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Monday, May 31, 2010

New lender Aldermore launches

A new lender has entered the UKs buy-to-let mortgage market.

Aldermore has a range of fixed and variable buy-to-let mortgage products. One that took my eye was the 5 year fixed rate priced at 5.93%. The downside is that it is only available up to a maximum of 65% LTV.

However, with the OECD advising the Bank of England to raise interest rates by 3% over the next 3 years and inflation touching 4% landlords buying a new buy-to-let investment with such a long-term fix have the comfort of a stable cashflow for at least 5 years. It's the way I'm going to go with my new investments.

Full details of the Aldemore product range are:

NEW DISCOUNTED VARIABLE RATE MORTGAGES available via selected intermediaries only, for second time buyers & remortgage: 4.98% for 2 years (0.60% discount), max 65%, fee 1.25%, reverts to Aldermore managed rate + 0.50%; 5.68% for 2 years (0.05% discount), max 70%, fee 1.75%, reverts to Aldermore managed rate + 0.75%; 5.78% for 2 years (0.20% discount), max 75%, fee 2.25%, reverts to Aldermore managed rate + 1%, all have incentive for remortgages of free legal fees.

NEW FIXED RATE MORTGAGES available via selected intermediaries only, for second time buyers & remortgage: 5.78% for 3 years, max 65%, fee 1.50% of advance, reverts to Aldermore managed rate + 0.50%; 5.78% for 3 years, max 70%, fee 2% of advance, reverts to Aldermore managed rate + 0.75%; 5.78% for 3 years, max 75%, fee 2.50% of advance, reverts to Aldermore managed rate + 1%. Minimum rental requirement calculation on the above products is based on 125% of mortgage interest at the higher of pay rate or revert rate. W.e.f. 24.5.10.

Mortgage Search & advice

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Sunday, May 30, 2010

Urban spaceman becomes landlord

Tom Bloxham is certainly an inspirational character. I went to a talk he was doing at URBED in Manchester in the early 90's.

Tom starting life with a market stall in Manchester selling vintage stuff to the 'youuf' market. He rapidly worked out that it made more sense to be the landlord rather than a tenant. This started him on his journey of property development and urban regeneration.

It seems that the 'down turn' has forced another evolution in his business. His business Urban Splash has become a very significant residential landlord as they have struggled to sell many of their urban apartments.

Where next for the Urban Spaceman?

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How to avoid CGT

Many landlords are running scared of the potential rise in capital gains tax to 40% or more.

Property Hawk has recently outlined the steps that a landlord can take to reduce their capital gains tax liability on their buy-to-let property.

This could well result in a landlord paying no capital gains tax on their buy-to-let property at all.

Expert tax advice

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Saturday, May 29, 2010

The final rental payment

Landlords ending a tenancy are often confronted with the problem of calculating the final rental payment.

This article on calculating the final rental payment hopefully clarifies the issue.

Remember if you are ending a tenancy, have a look at Property Hawk's new closing statement which produces a complete record of the tenancy for you and your tenants records.

Landlord insurance quote

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What to invest in-new or old?

One question a potential investor is faced with when first considering a property for investment is what type of property they should invest in - new or old?

Camilla Dell the Managing Partner of Black Brick Property Solutions LLP gives her advice on where to invest in central London.

Property Hawk agrees with Camilla's sentiments. It's all about location but certainly we feel that by buying period properties with character that these types of property will appreciate faster than shiny modern developments which already have a 'new' premium factored into their selling price & can only deteriorate. Have a look at our 3 pillars of buy-to-let for more advice.

What do you think makes the best investment - new or o

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Friday, May 28, 2010

Insurance -5 ways to save

Landlords looking for landlord insurance should have a read of my recent article on 5 things you need to know before you buy your landlord insurance.

Next to the finance costs of a buy-to-let mortgage; a landlord's insurance costs are often the next largest bill in running a buy-to-let property. So savings money on your landlord insurance premiums is a big deal.

I recently shaved £121 off my insurance bill.

Really good BTL mortgage service

Yesterday, I was pleasantly surprised.

I am currently trying to buy a leasehold apartment and following on from a schedule of refurbishment works I want to get some cash out by re-mortgaging.

I therefore, contacted Property Hawk mortgages operated by TBMC one of the UK's largest specialist mortgage companies to see what my options are as far a re-mortgaging.

I know that it is now impossible to do a back to back purchase and then re-mortgage & that the shortest period that lenders will allow a landlord to hold a property before re-mortgaging is 6 months.

The phone was answered by a very sunny sounding 'Sion' in their Cardiff office.

I was looking for a 3 or 5 year fix. Sion took down my details and promised to get back to me.

A couple of hours later it was Sion again. She had found several lenders prepared to lend after only 6 months with a long-term fixed rate product & another lender who could lend after 12 months. Great news on two counts.

Firstly, I can re-finance my investment and get some cash out to do a development next year when hopefully my right royal battle with the 'planners' has been won!
Secondly, I was really impressed with the service I received and the way the Property Hawk mortgages was working.

It really was a good buy-to-let mortgage service.

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Thursday, May 27, 2010

Is the BTL 'party over'?

The BBC working lunch team ask is the buy-to-let party over?

This is in response to the likelihood that Capital Gains rates are likely to rise significantly from the current 18% to 40%.

Many landlords are unaware that there are many things that they can do to reduce their capital gains tax liabilities.

Another tips for landlords is that if they don't need to sell over the next five years. They should hold on to their residential investment. Then vote at the next general election after the public finances have been fixed for a party who promises to deliver a more balanced CGT regime.

Buy-to-let is a medium to long-term investment so taking the long view may pay off in our currently financially challenging environment.

Expert tax advice

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Buy-to-let 'stepping stone'

Investing in buy-to-let is not necessarily about being a landlord and building a huge portfolio of residential property.

For some landlords it's a stepping stone to a different lifestyle or even a way into starting a new business.

This is because the security and flexibility of owning a small portfolio of residential properties allows you to potentially do what you always really wanted to do. This could be: write a book, do charity work, even as simple just spending more time with your kids,

Personally, I still like property. It's in the blood. It's what I do.

This guy Chris Newton according to the Daily Mail has used his portfolio give him the confidence to set up his own solicitors business.

So where do you want to go today?

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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

RICS optimistic on lettings

Letting market sees revival according to the most recent Royal Iinstitute of Chartered Surveyors poll.

RICS members are optimistic about the residential rental market, with 36percent polled expecting rents to continue rising, the highest level recorded since the survey started in 1998.
RICS said rents were being pushed higher by the decline in the number of houses and flats available to let.
Read more on the RICS poll in the Telegraph

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Property price twittering

A bit more property price speculation, but to be honest I'm even starting to bore myself.............. time for a holiday I think.

Nationwide predicts stable property prices - Telegraph

Home loans fall 37 percent - Business Week
Are we heading for another property crash? - Daily Mail
In real money property prices are down 70 percent - Moneyweek

See all the property price tweets

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Rents expected to rise

A survey of over 3000 tenants by website Rightmove showed that over 40% of tenants expected rents to rise over the next year. Most of these expected rent rises of up to 10%.

Just 7% of tenants expected lower rents.

The latest figures from Findaproperty indicated that 'asking' rents rose by 2.7% over the first three months of this year.

The Rentindex shows that the average rent charged by a landlord under an Assured Shorthold Tenancy in England & Wales is £578.71 a rise of 1.2% over the last month.

Buy-to-let insurance

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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Landlords 6.1 percent richer!

The average landlord's portfolio jumped 6.1 per cent in value to over £1.5m during the first three months of 2010, according to Paragon Mortgages.

We're rich.............. rich I tell you!

Read full story in the FT Advisor

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Find tenants who owe money

Finding ex tenants is not easy for busy landlords, this article has been written to help landlords and show them some options should their tenant abscond.

Due to the recent recession more people have been attracted to the rental market as a way to move on from the family home or move to a larger house.

This is obviously great news for landlords but how does a land lord go about finding ex tenants?

More renters mean more rent arrears which are a problem. Tracing ex tenants is becoming big business but what can landlords do to help protect them from this inevitable part of the rental market.

Most landlords collect information about potential tenants before handing over the keys, this information is important when it comes to finding ex tenants. A landlord should obtain at least the following information from potential tenants so in the event of a tenant leaving with rent arrears there is information available to perform a tenant trace.
This information includes
  • Their full name and proof of this.
  • Date of birth
  • Previous addresses
  • Family members addresses
  • Middle name
  • Partners name
  • Work details
  • Mobile telephone numbers
These details can be important for a trace agent to perform a successful tenant trace on your absconded tenant. You can use companies to perform tenant verification checks on the individual, this helps to clarify the tenants past and gives an opportunity to search for CCJS and insolvency information, and it also lets you have access to plenty of information that can be stored away just in case it is required at a later date to perform a tenant trace.

Tracing ex tenants is a straightforward process if you have the correct databases to do so. Obviously they would only have recently left the landlords property so the Electoral Roll will not be useful to ascertain their current whereabouts and to be honest there are not going to be many opportunities to tenant trace via the internet, unless you get lucky with an ex tenant who blogs or uses Facebook and reveals their whereabouts this way, because of this it is recommended that landlords use a professional tenant trace service to locate absconded tenants.

Finding an ex tenant is a frustrating time because you have to leave it long enough for systems and databases to be updated so that the ex tenant can be traced to a new address, this time frame is around two months, you should use this time to try and find them locally, things to consider are if they have children they will have not moved far. If you have the ex tenants work details you can contact them via work and suggest that an attachment of earnings may have to be a solution to the problem.

If an ex tenant owes you money and you cannot settle things in any other way, you may decide to issue a claim through the county court. People also issue claims for other reasons, including:
• bad workmanship;
• damage to their property;
• road traffic accidents;
• personal injury;
• goods not supplied; and
• faulty goods

County courts deal with all these types of claim. You will sometimes hear people talk about the 'small claims court'. What they really mean is the special procedure for handling smaller claims in a county court.

Going to court should always be a last resort and you must have a current address for the absconded tenant so it is imperative that you have used a tenant tracing service to obtain this.
Landlords can never stop tenants absconding but can take measures to safeguard against them doing so. The key is obtaining key information before you give them the keys to your property.

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Surveyors can't get it right

Following the fraudulent overvaluing of property by some surveyors during the boom time in property now we have the flip side as an issue.

With mortgage borrowers accusing surveyors of making low valuations that are jeopardising their chances of getting the mortgage they want.

As prices have bounced in many areas over the last 12 months overly cautious surveyors are reluctant to echo this bounce in their valuations.

Once bitten, twice shy I suppose.

Come on guys keep up.

Read article in Daily Mail

Discount rates on landlord insurance

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NLA campaign on CGT increase

The NLA are spearheading a campaign against the proposed changes in Capital Gains Tax arguing there would be a disincentive for landlords considering further investment.

The proposed changes will see the raising of the existing 18 per cent to higher rates to level that reflect current income tax bands.

The NLA is calling on the Treasury to recognise letting as a legitimate business and therefore include capital gains from the sale of residential property in the wide-ranging “generous exemptions” which have been hinted at by Government.

To support this NLA campaign go here.

Landlord tax advice service

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Average rents are stable

The latest figures from Belvoir Letting Agency chain shows continued stability in rental values. Their research shows rents stable at an average of around £680 per month.

Our RentIndex graphs blue trend line also shows the average rent pretty static at around £585.

View the RentIndex

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HIPs suspension boosts market

Was it the sun or was it the suspension of HIPs? No one knows for sure but agents were certainly reporting an upward tick of activity over the weekend.

Robert Scarff, managing director of Countrywide’s estate agency division said: “Feedback from our network of 34 managing directors reveal that there was a noticeable increase in activity over the weekend. Sellers are becoming more receptive and we’re already seeing more requests for market appraisals to help with the ever growing buyer demand. Our branches are also reporting that sellers who were in two minds about putting their property in the market are now doing so – it appears that the suspension of HIPs is already having the desired effect and giving the market the boost it deservedly needs.”

Specialist landlord insurance

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10 steps to letting

For landlords just about to let their property.

Here are the 10 essential steps to letting their buy-to-let property.

For more essential tips on being a landlord go to the FREE 200 page Landlords Bible

Professional landlord insurance

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Monday, May 24, 2010

Tenants-60% want to buy

A Rightmove survey has highlighted the fact that 6 out of 10 tenants would like to buy but cannot afford to. This highlights the fact that the UK is still a nation of aspirant homeowners even if finances currently prevent many tenants from fulfilling their dream.

The survey does indicate that there is also an increasing culture of renting with a rise of the proportion of tenants interviewed from 12.8% to 13.6% who say they rented because they liked it.

However, it's still clear that the majority of tenants; 59% wished they could afford to buy right now, a further 27.4% said they wanted to buy in the future.

This is all good news for landlords.

Strong demand from potential purchasers will underpin the value of residential property over the next few years despite the heavy financial cuts needed to re-balance the UK's overstretched finances. Coupled with this the cost and constraints in the mortgage market will mean that many tenants will continue to rent; keeping demand for rental property strong.

Chris Horne Editor of the UK's leading website for landlords comments:

"The downturn of the last few years has highlighted the resilience of the residential lettings business model. People will always need a place to live; what ever turbulence hits global financial markets."

Landlord insurance

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When we email for you

Our free landlord software lets users email documents direct from the website. So landlords can send the tenancy agreement to the tenants, for instance, or the tax return figures to their accountant.

Every now and then we'd get a reply from a tenant who'd not noticed that the email came from our website, not direct from the landlord. So today's usability improvement has been to set the 'Reply To' part of the email so that you get the reply rather than us.

Little things build to make a better system, we think.

Free property management software, Free tenancy agreements
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4.24% 2 yr discount launched

Loughborough Building Society has launched a one of the few discounted rate buy-to-let mortgages currently available to landlords. There are currently only 2 other discounted buy-to-let mortgage deals available according to Moneyfacts. What's more it's the only discounted buy-to-let mortgage currently available without a geographic restriction.

The discounted rate (0.75% discount) for 2 years giving a current pay rate of 4.24%. This particular buy-to-let mortgage is available up to a LTV of 70% and comes with a £999 fee.

Mortgage Search

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Sunday, May 23, 2010

Hassle free letting - Westminster

Westminster landlords looking for a hassle free letting option should check out the latest offer from Private Sector Leasing specialist Orchard & Shipman.

They operate what they call LetFirst.

LetFirst allows landlords to let their property for free for the first 2 months and also guarantees rent for 12 months. In their own words:

"LetFirst is a unique scheme for private landlords that not only makes it easier and quicker to let your property, but also guarantees your income for 12 months. If for any reason the tenant can't pay the rent, then we will. So there's no need for expensive 'void' periods, or expensive legal wrangles with awkward or unsuitable tenants."

Block landlord insurance

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Saturday, May 22, 2010

London's new largest landlord

This week Property Week reported on the recent purchase by little known property investor Brett Palos of a £400m portfolios comprising of 21 apartment blocks from Lloyds Banking Group.

At a stroke it makes Palos and his Residential Land Holdings one of the largest residential landlords in London. Palos now owns a residential portfolio stretching from Pimlico to St John’s Wood and comprising of 538 flats with a total floor residential floor space of 352,044 sq ft,

Should we be surprised? May be not Palos has had a pretty good mentor. He is the stepson of one of the UK's most successful retail entrepreneurs Philip Green.

Professional landlord insurance

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Friday, May 21, 2010

'How to avoid property tax'

The 2010 edition of the Tax Guide 'How to Avoid Property Tax' has just been launched.

This guide is essential annual reading for ALL property investors. If you are making healthy rental profits it is vital to claim every tax deduction you can. And if you are sitting on big capital gains, you may be wondering how to lock in the currently low 18% tax rate before the new Government increases it.

How to Avoid Property Tax will help you pay much less income tax, capital gains tax and other taxes.

Subjects covered include:

* How to transfer property and avoid capital gains tax.

* How to use a trust to get extra tax-free capital growth on residential property.

* How couples can pay capital gains tax at just 10% on £4 million of capital gains.

* Ways to avoid capital gains tax even if a property is not your main residence.

* How to use your spouse or children to save £1,000s in capital gains tax.

* How couples can save over £22,000 income tax every year.

* How to delay paying tax on rental income by up to 2 years.

* How to get the taxman to pay your travel costs (flights, hotels,restaurants).

* How to get a tax refund of £40,000 when you buy commercial property.

* How to write off new kitchens and bathrooms as repairs and get the taxman to pay 40%.

* Motoring costs you can claim.

* How to make the mortgage on your home tax deductible by borrowing against your buy-to-let properties.

* How to claim tax relief for mortgage interest even if the money is used for personal reasons.

* How re-mortgaging property can save you thousands in tax.

Buy-to-let Tax guides

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BTL mortgages up 70%

Buy-to-let mortgage products available to landlords have almost doubled since the low point in September 2009.

A spokesperson for the financial website Moneyfacts Darren Cook claimed "competition has returned to the market" and highlighted how the loan-to-value offered by lender has also increased.

The company revealed there are 304 buy-to-let mortgages available on the market now. This is up from 179 in September 2009, an increase of 70%. However, this is still less than a tenth of the buy-to-let mortgage products that were available to landlords at the peak.

Darren Cook also highlights the fact that rates are falling. The average interest on a two-year fixed deal has fallen from 5.96 to 5.66 per cent during the same time.

Buy-to-let mortgage search

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Thursday, May 20, 2010

Industry comments on HIPs

I'm sure regular PropertyHawk visitors know that we will be celebrating the end of the woefully wasteful HIPS.

But here's some other reflection from the property industry to the end of this pointless exercise in dubious job creation.

Read the Times view on it
Follow Grant Schapps on Twitter as his sorts out Labour fiasco
Read Propertyweeks take on it all
Read RICS thoughts on the scrapping of HIPS

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HIPs are no more - history!

The need for a landlord for a Home Information Pack HIPs before they sell their property is no more.


HIPs have been consigned to the bin marked - 'politicians bad ideas'

I blame HIPs existence on the fact that politicians had too much time on their hands with which to come up with idiot ideas.

At least with the huge budget deficit they've got important things to focus on. Thank goodness for that....

So now If landlords do want to sell up before the predicted 40% CGT rate comes in you wont need a HIP.

Landlord insurance quote

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Property price twitter- reality

With George Osborne announcing an emergency austerity budget on June 22nd, is it time that reality bites for property prices?

Why inflation won't help homeowners - Moneyweek

Election fails to dampen property prices - Propertywire
Most expensive UK streets - Daily Mail
Election can't stop march of property prices - ThisisMoney

Housing to be included in inflation target - Citiwire
Aberdeen and Dundee buc price trend - STV TV
UK house prices rise less fast in May - Reuters

London property prices record first drop this year - Business Week

Asking prices edge higher but demand falls - Times

See all the property price tweets

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Paragon - back into BTL lending

Paragon are finally back in the BTL lending game.

The BTL lender said that it was pushing ahead with plans to resume volume lending.

"A return to new lending is a key objective going forward," said chief executive Nigel Terrington. "It is our assessment that the economics of new lending, taking into account the higher funding costs and capital now required, appears feasible."

Read more in the Guardian

FREE BTL mortgage search tool
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Landlords are all optimistic now!

Landlords we are all optimistic now.......apparently!

According to the National Landlords Association optimistically named Optimism Index 57 per cent of landlords rate overall prospects for their lettings business over the next three months as good or very good.

This is, in part, due to increased tenant demand but also because of property value increases across the UK resulting in better capital gains.

Lets not mention the predicted jump in Capital Gains Tax rate to 40% to dampen the celebrations. However, rental profits for those landlords on lapsed base rate trackers are 'great' so let's all make hay while the sun shines.

I'm optimistic are you?

Landlord insurance professional rates

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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Kensington keen to expand

Kensington Mortgages a specialist mortgage provider owned by Investec has re-entered the buy-to-let mortgage market with the aim of targeting existing landlords keen to expand their buy-to-let portfolios.

Their new buy-to-let mortgages are available with two-year fixed-rates starting at 5.69 per cent and three-year fixed-rates starting at 6.19 per cent, with loan-to-values of up to 75 per cent. The arrangement fee for the products is 2.5 per cent.

The company says it is targeting landlords who already own at least two buy-to-let properties, and allows investors to hold up to 10 properties or £2m with Kensington.

Buy-to-let mortgage search

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Tenant from hell

London landlords would do well to avoid this middle age female tenant according to reports in the Mail.

Her 'modus operandi' is that she poses as respectable middle age tenant with professional husband. Takes tenancy and then subdivides property letting a large house as separate sub-lets.

She then takes money from the subletting of the property and never pays the landlord a penny in rent.

Comments please from all those screaming liberals who hark on about evil landlords and poor suffering and abused tenants.

Get possession

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How to make extra dosh

Landlords who want to make extra dosh and have a garage should seriously consider trying to let it separately.

Last week I tentatively posted a speculative advert on Gumtree for my very very small garage which had laid empty with it's broken door for several months. It's an under croft garage, built in the 1980's and is so narrow that you probably fit a large motor bike or a Smart car and that's about it. I thought I may be able to let it to a builder or somebody looking for some temporary storage.

Within a day, I had a reply. Stuart was interested in my advert of a garage to let at £40 per month. He wanted to rent it to store his vintage Citroen 2CV possibly the only car narrow enough to fit into it.

Stuart was keen. He went straight round and phoned me back within a couple of hours offering 3 or 6 months up front. Deal done!

This just highlights to landlords with a garage or parking space in an urban area that they can make extra income from renting their garage separately. This is my second garage I've let separately and together I'm now making over a grand a year in residual income just from letting out garages that would of ended up as a repository for my tenants rubbish!

Let your garage

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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Tenant conman dresses up

A court has heard the bizarre case of a Manchester conman who has been found guilty of defrauding landlords by dressing up as an airline pilot and copying the exploits of the character played by Leonardo di Caprio in the film "Catch Me If You Can".

The flamboyant tenant used the uniform to persuade landlords of his suitability as a tenant before leaving a property owing months of unpaid rent, only to move to another rental property and repeating the scam.

Alexander Da Silva, 29, has been jailed for three years and 11 months.

It just shows that landlords shouldn't judge a book by it's cover and the importance of getting tenant references.

I do like his style though....... chocks away!

Cheap tenant references

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