Is Your Garden At Risk From Thieves?

Is Your Garden At Risk From Thieves

Unfortunately, though our houses may be safe from the risk of theft, our gardens are a much easier target. Nottinghamshire has seen items such as aluminium garden planters and garden ornaments stolen from gardens, and there is a risk of even more valuable items being stolen.

It is best to evaluate your garden for its risk of theft to prevent the loss of garden valuables. Below is some guidance on how to evaluate your garden’s risk, and to reduce the risk of your garden being robbed.

What items of value do you have in your garden?

Over half of all households in the United Kingdom have had items stolen from their gardens. The average claim for a UK household for a garden theft is £208, with around £517 million paid out from insurance claims. With gardens being seen as an extension of many people’s homes, more money is being spent on gardens and garden embellishments, which tempts thieves.

Though it might seem unlikely, garden plants such as trees and shrubs, hanging baskets, and even turf is the most likely to be stolen. Second most at risk of theft is garden machinery, such as lawn mowers and other motorised gardening equipment, as well as hedge cutters and other sharp tools.

Third at most risk are garden furniture and pots, then children’s playhouses and other garden toys such as slides or swings. Sculptures are also likely to be lifted, as are barbecue sets and even chimeneas. Sporting equipment, such as golf clubs, tennis rackets, cricket sets and fishing tackle are all likely candidates for theft. Last but not least, exotic fish such as Koi carp have been known to be stolen from garden ponds!

If you are looking to sell your home, or are thinking of moving, consider taking steps towards making your property’s garden more secure as an inducement to potential buyers.

How can you reduce your risk of theft?

The first step to reducing your risk of theft from your garden is to ensure that valuable items that are easy to carry off – such as sporting equipment – is kept under lock and key, preferably indoors rather than in an outdoor structure.

Take adequate security measures for your home’s garden. Put up sturdy fencing, ensure gates are always locked, and keep an eye out for any unusual activity. Sheds and garages should be securely padlocked at all times. When items are taken out and used in the garden, they should be carefully put back into a secure location once they have been used to avoid valuable items being stolen.

Make sure that all entrances to your garden are kept closed and locked. Make sure that you remove easy access points to your garden. Things like trellises or ladders leaning against fences can be an easy point of access for thieves, so make sure they are put away.

If you can, mark your items so that they are easily identifiable to the police. Invisible ink can be used to put your postcode on items such as garden furniture, pots and machinery to help the police find your items if they are sold on. You should also take photographs of your items of value so that you can prove ownership if you have insurance.

You should insure your garden items, so if a theft does take place, you are already protected from the potential fallout. Even with the best preventative measures, things can happen, and having home insurance that covers your garden is the best precaution. The Royal Horticultural Society has warned that renters are particularly left bereft when items are stolen from their gardens, as they rarely take out home insurance. Make sure that you are covered, and if the worst does happen, you can rest easy knowing your items can be replaced.

www.wabarnes.co.uk

Guide to Investing in Student Property in Nottinghamshire

student property

With the number of students attending university higher than ever, the demand for rooms and properties for rent by students has increased exponentially.

Why is the student property market in Nottingham good for investment?

The government’s move to lift the cap on the number of places a university can offer in the United Kingdom has led to a boost in the number of applicants, and as a result, an increase in the number of students looking for a home while they complete their studies.

There has also been a huge jump in the number of foreign students coming from outside the European Union, with numbers rising by 50% over the last decade. These students are seeking good value properties that they can share with other students and are willing to pay for convenient locations and space.

Students seeking affordable but satisfactory accommodation near to their University have created a unique opportunity for those looking to invest in property to rent out as a private landlord. With only about a third of all city accommodation being available to students in the UK, students are willing to put money into finding good accommodation.

Nottingham, in particular, provides an excellent market for getting involved in the student accommodation sector. With supply running low on places for students to live, landlords can take advantage of the growing need for student accommodation and make some serious money.

What investment options are there for student properties in Nottingham?

The student rental market in Nottingham provides a good opportunity for those looking to invest in houses and apartments that will make money consistently. Investors can purchase a home designed for student accommodation in a good location in Nottingham for around £170,000, renting out all four bedrooms on a house in multiple occupation, or HMO.

What should you consider before renting out a student property?

Investing in student property is a longer-term option, so potential landlords should be aware of this before putting their money into a property. However, the properties are unlikely to be left empty, as students – particularly students from overseas – need a home all year round. Rates for student properties are also higher than for a single family or individual renting a property.

Houses should be viewed before purchase, and considerations should be made for how a student will view the home. Does it have adequate communal areas? One of the key factors for a successful student property investment is location. Students are willing to walk a certain distance to their university, but properties closer to their centre of learning will be more desirable. Aim for a 30-minute walking distance if possible. Research the area to make sure it is in a safe location, as students will do their own research to find more stable areas.

The rent should be inclusive of all bills and have a steady and comprehensive broadband option. Students are more likely to select an easy rent payment, rather than having the hassle of sorting out the bills each month and splitting the fees multiple ways. Ensure that your rental price is fair – though students from overseas might be willing to pay a higher rent, UK students are more likely to go for good-value properties that provide the best package of price and location.

Do your research on HMO and property laws. Landlords should not be caught out with sub-par properties that are not designed for multiple occupations, as students are not likely to go for accommodation that is unsuitable for their needs or unsafe.

Taking the next steps

By bearing these factors in mind, renting out a student property in Nottingham is a worthwhile investment for those looking to make long-term financial gains. Consulting a property professional and using a reliable property agent is advisable for making the best investment possible in a student property.

Why There Has Never Been A Better Time To Invest In A Buy-To-Let Property

If you are considering an investment in a buy to let property in Mansfield or the Sutton in Ashfield area, in our opinion there has never been a better time to do so. There are three main reasons for this:

1) Affordable property prices

Despite the meteoric rise of property prices across the country, and recently in the East Midlands in particular, there are still some fantastically affordable homes available in the area. Well-built, two and three-bedroom terraced houses in and around Mansfield can be found on the market from as little as £50-£60,000. Semi-detached family homes can still be secured from £90 to £120,000. This offers incredible value to families looking to move into the area, especially for professionals commuting to Nottingham, Sheffield or Leeds. As a buy to let investment, a local property will set you back far less than the equivalent in the south of the county. Furthermore, with prices in the area set to rise over the coming couple of years, investors can expect an impressive gain in equity when they come to sell on their property.

2) Availability of new properties

The East Midlands is in the fortunate position to be somewhat sheltered from the ‘property drought’ affecting some parts of the country, especially London, the south-east and north-east areas of England. In these areas, demand for property is outstripping the number of new houses that are becoming available on the market. On the one hand this is further bolstering house prices in the regions affected, but it also has the potential to trigger a slowdown in the rental market, as potential tenants choose to buy property themselves rather than pay increased rents. Therefore, for a buy to let investor, a ‘property drought’ is a very mixed blessing. Currently, the housing market in North Nottinghamshire doesn’t show any signs of this problem, with plenty of high quality, affordable housing coming available to keep up with demand.

3) Best ever yields from buy to let properties

Perhaps the most compelling reason to invest in a buy to let property are the incredible returns available from this kind of investment at the moment. According to industry averages published in January, average returns for landlords in England and Wales have increased by 12% since January 2015. In terms of money in the bank, this is a nationwide average of £21,988 gross income over the past year (before mortgage payments, maintenance cost and other deductions are taken into account)

With the financial prospect for landlords looking healthier than at any time for two years or more, and with plenty of affordable and desirable properties available, now is the time to consider your buy to let investment. As prices begin to creep up again after the winter slow down, the sooner you make your investment, the higher returns you are likely to yield, both in terms of increased equity and income from rents.

How ‘Right To Rent’ Laws Are Going To Affect Landlords

New immigration laws that came into force on 4th February 2016 are going to affect every landlord in the country. The so-called ‘Right to Rent’ checks have not been widely publicised or explained, and figures from the Residential Landlord Association suggest that in excess of 70% of landlords do not understand their obligations under the new legislation.

The crucial part of the legislation is this: it is now the legal responsibility of the landlord to ensure that their tenant has the right to live here legally before renting out their property to them. Failure to carry out these responsibilities effectively can risk prosecution carrying a fine of £3,000 or custodial sentence of up to five years in prison.

By following the tips below, landlords can be relaxed about the new legislation and be confident of compliance with right to rent:

1) Be clear on the number of adults will be living in your property. Make sure it is reasonable based on the size and type of your property. If you have any doubts, you are within your rights to make reasonable enquiries of your prospective tenant and to record their response. If you use a property agent, remember that it is ultimately your legal responsibility to ensure compliance, so make sure your agent is carrying out the correct checks.

2) Make sure that you, or your agent sees original versions of any document that proves right to rent. Validation checks should be made at least 28 days before the tenancy is due to begin, and the tenant should not be permitted to move in before these legal rights have been proved.

3) Check the details of all the documents, preferably in the presence of the document holders. Make sure the details, such as photographs and dates of birth are consistent across the different document. Also make sure that important documents such as passports are not expired. Record the explanations given for any discrepancies.

4) If a tenant claims they have the right to rent but cannot prove it, this doesn’t mean you automatically have to reject their tenancy. For instance, they may have been granted a discretionary right to rent or be part of an ongoing immigration application. In this case, you or your agent can request that their claim be checked by the Home Office and confirmation given. The Home Office should reply within two working days of receiving your request.

Any change in regulations can appear daunting, and right to rent has worried a lot of landlords. In the case of this legislation, poor public information and speculation has compounded legitimate worry among landlords. However, once you are clear about what sort of information is required and the documents a tenant needs to show to prove it, the increased administrative burden will be minimal. The changes themselves should prove positive, and will help landlords secure responsible, long-term tenants for their properties.

Spring Price Surge Comes Early for East Midlands Property Market

Spring Price Surge Comes Early for East Midlands Property Market

The winter months often see a slowdown in the housing market as homeowners are reluctant to sell over Christmas and the cold weather. However, annualised house price rises in the East of England have now overtaken those in Greater London and South-East England, according to the latest figures published in the home.co.uk Asking Price Index. This amounts to an average residential price increase of 12.2% across the region. By any standards these are astonishing rises, especially for the time of year, pre-empting the expected ‘spring price surge’ as the result of more homes traditionally coming on the market from March onwards.

With the trend predicted to hold until at least 2017, investors, homeowners and estate agents alike are watching the market with interest to see how things develop.

What is behind the huge price rises?

Probably the biggest factor behind house price rises in the East of England is a regional lack of supply. This is a problem familiar to homeowners and investors in the south of the country for some time, but until recently has not been an acute problem in the Midlands. This simply aren’t enough new, affordable houses being built in the East Midlands, and so the stock of available property coming onto the market remains low.

Although the situation isn’t as bad as it is in the West Midlands, which saw a 17% decrease in newly available housing compared to January 2015, the East of England still saw 14% fewer new properties coming onto the market than this time last year.

Increasing demand

At the same time, demand for property has gone through the roof, partly as a result of population increase and partially to do with increased rental prices.

Long-term tenants are now increasingly looking to enter the property market and take on mortgages, rather than ‘save and rent’. The result is a classic scarcity situation, where demand outstrips supply and prices rise steeply as a result.

Low interest rates are also a factor. With rates held at their current rate until at least next year, we are looking at a buoyant property market for the foreseeable future. Early proof of this is 0.7% average price rise across the region last month.

What does this mean for North Nottinghamshire?

Some commentators have chosen to take a negative view of these trends, but despite the naysayers, the housing market in Mansfield, Sutton in Ashfield and the surrounding area is in a very strong position as a result of these changes. Both existing and potential homeowners have good reason to be optimistic.

Despite the rapidly increasing regional averages, prices in the local area remain exceptionally competitive compared with other parts of the Midlands. This is great for both current homeowners and for people looking to buy a property in the area. If you already own a home in the area, look forward to a year to 18 months’ worth of progressive increase in the value of your property. You’re already in a great position.

And if you’re looking to get onto the property ladder? Our advice is to buy as soon as you can, while house prices remain low and mortgage rates are the most affordable they have been for years. Despite a relative shortage of new-build homes (and that could well change this year), there are still a good number of fantastic properties coming onto the market in Mansfield and Sutton in Ashfield. Within easy commuting distance of Nottingham and with good train and motorway links to London, North Nottinghamshire is becoming a popular base for professional working families.
To have a look at our latest properties, please take a browse through our website, and don’t hesitate to give us a call on 01623 554084 for more information.

The Legalities Of Preparing A Home For Sale

The Legalities Of Preparing A Home For Sale

After deciding to sell your home and choosing an agent to market that fact, there are several remaining steps to take. In fact, there are a number of steps that need to be taken in order to successfully prepare any home for sale.

Energy Performance Certificate

All of the houses for sale in the UK must include an EPC, or Energy Performance Certificate. This certificate, obtainable via an accredited assessor provides much vital information about the property being sold. This information includes the property`s rating for energy consumption. In addition to this rating, the certificate also includes information about the home’s environmental impact in terms of CO2, and any recommendations for how to reduce consumption of energy. A sliding scale from A to G indicates the most to least efficient energy efficiency respectively.

It is a good idea to obtain the EPC early on in the process, as this will allow you to implement any recommended changes to improve the energy performance of the property before it is sold. Some of these changes may result in an increase of property value, which can ultimately get you more for your home.

Find an Accredited Solicitor

Again, completing important steps early in the process can ensure that the best individual is in place to sell your home. When searching for a solicitor, it`s always best to choose those who are part of a regulatory body such as the Solicitors Regulation Authority. This will provide you with peace of mind that every step of the transaction is going just as it should.

You can also help your solicitor greatly by ensuring you have specific and required information ready to give them. You will need copies of any lender information, details about changes made to the property since you purchased it, your personal identification and any information regarding boundaries or building certificated obtained in order to complete any building on the property.

Agent Information

Not only will your solicitor require information related to your home, but so will your agent. Again, the best time to gather and prepare this information is early on in the process, before things become very busy for you.

Some of the documents your agent will definitely need include certificates for electrical, gas and any building regulations. As well, they will need receipts for any rents paid or service charges incurred, if applicable. Finally, your agent will require bills for paid utilities and taxes, as well as for any insurance of contents.

Another list of items to have on hand is a fixture and fittings form. This form will provide information about what fixtures you plan to leaving in the home, and which you plan to take with you when you move.

Being fully prepared to sell your home from a legal standpoint can offer a number of advantages. Not only does doing so allow you to experience far less stress when it’s time to make the sale, but it can also result in financial benefits to you in terms of higher property value. Ultimately, this means more money available which can be put toward other benefits like a larger home, vacation, or another major purchase, such as a vehicle or additional property.

The Buy-to-Let Property

The Buy-to-Let Property

If your goal is to have future security that allows you to retire comfortably, buy-to-let can provide a solution. Of course, like any property investment, all of this market’s aspects must be considered.

Unlike owning a personal home, owning a buy-to-let property means that you are a business owner; a landlord who provides housing to tenants. This type of property ownership comes with its own set of legalities.

HMOs

HMO stands for ‘house in multiple occupation’. This type of arrangement is one of the most popular forms of buy-to-let property investment. The HMO property is one where three or more people live in one home and share amenities such as the home’s kitchen and bathroom. These properties exist in both small and large sizes. A large HMO is one where five or more tenants share the amenities in a building that’s at least three stories in height. Although this type of tenancy is most commonly associated with students, it is also becoming increasingly popular among the young professionals market in London, Nottingham and other British cities.

This option demands that particular legalities are adhered to. For example, as a landlord, you will be expected to regularly check certain vital aspects of the building, such as electricity, fire and gas safety. You will also need to ensure that the property’s number of tenants remains at a reasonable level. In addition, you will need to ensure that all facilities, whether for washing or cooking, as well as any communal areas are always clean and in sound working order.

Usually, an HMO does not require planning permission if you wish to convert it to a personal dwelling in future unless it has been classified as a large HMO.

How to Invest in Buy-to-Let

Once you’ve reviewed the list of buy-to-let property for sale near you, you can make your investment with personal cash or opt for a buy-to-let mortgage with a deposit of cash. Any investment into a buy-to-let property also means carrying a mortgage. However, it’s important to note that mortgage payments remain due whether or not there are tenants occupying your building.

Earning a Profit

Investing in buy-to-let property can earn you a profit in more than one way. You can earn money through capital growth as well as through rental yield.

Capital growth refers to the profit earned when a rental property is sold for more than an investor paid for it. Most commonly, it is rental yield which offers the most lucrative way to earn profit. This is the rental payments received from tenants, minus the cost for repairs and running the building.

Additional Costs

In addition to the cost of purchase and maintenance, buy-to-let properties also incur stamp duty, land tax and survey and solicitor’s fees. Fees will also be incurred by letting or sales agents. Marketing fees may also apply should you choose to sell your property.

In order to secure your investment, you may decide that taking out a landlord’s insurance policy as well as buildings insurance are both good ideas. Both offer protection for you and your investment.

Before you commit to purchasing a buy-to-let property, it’s crucial to ensure that you’ve thoroughly researched things like consumer protection so that you know what is and what isn’t available to you as a landlord.

www.wabarnes.co.uk

Making an Investment in Commercial Property

Making an Investment in Commercial Property

Commercial property is one means that a property investor can use to diversify their portfolio. Property that is commercial includes anything from blocks of offices to retail premises. Also known as lots, commercial properties usually come with a higher rental cost than residential properties.

Commercial properties are only used for the purposes of business. But like residential properties, a commercial property will require occupants if the goal is to generate income.

Reasons to invest in Commercial Property

Investing in commercial property has several advantages. One of the main advantages is the money that can be saved. A commercial property doesn’t cost as much to maintain as a residential one, as the occupants are responsible for maintenance costs. As well, commercial properties cost less to operate.

In addition to cost savings, a commercial property offers reliability in terms of rent. This is because in a commercial setting, a corporation pays this expense. As well, commercial properties have far longer leases than residential properties – up to 20 years – making it unnecessary to have to seek out tenants every few years.

Commercial Property Investment Methods

There are three methods used to invest in commercial properties. These are property funds, indirect and direct investment.

Property funds are a method most commonly employed by first time or small investors. They allow an individual to get started with investment into commercial property. Property funds are a collective investment, much like unit trusts and Oeic.

Indirect investment involves investing not in the commercial property itself, but in the shares of that property. This is akin to investing in the stock market, as the money you make will be from the property’s value.

Direct investment involves the full purchase of either the share of a commercial property, or the entire commercial property itself. Although risky, this method can yield the largest amount of income if successful.

What to look for

The location and type of property are two important characteristics. However, the property type will determine whether or not the potential investment’s location is a good one. Perhaps accessibility should be another factor as any properties that exist in ‘business hubs’ or which are located near business centres are ideal.

Type of property will be a definite deciding factor. Which type you choose will depend on what you want from the property. Office buildings tend to be the best option where the securing of reliable tenants is concerned. They are also the most likely to be occupied regardless of economic climate. Other options like industrial, healthcare and retail properties can also have many advantages.

Before investing in any property, it’s important to take note of their income generating potential. To do this properly, you must look at several things, including industry, historical averages and financial projections to find the property that’s most likely to produce a steady income over the long term.

Whichever type and location of building you choose, another important thing to keep in mind is the nature of property investment. It is a cyclical venture which will see a number of changes in terms of interest rates and market stability, among other factors.

Letting Agents – Choosing the one for you

Letting Agents

One very careful consideration that should be made when investing in property for the first time is to choose the best letting agent for the job. If you are new to the property rental realm, you may not be aware of what signs to look for that tell you the agent you’re considering is the right one for you.

Narrowing the List

Because there may be many letting agents in your area, the ideal number to shorten your list of potentials to is three. Once you’ve done this, you are in a position to ask some pertinent questions that will allow you to choose the right agent for the job.

Look at Let Boards

Some may say that the more Let Boards an agent has under their belt, the better. This could be indicative that an agent has skills that allow them to find tenants fast. However, it could also mean that they are willing to put any Tom, Dick or Harry into their Client’s property just to earn a quick letting fee. Tenant selection is of vital importance to the success – or otherwise of property investment. You need to establish the protocols of a letting agent before you make your choice.

Testing

When searching for the best letting agent, you may want to consider calling them as a tenant. This can answer many questions for you, such as their methods and treatment of clients. You may find that one letting agent will get your number and be back in touch, whilst another may recommend that you view a property. You can ask what charges are levied on applicants and decide whether these would put you off renting through that agent. Calling an agent can definitely help you to choose one.

Another way to test a potential agent is to visit their offices. Being able to physically see their work space can also be a good way to discern many things. The working environment has a large impact on the job any employee does, and so it’s important to ensure that the environment is both productive and positive.

Fees

Letting Agents are now required, by law, to publicise their fees and charges. Care needs to be taken; a low commission may seem attractive on the face of it but many agents then make extra charges for virtually every aspect of the management process. Do they take a percentage from contractors employed to carry out repair? You should establish what additional charges are passed on to the tenant as these may deter the best tenants from renting through them.

Registrations

Which organisation an agent is registered with can also help you decide about hiring them. For instance, an agent registered by the RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) must adhere to strict codes of conduct. They must also carry insurance, both for their client’s money and themselves.
RICS is a professional body that accredits professionals within the land, property and construction sectors worldwide. Members, such as ourselves that hold RICS qualifications may use the following designations after their name: MRICS (Member), FRICS (Fellow), AssocRICS (Associate).

The Importance of Registration

There is no mandatory regulation for letting agents and there has been a significant rise in the number of firms entering the market in recent times. Many do not have any recognised professional qualification or formal training. Members of the RICS have to undergo rigorous professional examination and must work under the supervision of a Chartered Surveyor before they can qualify. The process usually takes a minimum of five years. They then have to undertake a programme of continued professional development every year to ensure that they are up to date with the latest legislation and best practice. If you choose a letting agent who holds membership of the RICS you will be assured that they will place your interest above everything else. Repairs can be specified and supervised by a Chartered Surveyor without having to rely on the word of a jobbing builder. Savvy tenants know that if the letting agent holds a professional qualification, then they will be treated fairly and will be drawn to them – hence there are benefits all round. After all, if you were ill, you wouldn’t go to see a doctor who was not qualified would you?

Why Do You Have To Pay Stamp Duty?

stamp duty

Stamp Duty Land Tax (Land and Buildings Transaction Tax in Scotland) is a lump-sum tax that must be paid by anyone purchasing a property or land costing over £125,000. Stamp duty applies to both leasehold and freehold properties, whether you are purchasing with a mortgage or buying outright.

Why does stamp duty exist?

When you purchase a property, any change in the ownership of the land must legally be registered with the Land Registry. In order to do so, a certificate is required from HMRC. They will only issue this upon receipt of payment of stamp duty due when the property is purchased. Luckily, this is something your solicitor will handle for you, so you don’t have to worry.

Where did stamp duty come from?

Stamp duty actually dates back farther than you might expect – it is actually an ancient tax which was introduced to the UK in 1694 during William and Mary’s reign. The tax was introduced to raise funds for the war on France. It was once a duty or tax on documents that needed a royal seal in order to be legally binding – documents such as the transfer of land ownership from one party to another.

How much is stamp duty?

The rate of stamp duty you will have to pay depends on the value of the property or land you are buying. Stamp duty rates are as follows:

Residential properties;

0% for transactions up to £125,000
2% for transactions from £125,001 to £250,000
5% for transactions from £250,001 to £925,000
10% for transactions from £925,001 to £1.5 million
12% for transactions over £1.5 million

Rates will increase by 3% from 1st April 2016 for purchases of additional properties, such as second homes or buy-to-let properties. The good news is that where stamp duty was once a flat rate, it’s now worked out on a sliding scale. This means that 98% of those who pay stamp duty will pay less than before under the new rules.

Do I have to pay?

Wherever you buy in the UK, whether you’re purchasing a three-bedroom family home in Sutton in Ashfield or investing in a detached house in Mansfield, you’ll need to pay stamp duty if your property costs over £125,000. You’ll need to pay your stamp duty within 30 days of the date of completion/date of entry (the date contracts are signed and keys handed over). Failing to pay on time could mean you face added interest or even a fine. It’s legally your responsibility to ensure your stamp duty is paid, and you can do so online or by phone banking, by post or at your bank or post office.

What happens if I fail to pay stamp duty?

Failure to pay your stamp duty means that the Land Registry will be unable to process a change in ownership of the land on which your property resides; effectively, it means your purchase will be unable to be completed. It’s highly unlikely that this will happen though, as most solicitors insist on payment of stamp duty before the completion date, to avoid any hiccups in the purchasing process.