do to give them a lift without spending much. Some new fluffy towels in a coordinating colour, a bright new blind, and a good clean in all the nooks and crannies can work wonders. You could also whiten the grouting and replace the seals around the bath if you have time, as these tend to gather mould and mildew and can start to look a little manky.

8. The smell of a home can make or break a prospective purchase, so ensure that as well as looking nice your home also smells great – cigarette smoke, pets and cooking smells can put buyers off, while the smell of freshly baked bread or coffee can make a home seem more inviting.

9. Don’t forget the outside of the home too, as this is the first thing people will see. First impressions count, so paint the front door and window sills, cut the grass, clear the weeds, trim the hedges and make sure fences and gates are in good condition. You might also want to add a splash of colour by planting some pretty bedding plants or hanging baskets.

10. If you have any washing drying on radiators around the home, remember to move it out of sight before a viewing – there is nothing more off-putting than seeing somebody else’s smalls all over the place!

11. If you are showing viewers round yourself take a bit of time to consider the less obvious positives about your home beforehand and make sure you mention these. Viewers might not realise that the bathroom has underfloor heating for example, or that you have just purchased a brand new boiler, so make sure you tell them.

12. If your property is vacant whilst on the market, it’s important to ensure it’s not empty. Empty, unfurnished properties don’t spark the imagination with viewers. Furnishing and dressing the property for photos and viewings makes a huge difference. They will be able to see how the furniture fits the space and they will be able to imagine themselves living there. Always bear in mind that properties are sold on emotion, so sell the vision to them!

If you’d like any more advice on selling your home, come and talk to us, we’d be very happy to help.

Understanding how to invest in HMO’s

Published: 14/01/2017   Last Updated: 26/04/2017 12:24:06   Tags: HMO Investing


It is no secret that the best returns available for investors in residential lettings come from Houses In Multiple Occupation (HMO’s).


This is where a traditional family property is let to a group of unrelated sharers, or is let room-by-room to individual unrelated sharers. This maximises the rent that is achievable since there are several people to split the cost, rather than one family.
Why would tenants want to do this?


• Bills are typically included in the rent, making this a really convenient way to rent
• Rents are much lower than for an entire property making this a highly affordable way to rent
• It’s a fantastic way to meet new people! Most tenants renting in HMO’s are in their 20’s and this age group love to socialise. Not only that Leeds is a magnet for employment for young people. Meeting new people is a priority for those moving to a new city. What better way to do that but to move into a house share?

Whilst we have seen investor demand increasing for HMO’s in recent years to an extent, many choose to stay away from this area. The reasons we hear for this tends to around these concerns:


• Difficulties getting planning permission, particularly in an Article 4 area
• Difficulties getting finance
• Belief there is too much regulation/a misunderstanding of regulation/no time to learn this complex area
• Too much cost to set up the property to be a HMO
• Too management intensive
• Too much wear and tear on the property
• High tenant turnover and or void periods

Whilst these are valid concerns, after years of letting and managing HMO’s as well as investing ourselves, Dwell Leeds have been able to overcome all of these areas through experience and their understanding and knowledge of the market. We have successfully eliminated all of these concerns on many projects and we’re fantastically placed to help others to do the same. This means we are able to achieve some of the highest yields out there for investors in Leeds!


Because this market remains shrouded in misunderstanding and seeming complexity, many landlords avoid it altogether which makes for a less competitive field for the investors that are “in the know”.


The informed investors also understand that the true value in HMO’s comes from outsourcing the “hard work”, time consuming, nitty gritty stuff to a professional agent that really understands this area. This frees up their time and energy so they can focus on the more important things in life. This could be income generating activities such as finding more deals, more time to spend on their career. It also enables them to spend more time on the things they love – family, or hobbies. Our investors leverage our time, systems, knowledge, experience and team. In this way they create fabulous passive incomes for themselves without any hassle. This is the path to wealth creation. 


What are the returns?


This varies but generally they can be around double the return for a HMO than a single let. An average single let property in Leeds is around 5% net return, whereas the average HMO is close to a 10% net return (after all costs), although they can be higher.


Does this sound interesting to you?


In a series of upcoming blogs, I’ll address each of the typical concerns to show you how you can understand and master HMO investing.


The next blog will focus on achieving planning permission, which can be the most challenging hurdle. This can be challenging in Leeds since most of Leeds is within an Article 4 area, however it can be done. If you are not familiar with Article 4, this is a direction imposed by the local authority to restrict the use of HMO’s in a given location.



Government extends mandatory licensing of HMO's

Published: 03/01/2017   Last Updated: 03/01/2017 12:27:42   Tags: HMO Licensing 2016

Government extends mandatory licensing of HMO's - announced December 2016

The government have ended a consultation on Houses In Multiple Occupation (HMO) reforms on the 12th December 2016.

The consultation came ahead of proposals to extend licensing laws to increase the volume of HMO's that will require mandatory licensing.

The results of the consultation, have confirmed the following will be passed through secondary legislation

- there will be a removal of the storey rule. Previously a HMO license was required if the property had 3 storeys or more (with 5 ore more unrelated sharers from 2 or more households). Going forwards, 2 storey semi detached properties, and flats will become licensable if let in this way to multiple non family occupants
- set a minimum room size of 6.52m squared in line with the existing overcrowding standard

Other intended consequences include:

- improved storage a and disposal facilities for this type of let
- there may be an application of the 'fit and proper person test' for HMO landlords (The Housing and Planning Act 2016)

In  order to obtain a license, landlords will be required to provide a number of costly measures that will need to be taken, mostly to improve fire safety conditions, which often include the following installations:

- fire doors
- emergency lighting
- interlinked smoke detectors
- hard wired wire alarm system
- fire blankets
- additional cooking facilities
- additional washing facilities
- additional refuse facilities

It is expected that the changes will apply from early 2018. Fines for non compliance are unlimited. The measures are designed to provide safe accommodation in higher risk homes, protect tenants, and to improve standards.

The changes come after a difficult year for landlords following a raft of legislative changes relating to tax.

David Cox, Managing Director of ARLA has hit back at the proposals, raising some stark realities of the changes.

He said: “Landlord licensing doesn’t work.
“Councils already have a wide variety of powers to prosecute for poor property conditions and bad management practices, with penalties ranging from fines to seizure of property and even imprisonment.
“But councils don’t have the resources to undertake effective enforcement action. Imposing more burdens on councils will not mean improved standards and better conditions for tenants – it will merely mean more laws that are not being enforced.
“Further, we have to consider the unintended consequences of minimum room sizes.
“Some people are happy to take small rooms to keep their costs down. If these rooms are no longer available, where are people supposed to live?
“What’s more, if a small room in a property can no longer be let out, the costs of that room will be spread across the other tenants living in the property; pushing up their rents.
“A habitable room is essential but a one-size-fits-all policy doesn’t always work.”
You can read the full consultation paper here.

Here at Dwell Leeds we specialise in managing HMO's in Leeds. HMO's offer the highest returns of any residential lets to landlords. Successful HMO landlords outsource the increased management and regulation requirements to us to create a fantastic passive income. If you would like to learn more get in touch today.

Essential Tips For Tenants This Christmas

image

Published: 15/12/2016   Last Updated: 26/04/2017 12:22:44   Tags:


Contact details
Make sure that you know how to get in touch with us in the event of an emergency. Our office will be closed Friday 23rd December 2016 at 4pm, and will reopen on Tuesday 3rd January 2017 at 9am. Emails will not be monitored at this time.

In case of emergency only, out of office hours, please send us an SMS to 079 66 66 2971  with your name, address, phone number and the full details of the problem. If the issue is deemed to be an emergency, our Out of Hours Team will call you back to arrange the necessary action. Please note this number is for emergencies only and you may be charged an administration fee for incorrect use.

Frost protection
It is essential that heating is left on low and us not switched off.

Pipes can freeze and then burst during the cold weather and this can lead to major leaks causing much damage to property and your contents. To ensure this does not happen, we kindly request you leave your heating on low and constant over the winter months, even when your property is empty. If damage is caused due to your failure to do this, you may be liable for associated costs - so it is vital you do so.

Heating instructions
Burst pipes and other potential problems can be prevented by ensuring that the heating remains on low during cold spells. Be sure to know how your heating system works. If you require a copy of your manuals, these are available on line (by searching the make and model) or from Dwell during office hours.

If there is any issue with your heating or hot water (boiler) not working properly, the first thing to do before calling the emergency number is to check the pressure. This should be set between 1 and 2 bar on the gauge. Pressure drops are by far the single most common problem with heating and hot water. If the pressure has dropped to around 0, you can top this up yourself by opening the value for the filing loop and increasing the pressure. Ensure you know how to do this correctly by reading the manual before attempting to do so. If you can’t find a user manual, please google the make and model number for details.

Stopcock location
It is essential you know where to find the stopcock in the event of a plumbing emergency. Please make familiarise yourselves with the stopcock location if you do not know where it is. If there is a leak, the stopcock will need to be turned off quickly to avoid damage to the property, so it is important that you know where it is.

Security
If you are going away over the Christmas period (or, indeed, at any time during the year), you might consider having a lighting timer system fitted. This can be an effective way of reducing the chances of burglary. Always ensure all doors and windows are locked securely too and alarms are set if provide.

Fuse box location
Ensure you now the location of your fuse box. You might also consider leaving a torch in an obvious location (for example the kitchen) in order to make sure you can find it in the event that a fuse is blown or a switch tripped.

Condensation
Condensation can damage paintwork and fixtures and fittings, and can be a problem during the colder winter months. Make sure that you keep rooms properly ventilated, and that an even temperature is maintained throughout the property, in order to reduce condensation.

Insurance
Under the terms of your tenancy agreement, you are required to advise us if you are leaving the property for more than 14 days. Please send us an email to let us know if you are going away for 2 weeks or more. This often affects the terms of your landlords insurance policy and may also affect your contents insurance policy.

Thank you for your assistance in maintaining your home this Christmas!

We would like to take this opportunity to wish you a Very Merry Christmas and a Happy 2017

The Team at Dwell Leeds

#movingyouforwards


P.S. Why not “like” our Facebook page “Dwell Leeds” where we share some festive fun, property information and other good stuff!

Generation Rent And First Time Buyers

Published: 13/12/2016   Last Updated: 26/04/2017 12:22:56   Tags: First Time Buyers, Generation Rent


Young people are facing a tough economic landscape these days. With rising house prices it can seem that as fast as you are saving for a deposit, the deposit needed to buy a decent property is increasing. For so-called ‘generation rent’ home ownership is a dream many have given up on, but whether you want to rent or buy, there are many options to consider that can help you find your dream home.

Help to buy ISA
The good news is that for those who do still have their heart set on home ownership, help to save for a deposit is available from the Government in the form of a tax-free Help to Buy ISA. This helps increase your savings by 25%, so for every £400 you save, you will receive a further £100 from the Government, up to a maximum of £12,000 savings. This means if you save the maximum amount you will receive a further £3,000 boost, and if there are two of you saving for a property, you can both take one out, which will up the Government contribution to a whopping £6,000.

If that has given you further hope that you can afford to own your own home, take a look at just a couple of properties we currently have on the market to whet your appetite.

We are currently offering a modern 2-bed apartment in the highly desirable area of Horsforth which would make a great first time buyer home and is close to the station for commuting into Leeds city centre.

Which mortgage?
If you are buying a property for the first time, it can be daunting deciding which mortgage to choose. There are literally hundreds of options available from many different lenders, and if you choose the wrong one, you could end up paying more than you need to. Most mortgages last for a 2, 3 or 5 year term, so it’s always a good idea to seek advice from an independent financial adviser before you commit to anything.

Fixed
A fixed rate mortgage is the simplest type, and it does exactly what it says on the tin – the rate you pay each month is fixed for the duration of the mortgage term, meaning you can manage your monthly household budget knowing exactly what you will need to pay.

Variable
A variable rate mortgage can vary depending on interest rates. With a tracker mortgage, this tracks the Bank of England base rate, then adds a small percentage of interest on. With a discounted mortgage, the interest is set by the lender, and then a discount applied. Current low interest rates can help make your monthly payments more manageable, but remember that if you go for a variable rate, those costs could increase at any time, so make sure you can afford to take the extra hit if interest rates do rise.

Commitment-phobe
If your career is taking off, you might not want to commit to staying in one property or area. Many people are happy to move around the country to take advantage of where the best jobs are. If this sounds like you, you might decide you are better off renting for the time being. Renting offers many benefits including the freedom to move around more easily. In this case, the best advice is to be aware of unscrupulous landlords, by using a reputable lettings agency.

Why use a Letting Agent when renting?
Renting via a Letting Agent gives you the benefit of knowing that if any issues arise, such as maintenance problems, someone is on hand to address these quickly. We advise you to check that the Letting Agent is ARLA registered. This is important because ARLA agents have chosen to be regulated, understand tenant and landlord law, and follow a strict code of professional conduct. This means you will receive a professional service at all times.

Letting Agents also have the local knowledge to help you find the right property for you and avoid any dodgy areas, and can act as a middle man to help mediate between you and the landlord if any disputes arise.

If you are a young person renting for the first time, it can be difficult to demonstrate your ability to pay the rent, so you may be asked for somebody to act as a guarantor. This person will promise to cover the rent if for any reason you are unable to meet the payments. If you have just landed your first job, or if you are still studying, this could be a great way to overcome any barriers to renting your first home.

Whether you are looking to rent or buy, or even if you are still unsure, talk to us today - we can help you on your way to finding the right home for you.

A recipe for success: smarten up your kitchen

Published: 09/08/2016   Last Updated: 09/08/2016 15:12:38   Tags: Buyers, Investors, Landlords, Vendors

It’s not just the likes of Gordon Ramsay, Nigella Lawson and Jamie Oliver who love spending time in the kitchen.


During the years I’ve been an estate agent I’ve seen plenty of prospective buyers fall head over heels with a home after laying eyes on a well-designed, stylish kitchen.

If a kitchen has the wow factor buyers often develop the ‘we want it now factor’.


Think about it though for a minute. We spend a lot of time in our kitchens, especially if it is spacious enough to include a breakfast /dining area.


It’s often where we start the day, where families socialise and of course it’s a great spot to hang out at a party. It’s been said that life is often created in bedrooms but lived out in kitchens.


We’re often asked by vendors what’s the most important room from a buyer’s perspective. In my experience I’d have to say it’s usually the kitchen.


If you are going to spend money getting your home ready to market think carefully about how your kitchen looks, feels and if it needs upgrading.


Whatever property questions you might have please don’t hesitate to ask for our expert and always honest opinion.


Thanks for reading.

Want to get a SOLD or LET sign outside your property quicker? Call Jon and our team on 0113 3572260 or email jon@dwell-leeds.com for honest, expert and friendly advice.






Published: 15/07/2016   Last Updated: 09/08/2016 15:12:07   Tags:


Recently in our office had a chain with 6 properties involved.


That’s 6 buyers, 6 surveyors, 6 solicitors and countless chances for the deals to fall flat.


We got that deal over the line pretty smoothly with our vendor even saying they felt it wouldn’t have gone through without us.


How did we do it? Well, a good estate agent will have all the names and contact details of everyone involved in the chain.


Then it’s all about keeping on top of things, regularly chasing solicitors or surveyors, speaking with mortgage companies and liaising with clients. Daily if needs be.


At Dwell Leeds we a have panels of mortgage brokers, surveyors, solicitors we recommend. Not because we get anything out of it but we know without a doubt that they are all honest, efficient, pro active and professional.


We do everything we can to make a chain run as stress free as possible. It’s usually a lot of hard work but that’s just one of the reasons why we’re regarded so highly by clients we’ve worked for and with.


Want to get a SOLD or LET sign outside your property quicker? Call Jon and our team on 0113 357 2260 or email: info@dwell-leeds.com for honest, expert and friendly advice.

investment property in leeds

Published: 28/06/2016   Last Updated: 15/07/2016 15:10:52   Tags: Buyers, Investors, Landlords, Vendors

Are you interested in buying a property to let either now, or sometime in the future?

Would you like to build assets and a passive income from the comfort of your desk or even whilst sitting on the sofa with your feet up?

By registering your details with us we will add you to our Investor list. We have a team of property sourcers, marketing boffins, and property experts scouring on and off market deals for great investments for you. Forging strong relationships with Agents and Vendors, we are building a pipeline of high yielding property investments for you.

We won't pass your details onto any third parties without your consent. Take a look at our Privacy Policy for details on how your information is held and controlled.

The great news is that it's completely FREE to register for updates!

Just enter your details HERE and then one of our team will CALL YOU BACK to learn more about your requirements and how we can assist you with your next investment.

What are you waiting for?

Dwell Leeds celebrate launch of new website

image

Published: 14/06/2016   Last Updated: 26/04/2017 12:22:32   Tags:

Dwell Leeds are celebrating their new website, which was published in June 2016.


The new site brings an updated look and feel to their brand, and features many improvements for users.


The site has a modern and fresh look and is easy to navigate. Whether you are a tenant, landlord, investor, seller, or buyer, there is some great information relevant to you, found easily within an intuitive menu.


There a number of Area Guides on the site designed to assist those looking to learn more about Leeds’ suburbs, perhaps ahead of moving to the area.


Other new additions include an invitation to “Meet The Team” where you can get to know the people behind the Agency and the Dwell Leeds Blog returns by popular demand.


“We’re delighted to launch the long awaited new site which really show cases what we do and how we are different to our competitors” commented ‘Head Honcho’, Jon Graham.


“Our new site also introduces a new Sourcing service which is aimed at property investors looking to grow their portfolios. This great new service enables investors and landlords in Leeds to be introduced to great property deals, whilst benefitting from our experience, knowledge, and team, to grow their assets and build passive income."

 

"Uniquely in Leeds, our end-to-end system means that we can expertly deal with every stage of their property investment – Sourcing, Refurbishing (adding value), Letting, Managing, and Selling. We invite anyone interested in property in Leeds to get in touch so that we can show them how we can help” said Jon.


If you would like to take a look at the website yourself you’ll find it at www.dwell-leeds.com

How to add value to your property – Spare this idea some thought

image

Published: 10/06/2016   Last Updated: 26/04/2017 12:23:20   Tags:

Do you have a spare room at home?  Is it the room which time forgot? Is it where everything ends up getting stored /dumped or simply forgotten about?

It could be housing a vast collection of luggage, boxes of ‘stuff’ that’s bound to come in ‘handy’ one day or it could be home to your collection of books you bought before the Kindle/iPad / E reader revolution.

Whatever you use it for you need to give it some serious thought if you are thinking of selling.

By spending a bit of time, and in some cases a little bit of money, you’ll get the most out of the spare room and can make it really attractive to potential buyers.

Some transformations which are affordable, easy to do and enhance your home’s appeal include:

Create a guest room. Even if it’s just a box room get a single bed, some nice linen and a smart bedside cabinet with a lamp and hey presto you’ve created a space which opens up possibilities in the minds of the viewers.

Turn the room into a home office. More and more people are working from home or like to have it as an option. A desk, office chair and some shelving turn your ‘junk room’ into a valued and desirable ‘think tank’ and home study.

Make the space a hobby room. This will shows viewers that your home offers them the space to live out their interests and ticks a big box on many people’s property wish lists.

Create a toy room. If you have children give them their own space and keep other areas of the house free from the clutter of toys. Just remember to keep on top of keeping it tidy when viewings are arranged.

Whatever you decide to do with that extra room, remember available space is a big selling point your home needs to utilise.

Once you’ve given your spare room a personality, what can you do with all that stuff that was housed in there?

Easy, even if you don’t have a loft or garage, look at renting a small self storage unit while your property is on the market.

If you have any questions about this, or any other property related subject please don’t hesitate to contact us.

At Dwell Leeds we really are here to help.

Thanks for reading,

Dwell Leeds

Want to get a SOLD or LET sign outside your property quicker? Call Sam and our team on 0113 357 2260 or email: sam@dwell-leeds.com for honest, expert and friendly advice.

A picture paints a thousand words

image

Published: 02/05/2016   Last Updated: 09/08/2016 15:09:21   Tags: Buyers, Investors, Landlords, Vendors

Imagine you hired a professional photographer to come and capture on film a special event you were holding and he or she turns up with a smartphone and starts clicking away.


I guess you’d be horrified, I know I would be.

When you employ a professional you expect a certain level of service.

In the photographer’s case you’d quite rightly demand they have the right equipment, and supply you with a range of photos to choose from and stick around for as long as the occasion demanded.

When it comes to special family events such as weddings, birthdays or christenings photos are incredibly important and not an area you’d want to skimp on.

It is exactly the same with property photography. The photos are THE most important tool for marketing the property online and indeed offline.

The cost of poor photography can cost you thousands of pounds when you sell your house. When we are given an instruction to sell a property we do not cut corners.

At Dwell Leeds we use professional grade equipment and train our staff to ensure each photo shows your home in its very best light.

We take the time to make sure every shot looks good so you won’t see coats over chairs, toys in the middle of the front room or even a wheelbarrow in the middle of the front path.

We’ve often revisited a property when the sun is out to take exterior shots as this often makes the pictures far more appealing. Everyone loves a blue sky backdrop.

It’s this attention to detail which help make up the big picture (pun intended, sorry) and ensure your property is shown in all its glory.

Thanks for reading.

Dwell Leeds,

Want to get a SOLD or LET sign outside your property quicker? Call Sam and our team on 0113 3572260 or email: info@dwell-leeds.com for honest, expert and friendly advice.

Don’t get caught out by changes to energy rules

image

Published: 18/04/2016   Last Updated: 09/08/2016 15:11:02   Tags: Buyers, Investment

We are proud of being experts on the local property market in Leeds.

We are equally proud of keeping a focussed eye on any changes to laws and legislation which may affect our clients.

One such change has been the recent Government decision, which will come into effect on April 1, 2018, to require private rental properties to meet a minimum level of energy efficiency.

The move relates to Energy Performance Certificates (EPC). In layperson’s terms, EPCs rate the energy efficiency of a property from A to G (A being the most energy efficient).

They also contain recommendations on where you could make improvements.

The government plan is to ensure all EPC rated properties on the rental market are a least an E. This means it will be unlawful to rent out properties with an F or G rating.

I’ve already had several discussions with landlords about what this will mean for them. One thing is certain people purchasing buy to let properties will need to factor in any extra costs this change could bring.

The costs could be big enough to scupper any deal so be warned.

If you have a Buy to Let property or are thinking of investing in one please give us a call and we can explain more about the proposed changes.

Thanks for reading.

Dwell Leeds,

Want to get a SOLD or LET sign outside your property quicker? Call our team on 0113 3572260 or email: info@dwell-leeds.com for honest, expert and friendly advice.

Don’t be haunted by ghost gazumping

image

Published: 12/04/2016   Last Updated: 10/05/2016 09:26:13   Tags: Buyers, Investors, Landlords, Tenants, Vendors

Over the years estate agents have received a lot of criticism for unscrupulous practices.

Whenever I read or hear a story about a ‘dodgy’ estate agent my heart genuinely sinks.

The damage these rogue agents do to the industry’s reputation is appalling and makes it much harder for the vast majority of honest, hard working and professional agents  to win the public’s trust.

One sharp practice is ghost gazumping. It’s when a seller agrees a fee with a buyer then a few weeks later raises the price saying they’ve received an offer from another very interested party.

When this higher offer comes in just before completion the prospective buyer is faced with coming up with thousands of pounds more or suffering the agony of losing their ideal home.

That kind of practice is bad enough but often the last minute mystery bidder doesn’t even exist. Some unscrupulous agents are involved in this web of deceit and it sickens me.

If you ever come across this practice please report it to The Property Ombudsman.

At Dwell Leeds I can hand on heart promise you we never, ever get involved in these kinds of immoral and dishonest practices.

I remember reading about an example of ghost gazumping in 2008.

A seller, who was a property developer, had agreed a price on a refurbished home with a young family. It was their dream place and they couldn’t wait to move in.

Then the seller took advice from his agent suggesting he could up the price as the property market had risen since their offer.

The seller agreed and said someone had come in with an offer of £10,000 more (no one had) and that he needed them to beat this offer. No doubt he and the agent were banking on the family’s desire for this home.

To cut a long story short the family, as heartbroken as they were, couldn’t raise the extra money and out of principle pulled out of the deal.

Now for the bit that makes me believe in property karma. Just two weeks after the buyers pulled out the credit crash hit wreaking havoc in the housing market. Almost overnight the market dried up like the Sahara.

The greedy seller in question was left with a property he couldn’t sell. Prices in his area tumbled as buyers simply wouldn’t or couldn’t make offers.

With a desperate bank banging down his door calling in the loan he had taken out on the property he was left with no option but to sell for a very low price simply to cut his losses.

In the end he lost more than £150,000 simply by trying to wring out an extra £10,000 from a young family. Good I hear you cry and I agree.

The unscrupulous agent also missed out on the commission and tarnished their reputation (and unfortunately the industry’s).

At Dwell Leeds we always act with integrity and advise honestly so you won’t have to fear ghosts or prices that go and jump in the night.

Thanks for reading.

Dwell Leeds,

Want to get a SOLD or LET sign outside your property quicker? Call Dwell Leeds and our team on 0113 3572260 or email: info@dwell-leeds.com for honest, expert and friendly advice.

The Great Outdoors has a Big Impact on a Property’s Value

image

Published: 04/04/2016   Last Updated: 10/05/2016 09:30:46   Tags: Property Value, Garden

At Dwell Leeds we love it when the clocks go forward. The days are longer, the evenings much lighter and people are starting to venture outside again.

Put simply most people love being outside when the better weather arrives.

When spring takes centre stage, people tend to feel happier and serious buyers get out and about in droves.

However, some people who prepare their home for sale either fail to ensure their garden looks as attractive as possible.

At Dwell Leeds we have many prospective buyers giving us their property wish list. A garden is very often on those lists.

In some cases people are even more specific and state their new home MUST have a south or west facing garden so they can soak up the most hours of sunshine.

A good garden can be a huge plus point for buyers, especially those with young children or planning a family.

You don’t have to be Alan Titchmarsh or Monty Don to make it more appealing. At the very least you should make sure it is tidy, clutter free and colourful if possible.

A trip to the garden centre should provide a lot of ideas about how you can breathe new life into your garden.

So don’t just think outside of the box when getting your property prepared to sale – think outside of your home.

Thanks for reading,

Dwell Leeds,

Want to get a SOLD or LET sign outside your property quicker? Call Dwell Leeds and our team on 0113 3572260 or email: info@dwell-leeds.com for honest, expert and friendly advice.

Shower power versus bathtub bliss

image

Published: 30/03/2016   Last Updated: 10/05/2016 09:33:54   Tags: Buyers, Investors, Landlords, Students, Tenants, Vendors

Imagine a world without baths – it’s easy if you try. (Wasn’t that a John Lennon lyric?)

A footballer being sent off for an early shower doesn’t have the same ring to it does it? (Have you seen the baths in the dressing rooms at Wembley Stadium? Seriously, you could actually swim in them.)

Having a soak in a hot shower doesn’t sound quite as appealing as relaxing in the tub.

However, we’re seeing more and more properties without baths. The most common reason for this is to create extra space.

If you have a big bathroom and a capable builder often, with a bit of creativity, you can turn the space into two rooms – a bathroom and box/study room – by installing a shower and removing the bath.

Having a bath is often seen as a luxury in our increasingly hectic lifestyles. Does having one or not affect a property’s value? Not really.

Some people will insist on having a bath especially if they have young children but a lot of our buyers don’t seem to have a strong preference.

For me, having a bath after a long, busy day is fantastic. Now where did I leave the bath salts?

Thanks for reading,

Dwell Leeds.

Want to get a SOLD or LET sign outside your property quicker? Call Jon and our team on 0113 2572260 or email: info@dwell-leeds.com for honest, expert and friendly advice.

How available is your estate agent?

image

Published: 22/03/2016   Last Updated: 10/05/2016 09:35:59   Tags: Buyers, Investors, Landlords, Students, Tenants, Vendors

One thing the team here at Dwell Leeds has in common is that we’ve all bought and sold homes in the past.

This means we have walked a mile in our clients’ shoes and can see our business from their perspective.

We were discussing this in our office this week. One of the biggest frustrations we had with our individual dealings with estate agents was how hard it was to speak with them. Basic stuff, but very important when you’re making what will probably be the biggest purchase/sale of your life.

I remember when I was in the process of buying my first home and leaving messages for the agent to call me but only getting a response two or three days later.

It was one of the things we vowed to do differently when we started Dwell Leeds.

That’s why we include our mobile numbers on our business cards. That’s also why we operate an ‘out of hours’ service where if a client wants to contact us after usual office hours they can.

In the age of the internet we could have gone down the route of being an online only estate agency, having a virtual office somewhere and doing the majority of our work over the phone or via email.

But from our own buying and selling experience we all agreed that having offices in prominent local locations would help us deliver even better client service.

We get lots of people popping into our office to discuss how their sale is progressing or to book a valuation. For me that face to face interaction is incredibly important.

When you instruct an agent to work on your behalf you want there to be trust and rapport. We believe the best way to achieve that is by meeting with and talking to people about their needs.

Thanks for reading,

Dwell Leeds.

Want to get a SOLD or LET sign outside your property quicker? Call Jon and our team on 0113 3572260 or email: info@dwell-leeds.com for honest, expert and friendly advice.

The sweet smell of success

image

Published: 10/03/2016   Last Updated: 10/05/2016 09:38:05   Tags: Buyers, Investors, Landlords, Students, Tenants, Vendors

At Dwell Leeds we know first impressions count – whether it’s a job interview, a date or viewing a property.

Home buyers nowadays make even quicker snap judgments than they did a decade ago.

We constantly find that buyers want properties that not only appeal to their eyes but also their noses.

I’m sure you’ve read or heard about how properties where the smell of coffee brewing or freshly baked bread makes viewers swoon.

However, in the real world it’s highly unlikely that you’ll have an endless stream of homemade loaves in the oven or a constant cafetiere on the go – unless you’re selling a coffee shop of course.

Realistically the best way to create an instant positive impact on once someone’s sense of smell when they have stepped through your front door is a combination or ALL of the following:

- Fresh flowers – not only look good they smell good

- Freshly painted walls – always a good investment when preparing a property for sale.

- Clean crisp bed sheets and don’t forget there are some fantastically subtle plug-in air fresheners are on the market now.

The smells to avoid like an overflowing fish bin on the hottest day of the year include:

- Stale tobacco.

- Food caddies which are full of old food in the kitchen

- Cheap and nasty air fresheners.

- Old cat litter, damp dog blankets and any other animal related smells.

Put simply nice smells sell while stale air fails.

Thanks for reading,

Dwell Leeds

Want to get a SOLD or LET sign outside your property quicker? Call Jon and our team on 0113 3572260 or email: info@dwell-leeds.com for honest, expert and friendly advice.

When cheap isn’t very cheerful

image

Published: 29/02/2016   Last Updated: 10/05/2016 09:43:20   Tags: Buyers, Investors, Landlords, Tenants, Vendors

Estate agents’ fees for selling a property can vary wildly. In many parts of central London 2.5 per cent is a standard fee. However, I’ve seen agents advertising fees as low as 0.25 % or even a flat rate of £500.

There is no way any agent doing their job properly can charge £500 and make money. They would have to cut more corners than a Grand Prix driver in several key areas just to break even or reduce their losses.

For a property to achieve its best price in the shortest possible period of time it needs to be well marketed.

Online portals aren’t cheap, neither are professionally designed marketing materials. However, the area where the vendor can get really short-changed by a ‘cheap’ fee is the level of personal service they receive.

When an agency bases its business on charging rock bottom fees there’s no way they can attract the best level of staff because good people won’t work for low wages. The saying ‘if you pay peanuts you get monkeys’ springs to mind.

Remember selling your home is probably one of the single biggest transactions you will make in your life.

You want to get the best possible price for your property. The difference between a quick sale and a good sale could be tens (even hundreds) of thousands of pounds.

At Dwell Leeds we’re flexible on our commission fees to a point. We’re not a ‘pile them high, sell them cheap’ agency but we do understand it’s a competitive market and we always aim to be competitive.

But one thing we never compromise on is our commitment to looking after your property needs as best we can.

Thanks for reading

Want to get a SOLD or LET sign outside your property quicker? Call Jon and our team on0113 357 2260 or email jon@dwell-leeds.com for honest, expert and friendly advice.

Top areas for professional lets in Leeds

image

Published: 09/09/2015   Last Updated: 06/06/2016 15:22:29   Tags: Buyers, Investors, Landlords, Students, Tenants, Vendors

Leeds is a dynamic and exciting place to live but if you’re looking for your first home in the city, choosing the best area to live can prove to be a little daunting!

Here at Dwell our portfolio of professional lets in Leeds covers a wide range of areas so we thought we’d offer an insight into just some of the best places to live for Leeds-newbies.  Our next post will give more ideas on great places to live in Leeds for professional tenants.

Leeds City Centre

Living in the centre of Leeds is an obvious choice for professionals and is the ideal location for anyone who works in the city centre.  Including a wide range of stylish options for city-centre living, our property portfolio covers stunning executive apartments and well-designed flats.

Leeds city centre boasts some of the best shopping opportunities outside London, alongside countless restaurants, bars and cafes.  Leeds now enjoys a reputation for its distinctive cultural scene, thanks to the city’s wide range of museums, art galleries, theatres and music venues.  If you like nothing more than being right at the heart of the action and within easy reach of the office, Leeds city centre will be right up your street!

Headingley

Just north of the city centre, Headingley has become a firm favourite with young professionals and students alike.  Offering an unbeatable selection of gorgeous period properties, many of which have been converted into elegant flats, Headingley’s tree-lined streets are within easy reach of the city centre.

Living in Headingly doesn’t mean that you’ll have to head into the city centre for entertainment though as this diverse area of Leeds boasts a great selection of independent shops, cafes, bars, restaurants and several cinemas.  The perfect location for anyone who likes to maintain a hip and happening social life, we think Headingley is pretty hard to beat.

Chapel Allerton

Whether you’re a young professional or a busy working family, we think you’ll find that Chapel Allerton ticks all the right boxes.  This area of Leeds has a really relaxed feel to it, thanks to its mixture of stylish independent shops, laid-back cafes and bars.  Properties in Chapel Allerton are as diverse as the area itself and include everything from spacious detached Victorian homes, through to contemporary new build apartments.

Chapel Allerton is within easy reach of Leeds city centre and because of its location to the north east, also makes a great place to live if you need to commute to towns such as Harrogate and Wetherby.

Cookridge

Cookridge offers the best of both worlds: a tranquil, leafy suburb, this lovely area of Leeds offers a great range of local amenities whilst being within easy commuting distance of the city centre.

Cookridge has its very own ‘village centre’ and thanks to its location in-between the areas of Headingley and Horsforth, a wide selection of shops, cafes, pubs and restaurants are within easy reach.  Golf enthusiasts will appreciate the 18 hole course at Cookridge Hall but if golf isn’t your thing, Cookridge Hall also has a fantastic fitness centre and gym.

Cookridge offers a diverse choice of housing, ranging from spacious detached properties through to stylish flats.  A superb location for professionals who want to live within easy reach of the office, Cookridge has a real cosy village feel; perfect for getting away from it all at the weekends and after work.

If you’re looking for a professional let in Leeds we hope this insight will help!  This article covers just a few of the residential areas Leeds has to offer. Here at Dwell Leeds we’re specialists in helping professionals find their ideal home in Leeds and if you would like advice on the best area for you, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. Don't forget to come back in a few weeks time for more suggestions on great locations for professional lets in Leeds.

 

To learn more about the best areas for professional lets in Leeds, check out our area guides by clicking on the links in the footers.

 

Leeds is a great place to buy to let!

image

Published: 20/05/2013   Last Updated: 06/06/2016 15:27:49   Tags: Buyers, Investors, Landlords, Tenants, Vendors

Buy-to-let properties in Leeds offer a better investment than ever.

Although renting has become a way of life for many young professionals, for many it’s not a situation they want to be in. However it does mean that for anyone considering investing in a rental property in the Leeds area, the chances of finding tenants are higher than ever, making buy-to-let a cost-effective option once again.

Savers are finding that the returns on their accounts are pretty dismal; making the figures for investing in buy-to-let looks increasingly appealing. The demand for rental properties among young professionals unable to make that first step onto the housing ladders is rising with many having to rent during their 20s, 30s and even beyond. The average first-time buyer is now in their thirties with the age of those buying their first property without financial help being older.

Countrywide, the UK’s biggest lettings agency, released figures this week which show that the average rent in England, Scotland and Wales has risen for six months in a row, hitting the £842 mark last month. This is a 0.8 per cent increase year-on-year.

Whilst average yields (the annual rent as a percentage of the price paid for a property) are a very healthy 6.2 per cent, it is still essential to make sensible choices when it comes to choosing a property and tenants. Although young professionals are often seen as reliable tenants, it is very important adequate identity, credit and reference checks are carried out before the keys are handed over.

Remember that location is key to any successful buy-to-let investment. Rental properties in Leeds near stations tend to be snapped up and we find that properties within walking distance of Burley Park or Horsforth stations, for example, are always popular. It’s also worth considering how close a property is to local amenities such as restaurants or a gym.

Investing in a buy-to-let property in a university city such as Leeds can prove a wise investment as many young professionals settle in the city in which they studied, with many gravitating away from ‘traditional’ student areas such as Headingley or Hyde Park to Leeds city centre and the leafy suburbs of Roundhay, Chapel Allerton or Cookridge.

One final piece of advice: if you’re considering investing in buy-to-let, don’t discount a property that you wouldn’t want to live in yourself! Remember that the let-ability of a property often boils down to location and that many young professionals simply want to be within easy reach of transport to work or a couple of decent places to eat out!

How to guarantee your deposit back

Last Updated: 10/07/2017 10:12:20   Tags: Guarantee Your Deposit Back

If you are renting a property, chances are you have had to pay a deposit, and chances are that at the end of the tenancy agreement, you will be anticipating getting this money back. Meanwhile your landlord will be expecting that if the property has been vacated in a condition less than it was when you moved in, your deposit will be used to cover any necessary repairs, replacement of items, and cleaning.

It’s a fair arrangement, however sometimes disagreements can arise about the condition the property was in when tenants arrived, compared to the state it has been left in. It’s been known that (a minority of) unscrupulous landlords may try to cash in, by claiming items have been damaged or the property needed cleaning, in order to make a claim on the deposit.

To avoid this type of disagreement arising, it is important to make sure that a thorough inventory of the property is issued at the start of the tenancy agreement. This should include all furniture, fittings and fixtures and other items that are provided by the landlord, as well as the condition of the property overall. The more detailed this is the better, as this will avoid disputes arising later.

You should also make sure that any items belonging to the landlord remain at the property, and that the property is thoroughly cleaned before you leave. Any maintenance issues such as broken appliances should always be reported to the landlord at the time they arise, as it is their responsibility to repair these for you if they are included in the tenancy agreement. If you wait until you vacate the property to report issues, you might find it leads to problems later on.

A good landlord or agent will write to you to remind you of your responsibilities with a check list of items that you should go through before you leave so that nothing is missed. This may include cleaning, carpet cleaning, blown lightbulbs, and removal of rubbish or other items that belong to you. It is however your responsibility to ensure you are thorough at this stage as you waould not be allowed to re enter the property after the end of the tenancy.

If you are currently experiencing rental deposit problems, yet you feel the property has been left in excellent condition, you do have some options. If you are on an assured shorthold tenancy agreement (and most renters are, unless you are a lodger) your landlord or letting agent should by law be in a Tenancy Deposit Scheme. This is a Government backed scheme to ensure tenant’s
deposits are protected. Your landlord has to pay your deposit into the scheme, and unless they have a valid reason not to return it to you at the end of the tenancy, you should get all of your deposit back.

If you feel your landlord is withholding your money without good grounds, and you need some rental property deposit help, you can use the ADR (Alternative Dispute Resolution) service, which is provided as part of the Tenancy Deposit Scheme. Under the ADR, your situation will be assessed by an independent third party, and they will determine how the deposit is to be split considering the evidence.

We hope this guide has been helpful, and of you need any support in finding your next property, whether renting or buying, we’d be happy to help.
Show More Articles