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14Jul

This two-minute read will help you learn about conveyancing solicitors and how to find the right one for you in Medway.

Whether you instruct a conveyancer or a solicitor, they essentially do the same thing when it comes to dealing with a property transaction. The terms are often used interchangeably by people who aren’t working in the industry. This is the person who does the paperwork for you when you are buying or selling a property.

Cheap is rarely cheerful

You know the old adage: you can have fast, cheap, and good; but you can only have two at any one time. This is very true for conveyancers. ‘Fast’ isn’t always the best word to use as there are multiple variables that may slow down the process. ‘Efficient’ is what you’re looking for.

There’s no template

When getting quotes from different solicitors for the work, bear in mind that there isn’t a set template for how those quotes are presented. There can easily be hidden costs. Ideally, you’d find a solicitor who offers a guaranteed fixed fee and a ‘no sale, no fee’ promise. Otherwise, the whole deal can fall through, for whatever reason, and you still have to pay the solicitor.

Get recommendations

And then take them with a pinch of salt. Buying and selling property is something that happens so infrequently in most people’s lives. They may have had a good experience in the past but you don’t know what’s happened in that firm. Maternity leave, staff changes, even holidays can mean that a previously great firm takes a dip for a few months.

TOP TIP: Your estate agent has a great overview of the whole market. They deal with solicitors all day, every day. Ask them for their advice.

Different properties need different work

The advantage of asking your estate agent for a recommendation is that they’re used to dealing with the variety of properties in your area. Flying freeholds, chancel repair liability, coalman’s accesses: these are all things that are completely normal to deal with for some solicitors.

Others have never dealt with them before and can cause massive delays. Even worse, they can advise their clients that it’s a risky issue, simply because they don’t understand the nuances, even causing them to pull out from the purchase.

 

If you’re looking for a conveyancer or solicitor to help you to buy or sell a property, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. We can chat you through the options. Call us at our Rainham office on 01634 377737 or Walderslade office on 01634 672227. 

12Jul

In this three-minute read, we take a look at the most common rules and regulations that Medway landlords need to remember.

Being a landlord is a tricky business. There are nearly 200 different pieces of legislation covering the how, why, and when of managing a rental property. Here are just four that landlords are often not getting quite right.

Deposit protection

In England, Scotland, and Wales, the deposit must be registered with a deposit protection scheme. The 2021 UK Landlord Survey found that 81% of landlords find registering their deposit difficult.

The deposit must be registered within 30 days of receiving cleared funds. The schemes are government-approved and the tenant must be informed where the money is deposited.

Energy performance certificates

Every rental property in the UK has to have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). They are stored on an electronic register that is publicly available. However, they also have to be included in any advertising you do for your property.

Electrical safety regulations

In June 2020, strict rules about electrical testing for new tenancies in rental properties came into force. Inspections must be carried out by a qualified person on all fixed electrical installations.

Since 1 April of this year, it also came into force for existing tenancies. A professional with an industry-recognised apprenticeship or Level 3 Certificate in Installing, Testing and Ensuring Compliance of Electrical Installations in Dwellings must carry this out. Any issues have to be resolved and the tenant must receive a copy of the inspection report within 28 days.

Gas safety check regulations

If you have gas going in to your rental property, all appliances, pipework, and flues must be checked annually.

As for the electrical safety tests, ensure that you use a qualified engineer and don’t plump for the cheapest. The report must be given to the tenant within 28 days as well.

TOP TIP: As with any time you need to visit, or arrange a visit to the property, make sure you give the tenant at least 24 hours’ notice. Keep a record of having given notice. If the tenant refuses access, you’ve then got the evidence that you tried.

 

If you’re a landlord in Medway and are not 100% sure on all the rules and regulations you need to abide by, get in touch with us at Greyfox Sales & Lettings. A free, no-obligation chat will show you what you might need to tweak or if you’re on the right track.

05Jul

In this three-minute read, we compare the different types of buy-to-let mortgages.

 

When choosing the right buy-to-let mortgage, landlords face a key decision: go with an interest-only deal or opt for a capital repayment arrangement.

 

Both options have their pros and cons. Let’s take a closer look.

 

Interest-only mortgage

Your payments only cover the interest on the loan and have no impact on the capital. 

 

Pros

1)      Lower repayments

Your monthly repayments are lower than that of an equivalent capital repayment mortgage.

 

For example, with a 25-year interest-only mortgage of £200,000, monthly repayments would be £573 (4.45%, fixed for three years). With a similar capital repayment mortgage, you’d pay £996 a month*. That’s a difference of £423 a month.

 

2)      Less financial stress in between tenancies 

If the property is vacant for any reason, it will fall on your shoulders to cover the repayments. Lower repayments equal less stress.

 

3)      Bigger monthly income

As your mortgage repayments are lower, less of the rent goes to your lender. Instead, it winds up in your pocket.

 

4)      More flexibility

You can spend this extra cash on the upkeep and improvement of the property or divert it to other investments.

 

5)      Sell and make a profit

If the property appreciates in value over time, you can sell up and make a tidy profit.

 

Cons

1)      You won’t own the property

As you won’t be repaying the capital loan, you’ll still owe a substantial sum at the end of the mortgage. (Although you can sell the property, pay this debt, and hopefully, still be ahead.)

 

2)      The lender earns more

You pay more interest to your lender over time compared to a capital repayment mortgage. This is because you never reduce the size of the capital loan, so the interest charges never reduce.

 

3)      Risk of negative equity

Historically, property prices have been on an upward trajectory – last year, they grew in the UK by a whopping 8.5% – so the risk of negative equity is low. 

 

And even if prices do drop, if you’re prepared to ride out market fluctuations, then the long-term outlook is positive.

 

The real risk comes if you need to sell in a hurry. If the property’s value has dropped, you could end up owing more than the property is worth.

 

Capital repayment mortgage

Your monthly repayments cover the interest and gnaw away at the capital.

 

Pros

1)      Ownership

At the end of the mortgage term, the property will be yours.

 

2)      Less interest

You pay less interest overall because the capital loan decreases – albeit gradually – with every repayment.

 

Cons

1)      Higher repayments

As we mentioned earlier, the monthly repayments will be higher, and you’ll need to cover them when the property is vacant.

 

Choosing the right option

There’s no one-size-fits-all solution, although most landlords opt for interest-only**. 

 

Landlords need to weigh up their circumstances and investment goals carefully. For some, the priority is earning a monthly income; for others, it’s working towards owning a property that they can pass on to their children or even move into themselves.

 

For advice about making a buy-to-let investment work for you, contact us here at NAME.

 

*Approximate figures only, based on a property worth £265,000. Always seek independent financial advice.

 

** National Landlords Association

28Jun

In this three-minute read, we look at who is responsible for maintaining the garden at a rental property.

 

The most significant property trend to emerge from the pandemic has been the surge in demand – from buyers and renters – for properties with gardens.

 

The race for space is undoubtedly good news for landlords marketing properties with a garden, balcony, or courtyard. 

 

And it’s not just easier to rent out a property with a garden; it’s more lucrative, too. New research shows renters are willing to pay on average 25% more for a home with a garden*.

 

But letting a garden property isn’t always a bed of roses (see what we did there?); almost a quarter of all deposit disputes are over garden maintenance**. 

 

Often, the cause of tension is confusion over who is responsible for what when it comes to maintaining outdoor spaces.

 

This all should be spelled out in the contract, but generally speaking, the tenant should keep the garden in good condition and return it in the same state it was in at the start of the tenancy. Jobs that fall under the tenant’s remit include weeding, watering, and removing litter.

 

The landlord is responsible for tasks that require expertise, such as lopping off tree branches, fixing broken fences, and any other structural work. 

 

Here are a few ways landlords can safeguard themselves from getting dragged into a garden dispute.

 

1)      Lay the groundwork

Ensure that the garden is in good condition before you rent out the property. Plant low maintenance shrubs, sort out uneven paving stones, and get rid of that rickety old shed. 

 

2)      Outline responsibilities

Explain (in person and in writing) what you expect from the tenant and what they can expect from you.

 

3)      Keep records

Often landlords diligently record the condition of the fixtures and fittings of the property’s interior but make little or no mention of the exterior. Check-in and check-out reports should detail the condition of the garden with photographs and descriptions. 

 

4)      Regular inspections

When you carry out a property inspection during a tenancy, don’t forget to look at the garden. Document its condition (photographs are a must), and if any issues are apparent, ask the tenant to rectify them.

 

5)      Be flexible

A tenant is not allowed to make changes to the garden without the landlord’s permission. But if they ask to plant a veggie patch or add some more plants, be flexible. If your tenant is reliable and responsible, allowing them to create the garden of their dreams will encourage them to stay long term. Always clarify any agreed changes in writing beforehand. 

 

If you have any questions about tenant/landlord responsibilities, get in touch with us here at Greyfox on 01634 865595. 

*Analysis carried out by Paving Direct, based on the average price of renting a three-bed home in cities across the country on Rightmove. Read the full report: https://bit.ly/3gyOJEj

** Data from The Dispute Service. Figures cover the year up to March 2020. 

17May

A two-minute read to help you quickly determine the return on a buy-to-let property in Medway.

If you’re looking for a property to rent out, it’s important to understand the numbers involved. You may have inherited a property and are thinking of letting it. Use the information here to identify if that is a prudent thing to do or if the capital from selling the property could be better invested.

Find the numbers

The simplest way to work out your gross return on a rental is to estimate some numbers. You can have a browse on the property portals to get a vague sense of what properties in your budget sell for and let for. These figures change across the country so it’s important to start with your own research.

Quick and easy

Here’s a simple calculation to get you the basic overview. Let’s use an example of a £150,000 property that rents out for £500 a month.

500 x 12 (months in a year) = 6,000 p.a.

Divide 6,000 by the purchase price of £150,000 = 4%.

Deduct your deductions

We’ve worked out your gross figures. But it’s the net figures that are the ‘money in your pocket’ numbers. To work these out, you’ll need to employ a little more guesswork. Better still, ask a local property expert, like us, who deals with these things, day in, day out. Then you’ll be closer to an accurate estimate. The figures you need are:

·         Solicitors’ costs (if you’re purchasing a property)

·         Landlords’ insurance

·         General property maintenance

·         Agency fees

·         End of tenancy cleaning costs

These can be off-set against your income for tax purposes.

Taxes, taxes, taxes

It’s reasonably straightforward to submit your tax returns yourself. They need to be done annually and submitted by the following January. It’s recommended though to use an accountant. They will be up to date with all the latest options open to you. Not only that, they can often help in other areas, like looking at your pension or investment options.

For rental opportunities in Medway,  get in touch with us on 01634 865595. Our lettings specialists can help you consider the market and the best options out there for you.

COPYRIGHT GREYFOX SALES & LETTINGS 2021

12May

In this two-minute read, we look at why low agent fees don’t equal top selling price.

 

Unless your name is Elon Musk, selling your home will probably be the biggest transaction you make in your lifetime. So, who will you entrust to get you the best deal?

 

Option 1: You go for the agent with the lowest fee. This agent is a doppelgänger for Del Boy, but you love the idea of saving yourself a few hundred quid in fees.

 

Option 2: You go for an agent who makes properties look and sound A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. The fee is a little higher, but they have a reputation for achieving sales that are above asking price.

 

Do the maths

The agent in Option 2 offers the best value because they will put the most money in your pocket.

 

When an agent cuts their fee, they’re cutting back on the time and money, they invest in marketing a property.

 

They might sell your home, but they won’t get the best possible price for it.

 

Here are five ways to tell if an agent will offer you good value.

 

1)      Images

Top agents use quality photography to capture properties at their best. Grainy, shadowy photos taken on a smartphone are a turn-off for buyers.

 

2)      Property descriptions

Look at how agents market properties online. Do the descriptions create an aspirational picture? Or are you reading a list of measurements, plug sockets, and radiators? Good agents will also include a floorplan in listings.

 

3)      Bringing a property to market

If an agent brags that they can have your property on the market by tomorrow, run for the hills because they’re cutting corners. The best agents have a tried-and-tested launch strategy that takes more than 24 hours to implement – but adds thousands of pounds to a sale.

 

4)      Long tie-ins

An agent who is confident that they can sell your home doesn’t need to lock you into a lengthy tie-in (some agents push for 20 weeks’ exclusivity).

 

5)      Social media

Even if you’re not on Instagram or Facebook, many buyers are, so go with an agent with a strong social media presence. Look for engaging posts that cover more than properties for sale. Community content, mortgage updates, and video sneak peeks are big winners.

 

We all love a bargain (that’s why Poundland exists), but with a low-fee agent, the person who lands the great deal is the buyer, not the seller.

 

If you’re thinking of putting your home on the market, get in touch with us here at Greyfox. We’ll exhaust every possible avenue to secure the best price for your home.

 

COPYRIGHT GREYFOX SALES & LETTINGS 2021

 

05May

In this two-minute read, we look at ways sellers can identify genuine buyers.

 

With demand currently outstripping supply in the housing market, sellers are in the driver’s seat, but there is still one hazard that could derail a sale: the flaky buyer.

 

In a hot market, it’s not uncommon for panicky buyers to make an impulsive offer or go beyond their financial limits.

 

A buyer might do this because they fear that prices are rising and the market is getting away from them. Or perhaps they’ve been outbid in the past and don’t want to lose out again.

 

Whatever the motivation, the result is the same: the buyer isn’t committed and drops out weeks or months into the sales process.

 

Not only is it frustrating for the seller but it could also cost them financially if they’re part of a chain which then collapses because the parties involved grow impatient.

 

Here are some tips to help you identify genuine buyers.

 

-         Arrange a second viewing. If the buyer makes an offer after the first viewing, your agent should arrange a second visit to see if they are still as keen as mustard. The buyer should be quizzed about their plans for the property to see if they’ve thought through the purchase.

 

-         Do the admin. Ensure your agent gets the buyer to fill in an offer form that includes details about their mortgage provider and solicitor. It’s preferable to go with a buyer who already has their ducks in a row.

 

-         What’s the story? Chat to the buyer about why they are moving. If they’re expecting a baby and have family in the same street, it’s a fair bet that they’re the real deal. If they know little about the area or their story keeps changing, question if they are committed to the sale.

 

-         Ensure the lines of communication are open. Ideally, your buyer will keep you informed of their progress on the survey, searches, and chasing solicitors. Be wary if things go quiet quickly.

 

-         Work with an experienced agent. Even though it’s a buyer’s market, a good agent can streamline the process for you. They’ll be good at spotting the genuine buyers from the chancers.

 

For more advice about selling your home, contact us here at Greyfox.

 

COPYRIGHT GREYFOX SALES & LETTINGS 2021

21Apr

In this two-minute read, we look at how landlords can foster a good rapport with tenants.

 

Every successful landlord needs a rock-solid tenant retention plan or what we like to call “a happy tenant strategy”.

 

This is because happy tenants are loyal tenants. And loyal tenants are more likely to stay in your property for longer, helping you to avoid the ultimate landlord bugbear – high tenant turnover.

 

Whenever a tenant moves out, the landlord gets hit with extra costs such as end-of-tenancy cleaning and repairs and marketing and reference checks to cover the new tenancy.

 

Then there is the issue of lost rent when a property sits empty in between tenancies.

 

So, it makes good business sense to minimise turnover by going the extra mile to keep hold of good tenants.

 

Here are six tips for Medway landlords for avoiding tenant turnover.

 

1) Choose the right tenant

By following a detailed selection process and carrying out thorough credit and reference checks, you’re more likely to land a “keeper” in the first place.

 

2) Good communication

Ensure your tenants can quickly get in touch with you (or your representative) when they need to. If they raise an issue, listen to their concerns and try to be accommodating. While you want the relationship to be business-like, it also needs to be personable.

3) Keep on top of maintenance and repairs

Ensure the property is kept in good condition and respond promptly when there is an issue. If you ignore a tenant’s complaints, they’ll wonder if the grass is greener elsewhere.

 

4) Be honest 

Don’t overpromise or be economical with the truth. Trust is important in the tenant/landlord relationship.

 

5) Don’t set the rent too high

Setting the rent too high can be a false economy. If a tenant feels that they’re getting ripped off, they’ll quickly move on – leaving you to fork out to find a new tenant.

 

6) Be flexible

Give requests about decorating or having pets due consideration (even if you’re initial instinct is to say no). If a tenant feels that they can create a home environment in your property, they’re more likely to stay for a long time. If a tenant is working out well, consider offering them a longer lease.

 

Get in touch with us here at Greyfox to find out how we can help you find and retain good quality tenants.

 

COPYRIGHT Greyfox Sales & Lettings 2021

14Apr

In this three-minute read, we list five things Medway sellers should look for in an estate agent.

 

It pains us to say this, but a recent survey found people were more likely to trust a traffic warden or a lawyer than an estate agent.

 

When it comes to telling the truth, it seems that only politicians have a worse reputation than estate agents (source: YesHomebuyers.com).

 

As you can imagine, this frustrates us. Firstly, we’re a hardworking Medway business with a strong track record – just ask our happy customers. We know there are some cowboys out there – and thankfully, the industry is working to weed them out – but we hate being lumped in the same category as them.

 

Secondly, selling a home is one of the most significant transactions a person makes in their lifetime. We hate to think that people are being led through that process by someone they think is a consummate liar. It must make the whole experience more stressful.

 

So, we’ve put together a five-point list of things to look out for when you’re hunting for an estate agent you can trust.

 

1)      Word of mouth 

Speak to friends and family about their experiences of selling in Medway. Don’t just ask them to name a good agent but dig deeper to find out: how long it took them to sell their property, if the agent’s valuation was realistic, who conducted the viewings, and if the customer service was up to scratch.

 

2)      Marketing research

Identify popular agents in Medway and scrutinise how they market their properties. Look for good quality photography and well-written property descriptions as these are vital ingredients for achieving top price. Dodgy snaps of cluttered rooms, and minimal information, should set off alarm bells.

 

3)      Are they registered?

All UK estate agents who deal with residential properties must register with either the Property Ombudsman or the Property Redress Scheme. These organisations deal with customer complaints (hopefully, you won’t have any, but it’s good to have peace of mind). If they’re not registered, steer clear.

 

4)      Are they a member of a professional body?

Many good agents will be part of a professional body, such as the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) Propertymark, the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) or The Guild of Professional Estate Agents. Membership shows they take their professional responsibilities seriously.

 

5)      Realistic valuation

If an agent vows to sell your home for a price that far exceeds market trends or your expectations, be suspicious. They’re either over-promising to win your custom or clueless (or both!). Either way, buyers won’t buy it (literally), and you’ll wind up dropping the asking price later. Don’t fall for this time-wasting exercise.

 

To find out more about why people in Medway have been trusting us with their home sales for years, give us a call at our Rainham branch 01634 377737 or Walderslade branch on 01634 672227.

 

COPYRIGHT Greyfox Sales & Lettings 2021

12Apr

A landlords’ advice article published recently said property investors need to think more like the Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.

The billionaire businessman is renowned for his long-term thinking. He thinks decades ahead, and let’s face it, he’s not doing too bad, is he?

The article said landlords should retain good tenants at a reasonable rate rather than aim to get the highest rents in the short term.

It’s wise advice and something we believe in.

When a landlord adopts a short-term view of their property investment, it can often lead to lasting headaches.

The advice you are given can often depend on your letting agent’s philosophy.

Some agents will say things like: ‘The rental market in Medway is on fire now. We can get you even higher rents and squeeze out every penny from tenants.’

That’s not the way we approach things. Why? Because if you hike up a person’s rent whenever possible, it may mean more money in the short run but can be more costly in the long run.

Our advice to clients and indeed anyone thinking of investing in rental property is this:

Getting higher monthly rents isn’t as crucial in the mid to long term as finding and looking after good quality tenants paying a fair rate.

Here are some of the plus points a good longer term tenant brings:

Fewer void periods.

Fewer unnecessary repair or maintenance call outs mean a reduction in the property’s running expenses.

Good tenants appreciate they are being treated fairly and respectfully, and they look after their home.

Never to be underestimated is that having a good tenant in your property reduces your stress levels.

Going for the highest monthly rent charge as a property rental strategy can often be a mistake.

At Greyfox Sales & Lettings we take the time to find, vet and keep good quality tenants for our landlords. This is the best way forward in the long term.

So, take a leaf out of the wealthiest person in the World’s book (Bezos was ranked #1 by Forbes magazine last month) and think further ahead when it comes to achieving rental property success.

 

*Copyright 2021 Greyfox Sales & Lettings

Contact Us

Rainham Office
67C High Street
Rainham
ME8 7HS

Tel: 01634 377737
Email:
rainham@greyfox.co.uk

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Walderslade Office
Unit 2, Thetford House,
Walderslade Village Centre,
Walderslade Road,
Chatham,
ME5 9LR

Tel: 01634 672227
Email: walderslade@greyfox.co.uk

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Greyfox Investments LTD t/a Greyfox Sales & Lettings are registered in England at: Unit 2, Thetford House, Walderslade Village Centre, Walderslade Road, Chatham, Kent, ME5 9LR. Company Reg No.: 06504741