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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Utilise your time between tenants wisely, say the experts at Belvoir

If you’ve done your marketing well, started forward planning early enough, plus taken advice from your local property management agency you’d hope your property would never be empty for long. But - if you do find your property vacant in this increasingly crowded rental market - put the time to good use in order to find a tenant quickly and to ensure minimising the risk of future ‘voids’.

During the time your property is empty take the opportunity to do all those jobs that it’s harder to do while the property is occupied – you may even be able to increase your property’s potential for benefitting from capital growth too!

Wayne Mearns Proprietor of Belvoir Southend-on-Sea says, “Check out your decoration, carpets and curtains as these things can transform the darkest of rooms and give it a warmer and modern feel. Observe front and rear gardens too, making the most of the season with hanging baskets or just a neat tidy garden.”

Proprietor of Belvoir Peterborough and Corby Terry Lucking adds, “Even though the number of renters is up year after year the competition to get renters to apply for a property is becoming a real challenge for many landlords and agents - in particular for those where the house is located in an area where there already is a lot of rental choice. This used to be centred around new-build developments but, with the ever increasing amount of new landlords letting as they are unable to sell their homes, many areas are now affected.

“The more experienced landlords know that when the market is over-supplied with lots of choice for prospective renters they have to do things differently. You should consider redecorating the property inside and outside, clearing the gutters of weeds, making the house look more attractive by replacing dated window dressings with modern tasteful materials and exchanging ugly pendant light fittings for attractive energy-saving fittings.”

“Presentation is the key,” agrees Rick Flay Proprietor of Belvoir Sheffield and Chesterfield. “Ensure the property is spotlessly clean and, when needed, freshen up the paint. A lot of landlords won’t do this unless they are able to get monies from the previous tenants on departure, i.e. from deposits. However, landlords need to remember that over time there will be fair wear and tear and that it is their responsibility to maximise their investment.”

Savvy landlords think long-term too. Jobs done between tenants will prevent further decay during a tenancy when access may be limited - they may even prolong the shelf-life of the property. Minor on-going maintenance is definitely better for your property – and your wallet – than full-scale repairs because problems have been left.

Among other on-going maintenance “review loft insulation and pipe lagging,” advises Wayne. “This will avoid costly repairs going into the winter and minimise the risk of having a tenant with no heating. It will help make for a better rated Energy Performance Certificate too.”

And, don’t forget, empty properties lend themselves to the best marketing photographs so make sure you take this opportunity to have photographs taken for future marketing campaigns. As a guide, the best marketing campaigns start three-months before the end of the previous tenancy or as soon as notice is given if the tenant is renting on a month-by-month basis.

If you have the capital available and don’t think you’re going to find another tenant quickly, a lull between tenants may also be a good time to invest in your property. Add value with extra facilities, such as a conservatory, decking or an extra bedroom – update old-fashioned bathrooms and kitchens too. Not only will this help to attract a wider spectrum of potential tenants but it could also help the property benefit from capital growth on selling.

Of course, for most landlords the main aim during a period of ‘void’ is to let the property as quickly as possible. Step up your marketing campaign, perhaps using local newspapers and notice-boards, seek advice from your local letting agent and offer potential tenants special packages or concessions. For example, “offer decorative features as an add on,” says Wayne. “If you’re planning to redecorate anyway why don’t you offer prospective tenants a choice of wallpapers during the viewing so that they have the chance to make it their own home.”

And, one of the quickest and easiest ways to broaden your property’s appeal to tenants is to re-consider the monthly rental return you’re hoping to achieve.

“Many landlords decline offers made by viewers, preferring to wait weeks before someone pays the asking price,” says Terry. “Why not ask the viewer if they will move in within five working days of the application. You can carry out a rent review in month five to be effective from the start of month six subject to setting up a six-month fixed term. Surely six months at a rent lowered by £50pcm is better than having another full month of void.

“Also, if you are going to lower the advertised rental price think about how search engines group prices together,” continues Terry. “This is often overlooked and rarely understood by landlords. Dropping from say £650 to £625 may not produce any more results. The price will need to go down to £600 or lower to ensure the property becomes visible in more search results.”

Most importantly, Terry suggests that all landlords should be honest with themselves and take an objective look at their property alongside others that are available.

“Many novice and new-to-the-market landlords believe the rent less management fees must cover their mortgage, including the cost of capital repayments. Often this is not practical,” he says. “Instead, check the local market rents to see what similar properties are being advertised for. Look at the marketing photos and honestly ask yourself is mine more attractive? And - if it isn’t – ask yourself what can I do to make it look better?”

Faced with a period of ‘void’? Take the opportunity between tenants to do the following...

Spotlessly clean the property
Freshen up paintwork
Consider changing the decoration, carpets and curtains
Review loft insulation and pipe lagging
Take new marketing photos for future marketing campaigns
Clear the gutters of weeds
Replace dated window dressings with modern materials
Replace ugly pendant light fittings with energy-saving attractive fittings
Make the gardens looks presentable and make the most of the season
Install modern appliances in the kitchen

* Take advice about your property from a professional property management agent, such as Belvoir. To find your nearest Belvoir office, visit their website at

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Six months in the life of... a new property management agent

Six months ago - at the height of the credit crunch and during the slow down of the property sales market - Luke and Jonathan Mason decided to open Belvoir Hitchin. Here, Luke looks back at his journey from the opening morning to present day…

“On 1st December, 2008, I opened the doors of Belvoir Hitchin, along with my cousin Jonathan - and I haven’t looked back,” says Luke. “It was quite scary as I’d never done anything similar before but I was eager to get on with it.”

Before becoming a property management agent Luke was working in car sales alongside his dad but says he wanted to branch out and open his own business. After coming across Belvoir Lettings on the internet he decided to become a lettings agent.

“I had a lot to learn as I didn’t know anything about rentals or the lettings market,” says Luke who went on Belvoir’s three-week intensive training course at their Central Office in Grantham before launching the business. There he was taught everything from how to open a shop and how to manage property to the ins and outs of lettings law. “Without a shadow of a doubt the training was essential and helped Jonathan and I move forward with confidence,” says Luke.

So, why did Luke and Jonathan decide to open up a lettings agency during a time when the property market was slowing down and the credit crunch was speeding up? Luke says that it seemed the ideal time as more people than ever before were renting rather than buying or letting rather than selling.

“There were so many properties to let or being let that I could see a potential market for our business,” says Luke. “Also, I’m a people’s person and I knew I’d thoroughly enjoying meeting landlords and tenants and developing relationships with them – now we’ve been doing it for six months I know that property management is definitely for me. And, I’m pleased to say, the business has gone from strength-to-strength too…”

Luke and Jonathan have taken on, plus let, many properties, including larger properties that are sometimes harder to let than smaller ones – in fact, they let a four-bed house within just a week of managing it and another of their larger properties was being marketed by seven agents but they let it first.

“The business has grown at a fast pace,” says Luke. “We’ve already taken on a full-time property manager, with the hope of taking on another member of staff within the next six months. And, we were ranked within the top one hundred of the Belvoir group within two months of trading too.

“In fact, the first six months have been absolutely amazing. It’s been hard work but it’s really opened my eyes to the potential of the lettings market. I’m really proud of myself for getting out there and doing it, for making the decision and just going for it. I don’t wish I’d done anything differently – my only regret is that I didn’t do it sooner!”

To find your nearest Belvoir office, visit their website at

Luke’s top five highlights of his first six months...

• Letting out a property that was already being marketed by seven agents.
• Being ranked within the top one hundred of the Belvoir group within two months of trading.
• Meeting many landlords and tenants and developing good business relationships with them.
• Letting out so many properties so quickly, including larger properties.
• Watching the business grow from initial concept to successful shop.

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Bovey Comes Up Smiling After Dumping Twenty Million Debt Onto Taxpayers

'The Bovey' comes up smiling.

The Daily mail are not happy at the way Grant Bovey has manged to dump his £20 million mistake onto tax payers after the failure of his BTL focused property business.

Bovey was abroad on holiday, topping up his tan, so could not be contacted for comment.

Read more of 'middle Englands' disgruntlement.

The one positive thing is that it will be very unlikely that Anthea Turner will be welcomed back on the TV unless it involves making her eat kangaroos privates or been pelted with slime.

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More House Price Twitter for Landlords

"You spin me right round, baby, right round, like a record baby.."

More Twitter on property prices

RICS Reflect on the Nationwide Figures indicating the Bottom for Property Prices

FTSE Holds Steady Thanks to Positive House Price Statistics

A Bullish Reaction To Nationwide Data

The BBC Report Nationwide Data

Is the worst of the house price crash over?

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Ever Changing Housing Ministers

I've just picked up this list showing the sequence of Housing Ministers since Labour came to power.

No wonder so many Government Departments lack a cohesive strategy and have perpetually over spent and under performed. As soon as the Minister has evaluated their position, plonked in a few strategies they're off to their next position without actually progressing anything through to a conclusion.

It's a kind of Chelsea FC strategy of throwing money at costly, random policy decisions.

Unfortunately the country doesn't have a Roman Ambramovich bank rolling us, which is why we are broke.

So let's hope to secure an Arsene Wenger or Alex Ferguson in the new season under the Tories.

1997 – Hilary Armstrong
1999 – Nick Raynsford
2001 – Lord Falconer
2002 – Lord Rooker
2003 – Keith Hill
2005 – Yvette Cooper
2006 – Ruth Kelly
2007 – Hazel Blears
2008 – Caroline Flint
2008 - Margaret Beckett
2009 – John Healey

See the original blogpost from Landlord Law

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Gordon's 110,000 houses for rent could be 500,000 if left to private landlords

I note that Gordon has announced his 'intention' to provide 110,000 new social houses over 2 years. The cost to us taxpayers £1.5 billion.

Lets put Gordon's little plan into context.

The private rental sector grew from 2.45 million units in 2000 to 3.2 million in 2007.

That's 750,000 properties for rent in 7 years at no expense to the taxpayer.

Hey Gordon, here's an idea for you. Why don't you give that money to private landlords, who would then secure an additional £4.5 billion in buy-to-let loans, and for that investment could provide 440,000 new properties for rent.

Is that too obvious. Or is it that Gordon is no more New Labour than Trotsky was an advocate of free market economics. Just as 'New Labour' was just a clever way of saying - "We believe in the state and tax and spend but we are just much more clever at deceiving the electorate than our predecessors."

So Gordon, stop wasting our money and give it to people that are resourceful, motivated and will deliver. That way the whole country gets value for money for a change.

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Monday, June 29, 2009

Going potty

One of Property Sparrow’s tenants has run up some rent arrears. He’s about a month and a half behind. He’s a bus driver in London and it seems a steady job with a reasonable salary.

The thing is, his girlfriend has
recently had a baby and the lettings agent says that he’s finding it hard to manage to pay for everything at the moment. Rent or nappies – that’s his dilemma.

He’s going to pay an extra £100 per month to clear the arrears.

Property Sparrow hopes that he's good at potty training.

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boiler blues

Blo....dy, bug..ring, boilers.

I'm sure I'm not the only landlord that has these thoughts.

After paying out £187.50 in October to fix my boiler I had a call yesterday from the tenant to tell me that it had packed up again.

Now this was not an old boiler. Fitted 4 years ago the Worcester Bosch in boiler years is still considered to be youthful, rather than middle aged given the average 15 year lifespan.

The first engineer verdict was scrap it. Appartently it was furred up with limescale which afflicts all water using devices in Notts.

I could of dropped off my chair. There was me thinking I'd bought the Rolls Royce of boilers to be told that after 4 years I was going to have to start again and pay out £1200 into the bargain.

On further investigation I was told by a very amenable and knowledgable plumber that he doesn't work on Worcesters any more. He thinks they're reputation is over blown and they are very difficult to work on. Worth knowing for the future.

Boiler breakdown insurance cover

He recommends an Alpha given they have 5-7 years parts and labour guarantee.

Anyway, despite the terminal prognosis on my boiler by the first plumber (registered with the Gas Safe Service) I decided that I wasn't prepared to condem my boiler to the scrap heat quite yet. I phoned Worcester Bosch who promised to fix it unless there were problems to the backplate or shell. Almost impossible given the boilers age.

I therefore put my faith in them to fix the problem and opted to go for their £210 repair service.

It turns out that the problem was not as the first plumber had diagnised but a faulty circuit board.

This brings home an unfortunate fact of life for many landlords. Even when the sun is belting down we still need functioning boilers for the tenants hot water. When they go wrong they are bloomin expensive and landlords should always get a second opinion because even so called experts get it wrong even when they have all the right qualifications.

For more info on whether to get boiler insurance

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£80 million buy-to-let portfolio for £6m

Landlords looking to buy a luxury buy-to-let portfolio on the cheap may be interested in Paul Roshan's rags to riches story as featured in the Sunday Times.

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- professional rates - discounted

This one time art salesman is looking at offloading his portfolio of luxury London pads for a bargain price of £6 million for a portfolio that was at one time had a value of £80m. There is though a very small catch......

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Sunday, June 28, 2009

Landlords Could Write off Some of Their Buy-to-Let Mortgage

Following on from last weeks news (that the ex-lender Advantage Homeloans are offering to write-off some of their loans to many of their clients if they redeem their mortgages with them), the picture is getting clearer each day.

In our office the biggest discount currently being offered to an investor so far (in monetary terms) is £87,500 – yes, that’s right they were given £87,500 to redeem their buy-to-let mortgage! The current pay rate on this particular deal is… wait for it… 0% - so no wonder the lender wants to get rid of them.

Even with this discount, it is still quite difficult to find a lender that we can actually remortgage to due to the current market conditions, namely property price falls and decreasing loan to value mortgage products.

Call for more information on any of these deals 01424 205 373 - ref PropertyHawk to take advantage of the No Fees Deal.

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Saturday, June 27, 2009

NLA Wins Court Battle Against NFRL Merger

The on-going legal saga regarding the merger of the NLA and the NFRL seems to have finally been bought to a close.

On Thursday 21 May, His Honour Judge Pelling QC dismissed the legal challenges to the merger and ordered those who brought the action to pay the NLA’s costs.

So that the end of that, and the final nail in the coffin of the NFRL.

Lesson in life No. 32 - The lawyers always win.

Read more views on this from the National Landlords Association.

Read the costs to the claimants in the LandlordLaw blog

Note to self, never make a litigation claim. Blimey.

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Are you a property bull or property bear?

For those landlords who invest in property it can be a tough time trying to work out whether the housing market is set for even more of slump or whether the recent set back is the ultimate buying opportunity.

It all depends on whether you are a property bull or bear.

These terms borrowed from the stockmarket reflect levels of investment optimism. A bull thinks the market will rise where as the bear anticipates a falling market.

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- leading rates - instant quotes

At the moment we can clearly see the existence of both.

James Ferguson, a columist with the decidedly bearish Money Week recent article indicates that both affordability and the earnings to house price ratio is still well above trend suggesting that prices could fall by another 40%.

At the other end of the spectrum is Stuart Law of Assetz who has been a consistent property bull throughout the recent down turn. In one of his latest posts on his blog, he trumpets the fact that "House prices are growing again."

All I can say is that all of us and that includes landlords and property investors tend to find and read information that agrees with their own prejudices and preconceptions.

So maybe the answer is that the property bulls should spend more time reading the articles by property bears like James Ferguson and those with a more pessimistic outlook should take a dose of Stuart Law's output.

This way we all might get a little closer to the truth.

Are you a property bull or property bear? Post your comments below.

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Friday, June 26, 2009

Property Price Twitter for Landlords

More twitter on UK property prices

The Times sees that price falls are almost at an end

but Moneyweek speculate that we could see further falls of 40%.

Well that clears that up then.

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Property Prices Are Unpredictable, Unlike Balls

Watching Wimbledon has lead me to realise the amazing capabilities of my computerized name sake, Hawkeye , to show the exact bounce of a ball.

Inch perfect, and able to predict the exact future trajectory of a ball.

It is so beyond the ability of the human line judges and referees that we should just get rid of the lot of them and leave it to the robots.

It has made me feel rather stupid and inferior, and 'very human'.

When it comes to predicting the future of property investing and any wider economic predictions it has also made me realise how the outcome of these will be affected by a 'very human' factor.

The economic crisis we find ourselves in was caused by 'very human' illogical behaviour, greed, that a computer could never of predicted.

When it comes to a recovery in house prices it will come down to a 'very human' sentiment to whether to start buying property again, or not, desire.

So don't listen to the statistics, the computers, the graphs, the analysts - they are all guessing, for neither machines or humans can calibrate desire or greed.

Humans are unpredictable unlike balls.

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Buy to Let Product Update

Buy to Let Product Update:

Here’s a couple of buy to let mortgages for you:

BM Solutions (still here),Interest rate: 4.7%, LTV: 75%

Product Detail: 2 year tracker at 125% rental calculation (base rate + 4.2%)

Arrangement Fee: 3%, Early Redemption Penalties: 3% in first 2 years.

Our thoughts: The lowest rental cover for 75% loan to value mortgages therefore good for low rental properties, and BM are still the most efficient and quickest. Remember, you can only have a total of 9 properties within the Lloyds Group.

Please note: Not for the faint hearted – should Bank of England base rate significantly increase, then so will your rate.

Coventry BS, Interest rate: 5.25%, LTV: 60%, Product Detail: Fixed until 30/09/2012

FREE Valuation, Booking Fee: £250, Arrangement Fee: £1749 can be added to the loan

Early Redemption Penalties: 4.00% of the balance repaid until 30/09/12

Our thoughts: This is a great remortgage deal for higher value loans because of the set arrangement fee and competitive rate.

Tip of the week

We still have access to a lender that will remortgage without the normal 6 months of ownership requirement.

As they will only lend on the original purchase price, it is only really suitable for the following:

1. You bought for cash and would like some funds out before the 6 month period.

2. You bought with expensive bridging and want to remortgage out quickly.

If you are looking to remortgage on the market value, then I’m afraid you will still have to wait 6 months.

Call for more information on any of these deals 01424 205 373 - ref PropertyHawk to take advantage of the No Fees Deal.

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Buy-to-let mortgage LATEST fixed rates continue to rise

This week we have seen several lenders increase their fixed rate indicating that fixed rate mortgages continue to rise.

Both the Leeds BS, the Northern Rock and Principality BS have increased their fixed rates on their buy-to-let mortgages in the last 7 days.

The market in fixed rate mortgages continues to tighten as SWAP rates rise and lenders look to minimise their exposure to a sudden jump in interest rates resulting from a future tightening of monetary policy.

So what are the best fixed rates buy-to-let mortgage deals available at the moment? Well this depends on your criteria on whether you are looking to buy and new buy-to-let property, remortgage an existing one. What loan to value you are looking for and how long you want to fix you mortgage for.

I have carried out a quick review of the buy-to-let mortgage market and would highlight these buy-to-let fixed rates as being amongst the current market leading rates:

1 year fix

3.49% The Mortgage Works still offers the leading 1 year fix on a max 70% LTV fixed until 31/07/10, no max on properties, admin fee 3.5%.

3 year fix

4.94% Whiteaway Laidlaw Bank, 70% LTV, max no. of properties 4, admin fee of 2.5% of advance.

5 year fix

5.89% National Counties, LTV 70% fixed until 31.05.14, any number of properties, admin fee £2495

For more advice and a FREE personalised service call:

01424 205 373 ref PropertyHawk for No Fees Special Deal

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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Are you are currently paying life assurance each month but its not in a ‘trust’ - this tip alone could kill you!

We always provide a full review for our clients which often touch upon how you are protecting your mortgage. The pattern we are seeing is that many of you have got life cover in place but because it was provided from either their bank or a previous source it hasn’t been setup in perhaps the most suitable way. What do we recommend? Well in most circumstances we recommend you put your policy into trust. Why? Well here are two major benefits

1, Quicker payment of claims.

If someone dies and their plan is not in a trust, their representatives will have to obtain Grant of Representation before they can deal with the plan. This can take several months.

2, The plan proceeds may be free of inheritance tax.

At the moment inheritance tax is payable at 40% on any part of an estate valued over £325,000 (2009/2010). But you can use a trust to gift some or all of the benefits on the plan to other people. The gifted benefits would no longer be part of your client’s estate if they die, which means these benefits would not be subject to inheritance tax.

Our advisers can review your current payments and make sure it is setup with you the property investor in mind.

Call one of our advisors today for more information on any of these deals 01424 205 373 ref PropertyHawk for No Fees Special Deal

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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Landlords that like a show

Landlords that like a show will be interested in the London Landlord Show to be held at Olympia on the 9th & 10th of September.

It's not going to be 'Phantom of the opera' or 'We will rock you'. There are unlikely to be many dancing girls at this show, although there are rumours that Margo might make a solo appearance. She'll be the dancer with the feather duster rather than frilly knickers.

The show which celebrates it's 10th anniversary is FREE and will include seminars and workshops as well as representatives from across the letting world.

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Letting expert warns that the LHA could be encouraging fraud.

Letting expert David Lawrenson has warned that the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) may be encouraging fraud.

This is because the LHA often pays more than the prevailing private sector market rate in the same area.

The result is that some tenants are offering to let the property for higher than the market rate and then split the profit rent with the landlord according to David.

For more on the Local Housing Allowance

Tips on landlords getting block insurance

Here are a few tips for landlords that need to insure a whole block of flats provided by specialist landlord insurance brokers Alan Boswell.

First of all any landlord needs to start by having a thorough understanding of the freehold and leasehold obligations affecting the residential block that they own.

The legal title documents will set out who is responsible for insuring the residential block. In some cases it will be the landlord in other cases the landlord block insurance may well be the responsibility of the management company.

In most cases the cost of any landlord block insurance will be past on to the individual leaseholders who own individual flats within the block according to the provisions of the lease. A landlord will still need to ensure that they obtain adequate landlord block insurance to meet their legal obligations. They should check with a professional landlord insurance company that the landlord insurance policy chosen does so.

Are you a leaseholder requiring further advice?

A good landlord insurance broker will search the market for a block insurance that will suit your requirements. For instance does the landlord insurance cover you for:

* Communal contents
* Gardening equipment
* Glass breakage
* Damage to cables and drains
* Engineering breakdown
* Damage to CCTV

Because of the specialist nature of landlord block insurance it's always advisable to get specialist advice from a reputable landlord insurance broker.

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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

BTL Mortgage Tip of the day – Advantage are offering 25% off current loans to move.

We have had a couple of investors tell us this week about letters they are receiving from the lender (who are no longer lending) – Advantage Homeloans. Early conversations seem to indicate they are prepared to offer a massive 25% discount off the current loan if you move your mortgage to another lender. They will also waive any early redemption penalties and mortgage administration fees. If this has happened to you then please do contact us and we will help to move your mortgage to another lender so you can take advantage (forgive the pun) of this incredible offer. -

John Simpson

Resident Broker - No fees BTL Mortgage Broker Offer
Tel - 01424 205 373 -
ref. PropertyHawk

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Making sense of conflicting housing data

The recent data about the housing market is sending us all contradictory messages.

The latest figures from the The British Bankers' Association (BBA) says 31,162 home loans were approved for homebuyers last month, up 7% from April and 15.8% on a year ago.

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This comes on the same day that the Rightmove reported a 0.4% fall in asking prices in June after 4 months of rises.

Prices fell 0.4% this month from May when they rose 2.4%, according to Rightmove, taking the average asking price down by £1,000 to £226,436.

The FT at the weekend reported that the Bank of England does not anticipate increasing interest rates this year and only slightly next year by 1% taking rates to 1.5% by the end of 2010.

This happens at the same time the Nationwide has announced that they are increasing fixed interest rates for the second time in under two weeks.

BONKERS! But what does it mean?

Landlords could be forgiven to be a little confused by all this contradictory data. So what does it mean?

Thankfully, in my view it does means that we are off the bottom of the downturn with these figures indicating that the battle is now on going between the forces of optimisim and pessimism.

To my mind there is no point in talking about recovery because this implies a term and timescale that anticipates a quick and painless return to the heady days of 2007, of boom and easy money. No, we need to adjust to a new paradigm of low growth, high unemployment, difficult lending and low interest rates.

We could boost the economy by voting for a thatcherite free market revolution similar to the 1980s of sweeping public spending cuts but the British electorate have little or no appetite for such harsh medicine. Instead, the UK economy will very very slowly bump alsong the bottom and then upwards in the way the German economy did after the shock of reunification.

All this means that property prices aren't going to bounce back anytime soon.

So landlords need to bunker down and knuckle down and start to plan for the long-term. Along the way they should be prepared for many more sets of conflicting and contradictory sets of data as the forces of optimism and pessisism seek to have their say.

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Landlords who want to sweat their assets

Landlords looking to maximise the value of their residential investments should take a look at recent research carried out by the Nationwide.

It reveals the things that landlords can do to improve the ultimate selling values of their property.

Landlord insurance - HMO - block insurance - discounted rates

Adding central heating adds typically 10% to value whilst another bedroom will push up the value by 11%. The best of all is a loft conversion which could add a massive 20% to the value of their property.

However, before landlords get too carried away they should remember that all this costs and most landlords will have to factor in the void period whilst any work is carried out. When it comes to a loft conversion landlords that are letting out the property as a HMO will have to be careful that they suddenly don't get caught by the mandatory HMO licensing regulations.

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Monday, June 22, 2009

Increase in fixed rates as "perceived" inflationary pressures start to build

Mervyn King hinted in his Mansion House speach that there were some signs that quantitative easing was starting to work and that the £125Bn injection may be sufficient - I really hope so !!

The SWAP markets had already reached the same conclusion with 3 year SWAP rates bottoming out in February at 2.3%, having hit 3.11% earlier this month but now back at 2.98%; we doubt that it will suatain a sub 3% position for very long. And sadly lenders have reached the same view and have been gently pricing upward on prodcuts to absorb a likley higher level of underlying pricing.

On the plus side lenders are looking forwards and starting to initiate discussions about criteria improvements and changes to product profile. Rest assured this has not been a topic of discussion since the autumn of 2007. Two niche lenders are looking at new Buy to Let offerings that might cater for limited companies or HMO properties, albeit at a price. The judgement, thereafter, is whether the ability to raise extra capital and perhaps conclude an additional deal is justifiable against a higher cost.

We will get back to you with an e-newsletter in the next week or two but if you want to chat through any scenarios in the meanwhile we can formulate a plan with you that is ready to go when the lenders start to change their stance.

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'Posh' London pads show signs of recovery

According to Knight Frank latest research values of 'posh' pads rose 1.6% during May on the back of a 0.4% rise in April.

Prices in the sub £1m bracket appear to be leading the recovery as steadily improving conditions and foreign interest begin to boost the market.

For a full round up see Property Week.

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Property Price Twitter for Landlords

A landlord news round up - some weekend tweets on the property market.

Homeowners drop asking prices

What are the prospects for the UK housing market?

The Jobless factor - property price analysis.

Four buyers for every property

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Saturday, June 20, 2009

Let's Lynch the Landlord - Faith No More - Landlord Radio

Landlord Radio presents "Let's lynch the Landlord".

A cover of the Dead Kennedys song by Faith No More.

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Residential fund to target distressed buy-to-lets in North & Midlands

A residential property fund will aim to target the unprecedented opportunities in the buy-to-let market.

Three Leicester based residential agents are aiming to buy 'distressed and mispriced' buy-to-let properties in the Midlands and North.

The Residential Property Recovery Fund aims to raise £10m of equity by a private placing. The five year closed ended fund is targeting a return of 16% a year and to double investors equity. It is also eligible for investment in a SIPP.

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Landbank looks to capitalise on distressed market

Landlords looking to invest in a housing recovery without buying more property may want to look out for a new company coming to the market which is looking at buying residential land from distressed sellers.

Landbank hopes to float on AIM in July with between £150m-£250m, will look to acquire land at the bottom of the cycle, increase its value through the planning process, then sell back into a recovering residential market.

For more details see the FT.

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Friday, June 19, 2009

Avoiding tax by moving abroad

Any landlords who looking at avoiding tax by moving abroad will be interested in a new book

Non-Resident & Offshore Tax Planning

The new edition is completely up to date and is essential reading for:

* Anyone wanting to become non-resident to avoid UK tax.
* Non-domiciled persons who want to make the most of their special status.
* Anyone interested in using an offshore trust or company to pay less tax.
* Anyone thinking of living or working abroad.

For more info

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US auctioneers returns to UK with property bargains

REDC, the US property auction house, is returning to the UK at the end of June for another two major auctions of repossessed homes – and already more than a thousand interested bidders have registered.

Around 120 repossessed residential properties spread across the UK will be auctioned at two big events scheduled for Manchester on Saturday June 27 and London on Sunday June 28.

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More than 1,100 bidders have already registered online at for the auction. That is more pre-registered bidders per property than the last time REDC conducted its auctions in the UK .

Rob Friedman, Chairman of REDC said: “We've also had more than 800,000 page views on in regards to the properties in the Manchester and London auctions. We're expecting fantastic results from these auctions. We're looking forward to two exciting auction days.”

An online auction which started on 30 May ended on the June 17.

Friedman also explained: "One of the interesting elements we've added to this upcoming two-day auction is an online dimension. REDC has been at the forefront of the global online explosion and is the global leader in online real estate auctions. The online auction we did for UK properties was successful for the people who wanted to buy properties before the live auction on the 27th and 28th.

“What we are doing online for this upcoming UK auction is this: if people cannot make it to the live auction, they are still able to participate through our live, real-time, webcast at We expect this added element to be very successful."

Buying at auction find out more

The 120 properties that are in the auctions are still available for consumers, homeowners and investors to view and inspect. But it is the last chance for people to view and inspect them before the auctions in Manchester and London , explained Friedman, “so they need to call their estate agents today to schedule a viewing now.”

REDC, the biggest auction house for repossessed homes in the US , made its first foray into the British market with a series of five major auctions across the country at the end of March and beginning of April.

“The auctions proved to be such a success that we knew we had to come back to the UK and help turn more repossessed vacant houses back into homes” said Friedman.

REDC’s high octane mix of big events, attracting hundreds of people in a lively atmosphere, shook the traditional UK property auction industry to the core.

“We have proved our formula which adds a lot of fun and excitement into the auction process can work just as well on the UK side of the Atlantic as it can in the US ,” said Friedman. “While there are some early signs of recovery in the UK housing market there are still a huge number of repossessed homes out there that need selling.”

Repossessed properties

REDC only auctions repossessed properties that it is asked to sell by the banks and building societies and nearly all the properties on sale will have been on the market, standing empty for at least six months.

Said Friedman: “We were delighted with the response to the first round of auctions and we have had a constant series of requests to hold more in the UK . Those properties sold in the first round of auctions are now no longer empty. Their new owners will be spending money locally helping both employment and the community.”

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