Archive for the ‘Property’ Category

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” 

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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

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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 or being served notice are the two main ones in letting. If there is no driving need, people are just waiting to see how leaving 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 it is 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.

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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

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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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Despite it being a turbulent political year not to mention Brexit (oops I just did)  according
to Zoopla, house prices in Bookham and Effingham have increased in the last 12 months. Sally Asling, director of SurreyLets looks at the sales data.

The Sales market in Bookhamhousing-market

Property in the Bookham area has seen a growth of 7.47% in the last year  (Oct 2015 – Oct 2016)  which for the average Bookham property is an increase of  around £46,571
This is Great News for Bookham homeowners

The current average value is 668K whilst the average sold price is 615K . The average detached property in Bookham in October 2016 is 833K with the average Semi standing at 526K, Terraced homes at 430K and Flats averaging 294K

The Sales market in Effingham

Across the whole market there has been an increase though out the year. However over in Effingham, property prices have performed just a smidgen higher in pounds and pence, but the increase is is the same at 7.47%

Over the past year 24 sales have been agreed in this data catchment. The average value was 815K and the average sold price was £674K.  The average detached property has an average sold price of 981K, with the average Semi standing at 536K, Terraced homes at 525K and Flats at 437K

Rentals in Bookham and Effingham

Sally Asling – Letting Director at  SurreyLets states:  “The  average price for a 4 bedroom rental property in both Bookham and Effingham is in the region of £2500 – 3000pcm with 5 bedrooms reaching up to £3500pcm on average, however there is a severe shortage of stock in the Bookham and Effingham rental markets across all price categories which are effectively pushing rentals up.  Whilst the corporate market has slowed down, the slack is being picked up by the sheer number of people renting as they are self building or extensively renovating their own homes. If you are thinking of renting your property, SurreyLets are confident we can get you the maximum rental for your property in any price range.”

Forecast

Many people are concerned that the prices may dip following Brexit. However there are absolutely no signs of this in this areas of Surrey at the moment.

A trio of data from the NAEA suggests the UK is shrugging off the impact of Brexit with the housing market rebounding to pre-referendum levels.

There was a 16% jump in potential buyers in September, pushing numbers back up to levels not seen since June, while sales agreed rose by 12.5%, according to the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA).Meanwhile, government figures showed the UK’s economy grew by a stronger than expected 0.5% between July and September, providing further support for the housing market.

Buyers and sellers appeared to have adopted a ‘wait and see’ approach immediately following the vote to leave the EU. The interest rate cut in August is thought to have helped boost confidence, as people expect mortgage rates to remain low for longer than previously thought.

Read more here

Data taken from the Zoopla Plus Website current as of 1st November 2016

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If you are thinking of letting out your property in Surrey, then one of the questions you may be asking in the early stages are, “What does the Landlord have to pay for, and what generic flatsdoes the tenant pay for”.

One of the most frequently asked questions for those letting flats and apartments is “Who pays the service charge?”. This is an important question especially for those investing in a property to purchase, as the cost of the service charge can greatly impact the return on investment.

A landlord is responsible for:

  • Making any repayments on the property to the mortgage/ Lending company
  • Keeping the structure of the building in good, safe condition
  • Maintaining Buildings and Contents insurance (though only obliged to cover their own contents and not the tenants)
  • Ensuring the property is fit for purpose and compliment with the Landlord ad Tenant Act.

Tenants are responsible for:

  • All utilities. Gas, Electric, Water, Council Tax, TV licence, broadband, phone, oil, septic tank clearing etc.
  • Their own contents insurance
  • The rental
  • Garden maintenance (unless otherwise agreed)

Therefore Landlords, if your property is leasehold, you are responsible for paying the service charge on the building. The only exception to this is in properties for special needs or the elderly where the service charge package includes 24hr safety monitoring or properties offering leisure facilities For more information see below.

The Service charge will normally include the buildings insurance, cleaning of communal areas, repairs to communal areas, repairs and maintenance on the building.  The service charge is normally set and agreed at an AGM held by the managing agents for the block or in smaller units will be agreed by all the residents. Normally there is a saved “pot” as a contingency. The amount may be fixed annually, but in the even of major work needed may have to be topped up. Therefore if considering purchasing a leasehold property its important to get a surveyor to advise you on the buildings condition so you are aware of any potential forthcoming costs and speak to the managing agents about the plans for the building.

Elderly / Special Needs / Assisted Living

In catering for those with special needs, some specific blocks include into the service charge, 24 hour assistance in the even of a fall. Some cater for communal activities. Where this is the case, the managing agents should be able to bill you with the areas of spend broken down. The Landlord would pay for anything related to the building, but a proportioned amount for the care should be met by the tenant.

Leisure Facilities

In properties where there is a gym / pool etc, the same applies and the tenants should pay the additional cost towards these facilities.

If you would like further information regarding this, please contact Sally Asling,  SurreyLets, the letting specialists on 01483 282470

If this information has been helpful, you may be interested in other articles from SurreyLets. Please visit our blog site. 

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