September 18, 2017
leah1401

The UK’s Top Property Investment Hotspots

 

Now, at LMA Property we live in South London and operate mainly within the city, so we are a little biased towards our capital.  So when researching the UK’s top property investment hotspots, we were unsurprised, and a little smug, to see that a number were situated within London.

That being said, it would seem that property in the North of England is becoming ever more enticing, because a fair few Northern cities also made the list.  So, with a little for every person, the London lover and the joyous expat – take a look at our list of the UK’s top property investment hotspots both within and without our glorious city.

  1. Wood Green

A savvy option for the patient investor, Wood Green may well be akin to the proverbial tortoise of the London property market.  With a target of £3.5 billion to rejuvenate the city centre, which will include the redevelopment of over 25 sites as well as the creation of the Crossrail 2 – offering far better links for commuters, we expect Wood Green to see some fantastic growth over the next few years.

  1. Basingstoke

Situated just outside of London, Basingstoke is proving a popular choice for young professionals driven out by London prices.  Whilst the city itself has a surprisingly prosperous digital economy, its real pull is its fantastic links to London.  With a number of regeneration and development projects in the pipeline, Basingstoke could well be one to watch over the next few years.

  1. Croydon

Situated in our very own South London, Croydon is the up and coming place to be for young professionals.  Fast becoming the “Silicon Valley of the South” and boasting over 1,000 startups (a title which is uniquely complemented by the soon-to-arrive Westfield shopping centre as well as the introduction of Boxpark), there is little doubt that Croydon could well be the place to be for young professionals seeking affordable rent and attractive job opportunities.

  1. Salford

This city in Manchester has, over the past few years, had something of a remarkable transformation.  The Northern town has seen a tremendous revival thanks to investment in the creative industry, with a recent £1 billion investment in MediaCityUK – a clear demonstration of just how powerful this sector is becoming in Salford.  Currently, 60,000 people now work in the creative and digital industries in Greater Manchester and it is predicted that this number will grow 27% by 2034.  This injection of capital and young professionals is of fantastic benefit to investors seeking a change from the London property market.

  1. Liverpool

For those who wish to dip a toe into the student rental market, Liverpool may well be the place to do it.  Boasting a phenomenal 70,000 students spread over four Universities who are attracted to the fantastic nightlife, culture and affordability, demand for student accommodation is unlikely to dip in the foreseeable future.  Not only that, but housing regeneration schemes in the Liverpool docks have seen prices across this city rise, most notably in the L1 postcode where house prices have risen by a whopping 41.2%.

 

 

If you live in any of these areas of have any thoughts please feel free to give us a call on 020 3893 8635 or drop us a line on leah@lmaproperty.com

June 18, 2017
leah1401

How landlords can protect themselves

 

There is often a focus in the press over mistreated tenants, and without doubt there are negligent landlords who really should know better.  However, that being said in our years in the industry we have also seen challenges at the other end of the spectrum – tenants who have taken advantage and made their landlord’s life extremely difficult.  So the team at LMA Property have compiled a how to guide, written specifically for all landlords, especially those who are renting properties out for the first time, on how to protect yourselves in the worst case scenario.

 

  1. Background checks & references

Getting a tenant is a pretty big deal – you need to trust them to live, maintain and respect your house.  So just as you wouldn’t enter into a business deal or take on an employee without undertaking a thorough background check, the same should be true for a tenant. It can seem like a huge inconvenience, but as you know is true – short term pain for long term gain, so make sure to carry out:

  • Credit checks
  • Employment status/history
  • Current and previous rental details
  • Employment references
  • Landlord references
  1. Landlord insurance

This is often forgotten, but landlord insurance is actually an extremely cost-effective way of protecting yourself.  Packages can start at relatively reasonable prices and cover a range of tenant issues including missing rent payments, legal charges as well as any damages to your property.  Hopefully, you never have to call upon this one, but when dealing with tenants it really is better to be safe than sorry.

  1. Landlord inventory

Not just because at LMA property we are experts in carrying out thorough and precise landlord inventories.  Seriously, making sure you have a detailed record of the type, location and condition of all your fixtures and furniture can help protect you at the end of the lease and make sure that if there are any damages you can prove it.

  1. Trust your gut/don’t be afraid to say no

Many landlords are desperate to fill their property and in their haste will take on any candidate who is willing to pay, even if they have reservations.  Don’t be afraid to listen to your gut – yes, the loss of income can be hurtful, but difficult tenants will always be more expensive than a vacant lot so make sure you take your gut instinct into account.

  1. Regular property inspections

This is easily forgotten because when your tenant has settled in and they are paying every month, the job is essentially done.  However, it is important you continually check in on the state of the house – ask your tenants if you can pop in for a coffee and see if there is anything you can help them with, and if you are paying for a management service with an agency make sure this is included!  We check on our managed properties three times per year.  Good relationships can lead to longer-lasting tenancies too and we really would encourage all landlords to have at least biannual checks with their tenants.

 

If you have any more questions or would like some help managing your property we are always happy to offer a complementary consultation.  Feel free to give us a call on 020 3893 8635 or drop us a line on leah@lmaproperty.com

 

June 2, 2017
leah1401

How the elections might affect the housing market

 

The snap general election came as a surprise to many, but after the initial shock dissipated, deeper questions arose and one of the first questions at LMA property was of course – what will this mean to the property market?  This will be the third year in a row us Brits have been called to the polls, and is a poignant symbol of the huge amount of political instability that is rocking not only our Island, but most of the world.  The property market has already had to absorb a tremendous amount of shock – the General Election was followed by Brexit which was quickly followed by Trump, which all took place admits the backdrop of some much derided stamp duty hikes and whatever your political inclinations there is little doubt that these actions had a reaction on the economy – and there is a concern that this snap election is simply another straw to add to this camel’s back of uncertainty.  Not only that, but in the run up to any election (even an expected one) there tends to be a cool down in the housing market as buyers wait to see what will happen, and as the Summer season is traditionally one of the busiest seasons in the property world, the repercussions of this could be all too real.  That being said, homeowners at the start or in the middle of the buying process didn’t have enough notice of this snap election and thus did not stop half way through.  This is supported by a poll by an online poll organised by eMoov.co.uk who questioned 1,000 home buyers and sellers about the news – and majority rules 56.7 % of sellers and 59.2% of buyers agreed that they would go ahead with the planned sale regardless of the snap general election.

 

And whilst the short term repercussions of this snap election seem to be minimal, in the long term this election could actually help increase the resilience of the property market – and certainly more so if the Conservative retain hold, not least because once a new Prime Minister is elected, that should be it for five years and should bring in a period of, quite frankly, much needed stability.  It was the case that most political commentators believed the outcome will see an increased Tory majority which should help to further buoy the market and really help to invigorate the economic climate, however this is outcome is being increasingly questioned as we get closer to 8th June.  Interestingly, whilst Labour’s proposed “mansion tax” that would essentially charge anyone living in a property over £2 million and would affect anywhere between 58,000 to 110,000 homeowners – hit the headlines in the last election, Labour seemed to have abandoned all mention of it in their newly released manifesto.  However, given Labour’s traditional (and their current leader particularly’s) leanings, if they did win, it would be interesting (we mean worrying!) to see if this a policy they would look to adopt.  The mansion tax is one which everyone in property will be keeping a sharp eye on, but so too should the Land Value Tax option, which would affect almost every homeowner adversely as it taxes the value of the land itself, replacing Council Tax, which would also include agricultural land.  Certainly, either would affect a huge number of homeowners in the London area especially and will certainly be a cause for concern for residents.

 

Although the real hope, it seems, is that the snap election will signal an end to all this uncertainty and confusion and allow people to get back to business as usual.  At LMA property we like to see the silver lining and we truly do believe that whilst the snap election saw most of us with our chins hanging to the floor, our eyes wide and scratching our hands it should actually all end up OK.  Given everything that is going on we feel five years of a stable, elected government can only be of service to the property market.

 

What are your thoughts?  We would love to hear from you, feel free to give us a call on 020 3893 8635 or drop us a line on leah@lmaproperty.co.uk

May 15, 2017
leah1401

Landlord Top Tips

 

This week we thought we would share our 5 top tips for landlords

 

  1. Be organised

Before you even begin to market your property you need to ensure that it is ready

 

–  Make sure that it looks presentable for photographs and then viewings

Ensure that the fabric of the property is presentable by touching up the paintwork if necessary, getting rid of excess furniture and other fussy objects, and of course making sure that it is clean and tidy

–  Get your EPC completed (Energy Performance Certificate), and check that the property is in an A-E bracket*

–  Choose a letting agent, or decide whether you can take on this task yourself

A letting agent can help with marketing your property on larger platforms, and by using their sales skills.  If you choose to do this yourself remember that you will have to be readily available in order to conduct viewings, and the close landlord/subsequent tenant proximity may not be conducive to negotiations over the start date and rental figure

 

  1. Always prepare the property for a tenant

Go through the property again before a tenant moves in and check things like;

–  Bulbs are working, hinges and door handles are secure etc

–  Check that all of the appliances (and boiler!) work

Get your safety checks done in advance in case of any issues requiring rectification

–  The gas safety check is a legal requirement, as is making sure that there are working smoke detectors present.  It is also likely that soon electrical tests will be a legal requirement, but at present they are only advisory

Leave a welcome letter and/or bottle of wine

-if a tenant feels welcomed then they are more likely to keep your property well

 

  1. A good letting agent isn’t necessarily a good management agent

Will you manage it yourself or get an agent to do it?

 

Be aware that whilst an agent may be good at finding you a tenant, the chances are that the same member of staff won’t be your managing agent if you give them the whole package, they will probably be different department.

 

Lettings and property management are very different skills and many agents just see this service as an ‘add on’ and way to make an extra percentage from you at the beginning.  Do your research on good property managers

 

  1. Keep on top of everything

If you plan to manage the property yourself then you need to be on top of dates, such as;

–  When your safety checks are due for renewal (gas currently every year, electrical currently every 5 years – if done)

–  When the tenancy is due for renewal

If you get a management company in of course you don’t need to worry about remembering any of these!

 

  1. Contingency plans

You will need more of these if you managing the property yourself

 

–  What if the tenants need to leave earlier than you planned they would?

–  What if your plumber isn’t available, do you have a second point of call?

 

By their nature (good) property managers are organisers, problem solvers.  They have contingency plans for contingency plans and revel in the chaos of getting something sorted.

 

 

 

*If it isn’t then as of April 2018 you won’t be able to let it out without making changes to the property to get it below this rating – ask us for details

 

 

Email. leah@lmaproperty.com

Telephone. 020 3893 8635

March 27, 2017
leah1401

LMA Property on this year’s boat race!

 

At LMA Property we are passionate about South West London – where we live and work.  We are pretty sure it is where the phrase ‘when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life’ comes from.  Of course, one of our most spectacular attractions is the River Thames that runs through much of our borough, and so it’s safe to say we’re pretty excited for this year’s boat race which will take place on Sunday 2nd April with the women’s race starting at 4.35 pm, followed by the men’s at 5.35 pm.  In fact, we aren’t embarrassed to admit that we even have a vintage poster from the 1924 race adorning the walls in our office – see photograph!  A reminder that when the going gets tough; it’s the tough that really do get going.

 

This year, impressively, marks the 158th University boat race with the same route, once again, being taken by the hopeful University students, as they literally row in their predecessors’ path.  And whilst going out to watch a load of people row a boat may not necessarily be your thing, the Oxford and Cambridge boat race never fails to cause something of a spectacle – with over a quarter of a million people gathering to join in the festivities.  This could, of course, be because it is one of the few sporting activities that is completely free, although we like to think it has more to do with the sense of community spirit that pervades much of South and West London society.  As proud South West London residents we wouldn’t miss it – we will probably take up position near that start at Putney Bridge.  If you want to too, we recommend the North side, which is generally quieter than the South side, and with better views from Bishop’s Park.  You can also view from near the Putney Embankment (but arrive very early!) or from Craven Cottage – also known as the home of Fulham FC, else further down the route at Hammersmith Bridge or Barnes.  Of course if you want to see the grand finale then head to Dukes Meadows and Chiswick Bridge, further West.  Meanwhile, over at Bishop’s Park and Furnivall Gardens there will be events and entertainment from midday with some handy big screens so you can watch all the excitement after the boats have sped passed, whilst having a fun family day out.

 

Just think – you could be watching the next Hugh Laurie (who took part in his own Cambridge & Oxford boat race in 1980) or a soon-to-be Olympic Gold medallist like Matthew Pinsent.

 

Currently, Cambridge are leading with 82 victories to Oxford’s 79 in the men’s competition, whilst over on the women’s side with the race only starting in 1927 Cambridge boast a 41 lead on Oxford’s 30.  Last year, Cambridge finally managed to end their four year losing streak to win by a phenomenal 2 and a half lengths in the men’s race, whilst sadly the Cambridge women lost, almost as spectacularly as their counterparts won, losing by 24 lengths as they almost sank the boat.  We may have a small, irrational affiliation for one team over the other but we won’t divulge!  However, it really is anyone’s race to be won.

 

If you plan to be at the race do let us know!  Feel free to give us a call on 0203 892 8635 or drop us a line on leah@lmaproperty.com.  And, of course, if you would like to contact us outside of the boat race we work with landlords and agents to offer complete property management and inventory services.

 

 

March 13, 2017
leah1401

LMA Property Exhibits at Hammersmith & Fulham Means Business

 

At LMA property we are proud to work and live in the South West London area.  Having worked in this area for well over a decade, we have come to know and love every nuance and intricacy, so it seemed like a natural fit for our very first exhibition to be at Hammersmith & Fulham Means Business*, the business summit taking place this Thursday 16th March in partnership with Your Business Community, with the council hoping to put this region firmly on the map as an important destination for business within the whole of Europe.  This is a sentiment that has been bolstered by the announcement of Imperial College London to open the I-HUB at White City.  Boasting more than 185,000 square foot, it aims to translate research and innovation into genuine commercial enterprise.  This means the hub will have dedicated spaces for entrepreneurs and will be of immense benefit to the South London business community.

 

And, of course, lying within South London, Hammersmith and Fulham themselves, forming an integral part of the commerce of South West London, with about 17,000 businesses in the borough employing more than 128,000 people and generating around £9.3 billion towards the borough’s economy (according to the event’s website).  Which makes the event Hammersmith & Fulham Means Business all the more exciting.  With more than 30 companies exhibiting, we really couldn’t say no when the opportunity presented itself to be a part of this exciting day. Dedicated to the SME sphere, and to uniquely raising the profile of those who dare to go it alone, as well as larger companies, the event will have over 400 professionals attending. Therefore, this day should be a fantastic celebration of all that is great in South London.

 

As well as offering exhibitors the opportunity to promote their services to the local community, it also provides vital support to entrepreneurs and sole traders looking for some advice.  There will be a one-to-one advice clinic, where experienced professionals will be able to offer their expertise in fields ranging from law and accounting to marketing and sales.

 

Meanwhile, there will also be a number of invaluable seminars chock-full of some fantastic educational content. These will include:

–         A start-up master class

–         Must have social media marketing tips

–         Perfecting your elevator pitch

–         From concept to reality, the journey of a new business

 

And for those of you who relish a robust networking opportunity the event promises two speed networking events.  We’re a little envious that we’ll be manning our stall and won’t be able to participate in all of the extras going on (however, it will be a great stall, so we really can’t complain)!

 

At LMA Property we would love to see you there, so please do feel free to pop by if you happen to be in the area… you never know you may even get a free pen!

 

And if you can’t make it on the day but would like to be in touch about any of your property maintenance, management or inventory needs do feel free to give us a call on 020 3893 8635 or drop us an email on leah@lmaproperty.co.uk

 

* https://hammersmithandfulhammeansbusiness.co.uk/

February 14, 2017
leah1401

EPC Minimum Standards Changes 2018 – What About Them?

 

The EPC rating as we know, was introduced in 2011 as part of the Energy Act and gives a property a rating based on their energy efficiency from A (the most efficient) to G (the least efficient).  This grade is valid for 10 years.  Previously, the EPC rating acted as a warning – an official grading that demonstrated if your property was underperforming on efficiency.  However, the government is now taking serious action, and The Energy Act should perhaps have been a warning to all landlords that were coasting along ignoring eco-friendly alternatives.  Looming on the horizon now, as of 1st April 2018 landlords will not be allowed to let out properties which fall into an F or G category, with very few allowable exceptions or excuses.  It is estimated that approximately 20% of all properties are in the F and G ratings, which means you not only need to make sure that you know in which bracket your property lies, but also plan on how to bring your property up to muster and create an “Energy Efficiency Plan.” You may well need to invest considerably in the refurbishment or remodelling of your home to enable you to actually rent it out legally.

The EPC inspection will look at details including your property’s age, insulation of the walls, floors and lofts, water heating as well as your glazing type. Some simple methods of making sure your property is up to scratch include:

 

–          Replacing old, inefficient halogen bulbs with compact fluorescent lights or LEDs

 

–          Ensuring your roofing insulation is 270 mm in depth.  This change should prove relatively inexpensive and if your current insulation is less than 90mm you can apply for government funding to get your loft filled

 

–         Replacing old boilers with a more modern brand

 

–         Or for a slightly more affordable option, using modern controls such as adjustable thermostats to make sure you’re not unnecessarily heating empty rooms, which may help upgrade old bowers without the added expense

 

For those who are concerned over the price of these works, there may be some leeway for those who have implemented the maximum package of works allowable under the Green Deal.  The “Green Deal” is actually a pretty reasonable measure which limits borrowing to the amount that would be covered by money saved on fuel bills, or over a seven-year payback period where Green Deal funding is not available.  Landlords will also be exempt where a tenant has refused consent to improvement works or Green Deal funding in the past five years, or if the works would decrease the value of the property by more than 5%.

 

That being said there is still a fair amount we don’t know.  There may well be exemptions to certain types of properties via secondary legislation, but we don’t yet know how large these proposed fines will be.  Although the rumours suggest they could be pretty hefty, with the largest figures reaching up to £150,000.

 

If you are a concerned landlord, feel free to give me a call on 07969 927 422 or drop me a line on leah@lmaproperty.com. Even if it’s just for some friendly advice, I am only too happy to help. I can help carry out a full review of your property portfolio and review which properties don’t meet the new EPC rating, establish the cause of the poor rating, manage all necessary improvements, as well as providing energy performance reports and rating for statutory compliance. Let’s discuss how you should move forward and prepare for 2018.

February 6, 2017
leah1401

What are the potential effects of the Southern Rail strikes on the housing market?

 

The Southern Rail dispute seems interminable, with strikes having blighted much of the Christmas season, although thankfully the more recent strikes that were due to take place at the end of January were cancelled. This slight respite, doesn’t detract from the union concerns over safety, as well as potential job losses. There seems little doubt that they are absolutely committed to their cause and there seems to be little end in sight. It is extremely frustrating, but it is beginning to have an impact far beyond isolating commuters from their offices in London, (which, for some, may well be a much needed Christmas bonus).

 

This is because the recent actions of Southern Rail cannot be taken in isolation – they are part of a far greater whole that sees Southern Rail marked as one of the least popular rail providers among commuters. Blighted by complaints of poor service, late trains, and frequent strike action. In fact, in December, MPs warned that employers were beginning to reject applicants who lived within the parameters of Southern Rail for fear they would constantly be late for work.

 

So it is unsurprising that this is starting to affect the price of houses. Whilst elsewhere in the country, despite Brexit and Trump, they seem to be constantly on the rise, the South is the one exception to this rule. Only four stations along Southern Rail’s routes reported increasing housing prices in the last three months – Hove, Pulborough, Haywards Heath, and Gatwick Airport – and this was only by an average of 0.05%. For the rest of the Southern commuter belt, the uncertainty caused by Southern Rail strikes has seen house prices rise 50% more slowly than the national average. Most concerning is the difference in the last six months alone, when the strikes were causing the most disruption. During that period, homeowners enjoyed an average increase of 4% in property values whilst those living in the Southern commuter belt increased by only 1.4% overall.

 

But, what does that really mean – these statistics and their impact on real people? Well, places like Brighton (which has traditionally done very nicely as an alternative commuter city with a great night life and easy London access), Portsmouth, and Seaford have dropped by £1,875 over the last 3 months. Basically, it means that Londoners are keen to avoid this now blighted landscape whilst those in the area are desperately trying to find a way out.

 

In fact, according to Jonathan Hudson, director of Hudsons Property in Fitzrovia, a number of wealthy Southern commuters have approached him looking for somewhere to rent in London whilst they weather the storm.

 

We would love to hear from you. How have you been affected? Are you a Southern Rail member and feel the strikes are worth the disruption? Or are you a commuter tired of having their daily life disrupted? Feel free to give us a call on 07969 927 422 or email to leah@lmaproperty.com

 

 

November 21, 2016
leah1401

Hands up if you need more support

 

Generally in life we get used to being given support.  When growing up we learn to expect that to come from our parents and from school, and later from our friends or partners or colleagues.  We take for granted that it may be.  If you work in a large firm there may be an officially integrated system of support through meetings, well-being check-ups and places to go or people to speak to if you are struggling.  Even if not in a tricky situation however, we still need support for the day-to-day tasks we face, be there an unusual situation we haven’t experienced before, a difficult client, or even to step up to the next level when we find ourselves coasting.  When self-employed however you often don’t have someone working alongside you who can support you, and so you need to find this through other avenues, actively.  Sometimes you have to find your own support.  Nowadays there are many ways that this can be found, believe it or not not everyone is self-absorbed and uncaring (yes, even in London!)

 

Firstly, there are those people you already know or knew.  Keep in touch with them, half of the effort lies within yourself!  Don’t assume that people won’t want to hear from you, or that you’re bothering them – don’t think the worst.  Be approachable but don’t be scared to approach others.

 

Secondly, there are now 1000s of networking groups bringing together willing, like-minded people.  I have to admit this is fairly new for me too and so I know that it takes a bit of sifting, planning and a lot of commitment, but it does pay off.  Have a look at meetup.com, your local council’s chamber of commerce, and places specific to your interest or industry.  Finding a good group takes trial and error, visiting a few different types in different areas or with slightly different specialisms until you find what works, or which contains a solid group of regular and friendly people.  Along with this, there are an increased number of mentors out there.  Do your research, ask for recommendations, and try to meet informally first with a potential mentor to see if you will get on enough to relax in each other’s company.

 

Thirdly, there are local seminars, exhibitions or regional meetings and updates.  Whilst these might not give for much one-on-one support or conversation, being in a room with those in the same ‘boat’ as you, hosted by people who are on your side, really does give a confidence-boost.  I recently attended the ARLA regional meeting (www.arla.co.uk) which was hosted in part by the President Nik Madan, and it was refreshing to hear from him about what is going on behind the scenes to potentially help you and your business – as well of course, as it being beneficial for you to keep updated on your industry.

 

So if you feel like you need some support – go out there and get it!  Ask for it, offer it, be open-minded but keep focused.  Don’t say yes to every invitation (that being another, well-worn piece of advice), as your time is precious.

 

November 1, 2016
leah1401

Are you getting the service you deserve?

 

‘Customer Service’ often conjures up images of disgruntled members of the public being faced with uninterested faceless employees of some firm or another.  However, some people choose to work in Customer Service based jobs, and thus relish the sometimes challenging but often rewarding role.  It may be that they enjoy problem-solving, though they do have to often remain thick-skinned on the occasions that they are not flooded with thanks by the consumer.

Is your Agent, Clerk or anyone else you have employed doing their best for you or are they falling into 1 of the following 3 traps?

 

1.  Passing the buck

If there’s a problem do they blame someone else or take responsibility for their mistake?  Ultimately if they are the customer-facer then it is their company’s responsibility and they should know that you don’t care what goes on behind the scenes, you just want the solution.  Watch out for too much buck-passing, as it’s likely that they don’t have your best interests at heart.

 

2.  Waiting for you to alert them to a problem

This is probably my pet hate, when someone knows or ought to have known that there may be an issue but they still wait for you the consumer to report something.  It is not your responsibility to report everything, you probably don’t have time hence instructing them in the first place, and by them not doing so it looks as though they were just hoping you wouldn’t notice.  They are not being proactive, which is essential to good customer service.

 

3.  Not expediting a resolution

If they’ve made a mistake then they should pull out all of the stops in order to set things right again.  I am amazed when businesses have the nerve to tell customers to wait just as long again for something as they have already done.  If they are not willing to go ‘above and beyond’ even when they are at fault, then you may want to think about looking elsewhere.

London and the property world are both very large and very small at the same time.  It is large enough that Agents should be doing their utmost within reason to keep you happy, else you have plenty of other options out there, and it is small enough that any bad press will be known, and so they should want to do their utmost!

Don’t settle for second best.  Poor Customer Service can cost you clients, tenants, and thus income.