Like many Letting Agents this morning I want to scream out in frustration at the unhelpful and sensational news articles that the likes of the BBC are streaming.

Letting Agents fees have not been banned. Yet.

Letting Agents fees to tenants will continue until legislation is passed. There will be a consultation before this happens. This will take time.

The whole thing has come about in the first place because of greedy agents charging a fortune.

Once again the  unscrupulous actions of the few is having a disproportionate affect on the reputations of many.

I know locally a letting agent (no names mentioned but sounds like an unpopular scavenging animal at the start) who charged over £750 in upfront tenant fees for the agent and for the life of me I cant see how that is fair!  Yet most of us agents charge simply 50% of the cost of the tenancy agreement, the cost of the references and a small administration fee. Most reputable agency charge between £200 – £300 plus VAT to cover this.

It will hurt responsible letting agents to loose this fee. Why? Because the cost of referencing is a genuine cost, as is our time in drawing up tenancy agreements. The costs of running a company mean that this cost will have to be placed onto the Landlord and most landlords will put up the rental.

Phillip Hammond has confirmed plans (and note these are plans, not legislation implemented from today!) to ban letting agents’ fees to tenants in England. The details of this important announcement are still very unclear but the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) will consult with ARLA and other associations ahead of bringing forward legislation.

This industry does not need a BAN – it needs a regulatory cap. 

“So now is the time to speak out” 

Sally Asling from Surrey Letting Agent, SurreyLets, answer to this heading is “Its time for all agents and all Landlords to use their voice and to speak up but until there is a consultation and until there is an outcome, its business as normal”

“Following today’s Autumn Statement the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Phillip Hammond has confirmed plans  (and note these are plans, not legislation implemented from today!) to ban letting agents’ fees to tenants in England. The details of this important announcement are still very unclear but the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) will consult with ARLA and other associations ahead of bringing forward legislation.So now is the time to speak out”

“The banning of fees will end up hurting the most, the very people the government intends on helping the most.”

Asling continues  “The Letting agents fees should not be abolished, but I agree they need regulating. Some agents charge ridiculous fees, but most agents like ourselves charge a nominal fee for a service. Our tenants pay to be references, they pay 50% of the Tenancy Agreement and a small administration fee and all of this is normally capped at £300.00 per tenancy. I don’t know what service in life you get for “free”, from lending arrangement fees, car hire fees and even banking fees. If these fees are abolished they will be passed directly to a Landlord without question and I know this will impact what the landlord needs to charge through rental increases to make it a viable option. Landlords are not charities, they are investors. Without Landlords in the Private Rental Sector this country has a deeply dire and worsened Housing Crisis – yet instead of the government helping resolve the problem a supply of housing, it is driving Landlords out of buying to let, increasing the number of empty homes and hurting those it is trying to help”

The following article has been taken from the ARLA News Board.

Since the announcement ARLA MD, David Cox has spoken with DCLG who have confirmed that a consultation on banning letting agents’ fees will be launched in the New Year. Details of what the consultation will contain have not been finalised and the Government has asked for ARLA to bring forward the industry’s views. DCLG also confirmed that this will require primary legislation through an Act of Parliament. This will give agents time to plan for the ban to come into force; in whatever form it takes.

So Landlords and Agents please have your say here!

ARLA is extremely disappointed that this announcement has been made without a strong basis of evidence. We’re asking the Chancellor and the Housing Minister for a meeting at the earliest opportunity in order to ensure that they fully understand the damage that this will cause to housing standards and the impact it will have on the cost of renting.

We need the Government to explain why measures have been brought forward without prior consultation which undermine the work that we and other partners are doing as part of the DCLG Affordability and Security Working Group.We do not believe that these measures will tackle rogue landlords who will continue to operate outside the existing boundaries of housing legislation.

On news of this announcement there are a significant number of common concerns – most notably the loss of income to support the vital services that Letting Agents provide. This includes the increased legislation, the burden of which has grown significantly over the last 18 months, with little to no investment in policing these new laws.

Commenting on the decision to ban letting fees to tenants ARLA Managing Director, David Cox said:

“A ban on letting agent fees is a draconian measure, and will have a profoundly negative impact on the rental market. It will be the fourth assault on the sector in just over a year, and do little to help cash poor renters save enough to get on the housing ladder. This decision is a crowd-pleaser, which will not help renters in the long-term. All of the implications need to be taken into account.

Most letting agents do not profit from fees. Our research shows that the average fee charged by ARLA Licenced agents is £202 per tenant, which we think is fair, reasonable and far from exploitative for the service tenants receive.”

“These costs enable agents to carry out various critical checks on tenants before letting a property. If fees are banned, these costs will be passed on to landlords, who will need to recoup the costs elsewhere, inevitably through higher rents.

“The banning of fees will end up hurting the most, the very people the government intends on helping the most.

We are telling our members to continue with business as usual. When the consultation is launched, the industry must present a united voice and all agents need to work with ARLA to make our collective views heard at the very highest levels of government.

We welcome your views on this announcement to help support and inform the arguments that we are making in the media. To make your views known please email communications@arla.co.uk

The newspaper you read will probably have an influence on whether you believe the Housing Market in the UK is:

  • performing better with the Brexit vote or
  • struggling and in decline because of the Brexit vote.

Either way, the market post 24th June 2016 (post Brexit) has been in “wait and see” mode and will probably remain in this state until the new year when there will be a decision on the High Court ruling which take place on 5th December and is expected to last 4 days.  It is the view of Sally Asling, Letting Director at SurreyLets that the Housing market will continue to remain in “wait and see” mode until article 50 is served and negotiations to exit truly begin.

So what is a “wait and see” market?

In real terms it means there is a lack of activity unless there is a real need to make a move. Death, Divorce being the two main ones in Sales and Job Relocation/ Being served notice are the two main ones in letting. If there is no driving need, people are just waiting to see how laving the EU  pans out and what the market will do, and this of course becomes a self fulfilling prophecy: a general lack of activity leading to what feels like a market slump because its slow. This aside, what is actually happening to House Prices?

As I write a week or so into November, the latest statistical information we can draw upon takes us up until the end of August 2016 just 8 weeks after the Brexit decision, which isn’t really providing enough of a time lapse to see how the housing market has been affected if it has at all. However, there are encouraging facts in this data that should restore consumer confidence especially if these trends continue which may serve as some encouragement for homeowners thinking of selling but whom are “waiting to see”

House Prices have been in continual growth in 2016

Housing market indicators for August suggested a period of relative stability during the month. House prices grew by 8.4% in the year to August, up slightly from 8.0% in July.Prices in the UK continues to rise with the greatest increase for the year being the East of England with a 13.3 annual change followed by the South East wit
h a 12.2% rise. England as a whole saw a 9.2 rise.
price-changesI accept that sales agreed, pre-Brexit were possibly just going through to completion, but this is still encouraging. No major price drops as a direct result of Brexit –  which I have seen claimed in some scaremongering newspapers.

Shortage of stock on the market

Its clear that up until June there was a lack of stock on the sales market. Looking at data for June 2016 and comparing it to June 2015  England saw a 32.2% drop in the number of units sold. sales-volumes-by-country

Overall, year on year, June 2016 shows a decline from the previous growing trend of properties being sold.

A direct conclusion therefore could be drawn that whilst there is not the volume of property as in previous years on the market, and therefore not so much competition for your home, this has kept house prices rising.

Housing Demand

In terms of housing demand, the volume of lending approvals for house purchases fell slightly in August compared to July, remaining at levels seen in early 2015. Home sales in the UK stayed stable between July and August but remain below levels seen in 2014, 2015 and before the stamp duty changes in early 2016. The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) market survey for August reported falling new buyer enquiries over the past three months, with demand from buy-to-let investors falling more sharply than demand from first time buyers and existing owners.

Latest news from Zoopla – for KT24

Zooplas Z-index is the current average Zoopla estimate of home values in a given area, and the Z index report for KT24 is £1,034,686. Zoopla shows a month on month rising trend.

The average house price paid in the last three months 17 sales is £998,703.zoopkt24

Fun housing facts for KT24

Highest value streets Zed-Index
The Warren £2,122,830
Beech Avenue £2,096,434
Woodland Drive £1,996,802
Pennymead Drive £1,834,411
Lynx Hill £1,828,226
Highest turnover streets Turnover
Fearn Close 45.5%
Station Approach 42.9%
Tintells Lane 41.2%
Little Cranmore Lane 36.4%
Parkside Close 33.3%

SurreyLets keep a keen eye on what property values are doing in the area as whilst SurreyLets are not an Estate Agency involved in the sale of property, SurreyLets regularly consult with Landlords who which to withdraw equity on their buy-to-Let investments and assist Investors making smart decisions on their portfolio growth.

If you have a property to Let, are considering Letting out your property or would like help and advise in buying an investment property, Sally Asling would be delighted to have an informal, no obligation discussion with you. Please call 01483 282470 or e-mail info@surreyletsonline.co.uk

Data taken from the UK House Price index summery published 18th October 2016 from UK.Gov’s official statistics and from Zoopla.

Everyone’s eyes are  looking at the  UK stock market and currency rates this morning as trumpthe UK assess what the Trump presidential victory means. One things for certain, change is ahead!

Camilla Dell, managing partner at Black Brick buying agency, says in Estate Agency today” amid stock market turmoil and weakening of the dollar” global investment into Prime Central London property is likely to increase from investors who hold the view that Trump is risky for the markets.”

She adds: “We are also likely to see some wealthy US citizens, particularly those most offended by Trump, move to the UK as some of our American clients hinted to us prior to this outcome. Foreign buyers, particularly those from the Middle East and of Muslim faith, may enter the London property market, too, as they decide not to buy property in the US due to his remarks about banning Muslims from entering the country.”

London and the suburbs will be attractive to USA citizens as the slump in sterling after the Brexit vote in June meant the  once soaring property prices, one of the major deterrents to a move to the capital, have fallen more than nine per cent in a year in dollar terms. That is equivalent to a $62,000 saving on a typical London property, but far more on a home in one of the more expensive central areas favoured by Americans. While the capital’s house prices have risen 13 per cent year on year for domestic buyers, those using the dollar will find homes in London are almost 10 per cent cheaper than a year ago.

Fears by some Americans that the doller will further fall (the markets am on 9/11/16 show the dollar has fallen and gold investment has soared) may see investment in UK property happen quickly. Investors who had previously looked to US markets as a safe haven may now turn to the UK property market. President Trump combined with a predicted unstable pound next year does make London look extremely attractive as any political change will cause uncertainty – which in turn causes stagnation as investors naturally look to alternative markets such as London.

About 63,000 people born in the US lived in London at the time of the last census in 2011. (Source ONS) They make up the largest group of immigrants in the three London boroughs of  Camden, Kensington & Chelsea and Westminster, where the American School in St John’s Wood is based.

So how many American citizens will look to relocate to the UK and most importantly where will they look to relocate to in the UK?

Outside of London,  Cobham has the ACS (International School, formally known as the American Community School) and an established American commmunity. With organisations like American women of Surrey , a commute to London in under and hour and cheaper healthcare – Cobham is an excellent choice for the Ex-Pat. Sally Asling, Lettings Director at SurreyLets says “Cobham has always been a firm favourite for American families relocating from the US. With a short commute to the city, outstanding educational facilities, ample green space and sports facilities and specific community organisations for the American community, we have seen the American community take good quality homes on long term rental agreements, and the American community have certainly been a good thing for the local lettings market”

If you are a landlord with a property to let in Cobham, East or West Horsley, Effingham, Bookham or Weybridge and Walton, SurreyLets would be delighted to help you. Please call SurreyLets on 01483 282470

Alternatively, if you are looking to relocate to any of the above areas, SurreyLets offers a wide range of property to let. Please call 01483 282470 for a viewing.

 

What is a testimonial?  The dictionary describes it as  “A testimonial is a formal logo-1statement testifying to someone’s character and qualifications.  A sworn testimony is evidence given by a witness who has made a commitment to tell the truth”

In the world of business, especially where sales people are concerned, a testimonial is one of the most important tools a business has as it is a statement of truth that someone is prepared and willing to say about a person or a company. It is the fact that its a statement of truth that for many people is why its so important. Its especially important when choosing a Surrey Letting Agent as you are giving them the keys to what is possibly your most valuable asset.

Running my own business and the time constraints that are on this, its often the last thing I remember to ask for, however it is rewarding to get nice feedback, especially from long established clients. Here at SurreyLets we use the independent company Referenceline to collate our feedback from clients and all I share below can be seen by clicking here 

Here are just a few of the ones we have had come in this month that I am delighted to share with you.

November 2016

I was so impressed by the service I received. SurreyLets were professional, efficient and knowledgeable. They are the best letting agency I”ve ever encountered (and there have been several!) They went above and beyond the call of duty to ensure I was moved in quickly and I wouldn”t hesitate to recommend them to others. Replies to emails were quick and they ensured all of my questions were answered. Moving house is usually stressful but dealing with them was a pleasure. Nothing was too much trouble for them. Compared with some letting agents, SurreyLets are a breath of fresh air. I wholeheartedly recommend them! (Miss G – Tenants reference)

Sally is great I have full confidence in her professionalism – I have used other agents in the past – but thankful there is no further need to do so – If I had met Sally ten years ago I would be alot richer and happier. (Mr T – Landlord reference)

Our experience with SurreyLets has been excellent, we have used Sally”s services for nearly 7 years and are consistently impressed with her professional and friendly tenant selection and lettings management. Living abroad it”s important to be able to trust a property agent and we trust Sally 110%. We won”t hesitate to recommend her to anyone we know. (Mr & Mrs H – Overseas Landlord)

I have had my property with SurreyLets for the past 6.5 years and over that time the unit has only been vacant for less than 20 days. The service provided has been excellent with all aspects addressed in a very prompt and professional way. Over this period we have encountered a wide range of issues including general maintenance , urgent issues, complaining tenants, misbehaving dogs etc – in every case it has been addressed and resolved by SurreyLets. I have been very pleased with the filtering of prospective tenants which is done well in advance of the end of the lease period. This has allowed us to change tenants with very limited “downtime” and also to source good quality and reliable people. Problems are also proactively addressed and they provide a solution rather than just communicating the problem. They have good access to all the required service providers and ensure that all work needed is properly executed and monitored so as to minimize the impact to the tenants. overall I an very satisfied and would certainly recommend their services to anyone needing a managing agent (Mr D – Overseas Landlord)

To see all of our customer testimonials please visit Referenceline by clicking this link 

Finding a letting agent in East Horsley, Finding a letting agent in Effingham, Finding a Letting Agent in Bookham, Finding a Letting agent in West Horsley, Finding a Letting agent in Ripley

SurreyLets are pleased to bring to the Lettings market for the first time, a wonderful family home within a few moments walk of the superb village centre of East Horsley.p1020001

This property is a well presented and deceptively spacious four bedroom modern family home and is perfectly situated for a busy family due to its proximity to all the local amenities such as the village shopping facilities, train station with fast links to London, sports clubs and village green spaces.

The accommodation is spacious and well thought out and comprises of: A newly fitted modern kitchen with a range of white goods, spacious contemporary lounge which leads in open plan style to a formal dining area, a conservatory which is an ideal playroom, a study and a downstairs WC. Upstairs the property boasts a beautifully presented master bedroom with a newly renovated en-suite shower room, three further double bedrooms and a beautifully presented family bathroom. Externally the property offers a double garage, beautifully styled front and rear gardens (gardener included) and off road parking for many vehicles accessed by electric gates.

rloungediningPeaceful, traditional, semi rural and undoubtedly affluent. The villages of East and West Horsley make up “The Horsleys”, one, or two villages depending on your viewpoint, are situated at the foot of the Surrey Hills nestled in beautiful open countryside and yet just 48 minutes to London. Beautifully middle class, yet traditionally village like, the Horsley have a wealth of charm, character but most of all its community spirit is still intact. This is the Surrey affluenza belt, connected to motorways and London Waterloo by train, yet swaddled in green belt.

The Horsley’s are an area that attracts the corporate relocated overseas families who make use of the international schools: The ACS in Cobham and the International School of London ISL in Woking being firm favourites of international families. Locals move to the area for the outstanding state schools, The Raleigh Primary School and The Howard of Effingham School both being on the doorstep. Those looking at private schooling have Glenesk primary, Cranmore School and St Teresas.east horsley 1

The Horsleys are a typical family orientated area. Saturdays lots of children enjoy sporting activities. Horsley Football Club, The Cricket Club and The Tennis Club are just some of the sporting activities on hand, although the community run clubs offer a plethora of clubs from cycling, running and rambling. Locally families tend to shop on a Saturday in the village enjoying a traditional butchers (Conisbees), bakers (The Bakery) and coffee shop (Quaich) all of which are owned and managed by members of the community and who care and invest in community. The village also has a popular well used library which runs many half term and holiday children’s activities and reading clubs.

The Horsley have some superbly attended churches, St Marys Church offers a traditional service at 9am and a contemporary service at 10.45 in the village hall where there is a live worship band and outstanding youth ministry. St Martins Church also offers service choices and is well attended.

Commuters take advantage of Horsley Station and its fast southwest train service to London Waterloo taking just 47 minutes, stopping for a quick coffee at The Stockyard station coffee shop. Of course the commuter road links are excellent too with the A3 being a 5 minute drive away taking you to London or Portsmouth, and less than 10 mins to junction 10 of the M25, meaning that (subject to flowing traffic!) the airports of Gatwick and Heathrow are under an hours drive away.

The Horsley really do offer something for everyone. I have lived here for 25 years and I am biased, but if you would like more information, I would be delighted to chat to you. Call me, Sally Asling on 01483 282470 or send me a mail to info@surreyletsonline.co.uk

rent-increaseAccording to ARLA  (Association of Residential Letting Agents) The supply of rental homes has risen “astronomically”, from the lows seen earlier this year.  The jump in availability is likely to have contributed to average private sector rents remaining unchanged in September, ending a near six year run of rising prices, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

But despite rents being flat month-on-month, they were still 2.3% higher than they had been a year earlier, meaning they are rising at nearly four times the rate of inflation.

Across Surrey, the fact that rents have been holding steady in September is likely to be due to the increase in supply, giving landlords less scope to hike their rents.Its a known fact that if a landlord keeps rentals the same then tenants will stay but they more than often leave when the landlord puts the rental up.

 

All areas of the UK saw rental increases during the 12 months, with the South East leading the way with a hike of 3.5%. Sally Asling, Lettings Director at online letting agency  SurreyLets comments  “At SurreyLets we are aware of continual rental increases year on year for tenants, however most investor Landlords look at the cost of replacing a tenant which can often offset and rental increases should the tenant leave due to a rental increase. Therefore our rental increases whilst modest are still within, if not more than,  the average increases seen in the South East.”

However despite more stock being available than earlier in the year, there is still an overall shortage of properties available,  therefore potential tenants are likely to face an increase in competition for properties and more rental increases.

Whilst across Surrey,  agents have seen who had been Landlords have been holding off committing to further Buy-To-Let investment following a multitude of tax disadvantages coupled with Brexit  continue to invest. Additionally the fears that  landlords would exit the sector in the face of a wave of tax hikes had not yet come to pass.

Landlords are facing a raft of tax changes including the higher Stamp Duty rate introduced in April, a reshuffle of mortgage interest tax relief next year and an end to the 10% annual ‘wear and tear’ allowance for those letting furnished properties.These tax rises have prompted concerns that the UK could face a significant shortage of rental homes.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) recently warned that 1.8m new rental properties were needed just to keep pace with growing demand. SurreyLets director, Sally Asling concurs.

“Whilst ARLA have reported an increase in stock, there is still a shortfall in stock given the demand. In the key areas we cover which is predominately the affluent commuter belt areas in East and West Horsley, Effingham, Bookham and villages in the Guildford to Leatherhead corridor, we are seeing an increase in rental demand as families looking to secure a home in the areas, to benefit from the  outstanding schooling, are finding themselves priced out of the sales market. In these areas property prices have gone up a further 7% in the last year despite the market being quite stagnant following Brexit. There is no sign of the housing market dropping in value in these sought after villages, and families are struggling to get on the housing ladder. These families often seek employment in the city and need the quick commuter links, but like to live in these affluent villages. Rental is a viable solution but it has put an overwhelming strain on the private rented sector where there is a shortage of property available”

If you are thinking of letting your property in any of the areas above and would like a free, no obligation market appraisal of your property, we would be delighted to assist you. Our experienced staff can discuss all the options available to you and offer as much support as you need to guide you through the lettings process. Please contact Sally Asling, Lettings Director, SurreyLets on 01483 282470 or by email info@surreyletsonline.co.uk

 

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