Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Which type of property should I invest in?

If you are looking to invest in property, one of the most important things that you will need to consider is which types of properties will make the best rental investments. Let’s take a look at the different types of accommodation and the advantages that they offer in the rental market.

In the city or country?

When you are choosing an investment property the focus should be on what the market demand is, rather than where you want to live. With any investment property you should look at what the market wants and generally there is more demand for properties in the city. This is where the majority of employment is, so you will find it easier to rent a home. Of course, there is some demand for country properties but it is important to consider what will be the best investment for you.

Should you buy a flat or a house?

When you buy a flat you will have to pay management charges, which can add up to more than £1000 per year. Flats are very in demand with tenants, but there are many available and competition is likely to be tough.

A flat will tend to attract singles or young couples, while houses tend to be rented by families, who will need parking and more space. Do your research to find out the demographic of the area and which group is searching for accommodation.

Should you rent a large house or a small one?

A large house will have the advantage of having larger rent, but it will typically take longer to rent out than a smaller property. Smaller homes can bring in better income and are in higher demand, so they will be easier to rent out.

Multiple occupancy or single?

When you are renting out multiple rooms of the same house, keep in mind that all of your tenants will not necessarily start and finish at the same time. This is a good thing because it means that you will likely always have someone renting in the home. However, it also means that it is important to keep the property well maintained – including the hallways, kitchen and bathrooms.

You will likely earn a higher income if you rent out the property in this way, but you will need to do your research when it comes to fire doors, emergency light systems and permission from the local council.

Old or new?

Older properties usually have a larger plot size, but they will come with more maintenance issues. New properties will be smaller but they tend to attract renters more quickly.

These are just a few important factors that you should consider when you are determining what type of property you should invest in.

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Which tenant market should you target?

If you are looking to become a landlord, what tenant market should you be targeting for your rentals? Should you be looking to rent to students, professionals, exchange students, young families or singles? There are many different categories within the overall rental market and each property appeals to different types of tenants. When you are a prospective landlord you should be clear about the type of tenant that you are looking to attract, so that you can make sure that the property is prepared to its maximum advantage. 

The type of tenants you target will depend on the type of property you have, as well as the local market demand and the location that the home is in. For example, some landlords will fare very well when letting to students and others will do well if they are letting their homes out to tenants who are on housing benefit. 

There are other homes that will rent well to short term renters, students or corporate renters. 
So what factors should you keep in mind when you are considering which tenant market to target? Here are some tips:

Think about which groups will be the hardest work. Some landlords avoid renting to people on housing benefit or students. This is often because students tend not to look after properties very well and housing benefit tenants come with a lot of paperwork and the risk that the tenant might not pay if they are out of work. 

However, there are ways to work around these problems. For example, there are ways to get rent paid directly from the local authorities so that you won’t have any non-payment problems. 

When you rent to families, consider making your “no pets” rule more relaxed, as families are much more likely to have pets and this will limit your number of applicants. 

Keep in mind that when you rent to younger singles, the property will be more likely to be less tidy when you need to do viewings, compared to a family or a couple. 

The further from home your tenants are, the more likely it is that they will have guests coming to stay for long periods of time. This means that your home might be occupied by more than just the tenants sometimes. 

These are just a few of the factors that you should consider when determining who to target within the tenant market. These are generalities of course and you should consider each tenant on an individual basis, as everyone is different. Overall the most important thing is to look for someone who has regular income, is responsible and has good references. Ask their previous landlords if they were clean, respectful and paid their rent in the past. 

Thursday, 5 June 2014

What are tenants looking for in the perfect rental?

If you are a landlord, it is very helpful to get into the mind of your potential tenants and understand what they are looking for in a rental property. What are their priorities and what kind of features are most important to them?

According to surveys, such as those conducted by rental company Finders Keepers and Savills UK, there are a number of very important factors that are a high priority for tenants. Here are some of the crucial details that tenants are looking for when they are renting a property:

A Location Close to Public Transport

Many people don’t have a car, either for budget reasons or lifestyle choice, relying on public transport to get around. This means that they look for a rental property that is very close to a public transport link. According to the survey by Savills 52% of tenants live within five minutes from a public transport link and 73% live within 10 minutes. If your rental property is close to a bus stop, it has a better chance of appealing to the vast majority of renters.

Childcare Facilities and Safety

The trend for families with children renting homes is on the increase, which means that access to childcare is becoming a major priority. Many tenants rate access to childcare or quality nurseries as a significant factor when choosing a rental property. Also, having a safe play area outside is important.

A safe neighbourhood was also a very important priority for renters, especially families. Many tenants have reported that they moved because they felt unsafe in the neighbourhood or they had previous neighbours who were causing a problem.

Cleanliness and Comfort

According to the survey by Finders Keepers, a clean and comfortable interior is the top priority that renters look for. They want to live in a welcoming, attractive home – rather than a dingy and unhygienic apartment. In fact, there has been a trend over the past 15 years of increasing aesthetic expectations coming from tenants, which means that landlords need to ensure that they are offering stylish living environments.

Short Term Rentals a Growing Trend

The general idea in the past has been that many renters are seeking a tenancy for five or more years. However, according to the Finders Keepers survey, only 6% of respondents wanted a tenancy that was longer than three years. The majority of applicants – 80% - wanted an agreement between six months and eighteen months. It’s not exactly clear why this is the case. Perhaps many people are aspiring homeowners and they plan to buy a property in the short term, or many young people are not committing to living in one place and keeping their future plans flexible.

If you are a landlord, consider allowing short term tenancy option as well as long term ones, so that you can offer more flexibility to your tenants.

Important Design Features

An important trend in rental properties is having more space, especially for families with children. In fact, most mid to high income renters with children were willing to pay more for a larger property or to have an en-suite with every bedroom. Also, storage space is a very important concern, with a common need for bike storage as well as space for bulky items such as vacuum cleaners, luggage, sports equipment and other large possessions. 12% of respondents even said that they would pay more rent for increased storage space.

Open plan kitchens are very trendy at the moment, especially with young renters under the age of 25. However, older renters don’t prefer this style as much as other demographics.

Old or New Houses?

It is interesting to note that, according to the Finders Keepers Survey, young people are interested in young property. Renters under the age of 35 were more likely to seek out a newer property and even pay a premium for it, while renters older than 45 were less likely to prefer a new home.

These are just a few of the important features and priorities that tenants consider when they are choosing a home. How can you adapt your rental property to make it more appealing to the average tenant?

Thursday, 29 May 2014

How to Get Your Property Ready for Summer

Now that the spring is in the air, it is time for landlords to start thinking about preparing their properties for the summer season. Having an attractive garden and exterior to your property will help you when renting out the home, as it will make it more attractive to potential tenants.

Curb appeal can make a big difference when it comes to a first impression on your property, so make sure that you take the time to create a beautiful garden. There are many ways that you can make the exterior of your property more attractive, so here are some tips:

Plant Your Summer Flowers

It is important to think ahead when you are gardening, so plant your bulbs in the spring so that they will flower during the summer months. Once the soil has dried out and warmed up to at least 15 degrees Celsius, you can start to plant bulbs such as dahlias and lilies. Make sure to also add manure or compost to the soil, so that you can help nourish your bulbs. You can even plant them in a pot about a month or two before hand to let them grow indoors first.

Neaten Up Your Flower Beds

Take the time to clean up the edges between the flower gardens and the lawn, so that your garden looks neat and tidy. Otherwise, your flower beds will start to look messy and unkempt. Try using a half-mooned spade or an edger tool, so that you can add shallow channels around the edges. If you need help keeping a straight line, you can attach two pegs in the ground and tie a piece of string between them as a guide.

Get Rid of Weeds

When weeds start to invade your garden, what can you do to get rid of them? Many people simply use a small trowel to dig them up, but this won’t deal with the large weeds with deep roots. In many cases, it is better to have a hoe with which you can fully dig up the weeds. You could consider using weed killer, but this can affect the growth of your plants so it should only be used if you really can’t use any other method.

Consider Using a Water Butt

In order to keep your garden maintained throughout the summer, it can really help to install a water butt. It can be attached to your house or your garage – or anywhere that has a gutter with a downpipe. A water butt will allow you to store rainwater, so that you can keep your plants watered while saving money on water bills and avoiding hosepipe bans.

What kind of shape is your garden in? Perhaps it’s time to start giving it a spring makeover so that you will be ready for your summer tenants. These are just a few of the ways that landlords can get their properties ready for the summer months. 

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

When is the best time of year to buy in the UK?

When you are buying a house in the UK, there are a lot of important factors to keep in mind in order to ensure that you will get the best deal. The housing market changes throughout the year and there are some seasons that are better for buying homes than others. If you can time your house hunting just right, you can end up saving thousands of pounds on your home purchase just because you bought the home at the right time of year.

Most people tend to buy their homes in the spring or summer, but if you want to save money you should avoid this time. Because home sellers will have so many buyers interested in their home, they will be able to choose the highest bid. There will be very little room for negotiating or low ball offers. This means that the summer is a great time to sell your house, but a bad time to buy one.

During the quieter times of the year for the housing market, the sellers are more likely to settle for a lower offer. When there is less competition in the property market, a seller cannot be as picky as they might be during a busy time. If you are selling during these times, you will likely end up taking a lower offer just to make sure that you can close the sale and sell your home – so this is a bad time to make your move. However, if you are buying a house then this is the best time to shop.

Buy your house during the end of the year in November and December, or at the start of the year in January. There is a significant dip in the real estate market during the winter months, which means that there will be fewer competing buyers when you are searching for a house. This will give you extra leverage when you are negotiating prices. According to statistics, you can save up to 10% when you are purchasing a house in January – compared to similar properties in the summer months.

In fact, one of the best days of the year to buy a house is on Christmas Day. The holiday season tends to make home sellers feel very generous and there is very little competition from other buyers, because they are busy with their holiday celebrations. Also, if a property is on the market during Christmas that probably means that the seller is very desperate to sell – so they will likely accept a low offer.

The only challenge is to find a real estate agent who would be willing to meet up with you and show a home on Christmas Day. This might be tricky, but if you take the time to look you will find them. Buying your home at the right time of year can save you thousands of pounds, so why not take advantage of this when house hunting?

Protect your investment with landlord insurance or home insurance from Discount Landlord today!  

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

How the internet has changed the process of buying Landlord Insurance

The internet has made a huge change to the landlord industry in a lot of ways, changing the ways that landlords communicate with tenants, advertise listings, buy property and much more. The entire experience of being a landlord is a lot different, thanks to the technology and means of communication that we have in our lives.

One of the main ways that the internet has changed the landlord industry is the way that it has transformed the process of buying landlord insurance. Buying insurance is a lot different in this internet age.

So how has the internet changed the way that we buy landlord insurance? Here are some of the main ways:

It’s Much More Convenient to Compare Policies

When you are shopping for landlord insurance online, you will be able to quickly and easily compare prices for a range of different policies online – making comparison shopping so much easier. You will be able to visit several sites all at once, just with a click of the mouse, rather than driving or walking around all day to the offices of different insurance companies. This helps customers to find the best landlord insurance quotes available – quickly and easily.

It’s Quicker to Obtain Quotes

Many landlord insurance companies have a feature on their website which allows you to fill in a form so that you can quickly obtain a free quote. This is much more convenient than the old method, which meant that you had to go from one insurer to another and fill out a lot of paper forms.

You Can Shop at Any Time

Another advantage is that if you have a busy schedule you are not limited to shopping during business hours. With a brick and mortar insurance company you would be limited to their hours and you might even need to schedule an appointment with an agent or representative. When you are shopping for landlord insurance online, you will be able to shop 24 hours per day so that you can find your insurance whenever it is convenient for you (even if that is at 2am).

The Internet Increases Competition

With so many insurance agencies out there offering landlord insurance – and each and every one of them with their own website – the internet is a very competitive market. Because the landlord insurance companies face so much competition online, this makes it necessary for them to lower their insurance rates in order to remain competitive. This means that you will have the option for better prices! Generally the quotes for online landlord insurance are a lot cheaper than the rates from traditional insurers – which is great for your budget!

The internet has changed our lives in many ways and these are just a few of the ways that it has transformed the process of buying landlord insurance. Who knows what developments will occur in the future and how the process of buying landlord insurance will change even further?

Get a quick online quote on your home or landlord insurance with Discount Landlord today! 

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Letting agents taking deposits regardless of room availability

According to a recent investigation by newsbeat, many letting agents are taking thousands of pounds from tenants as a holding fee for their properties – then keeping the money without letting them move in. Many tenants have reported depositing money for down payments, then having the rental cancelled and the payment never returned to them. This fraudulent behaviour has many tenants concerned about being ripped off by these unscrupulous agents.

According to the Trading Standards Authorities in England, 487 of these fraudulent down payment cases were reported from the year January 2011 to September 2013. Also, a Freedom of Information request discovered that 71 of the 200 trading standards teams in England had received at least one complaint about this issue. In some of these cases, the landlords never actually existed and in other cases the agents were also stealing money from the landlords.

Also, the Trading Standards Institute claims that due to the way that the information was recorded – the real number of victims could possibly be a lot higher.  Based on past surveys, they know that many of the people who are ripped off will not bother reporting it, because they know that nothing is going to be resolved even if they try.

For example, according to a story by the BBC, a 22 year old woman named Rachael Kennedy paid a letting agent £1,800 as a deposit on a home that she wanted to rent. On the day before she was supposed to move into the house, the letting agent cancelled the rental and told her she could no longer move in. He promised that he would pay back the deposit, but he didn’t. It was later discovered that the particular agency was being investigated since last summer about other cases that dated back to 2009.

It is thought that letting agents should have stronger regulation in order to stop them from ripping off tenants in this way. In Scotland it is illegal for letting agents to charge holding fees and the Welsh government is planning to instil new laws that will crack down on agents ripping off their clients. At the moment, there is no regulation in Northern Ireland.

The issue at the moment is that just about anyone can set up a letting agency. With the lack of supervision and regulation, this opens up the possibility of letting agents being dishonest with the proposed changes that the coalition government wants to instil will require all letting agents in England to sign up to an independent scheme. This means that they would be forced to pay compensation if anything went wrong. Adding more regulations to letting agents will help to stop had behaviour and will make it clear that fraudulently taking money from tenants is not acceptable.

If anyone has experienced this themselves, they should report the incident to the trading standards department of their council. The council will have the power to prosecute this illegal theft of funds.

Our advice is always to do your homework before handing over money and always to use a reputable landlord or letting agent.