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Being a Landlord

Owning one or more buy-to-let homes is the dream of many people. The idea of passive income, financial security and building a comfortable retirement is an inviting prospect that, for many landlords, has led to a complete change of lifestyle and career. Alongside all the headline benefits are many things to consider before embarking on the journey. There's plenty of legislation to keep on top of to ensure your rental homes stay compliant with every change in the law, and it's also important to remember that being a landlord means running a business. A bit like a romantic relationship, the beginning is the easy bit – buying a property is just the start and, once you've picked up the keys, the real work begins. You'll learn all sorts of things about yourself, not least when things don't go to plan. So, let's take a look at some of the aspects of starting, building and managing a rental portfolio so you can decide whether being a landlord is something for you. …


Struggling to Sell

Despite the strongest market in a decade with property selling faster than ever, there are still homes in Staffordshire or South Cheshire that have not sold. If you've been on the market for some time, you could be wondering why on earth you don't have a buyer when demand is so high. With a backdrop of record-breaking prices, selling speeds and low supply, it's far easier for an agent to make a sale than to fail, so why is your home not under offer? Whatever stage you're at, the good news is that however long you've been on the market, there's always a path to finding a buyer. It's simply a matter of asking the right questions then taking the right steps.…


Renting to Families

Families are among the most stable tenants you can find, not least because the process of moving home is so much more complicated than for single people and couples. As well as having more furniture and belongings to pack and transport, the potential disruption to children's lives, including changing schools and finding new friends, means families are usually on the hunt for a long-term home. That's good news for you as a landlord because it cuts down on void periods and means your tenants get to form a deeper and longer connection to your property, which usually translates into caring for it as if it were their own. That's backed up by research from the National Landlords Association that family homes are, on average, 30% less work to manage. Families look for particular qualities in considering whether a property is suitable for them, so this week is all about ensuring your buy-to-let property ticks all the boxes as a family home.…


Magic Moments

Have you ever drunk a smoothie? They're wonderfully delicious, but it can be challenging to identify each individual flavour when strawberry, spinach, ginger, honey and turmeric are all vying for your attention. House hunting can be a bit like that. Evenings and weekends full of viewings and meeting estate agents can make homes begin to blur as the numbers mount up, and recalling all the different rooms can be an impossible task. So, when you've tidied, decluttered and cleaned to perfection, how can you make your home the one that buyers remember?…


Smooth Moves

Most moves have a lot riding on them, and, if you're thinking of selling your home, there's probably a good reason behind it. Perhaps you're moving in with a partner, expanding your family, relocating for work, thinking about schools, considering downsizing, or simply moving to your ultimate dream location. None of these are small events. They're pivotal life moments filled with anticipation, and when the next chapter of your life depends on the sale of your home, it can be an emotional time. We believe that estate agents have a unique role to play in making your move an enjoyable and exciting experience. Because moving is exciting, and it can absolutely be enjoyable. In that spirit, let's look at what you can plan for and what to be prepared for so you can keep a level head at every stage of selling your home.…


Growth or Yield

"At least one in six people on The Sunday Times Rich List owes their wealth to property or the world of home ownership in some way". Those are the words of Robert Watts, the man who compiles The Sunday Times Rich List. Building a successful lettings portfolio is an exciting route to financial freedom, and picking a direction for your buy-to-let business ultimately comes down to two choices: capital growth or rental yield.…


Summer Viewings

Summer is upon us, and with it comes the best time of the year to sell your home (and to be an estate agent!). Blue skies, warm temperatures and nature in bloom make photos look brilliant, and homes look their best, while the lighter nights fuel faster decisions with fewer viewings in the dark.…


Hiring Contractors

Whenever you ask someone if they know a good contractor, you’ll never be far from a tale of woe: the plumber who never turned up; the electrician who bodged the job; the builder who overcharged and left a huge mess. It’s taken us many years to build a circle of reliable contractors, and we’ve had plenty of upsets along the way. Unfortunately, even the good ones go bad, get too busy, or simply disappear, so we keep our eggs in more than one basket to ensure we have a backup plan.…


The Niche Landlord

Specialise or diversify? That's a big question for many landlords when it comes to expanding their portfolios, and if you look around Google long enough, you'll find arguments for both. You don't have to have a niche. You could choose a wide spread of property types across multiple locations, but you'll undoubtedly become more knowledgeable with some sort of speciality, and you'll find it easier to manage your portfolio.…


Hidden Potential

Potential is a magic word in property and no wonder. As our home lives continue to evolve, we're examining every corner for how it can offer us more. Could the layout be more sociable? Can we create a workspace? Is there scope to add more bedrooms? How can we increase the levels of luxury and light? One of the unseen parts of an estate agency is looking for potential in every home, not just those that need modernising. And as your selling partner in your move, it's part of our job to explore every possibility to widen your audience and get you the best price. …


Back on the Market

Nobody wants to feel left on the shelf. Seeing your neighbours sell and move out while you’re stuck on the market for months, can be disheartening and confusing. And when you’ve poured your heart and soul into your home, but nobody seems to want it, what are you supposed to do? How long is too long before you give up? It might be small comfort, but many homes fail to sell with their first agent, so you’re neither alone nor even unusual. Perhaps the initial momentum has stalled, or there was never one in the first place. Maybe the advice you received hasn’t delivered the promised results, or a price reduction hasn’t worked, or the contact from your agent has been a source of disappointment. …


Accidental Landlord

Not everyone sets out to be a landlord, and becoming an accidental one is more common than you might think. An accidental landlord is someone who becomes a landlord by circumstance rather than by plan, and it can happen for several reasons. You could be relocating for work, moving in with your partner, or having trouble finding a buyer for your current home. Or you might have inherited a property.…


Setting the Scene

No matter how neat and tidy they are, people always ask us how their home should look on viewings and whether they can improve their presentation. While no one expects you to live in a perfect show home, buyers do react well to a bit of pizzazz and polish. They're looking to be seduced, and the way you present your home can shorten the time it takes to agree a sale, which means less tidying up in the long run.…


The Perfect Buyer

Being an estate agent is a bit like running a dating agency: playing Cupid every day, cultivating commitment and building long-term relationships that lead to living together. It's more than marketing; it's matchmaking! If you've ever experienced online dating, you'll know that someone's profile and pictures never tell the full story: it's only when you meet that you know if it's going to work. Until then, you've only got their looks to go on. That's just what it's like when selling your home. The property portals are effectively Tinder for buyers and, with so many listings on show, it can sometimes come down to chance whether someone stops on your profile or simply scrolls on by. Marketing is an essential first step, but there's more than that to estate agency; it's about listening to people's stories, forming connections and building trust. It all comes down to crafting those magical a-ha moments of: "we've got just the person", and here's where we show you how. …


GARDEN REVIVALS: SIMPLE & INSTANT TIPS TO BE READY FOR SPRING VIEWINGS

The weather may be confusing, but one thing is for sure: Spring is springing. One of the biggest effects of lockdown on the 2020 property market was a massive surge of interest among buyers for gardens and balconies, and not just from green-fingered enthusiasts. People who'd never given gardens a second thought were suddenly sold on the value of being outside at home, and the demand went through the roof. That blooming market has continued this year, with gardens and balconies still noticeably high priorities for buyers, so it's really worth making the most of your outdoor space to maximise its value and amplify interest in your home.…


RENT ARREARS: FINDING A BALANCE BETWEEN COMPASSION AND COLLECTION

Although rent arrears have been a hot topic during the pandemic, it’s far from being a new subject. That said, if the discussion has taught us anything in the last year, it’s that anyone can be affected by economic events: no-one is immune, however high their income. Most tenancies run their course without arrears building up, but that means landlords and tenants have little experience to draw on when payments fall behind. Regardless of how and why they happen, arrears can be a source of friction and provoke all sorts of feelings and emotions around the possible repercussions.…


Proof Positive

Not every inventory ends up providing the protection that landlords expect. There are plenty of cases where the language used – and the style adopted – have caused more confusion and doubt over disputes, which for a landlord will generally mean a reduced or refused claim. Inventories are essential to have complete clarity over the condition and contents of your rental property: without correct preparation, you'll not only risk a costly dispute, but you'll also sow the seeds of worry in your tenants. The more documentation you have that you can agree on from the outset, the more professional you'll look as a landlord and the more comfortable your tenants will feel.…


INCREASE YOUR YIELD: BETTER BUSINESS TIPS FOR LOCAL LANDLORDS

Is your rental property working as hard as it could for you? As a landlord, you'll want to ensure that your investment is performing well and continues to make good business sense throughout the time you own it. Homes often have hidden potential that, as well as unlocking more income, can substantially increase demand. And, as you'll discover, there are many more options than merely increasing the rent and hoping it works out.…


Behind the Scenes

“Put it on the Internet and wait for the phone to ring”. That’s perhaps how many people see an estate agent’s life, and there’s undoubtedly some mystery around precisely what agents do beyond putting a property on the market and showing people around. While a big part of the day is being out in the neighbourhood and looking at homes, there’s plenty more work that might not be so obvious. A bit like a swan gliding majestically across a lake, there’s a lot of action under the surface to keep things moving smoothly.…


Deposit Disputes

Ending up in a dispute at the end of a tenancy is one of the least inviting prospects of being a landlord, and thankfully most tenancies end perfectly amicably. But when they do end in disagreement, many landlords manage to lose their claim, leading them to feel that the system is weighted against them. The most important thing in a deposit dispute is for the outcome to reflect the reality, whether the fault is on the landlord or tenant side. The courts and arbitration services are not there to automatically find in favour of the tenant, but it is the landlord's responsibility to prove a claim is valid and realistic.…


Timing your move

Have you ever wondered how to pick the perfect time to sell your home? It’s probably the question we’re asked the most when talking to people about their move. But how do you pick your moment with so much conflicting advice? Should you exploit the new year rush, or sell in the spring when the blossom is on the trees? Is it better to get in before the summer holidays, or wait till the kids have gone back to the school in September, or join the Boxing Day Bounce? …


BUILD A PORTFOLIO OF POPULAR & PROFITABLE LETTINGS

Do you think it’s impossible to be popular AND profitable as a landlord? Perhaps you feel that one cancels out the other; that it’s a choice between hard-nosed business and being nice, but that the two are fundamentally incompatible? You wouldn’t be alone in your view, but it’s perfectly possible to have a successful rental portfolio that’s a commercial success while being on excellent terms with your tenants. Questioning how your rental properties could be popular can help you increase your returns by owning a collection of in-demand homes where people really want to live.…


PROS OR CONS: IS A MANAGING AGENT WORTH YOUR MONEY?

It takes a certain character to be a managing agent: the job has a reputation as a thankless task with days full of complaints, emergencies, breakdowns and hassle. And if we’re honest,  rarely does anyone call with news that everything’s just fine. But to be a managing agent is also to be the person who makes everything right. A property that never needs maintaining, or where nothing ever goes wrong, simply doesn't exist and emergencies rarely happen at a convenient moment: not for homeowners, not for tenants and certainly not for landlords. For a managing agent, they’re an expected part of the day.…


Safe and Secure

If you’d been waiting until the new year to put your moving plans into action, you might be wondering whether to put them back on hold. But if you do that, when will you be able to think about moving again? Let’s start by saying that 2021 is very different from the first lockdown of March 2020. This year, the housing market has been allowed to remain open, and not just because of its economic importance: our wellbeing is equally vital, and life doesn’t simply stop. (You need only look at children and how they’ve continued to grow, regardless of a national lockdown and global pandemic.)…


Declutter for Good

DECLUTTER FOR GOOD: START YOUR 2021 WITH A ROOM-BY-ROOM RESET The weeks either side of New Year always involve some sort of clearing out. Whether you've hosted over the season, been a guest somewhere else or stayed at home for a quiet one, there are cards, wrapping, boxes and bottles to throw out, and decorations to take down and put away. …


Christmas Presence

There is no doubt that Christmas 2020 will be unlike any other. Holidays abandoned; family gatherings reduced; office parties cancelled. Even a quick festive drink at the local pub is far from a certain date. But while there are many things we can’t do this Christmas, it doesn’t mean that everything will stop. If you look at the data from Rightmove and Zoopla, Christmas is very much the season to sell your home. Every year, visitor numbers to the portals skyrocket during the festive period, substituting The Wizard of Oz and one last game of charades for scrolling through listings in search of that special somewhere.…


Room at the Top

Spending so much more time at home this year has left many of us looking at our living spaces in a whole new light. Every spare corner has been pressed into service as a home office, classroom, gym or art studio, often juggling multiple roles at the same time. But one space that remains underused, is the attic. Most homes with a pitched roof have some sort of roof space that can be converted into practical, comfortable and even luxurious rooms, but lofts are often reduced to storing dusty suitcases and Christmas decorations.…


RIGHT TO RENT: EVERYTHING LANDLORDS SHOULD KNOW

ntroduced in 2016, Right to Rent had something of a rocky start but has since become an integral part – and legal requirement – of every Assured Shorthold Tenancy. The scheme was initially met with some dismay among landlords who argued that checking people's immigration status was the government's responsibility. In fact, in 2019, a high court found Right to Rent unlawful and racially discriminatory, particularly against people with minority ethnic backgrounds. The ruling was later overturned after a government appeal, and Right to Rent became law. …


WINTER GARDENS: HOW TO MAKE A WONDERLAND AT HOME

Gardens get a raw deal at Christmas. While everyone's thinking about getting together with family and friends, gardens and balconies are left out in the cold, cut off and forgotten behind the curtains with not so much as a passing glance before March.…


ANIMAL INSTINCT

How do you feel about allowing pets in your rental property? Or even in your own home? Are you a card-carrying animal lover with pets who cherish your home as much as you do, or are you simply not a fan and want to avoid the worry of possible damages that are a hassle and expense to fix?…


STANDING APART: 5 TIPS FOR SELLING IN A CROWDED MARKET

The revival of the property market is an inescapable news story right now, with a surge of interest across the UK. While it's excellent news for sellers, the high demand from buyers is more than mirrored by the increased supply of property, making it more of a challenge for people to get their home noticed: whether you are about to put your property up for sale, or if your home has been on the market for some time, one thing for sure is that you are certainly not alone.…


Professional Help

When it comes to human endeavour, most of us could do almost anything if we put our minds to it. We could service our own cars, repair our own washing machines, and even clean our places of work. But are we the best person to do those things, and are they the best use of our time and energy? We’d all accept that a car mechanic would very likely do a faster and better job of changing our brake pads or fixing our suspension, but does the same reasoning apply to using a letting agent to care for your rental investment?…


Green Homes Grant

Ever since the introduction of Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) back in 2007, the energy efficiency of homes has been a high priority in the minds of homebuyers. Increasing fuel costs, climate change and an all-round awareness of the environment have contributed to a shared responsibility around energy use to minimise our carbon footprint and effect on the planet.…


Cleaning Up

How do you feel about messy people? Not just tenants, but anyone who simply isn't very tidy. Do they make you shudder, or are you completely unphased? Maybe you're a huge fan of Marie Kondo and her book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. It might have inspired you to live a life free of clutter, or perhaps you find it all a bit sterile and take comfort in knick-knacks and keepsakes.…


Should I Accept

Great news! Someone wants to buy your home, and perhaps you've even received more than one offer. You've made the step from being available to being in demand, and now it's time to decide whether an offer is a good one – and the right one – for you. An offer is so much more than the price put forward. It can be tempting to simply go for the highest number, but it's extremely wise to look at the full picture of every offer you receive to ensure it has the best chance of going through, and in the timeframe that fits your plans.…


Happy Together

As strong as the bonds of any marriage or partnership, our relationship to where we live can take a similar path and have a profound impact on our lives. Having found our perfect match, we look forward to the excitement of living together, making a home and creating memories to look back on with fond delight.…


Asking Too Much

The market is booming, prices are rising, there's a stamp duty holiday and buyers are out in droves: could it be any more of a seller's market? And it's true: we are achieving record prices for property; multiple offers have become the norm and, for many sellers, their home is only available for a matter of days before they receive an offer that is not only acceptable, but more than they dreamed possible…


Before the Fall

There's no escaping it: summer is on the way out, and autumn is around the corner. The nights are longer, the weather is cooler, and evenings on the patio mean hoodies, blankets and socks. As the season changes, there are some checks you can make – and some opportunities to take – in getting your rental property ready for when the temperatures fall, the rains return and your tenants spend more time indoors.…


Golden Days

With a unique set of circumstances and incentives, there has never been an autumn like 2020 with so many opportunities and advantages for selling your home. From the pent-up demand unleashed after lockdown, to the Stamp Duty Holiday announced in July, to the working-from-home phenomenon freeing up more people to view property in the week, it’s very unlikely that such a seasonal combination will ever exist again, which makes it an excellent time to put your plans for moving into action.…


Eviction Ban

With the Government’s last minute extension of the eviction ban on August 21st, we cancelled our blog on the subject that week because, even with the announcement, it felt like there was so much uncertainty around how events would eventually pan out. Even now, it's possible the ban will be extended further and render this article out-of-date fairly soon, but we thought we could at least provide some reasoned commentary on the current state of play and offer some advice where possible.…


Future Proof

You don’t even need to be contemplating a move to think about making the most of your home. Upgrading your surroundings for maximum comfort; opening the door to a place that fills you with joy; adding value for when you come to sell, rent, or refinance: these are all meaningful and valuable considerations for you and your future.…


Costs of Care

Being the owner of a property comes with the associated costs of looking after it, whether it's your own home or a rental investment. Just as with us humans, your property will show signs of age as it gets older, some of which will add a natural character that makes it all the more attractive, and some of which will need regular attention to keep things looking their best.…


Move Faster

Countless surveys show that the priorities of most people selling a property are getting the best price, and finding a buyer fast. Nobody wants to sit on the market for months, particularly with no viewings at all, but neither being told that no-one likes their home.…