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Getting Value for Money When Selling Your Property

In this two-minute read, we look at how to select the best value partners for your property sale.

We all know there’s money to be made from selling property, but there are agency and legal costs associated with this, too. Consider these costs as an investment in steering your sale in the right direction.

You get what you pay for

When it comes to selecting the estate agent entrusted to sell your property, human nature may see us gravitate to the one with the cheapest rate. After all, these can differ wildly from a fixed fee right up to 2% of your sale price. But, as the old saying goes, you really do get what you pay for. 

Find an A* agent

A lot goes into selling a house. It’s not just about uploading to Rightmove or Zoopla, contrary to popular belief. Listen out for agents who talk about pricing strategy, presentation of your property, and how they will create demand for your home. These are the agents who will get you the best price for your property and will be worth every penny of their sale fee once the transaction completes.

Your property team

It’s not just a great estate agency that makes a big difference to how successful and smooth your sale goes. You also need an experienced and professional conveyancing solicitor to handle the legal stuff. Again, not all solicitors operate at the same level so look for recommendations and check out their reviews.

Committed conveyancers

The number one question to ask your prospective conveyancing solicitor is: “are you no sale, no fee?”. If the answer is a “yes”, they’ll be highly motivated to get the sale over the line and their invoice submitted.

The longer a conveyancing solicitor takes to get the job done, the more likely it is that your property sale will fall through. Focus brings a proactive and efficient approach. Conveyancing solicitors who are committed to the job and agree to a fee on completion is the best way to achieve this.

For more information about how to get the best value from your estate agent, give us a call on 01268 500988

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How Landlords Can Develop a Winning Edge

In this three-minute read, we look at how landlords can gain the winning edge, starting with deposit disputes.

We know the Olympics have just finished but indulge us if you will as we explain how a popular sports-related concept used by top athletes can help landlords.

You might already be familiar with the theory of ‘marginal gains’. It’s based on the notion that you’ll reap major rewards if you make small, incremental improvements across several areas.

If you’re a cyclist, you might focus on improving your nutrition, recovery, and mindset. While each small gain isn’t necessarily game-changing, put them together and you’ve got the winning edge.

What’s this got to do with landlords? 

Landlords juggle an array of responsibilities. Success isn’t based on getting one thing right – it’s about consistently getting lots of things right.

A good place to start is by looking at the end-of-tenancy process and the areas where landlords most commonly withhold deposits.

  1. Cleaning

By far the most significant source of friction between tenant and landlord, cleaning causes 49% of deposit disputes*.

  • Damage

Property damage, such as broken furniture, carpet stains, and marks on the walls, is the cause of 35% of disputes.

  • Redecoration

About 26% of disputes are over redecoration costs – for example, when a landlord has to give mucky walls a lick of paint or replace stained carpets post-tenancy.

Here’s how landlords can make marginal gains

Check-in inventory

They say the devil is in the detail, but a thorough check-in inventory can be a landlord’s saviour. It should combine clear, precise descriptions with good quality photographs.

Ensure you include the condition of outdoor areas and the garden and note the standard of cleanliness inside.

State if the property has been recently professionally cleaned or decorated (and keep the relevant invoices).

If you’re still unsure what a top-notch inventory looks like, get in touch with us here at Nest in Essex, and we can provide more detail.

Communication

Make an effort to build a professional rapport with your tenant and always respond promptly when they raise issues.

Towards the end of a tenancy, outline your expectations, particularly on the issue of cleanliness.

Often, problems arise because a landlord expects a professional standard of cleaning covering all nooks and crannies, while a tenant thinks a quick once-over of major surfaces will suffice.

Regular inspections

Regular visits send a clear message to your tenant that you are on the ball. They’re more likely to treat your property with respect if they know you’ll be turning up regularly to look over things.

If you do notice any damage, discuss it with your tenant, so they can make suitable repairs.

For more advice about successful property management, get in touch with us at Nest in Essex.

*All figures from the 2020/21 Tenancy Deposit Scheme annual report.

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Six Ways to Dress Your Home for a Successful Sale

In this three-minute read, we look at ways to present your property to achieve the best possible deal.

Presenting a home in its best light can significantly bump up the selling price and speed up the transaction. So why don’t all sellers dress their property for a successful sale?

Surprisingly, many people don’t change a thing before they put their home on the market (a decision that hits them in the back pocket). People who take this ‘warts and all’ approach to home-selling tend to fall into three categories.

  1. Sellers who have a strong emotional attachment to their home and can’t bear to change a thing.
  2. Sellers who think they have brilliant personal taste (often debatable) and can’t put themselves in the shoes of buyers.
  3. Sellers who just can’t be bothered.

Whatever the reason, take it from us: a little elbow grease and a small financial outlay can reap serious rewards.

We’re not suggesting that plush cushions and tasteful throws can make up for structural issues or a poor location. But most buyers are driven by emotion; they want to step inside a property and fall in love with it.

So woo them! Set your emotions aside and think about what will hit home with buyers.

Top tips for dressing your  property.

Declutter

Bin old furniture or knick-knacks that have seen better days. Sell items that you no longer use (treadmills or exercise bikes often gather dust in the corner of spare rooms). Put bulky possessions that you just can’t part with into storage. It’s all about creating space.

Tidy

Ensure paperwork, photos, toiletries, and washing are out of sight. The same goes for shoes, coats, phone chargers, dog beds, and cat litter trays.

DIY blitz

Draw up a list of odd jobs that need doing and work through it. Fix broken cupboard doors and rickety fences and blitz carpet stains, mould, and damp. Give tired walls a lick of paint in a neutral tone.

Identify your target demographic

If you’re selling a four-bed home with a garden, it’s a fair bet families will be your target market, so make sure the outdoor spaces are welcoming and safe. If you’re marketing a sleek studio, target young professionals and dress the property accordingly.

Don’t send mixed messages

If you’re marketing a four-bed home, make sure each bedroom has a bed in it (even if that means borrowing or renting one). Similarly, if you’re trying to pass a small room off as a study, put a desk, chair, and lamp in it. Never load up rooms with odds and sods like gym equipment, fishing gear, or bikes. This only confuses buyers.

Don’t overlook outdoor spaces

Dress the garden just as you would any other room. That means taking any junk to the tip and installing garden furniture and a few colourful blooms.

For more advice about how to market your home, get in touch with us here at Nest in Essex

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Holiday Rentals: Is Investing in a Staycation Home a Good Idea?

In this two-minute read, we look at the advantages of buying a holiday rental property.

Planning a foreign holiday over the last two years has taken a lot of patience, caused a lot of frustration, and has seen lots of Brits opting for a staycation.

With amber and green lists changing frequently, mandatory PCR tests, and the dreaded threat of hotel quarantine, the demand for UK holiday rentals has gone through the roof. But are they really worth the investment?

Here are five reasons why buying a holiday rental property may work for you.

  1. Expect a higher rental yield

In peak holiday season, holiday rentals can earn more in a week than a buy-to-let can in a month.

A decent holiday property can earn as much as an 11% rental yield (according to which.co.uk) compared to a buy-to-let which normally earns around 4 – 8% per annum. Be sure to do your sums before investing and subtract any agency or mortgage fees before working out your potential yield. It’s also worth remembering that more expensive destinations offer lower yields.

  • Holiday home for you

One of the most obvious benefits of a holiday rental property is a ready-made staycation home for you and your loved ones. Keep in mind, to earn the highest income from your rental property during peak seasons, you’ll want it rented out rather than staying there yourself.

  • Higher capital appreciation

If you’ve got your eye on a holiday rental that requires some TLC, you could enjoy an increase in property value over time and as the destination becomes more sought after. However, if you’re buying in a popular location, you might be paying a premium where prices have already peaked.

  • Less wear and tear

Buy-to-let landlords often have to pay out for maintenance and repairs at the end of a long tenancy. However, holiday rental properties are typically occupied for one to two weeks – so there’s less time for day-to-day damage.

The downside of lots of short-term guests is the need for a management agency to take care of housekeeping and general maintenance. Alternatively, you can manage the holiday let yourself and help guests with any issues during their stay.

  • Tax advantage

HMRC considers holiday rentals to be a business rather than an investment, so a landlord can enjoy more tax benefits than a buy-to-let owner. If the property is a Furnished Holiday Let (FHL), you might also be able to claim (limited) mortgage relief.

Always speak to a property/finance professional to find out about other tax advantages such as inheritance and capital gains tax and business rates instead of council tax.

For more information about buying a holiday rental property, contact us at Nest in Essex

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The Secrets Behind What Stops Properties Selling

In this three-minute read, we look at what sellers can do to avoid their property sitting on the market.

Making a bad impression

We’ve all heard the adage that first impressions are the most important. This is definitely the case when it comes to selling your home. Smart presentation is a must as it sets the tone for the whole viewing.

First things first – kerb appeal. Does your property entice strangers to want to peek inside? If it doesn’t, make a difference by tidying up the outside of your home. Maintain the same level of pride throughout your home. Make sure you’ve cleaned and tidied and the space is smelling fresh. Clutter can be distracting, making it difficult for prospective buyers to imagine how to make your property their home.

Poor state of repair

It’s critical to make sure the basic fixtures in your home are in good working order. You may not need to replace whole bathrooms and kitchens before you go to market, as any modernisation required will be reflected in your sale price. But minor issues can create doubt and concern about what further essential work might be needed.

Fix broken door handles, attend to areas of damp and replace faulty fittings. A little bit of pride goes a long way.

The price is too high

Sounds simple, and it is. Pricing your home is not about how much it’s worth to you, it’s about being realistic. Consider the strength of the market, the area, and what similar properties around you have sold for recently.

Naturally, buyers are always looking for a bargain and there’s a fine line to tread, but take the guidance from your agent seriously. If you’re overpriced, you’ll struggle to get viewings, never mind offers.

Poor photography

Great photography of your home will make all the difference online. True first impressions begin here and if you think about how many property listings the average buyer scrolls through, it’s crucial to stand out.

TOP TIP: Remove any unnecessary objects as the eye will be drawn to these first. Dishcloths, bathroom products, piles of toys, and clutter should be out of sight for pictures – even if it just means hiding them for the photographs.

It may sound like a cliché, but fresh flowers can lift a room by their mere presence. Remember, you are creating a lifestyle that accompanies the home so your accessories should reflect that.

Human interaction is key and the right agent can make all the difference. Here at Nest in Essex, we create demand and a buzz around your property rather than solely waiting for it to be discovered online. Call us on 01268 500988 to find out more.

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When Evictions Are the Only Option

This three-minute read explores the reasons why evictions happen and how they are carried out.

Getting to the stage where you have to evict your tenants is difficult for everyone involved and should always be considered as a last resort. It might be deemed necessary when:

  • The tenant isn’t paying the rent
  • The tenant has abandoned the property
  • The tenant has broken a term of the tenancy

Due to the pandemic, the rules have changed as to when you can start eviction proceedings. Also, different tenancy types have different rules as to the process.

There is a very specific process you must follow in order to carry out an eviction. If you don’t, you can be found guilty of harassing or even illegally evicting the tenants.

In England and Wales, if your tenants have an assured shorthold tenancy, the following steps are necessary.

  1. First, you have to issue a Section 21 notice if you want the property back after a fixed term ends. If the terms of the tenancy have been broken, you must issue a Section 8 notice.
  2. After the correct paperwork has been issued, you can apply to the court for a standard possession order. This is only appropriate if your tenants haven’t left by the specified date on the notice and they owe you rent. If you’re not claiming for unpaid rent, you can apply instead for an accelerated possession order.
  3. If the tenants still won’t leave, you can apply for a warrant for possession. This allows bailiffs to get involved to remove the tenants from the property.

If you are owed rent but the tenant claims Universal Credit or Housing Benefit, you may not have to evict them. Instead, you can speak to DWP or the local council, respectively, to have the rent paid straight to you. This is called ‘managed payments’.

In Scotland, if your tenants have a Private Residential Tenancy, the following steps are necessary:

  1. To end a tenancy, you have to give the tenants a Notice to Leave. This must also have supporting evidence as to the reason why you’re asking them to leave.
  2. If the tenants don’t leave by the specified date, you can then apply to the First-tier Tribunal for Scotland (Housing and Property Chamber). This is often referred to as ‘The Tribunal’.

The amount of notice you have to give the tenant can be 28 days’ notice or 84 days’ notice, depending on the reasons for ending the tenancy.

It can be easy to get one or more steps wrong throughout these processes. It’s very important that you seek the correct legal advice from appropriate professionals. The cost implications of getting it wrong can be significant, so it’s worth doing it correctly in the first instance.

If you’re a landlord or a tenant and are concerned about possible eviction, please don’t hesitate to get in touch on 01268 500988.

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Two Important Questions to Ask Before You Sign with an Estate Agent

In this three-minute read, we look at how to gauge if an agent is giving you an honest property valuation.

The first question a seller always asks an estate agent is: “How much can you sell my property for?”. The second is: “What is your fee?”.

This focus on price and fees makes perfect sense; understandably every seller wants to get the best possible property deal.

But before you jump in and choose an agent based solely on these two things, ask two more questions to determine if an agent is telling you the truth or a load of porkies.

Before you sign a contract, ask:

  • If there is a tie-in clause in the contract? If so, how long is it?
  • If you can terminate the agreement if you’re unhappy with the service?

Unfortunately, many sellers skip these questions, and it’s not until things go awry that they realise they’re locked into an unfavourable deal.

Tie-in periods

Some agents don’t do tie-ins at all, while others will ask that you commit to allowing them a minimum period, usually a few weeks, to market the property.

Other agents go so far as to lock you in for 24 weeks (with a 28-day notice period on top of that).

It’s up to you to decide what length of tie-in is reasonable – but make sure you understand from the outset what you’re getting into.

Overvaluing a property

It’s also worth questioning why an agent wants a 24-week tie-in. If they genuinely believe in their pricing strategy, why do they need nearly half a year to shift the property?

Unless, of course, they’ve deliberately overvalued your home to secure your custom. They know that eventually you’ll have to drop the price, but they don’t care – they’ve got you cornered.

The whole thing is a ploy to get your business. It wastes time and can jeopardise your next purchase, especially if you’re in a chain.

Bad service

Also, be wary of long notice periods. Some contracts not only commit you to an extended tie-in but require that you serve notice if you want to terminate.

So, you get to the end of a long tie-in, and think ‘hallelujah, I’m ditching these cowboys’ only to discover you’re still locked in.

Often, the longer the tie-in and notice period, the worse the service because the agent knows you can’t go elsewhere.

Top tips

  • Always do your research before choosing an agent.
  • Never sign a contract you haven’t read.
  • Remember, you can negotiate tie-in periods. They’re not set in stone, even if an agent tells you otherwise.
  • Go with a local agent with a reputation for excellent service and delivering on their promises.

From all of us here at Nest in Essex, thanks for reading.


Copyright Nest in Essex 2021.

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How to Find Your Dream Home

In this two-minute read, we give our best recommendations on how to find your dream home.

Searching for your next home can be an exciting process, but it can also feel daunting and even frustrating at times. Use these suggestions to ensure that when you’re house hunting, you remain as calm as possible.

Get your ducks in a row

There is little point going shopping without your wallet. The same thing applies to property. Before you even begin looking for a property, make sure you have spoken to an independent financial adviser first. They will help you uncover the possibilities and ensure you’re starting your search with a realistic budget in mind.

Use the internet

This is nigh on a moot point as the internet is such a ubiquitous force in all our lives nowadays. Many people begin their online browsing many months before making a move. This gives you a good impression of what’s available in your price range. Try not to limit your ‘must-have’ features using the online filters. You could miss something simply because of an input error.

Speak to estate agents

The best way to find out about the best properties for you and your needs is to speak to the experts. The estate agents that cover your preferred area will hear about properties coming to the market long before paperwork, photos, videos, etc. are done and finally put online.

Also, estate agents are trained to hear the ‘needs’ in your description of your dream home. When we search for ourselves, we can struggle to find what we really need because we’re too focused on what we ‘want’.

Be patient

It can seem really tempting to go looking at properties before your house has sold, or before your inheritance has landed, or however you’re funding the purchase. This is the quickest way to heartbreak.

If you aren’t sold or able to proceed with the purchase straightaway, the seller is unlikely to take it off the market. You then will lose out to someone who was in a better position than you. Wait to view homes ‘in the flesh’ until you’re ready to buy. It saves you a lot of time and heartache.

Don’t lowball

When you find the right property and you’re in a position to make an offer, don’t start your negotiations with a low offer. It’s normal to try a ‘cheeky’ offer but if you start really low, you risk offending the sellers. Once that’s happened, people’s defences are raised and even if you offered over the asking price, they might not want to sell to you on principle.

If you really want the property, just pay the right price.

If you’re looking for your dream home, get in touch with us on 01268 500988 and we can chat through your ‘must-haves’, ‘would-likes’, and the whole process.