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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

07Apr

In this three-minute read, we show you how to keep calm and in control when selling your Medway home.

With April being one of the most popular months for sellers to market their homes, it coincides with Stress Awareness Month. This annual event recognises the dangers of modern-day stress and provides valuable coping strategies. Moving home is infamously reported to be one of the biggest causes of stress; read our top tips to temper your tension.

 

Stage the scene

You’re selling a lifestyle, not just a home. Some buyers need to be able to visualise living in your home and find it hard to look beyond what they see. While the light in your spare bedroom may be perfect for your art studio, consider whether presenting it as a guest bedroom might be more appealing to a prospective buyer. 

 

Be realistic with the asking price

The market is constantly on the move. When you’re preparing to sell your property, it’s important to seek up-to-date information when it comes to setting a sensible asking price. A good agent will help you assess the value of your home and compare it to prices achieved with recently sold properties in the Medway area. Too high, and you risk your property stagnating on the market. Too low, and you risk a missed opportunity.

 

Make sure you’re viewing-ready

Embarking on a Marie Kondo-style declutter can induce feelings of overwhelm in itself. (How a cheese grater can spark joy, we’ll never know.) But if you break it down into chunks, tackling a spring clean can be therapeutic. Adopting a minimalist approach to your belongings while you mop and polish will make life easier when it comes to keeping your home viewing-ready. Invest in some decorative boxes in your main living areas; when you’re short on time before a viewing, you can quickly hide bits and pieces away.

 

Address the admin

If your property is sale-ready, sensibly valued, and marketed by a good agent, there’s an excellent chance that it will sell quickly. Fuelled by the Stamp Duty holiday extension, the busy market means that everyone involved in the sale process has a heavy workload right now. Get ahead by organising your paperwork early. Ask your agent for an admin checklist.

 

Expect the unexpected

Even the best-laid plans can go awry. Sales can go off track for a number of reasons, some of which will be outside of your control. Communication is key; if you are worried about how your sale is progressing, speak to your agent. Whatever the issue, remember that it will be temporary and that a good agent will be in your corner; working hard to support you in navigating the sale process.

 

We understand the pressures involved in selling your property and are here to alleviate your anxieties. If you’d like to hear how we can make your sale a stress-free experience, give us a call on 01634 377737 (Rainham) or 01634 672227 (Walderslade).

 

Copyright Greyfox Sales & Lettings 2021

06Apr

In this two-minute read, we show you how to keep calm and in control when letting your Medway property.

The idea that investing in rental property is easy passive income is a myth. Letting and managing rental property can be stressful, especially for inexperienced or accidental landlords.

This month sees the championing of Stress Awareness Month; an annual event which recognises the dangers of modern-day stress and provides valuable coping strategies. If you are wading through tenancy treacle, read our top tips to temper your tension.

 

Do your homework

Whether it’s a simple credit check or a comprehensive background check, referencing your tenant is ESSENTIAL. If you have concerns, you could arrange to meet your prospective tenant in their current property to see how it’s been looked after or even go a step further and ask for a rental guarantor. If you have rental income insurance, check whether the terms of your policy stipulate the level of referencing required.

 

Build a circle of trust

People buy people. And much like you want the right tenant in your property, you want the right tradespeople working in it. We guarantee that you will, at some point, have some repairs that need attention – whether from an accident or general wear and tear. Building a trusted network of tradespeople that provide value for money will stand you in good stead.

 

Don’t leave yourself short

Now, more than ever, we understand the importance of an emergency fund. In tough financial climates, rent arrears can be more of a reality than a risk. In situations like this, contact your tenant – there may be a simple explanation that is easily remedied. If not, don’t delay in taking advice. If you rely on your rental investment for income, consider whether rental insurance is a sensible option.

 

Know when you need help

If it all gets too much, ask for help. A good letting agent can manage the entire tenant journey for you: from tenant sourcing right through to the end of tenancy clean. Inventories, referencing, deposits, rent collection, repairs, and legal and regulatory compliance; you name it, it’s covered.

We understand the pressures involved in letting your property and are here to alleviate your anxieties. If you’d like to hear how we can make your property let a stress-free experience, give us a call on 01634 865595

 

Copyright Greyfox Sales & Lettings 2021

12Mar

In this two-minute read, we look at the benefits of using a letting agent to manage your rental property (part one of a two-part series).

 

Almost every landlord has weighed up the merits of self-managing their rental property versus using a letting agent. After all, why pay someone to do something you do yourself, eh?

 

It’s a reasonable enough question to which we have an emphatic answer: there are many reasons to get an expert to manage your investment property (we can think of at least 12).

 

It makes sense from a financial point of view (as we’ll explain in this article) and from a time management perspective (stay tuned for part two next week, where we’ll cover this). Let’s look at the first six reasons.

 

A good letting agent will:

 

1)      Save you money. Let’s cut to the chase: a letting agent will improve your profit margin. According to research, a letting agent saves a landlord on average £1,910 a year (source: Endsleigh Insurance).

 

2)      Share market insight. Letting agents know the local market like the back of their hand and provide expert advice about setting rents. Go too high, and your property will sit empty. Go too low, and you’ll miss out on revenue.

 

3)      Help you access top tradespeople. Letting agents have a selection of reliable professionals on speed dial, so when you need a plumber, sparky or builder, you won’t get messed around by someone who cuts corners and charges the earth.

 

4)      Chase rental payments. A letting agent will address late payments in a professional and timely manner. Landlords with hectic schedules often prefer to let an expert deal with the hassle of chasing late rent.

 

5)      Handle the inventory. Get a pro to do your inventory so you don’t lose money at the end of a tenancy. When it comes to assessing damage and ensuring the property has been adequately cleaned, a good inventory is crucial.

 

6)      Sort the end of tenancy inspection. Even smooth-running tenancies can get complicated towards the end. A letting agent will handle the final inspection and ensure you’re not left out of pocket for cleaning or repairs.

 

Watch out for six more tips in part two of this article which will be released next week.

 

Get in touch with us to learn more about our property management services.

 

COPYRIGHT GREYFOX SALES & LETTINGS 2021

11Mar

In this two-minute read, we look at ways to prepare your home for a successful spring sale (part one of a two-part article).

If you’re planning to put your home on the market in the next few months, now is the time to spring into action (see what we did there?).

Traditionally, the property market booms in springtime, with many buyers and sellers opting to wait out the winter and make their move when the days start to get longer and warmer. 

With spring just a few weeks away, we’ve compiled a list so you can prepare your property for sale.

This article covers the first five points (and stay tuned for part two next week).

 

Have a spring clean

Now is the time to have a good clear out. Prospective buyers are looking for a home that they can make their own and will find piles of bric-a-brac a turn-off. And don’t just focus on the living areas and bedrooms. Declutter the bathroom and remove cleaning and beauty products from view.

 

General maintenance

Is your home looking a little tired after a year of pandemic living? Freshen up the walls with a lick of paint and do all the odd jobs – like clearing the gutters – that you’ve been putting off.

 

Get an expert valuation

The property market has been the subject of all sorts of headlines during the past year. Until you speak to an expert, you won’t have a realistic picture of the Medway housing market and what you can expect to get for your property.

 

Think about presentation

Put yourself in the shoes of a prospective buyer and imagine how they might make use of your property. Perhaps the spare room you use for a home gym would be more appealing if presented as a home office? Speak to an estate agent for advice about how to present your home so you can maximise your asking price.

 

Get planting

More than ever, people are craving outdoor space and access to nature – so give them what they want! Plant colourful flowers at the front and back of your property for immediate impact. If you don’t have a garden, use plant pots to create interest.

 

If you’d like an update on the state of the Medway housing market, or advice about selling your home, get in touch with us here at Greyfox.

 

COPYRIGHT GREYFOX SALES & LETTINGS 2021

03Mar

This afternoon the Chancellor Rishi Sunak outlined his plans to get England back on track as we come out of the pandemic.

Among furlough extensions, extra support for the self-employed and business loan schemes was the welcome news that the stamp duty holiday is being extended.

When it was introduced, the original deadline was March 31 2021.

Here’s what the Chancellor announced this lunchtime.

Until 30 June 2021, no stamp duty will be charged on a residential property bought for up to £500,000.

Until 30 September 2021, no stamp duty will be charged on a residential property bought for up to £250,000.

From 1 October 2021, the stamp duty rate returns to pre-Covid-19 thresholds.

What it Means to Movers

For people with sales currently in our pipeline, it means they will not miss out on the savings the holiday is providing. This is potentially thousands of pounds and means people’s moving plans will not be disturbed.

Mortgage Market Opened Up

There was also good news for people planning to buy a home but struggling to save what is often a sizeable deposit.

Sunak announced a Mortgage Guarantee scheme that means homebuyers will be able to access 95% mortgages, backed by the Government, from High Street banks and lenders.

Lenders are being offered incentives to provide mortgages to first-time buyers and existing homeowners, with just 5% deposits to buy homes worth up to £600,000.

The Chancellor said: “This will give people the chance to go from Generation Rent to Generation Buy.”

If the Spring Budget has made you want to proceed with your moving plans, we’d love to help you.

To find out more about what the stamp duty holiday extension and Government-backed mortgage guarantee scheme means to you, call us at either our Rainham branch on 01634 377737 or our Walderslade branch on 01634 672227.

*Copyright GREYFOX SALES & LETTINGS 2021

02Mar

In this three-minute read, we look at how Medway landlords can protect themselves from getting caught up in the most common cause of end-of-tenancy disputes.

 

When a tenancy comes to an end, one issue more than any other causes disagreements.

 

And it’s not holes in walls or missing rent payments that take the number one spot.

 

According to recent data* cleaning is the most common cause of strife.

 

Yes, that’s right, grotty carpets, greasy ovens and filthy loos most often turn out to be the bone of contention between tenant and landlord.

 

The latest figures (which cover the year up to March 2020) show that there were 34,993 disputes in 12 months (a slight drop from the previous year).

 

Of these disputes, cleaning was cited in 42% of cases followed by:

  • Damage to the property (41%)
  • Redecoration (39%)
  • Gardening (23%)
  • Rent arrears (14%)

 

So why does cleanliness (or lack thereof) spark so much antagonism? The problem is everyone has a different definition of what constitutes “clean”.

 

A landlord may be looking for a professional standard of cleanliness, while the tenant may think waving a cloth over a surface or two is enough.

 

As most tenants want their deposit back, they almost always vociferously argue that they have left the property in the same condition as it was at the start of the tenancy.

 

The only way a landlord can push back if this isn’t the case, is by having a clear and definitive inventory that includes proof of the property’s condition.

 

The inventory should include photographs and videos (dated, of course) and written descriptions of the condition of the property. (Make sure you cover areas that might be the subject of dispute, such as inside the oven or the shower.)

 

A good inventory serves two purposes:

1) It gives the tenant a clear understanding of what is expected of them. They know you’ll be checking at the end of the tenancy, so they are more likely to take good care of the property.

2) If you do end up in a dispute, you have the inventory to back up your side of the story. An inventory that is too general and lacking in detail, means it will be almost impossible to make your case.

 

With the issue of cleaning – as with pretty much all other aspects of being a successful landlord – it all comes back to communication.

 

Being open and clear with your tenant right from the beginning (and giving them a copy of the inventory) will set the right tone.

 

Regular inspections throughout the tenancy will maintain the momentum, and a friendly but straightforward chat just before the final inspection will leave little room for confusion.

 

If you’re a landlord in Medway and have any questions about managing a tenancy, get in touch with us here at Greyfox we’re happy to help.

 

* Data from The Dispute Service – an organisation that offers a landlord/tenant resolution service – was analysed by Decorus for Sage, property management software providers.

 

COPYRIGHT Greyfox Sales & Lettings 2021

25Feb

In this three-minute read, we look at the paint colours that are making a splash in 2021.

 

For millions of Brits, getting through this pandemic has been a case of “Keep Calm and Carry On with DIY”. To stop themselves from climbing the walls from boredom and frustration, they’ve turned to painting them.

 

As a result, DIY chains such as B&Q have recorded surging sales, while paint company Dulux had to ration the sale of paint pots and testing kits last year to cope with rising demand.

 

As so many people are giving their homes a fresh lick of paint right now, let’s look at what’s popular in the world of colours.

 

Call of the wild

A few years ago, magnolia was very much the colour du jour for interiors (in fact, just about every property that came on the market was a vision of yellowy-white).

The perceived wisdom was that magnolia was the best way to create a welcoming but neutral base for home decorating.

But times have changed, paint firms and interior design experts report that being cooped up so much over the past year has made us yearn for nature and fuelled a desire to bring a little bit of the great outdoors indoors. 

As a result, earthy tones are the “new magnolia”.

 

It’s only natural

Dulux’s Colour of the Year 2021 is Brave Ground, a warm natural shade with a strong brown undertone (some cynics call it beige).

While over at Farrow & Ball, the earthy brown tone Jitney is popular, as is Satin Slipper (an off-white shade akin to a traditional ballet slipper) and Dead Salmon (yes, that really is what it’s called).

The Little Greene Paint Company has also jumped on the ‘earthy’ bandwagon, by unveiling Stone, a range of 36 natural colours that includes the warm neutrals Portland Stone and Travertine.

Meanwhile, Valspar has Seven Sisters or the very bold Aged Cognac.

 

Greens and blues

Many home renovators are also looking to create tranquil, calm spaces at home (perhaps to counteract all the stress from homeschooling and Zoom calls). 

As a result, blue and green shades are proving popular. Valspar has Sapphire Earbobs, Secluded Cove and Cobblestone Moss, while Farrow & Ball has Green Smoke and Card Room Green, and Ultramarine Blue and Stiffkey Blue (a navy that we’ve seen used in lots of Victorian terraces).

 

Should Medway homeowners stay neutral or make a statement?

Potential buyers can indeed find bold colours and strong prints a turn-off when viewing a property. 

But to state the obvious, it is your home, so of course, it should reflect your tastes. The great thing about paint is you can paint over it. 

So, if you are going to opt for bold colours, use them on the walls – you can go over them later without too much trouble – but stick to neutral tones for skirting boards and ceilings (which are fiddlier and faffier to reach).

We’re living through strange times. Anything that makes you feel more secure or calm in your home can’t be a bad thing.

 

From all of us here at Greyfox, stay safe and remember better times are coming.

 

COPYRIGHT Greyfox Sales & Lettings 2021

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Tel: 01634 377737
Email:
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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