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Wednesday, September 30, 2009


If you are in that catch-22 situation, where you have a property in a limited company (perhaps you originally constructed it within your company) and you have been frustrated with the inability to refinance it with any lenders on a buy to let basis, then please remember you can always purchase it in your personal name from your limited company.
At the moment if you have it with a commercial lender, they are probably forcing you down the route of a repayment mortgage, so if youre not happy with that then simply use a buy to let mortgage. Even though you own it within a limited company, because you and your limited company are two separate legal entities, it is classed as a purchase rather than a remortgage.

Call one of our advisors today for more information on any of these deals 01424 205 373 ref propertyhawk for no broker fees.

Good hunting! - Your Resident Broker -

Further house price twitter for landlords and property investors

Increase in country home values - Telegraph
First house price drop in four months - Indie
House prices steady but new buyers slow - This is Money
Rise in development land values - Propertywire
House price falls lowest in a year - Times
Foodie factor boosts property prices - Telegraph
Wealthy Russians are buying property again - Telegraph
HSBC returns to 90 % loans - Mail
Mortgage deals first fall in 10 months - Times

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Average London tenant stays for less than a year

Knight Frank’s London Residential Review (Autumn 2009) highlights that today’s average London tenant signs for less than a year – just 11.5 months to be precise.

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I've bought Drury Lane

I've bought Drury Lane. Have I gone mad? Have a been possessed by some kind of landlord and property investing mania? No really I have bought Drury Lane.....

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OK I'll come clean. I have bought Drury Lane but actually it's only the iconic Westminster street sign. The enamelled steel sign, which was up for more than a decade, features Westminster’s traditional black and red capital lettering, which was first created by acclaimed designer Sir Misha Black in 1967, and includes a black band at the top with an inset picture of two traditional Pierrot-type clowns.

At £146 it was a little short of the billions of pounds for the real slice of prime London real estate would have fetched. But I'm happy with my little slice of London heritage and who knows in years to come it might prove to be just as good an investment.

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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Property shortage - music to a landlords ears

Hurrah! Some good news for landlords!

A property shortage looks imminent, this will help bring about increased rental demand, rental values and property prices.

A new Discussion Paper launched today at the Labour Party conference published by the Town and Country Planning Association, predicts that the current low levels of house building will leave a shortfall in supply of 150,000 properties a year.

Their analysis reports to show that England could see a one million housing shortfall by the end of 2010.

Music to a landlords ears.

Read more in this Propertywire article

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Property investing - don't believe the hype

Remember when every property magazine was full of adverts promoting the incredible investment opportunities of Dubai property?

I think, like me, most property investors could see that it was an opportunity built on sand.

This perception has been confirmed with the 47% falls in property prices that have been seen over the past 12 months and a report from Jones Lang LaSalle indicating that this situation will continue to worsen because of 'oversupply'.

And the lesson is - 'Don't believe the hype!'

And this lesson is just as relevant to UK property investing, I had an email from one of those awful property gurus this morning "how do I exploit these rock bottom house prices"

Rock bottom prices? I don't think so -
Don't believe the hype!

Read the mass of property price articles to make your own mind up.

But remember -
Don't believe the hype!
Listen to the Public Enemy Classic

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Landlords looking for a bit of football heritage

Highbury Square, in north London, is one of a kind there is no doubt - a development of apartments and penthouses set behind the Grade II* listed art deco fa├žade of Arsenal Stadium, home to Arsenal Football Club from 1913 to 2006.

With the historic football pitch transformed into a lush urban oasis covering more than two acres (8,000sq m), a health club with pool and 24 hour concierge, it is easy to see why this iconic development makes a potentially good investment buy.

With so many rabbit hutch apartments cluttering our urban landscape then these flats scream out authenticity!

Prices now average at £525/sq ft compared to prices achieved in 2007 in excess of £700/sq ft, so landlords may see them as an exciting investment prospect. One-bedroom apartments start from £275,000 and two-bedroom apartments start at £375,000, and the development is just 20 minutes from Knightsbridge or 15 minutes from Piccadilly Circus.'

The company that owns Arsenal Football Club has reported higher profits, with property sales proving as important as football. Arsenal said that it had now sold 445 of the 655 private apartments in its Highbury Square.

Looks like they are being more successful off the pitch than on it! Thats a bit cruel and I didn't mean it.

Come on ye GUNNERS!

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Monday, September 28, 2009

Benefits for landlords joining a third party lease scheme

Letting a property through a third party can bring real benefits landlords and as councils look to the private rented sector to supply more and more tenants on housing benefit.

The main two attractions for landlords are -

1, Landlords don't have to deal directly with tenants.
2, Rent is guaranteed for the lease period, typically three to five years.

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HIPS - to be squared

Interview with Mike Ockenden, Chairman of the Association of Home Information Pack Providers (AHIPP) on the future of HIPS under a Conservative Government.

One things for sure they require a raft of changes to make them worthwhile.

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UK Property Market Levels Out in the Summer

Recent research into the UK property market has indicated some very positive trends, and it looks like the worst of the economic downturn has finally passed the housing sector for buying and rentals. There has been a steady increase in sale prices, and rental prices have levelled out across the UK market during the last quarter. Average sale prices have risen by 4.2% between the first two quarters of 2009, with London showing particular resilience, averaging more than 5%.

The reason for this improvement is down to healthier market place competition- there are around 75% more applicants from the same time last year, a massive improvement and indicating renewed confidence in the domestic property market. Some property agencies have even gone as far to suggest that the ratio of would-be-buyers to sellers- around 9:1- is close to the heyday of 2006.

London has witnessed the most prominent improvement in the UK property market, strengthening even during the summer period, normally considered to be a quiet time for buyer activity. Smaller property holdings have performed particularly well, with prices rising around 6.7% against the first quarter of the year. Both viewing and offer figures indicate a dramatic improvement compared with this time last year- rising by 34% and 77% respectively. Perhaps most significantly though is the fact that rental prices have finally started to improve, with a small quarterly increase of 0.3%. It is also clear that the higher end of the market is recovering favourably, with London properties in the City, Notting Hill and Knightsbridge proving particularly popular.

Whilst London has received the most visible improvement, there are also signs that the property market in the rest of the country is also picking up. There have been month-by-month price gains for both properties for sale and properties for rent, with three and four bedroom houses in desirable locations performing most impressively- picking up around 5% in the last quarter.
According to research carried out by Hamptons International-property management company

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Fraudster landlords target students and holiday makers

Online fraudsters are pretending to be landlords of properties that do not exist.

The scams are mainly aimed at students and holiday makers sourcing rental properties on online posting sites, like Gumtree, where landlords can post up rental adverts for free or a small fee.

The rental adverts are usually for properties in great areas at low rents that might make potential tenants take greater financial risk to try to secure what sounds like a great opportunity.

The fraudster landlord will then try to get the potential tenant to make a deposit of rental payment up front, once a payment is paid they will disappear without trace.

Read more on the fraudster landlords here

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The Financial Services Authority could start to regulate BTL Sector

The Financial Services Authority is rumoured to step in and bring BTL financing under it's governance, as part of re-structuring of regulations on Britain’s mortgage market.

Previously BTL mortgage lending has been seen as an investment and left un-regulated by the FSA, unlike homeowner residential mortgages.

More restrictive lending regulations could make life even more difficult for landlords.

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Elephant is forced to get second job as a taxi driver to supplement BTL rental losses

Elephant has taken an evening job on the taxis to supplement the rental losses on his BTL property portfolio.

According to Fergus Wilson, more and more landlords could be facing a slaughtering on their cashflow when interest rates increase from their current historic lows.

Causing more landlords to follow elephant into second jobs to supplement rental losses.

Who said an elephant 'never regrets', oh yes nobody...sorry, it's 'never forgets.', oh forget it!

See all the landlord comic strips

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Further property price twitter - tweet on the street

Don't be suckered into buying property - Lovemoney
A bears view of property prices - Moneymarketing
Homeowners struggle to offload - FT Adviser
Property prices edge up, but only in the South - Telegraph
Property prices haven't hit rock-bottom yet - Moneyweek
US property prices hit bottom - Propertwire
Increased activity in top end Welsh property - BBC

Read all the property price twitter

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Letting agent registration scheme launches (NALS)

Landlords using a letting agent may be interested in the recent launch of a new licensing scheme for letting agents guaranteeing a minimum standard of service.

To gain NALS certification a letting agency must hold professional indemnity and client money protection insurance.

It must also have a customer complaints procedure in place and meet defined standards of customer service.

All letting agents bearing the National Approved Letting Scheme (NALS) logo can now call themselves NALS licensed following the introduction of new regulations.

The move has taken operation with immediate effect and licenses are now being issued to participating letting agents around the UK.

The NALS scheme is supported by government and professional bodies such as ARLA, NAEA and RICS.

NALS chairwoman Caroline Pickering said the move would benefit letting agents, landlords and consumers as it represents a move towards a more regulated industry.

"The consumer directly engages with the term licensed and instantly connects this with protection, demonstrable quality and a benchmark of acceptable standards," she said.

The 1,400 letting agents which are already registered with the scheme will now become licensed.

Does your business service landlords or tenants? - Enter the letting directory.

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Saturday, September 26, 2009

BTL Mortgage Products Update


BM still leads the way with the lowest 75% products:
1. BM Solutions
Interest rate: 4.35%
LTV: 75%
Product Detail: 1 year tracker
Arrangement Fee: 3%
Early Redemption Penalties: 3% in first year.
Our thoughts: The lowest rental cover for 75% loan to value mortgages but watch the reversionary rate after the first year.

2. BM Solutions
Interest rate: 4.70%
LTV: 75%
Product Detail: 2 year tracker
Arrangement Fee: 3%
Early Redemption Penalties: 3% in first 2 years.

3. BM Solutions
Interest rate: 5.4%
LTV: 75%
Product Detail: 2 year fixed
Arrangement Fee: 2.5%
Early Redemption Penalties: 3% in first 2 years.
Our thoughts: The lowest 2 year fixed rate at 75%.

Remortgage within 6 months:
Remember Northern Rock will remortgage within 6 months. Not on value, but on the following basis.
70% of the original purchase price
Or 70% of the original purchase price plus any refurbishment costs, e.g. if you bought a property for 80k spent 40k on refurbishing, the maximum loan within 6 months would be £84k.

4. Northern Rock
Interest rate: from 6.59%
LTV: 70%
Product Detail: 2 year fixed
Arrangement Fee: 2.5%
Our thoughts: Also lend on single
freehold titles split into maximum of 4 flats.

Court costs - can I charge for my time?

Landlords who are taking their tenants to court either typically to serve a section 21 notice or section 8 notice for possession or over making a deduction from a tenancy deposit may be interested to know that they can actually charge for their legal input.

Rules contained within the Ministry of Justice website on court procedures indicate that it is possible for a landlord to charge for their legal input on a case even when they are not a trained solicitor.

The cost charged normally equates to two thirds the rate that a qualified solicitor would charge and there is no cap on the amount although the Judge has considerable discretion on the total charge.

For more details on this see the section 48.6 on litigation in person

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Friday, September 25, 2009

Wilsons predict BTL landlord slaughter

The King of landlords, Fergus Wilson predicts that we could see the slaughtering of many landlords as BTL mortgage rates start to head upwards in the coming years.

He observes that many BTL investors have been walking a cashflow tightrope that has enabled them to balance the books through artificially low interest rates.

When this comes to an end there will be no Government funded net to break their fall unlike with homebuyers, resulting to whole property portfolios smashing to the floor.

We have been predicting this situation for the past 2 years in this BTL blog, but only time will tell.

King and Queen of landlords, the Wilsons, looked to have now sold their entire portfolio of 700 properties down in Ashford, Kent to an investment consortium, which is presumably why he now feels free to talk of doom in the property market.

We would advise landlords to pay down debt and avoid further property investment if they feel they are up on the high wire.

Read more of the impending landlord slaughter

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Landlords that like a good show

For landlords that love a good show.

Don't forget about the Property Investors Show taking place over a long weekend of the 22-24 October at Excel in London.

The show is mainly aimed at the aspirant landlord who sees themself as a property investor rather than humble landlord.

There are lots of companies promising instant riches in far off locations such as Malaysia and Brazil with slightly dubious company names like platinum property opportunities.

Landlords should be warned about signing up for anything that sounds too fantastic. Make sure you do your homework before committing your hard earn rental profits to foreign shores.

It is a good laugh though just to watch all the property brokers pedalling their wares and promising you never ending riches. Sounds familiar?!

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Thursday, September 24, 2009

Tenant confused by new landlord licence schemes

Common sense is a powerful thing.

It's a shame that it is rarely used in politics.

HIPS were a disaster, what next in the world of 'lacking common sense'?

See list of Labours Housing Minister Muppets.


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Heres a fantastic tip to save you money. If you are planning a purchase or remortgage and are looking to get a deal with a conveyancing company, then just ask your Resident Broker.
Typical costs for conveyancing can range from between £500 to £1000 for basic legal costs, plus of course, costs for disbursements. Typically, we are arranging these for our clients from £250 (plus disbursements), yes thats right £250 and I know what youre thinking who am I going to get to do this for £250 and are they human? Well, the answer is yes we have many examples of satisfied clients all conveyancers on our panel have a feedback system (a bit like eBay) so any bad feedback soon results in them not being used.
What we find is that the best conveyancers soon rise to the top because of our own experiences, client feedback and of course a competitive price.
Even if you are not using us for the mortgage (I cant believe that would happen, but anyway) you can still use this service, so give us a call.

BTL Mortgage News from our Resident Broker

Latest research from Paragon Mortgages says that almost 9 out of 10 landlords had found it more difficult to secure a buy to let mortgage in the last 3 months, compared to the previous 3 months.

Now the cynical amongst you may say Paragon obviously have a lot of time on their hands at the moment, and therefore are thinking of ways to keep their profile in the news whilst awaiting new funding lines. (As an aside, I always really liked Paragon for their underwriting and range of mortgage products. It will be a great day for landlords when they are back in the market anyway, I digress)

Now it's true that lending in general, and in particular the number of buy to let products, has had a massive reduction in choice over the last couple of years but my message is simple: there is still funding out there.

The two main stumbling blocks seem to be credit score and cost, so lets look at them both.

Credit score:
If you are experiencing problems with lenders credit scoring, then why not see if your partner or a member of your family can buy the property instead? (Just make sure you get your legals in place) or why not use a lender who doesnt use the credit score? We have a lender at 75% that doesnt use automated credit scoring, but has old-fashioned manual underwriting. Yes, a real person.
Finally, there also a myth that once you have over 10 to 15 properties that you can no longer get a mortgage. Well, not for us! We regularly place investors with 30 to 40 existing properties with buy to let lenders.

Theres nothing like talking about buy to let arrangement fees to raise the blood pressure of the seasoned property investor. However, heres my take on it buy to let mortgages were always seen as semi-commercial and slightly higher risk than residential mortgages.

In the last couple of years they got closer and closer to residential mortgage pricing, but that connection has now broken and for the foreseeable future I cant see it changing.
Finance is one of the key factors that is holding back the housing market, therefore it would make sense that as buy to let finance becomes more readily available and less expensive, this will help to push the market higher. So if you find a property you want to buy, now factor in the extra mortgage costs into your projections, because if you wait until mortgage finance to get better, you may end up paying more that property anyway. It does not take much to imagine an average property uplift of over 2.5% over the coming months, and yet that is the average fee. Perspective is what is needed here; if the deal works. It works.

My personal view is that well look back at this point as a golden year to purchase property.

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Design focused landlords - remember 100% Design Show Starts

For the design focused landlord and property developer don't forget 100% Design Show starts today.

100% Design 24 - 27 SEPTEMBER 2009, EARLS COURT, LONDON

Worth a look at for design ideas and new trends.

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Landlords think positive about property prices

Apparently landlords are feeling more confident about the direction that property values are heading. (Well I'm glad you lot are, because I'm feeling rather shaky. )

A survey from the Young Group, reports that the majority of UK residential landlords and buy-to-let investors think property prices will be higher in 12 months time, or at worst, stay static.

Investors seem most confident about London prices, with 77 percent predicting an increase in property prices in the next 12 months.

I'm all for positive thinking!

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Old boiler problems & boiler insurance

I was talking to Miss Jones only the other day. She has just had the heating on for first time since the Spring. Firing up the system has shown a minor leak in the system.

Problems problems. This old boiler problem just reminds me of that on going debate on whether its worth getting boiler insurance or not.

It appears a game of chance. I've always been of the opinion that if you get a decent boiler such as the so called Rolls Royce of boilers; a Worcester Bosch you should be better off if you roll with punches. However, three faults on the same so called Rolls Royce of boiler a Worcester 2.4i has caused me to question the concept that Worcester are such an elite machine and also not bothering with boiler insurance.

I'm just hoping that my old boiler will continue to produce some hot water as well as hot air in the months to come.

"No Miss Jones, off course I wasn't talking about you."

Landlords, be safe, order a gas safety certificate online

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

BMV property investor gets a nasty shock when he tries to sell his property

A property investor comes to the realisation that his BMV property might be more difficult to sell than he expected.

He can't quite believe that the nice agent ( con man) would of possibly sold him a duff investment.

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Landlord cruise in the Caribbean - that's what we call a landlord conference

Grab your margherita, it's time for landlords to let loose for a week.

Imagine spending a week at a landlord conference, no not a week at the NEC, but on a cruise boat, cruising the Caribbean.

At least someone will understand the pressures you're under, even though they will be talking with an America accent.

If you fancy it it's $1099.

Book your trip of a life time here.

PropertyHawk are considering sponsoring a landlord conference on the National Express from London to Newcastle, soft drinks included, but we cannot guarantee you will be sat next to anyone interesting.

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House Price twitter - further tweet on the street

House prices to crash - This Is Money
Help for first time buyers - Telegraph
Scottish house price recovery - Findaproperty
Property hot spots - Findaproperty
House sales fall in August - BBC

Read all the Property Price Twitter

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Four point plan to kick start investment in private rented sector

Landlords and letting agents interested in progress of the governments recent initiative on the private rented sector may be interested in a recent announcement by the Chief Executive of the agnency responsible for making it happen. Sir Bob Kerslake this morning promised the Homes and Communities Agency would provide 'site specific' support to individual schemes and funds to kick start the private rented sector.
Landlords insurance - cheap quotes - professional rates

The chief executive of the Homes and Communities Agency announced a four-point plan to initiate a private rented sector at Property Week's Resi 09 conference in Wales.

He said the HCA would:

  • continue to endorse and support for the initiative which Kerslake said 'still needs championing in the government as regards certain tax changes';
  • work to build a link between the private rented sector and the HCA's Kick Start and Public Land Initiatives;
  • look to inject HCA land into various vehicles on an equity basis;
  • provide rental guarantees or 'rental underwriting' on a scheme by scheme basis as appropriate.

'We think it will work best on a case by case basis rather than on a fund-wife basis,' said Kerslake.

'We will provide a menu of options based around a number of schemes and we will support a range of funds. We are trying to develop a commercial model and not a subsidy model but to get it going it does require some inter

We are still sceptical on wether anything will happen.

I guess as a responsible and no doubt highly paid public servant he has to make positive noises what ever his real view is.

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Possession hearing: When you arrive for your hearing

People behind with payments on their homes have a new way of finding the best solution to their arrears problems. These new animated videos, interview clips and articles, created by the Ministry of Justice and available on Directgov, go from the point where there may be a problem, to communicating with landlords or mortgage lenders, how to prepare for court and what happens during and after a court hearing.

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Property as a pension should still out perform most traditional pension pots

As landlords continue to face up to the economic hangover that now faces us, after the years of binging and hedonistic returns, they should be comforted by the fact they didn't take the 'safe' sensible option of traditional pension schemes.

If the future looks grim for landlords seeing property as a pension, at least they didn't put all their eggs into a disgraceful pension pot.

Cheap landlord insurance

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Many landlords are now worth less than they started

As property prices are forecast to slip back down over the coming years many landlords who have started up within the past 5 to 6 years are looking at break even or a loss in the capital values of their property investments.

This is teamed with sometimes negative rental profits and the cost of wear and tear on their refurbished properties.

The cold truth is that all the hard work and toil involved with property management, the maintenance, meeting tenants and paper work etc. All this hassle, could be for nothing, and for some landlords it will of cost them money.

'Living the dream.....?'

Stay with it, but it could be a long slog before the good times return for many landlords.

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A rental property that feels tired and unloved

My beautifully designed, refurbished apartment block has suffered the ravages of marauding tenants.

Where it once glistened in the sun it now just highlights the grubbiness and mistreatment on it's scarred surfaces.

Like an uneaten apple returning from a school trip in a child's sandwich box, it looks battered and bruised and totally unappealing.

I remember back to the early days when I would relish exhibiting my pride and joy, instead of looking at my shoes in shameful embarassment.

Maybe its time for another refurbishment. Oh, joy!

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Monday, September 21, 2009

Landlords - don't fudge the figures!

If your rental income is above £15,000 per tax year, the taxman wants a breakdown of your expenses. Basic checks are then performed check if the figures look reasonable (especially given the new requirement for landlords to declare the number of rental properties they own). It's important that expenses are categorised correctly between each expense heading to prevent a 'red flag'.

But hang on in there ... the taxman now has only one year after the date you file your tax return to launch an investigation into it (assuming fraud or negligence isn't suspected). So, mark the date in your calendar- once it's passed, you can relax!

More tweet on the street - property price twitter

HIPS hobble house prices - Times
The North/ Soush divide on property price changes - Independent
London heads for new property price bubble - Standard
6 out of 10 say now is the time to buy - Telegraph
House sales treble in some UK hotspots - FT
Property Price forecast - Propertyfinder
Dwindling numbers of propertt to buy - Times

Read all the Property Price Twitter

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Renting out a room could leave homeowner insurance invalid

Homeowners who are looking to make some extra income by renting our sparerooms to students are at risk of invalidating their home insurance.

Some of the UK's biggest insurers have placed a ban on owners renting out a room of their house, which could make the insurance cover invalid. Some policies also have a clause that requires owners to check whether the lodger has an unspent criminal conviction.

Potential landlords need to inform their insurer straight away if they are going to take a lodger/ tenant into their home.

Get a declaration from the tenant that they have no unspent criminal convictions.

If they cannot get cover from their home policy they may need to seek specialist insurance cover from a landlord insurance broker.

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