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What You Need to Know as a First-Time Landlord

Five Steps You Need to Take Before Renting Out Your Property

Being a first-time landlord can feel daunting. There’s a lot to do before you can get your property rented out – such as repairs, legal obligations, admin, tenant-finding, contract signing, and so on.

But don’t fret.

A good letting agent will help explain all the ins and outs of the process. And can do most of the work on your behalf.

In this three-minute read, we discuss some of the essential steps you need to take before renting out your property.

  1. Contact a local agent

Before you market your property, you’ll want to know how much rent you can get. While it’s handy to check similar properties in the area on Rightmove or other sites, the most accurate estimate will come from an agent. They’ll tell you how much you can get per month, advise on how to make the property more tenant-friendly, and who it may appeal to.

  • Check with your lender

Most landlords take advantage of buy-to-let mortgages when renting out properties. If you’re buying a property with the specific aim of renting it out, speak to a mortgage broker to get the best terms.

However, if you’re only renting out a property on a temporary basis and plan to move back in, you may be able to continue with a normal residential mortgage. You will need to get ‘consent to let’ from your lender. Don’t move tenants in without speaking to your lender first.

  • Prepare your property

Whether it needs a coat of paint or full renovation, you want a rental property to look fresh and clean to attract tenants. Keep the décor neutral and the rooms clutter-free. If you’re renting out a furnished property, make sure the furniture is in good condition.

Most importantly, ensure all gas and electrical appliances are safely installed. Small electrical appliances need to be PAT tested if you’re leaving them in the property. You will also need to supply an Energy Performance Certificate.

  • Health and safety

You have legal obligations to keep your tenants safe. These include:

  • Installing and testing smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors
  • Annual gas safety certificate
  • Following fire regulations for your property (this is very important for flats or houses that have been converted into flats)
  • Check your property for potential hazards, such as uneven stairs, broken windows, fire risks, and so on

Speak to a letting agent to make sure you’ve covered all the legal requirements before renting your property.

  • Insurance

As a landlord, you’re responsible for maintaining the property and taking care of any repairs. Buildings insurance is essential to protect you and your finances. You may also find landlord insurance useful.

If you’re a first-time landlord, get in touch with the Nest in Essex lettings team. We can find you tenants and take care of matters such as references, credit checks, and the tenancy deposit protection scheme.

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Mortgage Jargon Explained

What Buyers Need to Know When Looking for a Mortgage

If you’re new to mortgages, you’ll be forgiven for feeling a little bit overwhelmed. There’s a lot to sort out before applying for one and there are so many different types – it’s hard to know what to go for.

Whether you choose a high street lender or a more specialist one, it’s always worth talking to a mortgage broker to understand what you can afford to borrow and how much you’ll be repaying monthly.

When looking for a mortgage, you’ll need to provide certain information to the lender such as payslips or proof of income, photo ID and proof of address. You may also need to show them account details of where the mortgage payments will be made from, details of any other mortgages or debt and proof of funds.

In this quick read, we demystify mortgages and explain some of the jargon you might come across.

Common terms

Loan to Value (LTV) – this is the percentage of loan you’ll be taking against the value of the property. So, if you’re buying a property worth £100,000 (chance would be a fine thing in the current market!) and you’ve got a deposit of £30,000, you’d have an LTV of 70%.

Agreement in Principle – this is when the mortgage company confirms they’ll be lending you a certain amount. Sellers often require this as proof that a buyer can go ahead with the purchase.

Guarantor – this is required if a buyer is on a low income or cannot show how they’ll make future payments. The guarantor is someone that agrees to make repayments on the buyer’s behalf if they’re unable to.

Early Repayment Charges – these are penalty charges that are incurred if you pay off your mortgage early. The lender often specifies a timeframe in which these apply.

Standard Variable Rate – most mortgages offer a fixed interest rate for a specified period. Once this fixed rate ends, the standard variable rate kicks in. This rate can change monthly and could be higher than the fixed rate.

Types of mortgages

Repayment – this refers to the sum of interest plus part of the capital you’ll repay every month.

Interest-only – where you pay the monthly interest but none of the actual amount borrowed. While this means you’ll pay less every month, at the end of the mortgage term, you’ll still owe the initial amount borrowed.

Buy-to-let – a mortgage taken out by landlords who intend to rent out their property rather than live there themselves.

Tracker – the payments change monthly as the interest charged follows the Bank of England rate and is not fixed.

If you’re looking for a new home, we can help you find it.

And if you would like to be put in touch with an independent mortgage adviser, get in contact with us and we’ll share their details with you.

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Why Selling Via an Estate Agent is Your Best Bet

Why Selling Via an Estate Agent is Your Best Bet

When selling your home, you might notice that costs start building up. Paying out for repairs, buying storage to hide away clutter, legal costs, commission fees; there’s a fair bit to budget for, and you haven’t even moved yet.

So, how can you save money?

The answer is definitely NOT by cutting out estate agents and going it alone. While many people are tempted by online-only agencies and their promises of fixed fees, free listings, and guaranteed sales, sometimes it really is just too good to be true.

In this three-minute read, we look at reasons why you should get an agent to sell your home.

  1. Expertise

Estate agents live and breathe property. They know what sells and to whom. They know the area and how to make your property more attractive to buyers. They provide a valuation of your property based on current market demands and will measure rooms to create accurate floor plans.

A good agent won’t just list your property and wait; they’ll be proactively trying to find a buyer for your home.

  • Marketing

Of course, you can list your home online and cross your fingers, but what if you don’t attract any potential buyers?

A huge advantage of working with local agents is that they have access to online portals plus a database of hundreds of buyers looking for homes. They offer professional photography services to get your property looking its best and produce hard copies of sales details, so buyers can keep your home in mind after a viewing.

  • Viewings

Sure, you can show your property to potential buyers – after all, you live there and know it best. However, viewings are more than just opening the door and showing people round. They take a lot of organising and can be time-consuming. And if you work full time, or have other commitments, who can you trust to show potential buyers around?

Estate agents arrange individual viewings as well as open days. They manage potential buyers for you and provide information about your home without the emotional attachment you’ve formed to it.

  • Negotiating

Unless you work in sales, you might not be an expert negotiator. Can you really risk losing out on the best purchase price for your property?

The best agents are driven to achieve the best sales price for their clients and deal with the back and forth between you and your buyers professionally and quickly.

  • Admin

If you’ve got a lot on your plate, some estate agents can also liaise with conveyancers on your behalf. This saves you time and hassle.

At Nest in Essex, we like to go the extra mile for our sellers and are always available to answer questions and provide advice. Give us a call on 01268 500988 to see how we can help.

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Are HMOs Worth the Hassle?

How to Make More Money from Your Rental Property (1)

As a landlord, you might be thinking about how to get more value from your property. While the rental market for single tenancies is booming, have you considered a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO)?

These days, HMOs are big business. In simple terms, it’s where a single property is made into multiple dwellings. And currently, the rental market is crying out for more.

HMOs are no longer dingy bedsits of the past, they’re more like high-quality studio apartments under one roof.

In this three-minute read, we take you through the basics of an HMO, what you need to know about them, and how they can make you more money.

The legal definition of an HMO

A property is an HMO if at least three tenants are in residence, they form separate households (i.e. not a family or flat sharers), and they share bathroom, kitchen, and/or toilet facilities. A large HMO is where at least five tenants share the property and facilities.

Do I need permission to convert a property into an HMO?

Before you even consider turning your property into an HMO, get on your local council’s website and do some research. Many areas are subject to Article 4 directions. This basically means you can’t convert a property into an HMO without applying for planning permission.

You may also need a licence to run/own an HMO, which is why it’s so important to speak to your council about their requirements.

Why are they so popular?

It’s simple: supply and demand. As the demand for rentals grows, so does the cost of renting. Add in increased costs of living, and many young professionals might not be able to afford the rent on their own. HMOs are a great way to bridge this gap, especially in larger cities.

What are the benefits of an HMO for a landlord?

It’s all about the money. Many investors have found that renting out rooms individually gives them a greater rental yield than a single tenancy.

Also, short-term occupation means even if one room is vacant for a period, the landlord still gets an income from the other tenants. 

What should I know if I’m considering starting an HMO?

As with any property investment, an HMO has its ups and downs. If you’re a part-time landlord with a busy job, an HMO might not be the right move. There is a lot of work involved and you’ll need time to go through the process of planning applications, licensing, property conversions, tenant-finding, and so on.

Also, not every large house can be easily converted into an HMO, so it’s worth getting an expert in.

The initial expense of an HMO can be high as there are a lot of legal requirements you’ll need to meet to make it suitable for tenants as set out here. Also, HMOs are normally furnished, so there’s that cost on top of the building work.

If you’re a landlord looking to find a property to convert into an HMO, or if you have rooms to rent in an HMO, get in touch with our lettings team at Nest in Essex

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Moving Home with Kids Made Simple

Moving Home with Kids Made Simple

Moving house is stressful, moving house with kids… well, that can be a recipe for meltdowns, tantrums, and sleepless nights.

As parents, you’re probably moving house for logical reasons: you need more space, you want to be closer to good schools, you’ve found a better job in the area. But as many of us know, logic and rationale aren’t always high on a child’s list of priorities.

Change is scary for all of us, not just children, so how can you make it easier?

In this three-minute read, we look at a few ways to help your little (and not so little) cherubs settle into a new home.

Prepare your child

Keep your child informed. Talk about the new home, why you’re moving, where you’re going, their new room, and so on. By including them in the process – such as visiting the property before the move – they know what’s coming. Kids love an adventure, and a new home is just that.

When packing up their things, get them to help. Create a special moving box, so they have all their favourite toys, clothes, and bits and bobs in one place. It could help them feel more in control and get them ready for the change ahead.

Sleep is key

When your child doesn’t sleep, everyone suffers. You’ll be exhausted, they’ll probably be grumpy, and the whole household will feel bleary-eyed. Try to keep their sleep routine similar to their old one to (hopefully) avoid sleepless nights.

Show them their room before you move in, or if possible, let them choose their new room. Let them know where their cot/bed will be and how the room will look.

When it comes to those first few nights, make sure you know where their favourite blanket or toy is, so you don’t have to fret before bedtime. (This approach might not work with teenagers.)

Moving-in present

Show us a parent that hasn’t bribed their child with chocolate or a toy, and we’ll eat our hats! A move-in present doesn’t have to be expensive; it could be the promise of an activity you’ll do together once you’ve moved in, or a toy that’s been waiting for them to arrive.

Decorate together

Whether it’s a new paint colour, bedspread, or wall art – letting your child choose what they like gives them a sense of ownership and independence. Creating a cosy, welcoming space will help your child settle and make their room feel like home.

Celebrate

Whatever the circumstances of your move, children will want to feel like it’s an adventure. So, make sure to celebrate together. You could have a first-night pizza party, a teddy-bear’s picnic in the garden, ask the grandparents over, or even blow out candles for the new home’s first day. Making the move as fun and celebratory as possible gives the whole family something to look forward to.

Nest in Essex can help you and your family find your new home, so get in touch with us today.

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Four Things You Must Do If You’re an Accidental Landlord

Four Things Accidental Landlords Need to Know

If you’ve become a landlord due to unexpected circumstances such as bereavement or a new relationship, here’s some helpful advice. A two-minute read. 

It’s surprising how many people become landlords more by chance than design – or in other words, ‘accidental landlords’.

Whether through inheritance, a change in a relationship or a new job, sometimes people find themselves in the (rather fortunate) position of owning a property that they don’t want or need to live in. And instead of selling up, the owner decides to rent the property out.

While this usually works out well in the long run, accidental landlords can slip up if they underestimate what the job involves – it’s not as easy as it looks.

Here are four tips for accidental landlords.

  1. Talk to your lender

If you have an owner-occupier mortgage on the property, you must notify your lender if you intend to rent it out (otherwise you could be penalised). Sometimes, the lender will grant ‘consent to let’, which is permission to rent the property under your existing mortgage. But this is usually a short-term solution, and you’ll probably be expected to get a buy-to-let mortgage eventually.

  • Get landlord insurance

A bog-standard home and contents policy won’t suffice – you’ll need specific landlord insurance. Do your research on this because the policies on offer can vary significantly. On top of buildings and liability cover, some policies allow you to opt in to cover legal costs, loss of rent, or accidental damage. 

  • Understand the rules on deposits

There are strict laws regarding tenant deposits. When a tenant pays you a deposit, you must register it within 30 days with a government-approved scheme. (This is a third-party scheme that protects tenant deposits.)

  • Get to grips with red tape

There are all sorts of laws – at least 175 – that apply to UK landlords covering everything from evictions and gas safety to electrical checks. It can be overwhelming trying to get your head around these, but most successful landlords develop systems to make sure they stay on top of things. And if you really wanted to sit back and let someone else take the strain, employ the services of a professional letting agent to do it for you.

To learn more about our property management services, contact us here at Nest in Essex.

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Thinking of Buying a Doer-Upper… Read This First

Thinking of Buying a Doer-Upper Read This First

When searching for a new home, do you scroll past properties that look a little worse for wear? You know the ones, where the carpet hasn’t been changed since the 70s and the floral wallpaper is curling off the walls?

Lots of buyers look for newly renovated or new-build homes due to fear of the doer-upper. If that sounds like you, we’re here to tell you that you’re potentially missing out.

Older, unloved properties may look scary, but they’re often hiding bags of potential.

Here’s what to consider when buying a doer-upper.

  1. Costs and budgets

Dilapidated or older properties tend to come onto the market at a lower price than their newly renovated competition. With new homes, you’re paying for the time and money someone else has put into it. While with doer-uppers, you’ve got something relatively untouched and ready for updating.

Of course, you must factor in build costs, decoration, plumbing, electrics, etc. But in many cases, these can work out at less than a new-build, especially if you do some of the work yourself.

Top Tip: If you’ve fallen in love with an older property, make sure you view it a few times, and take an experienced builder along to see it so they can advise on costs and potential issues.

  • Research

Buying an unloved property without doing your research is a fool’s game. Get yourself online and look at similar homes in the area; ask the agent as many questions as you can to get to grips with the property. Is there potential to extend? Does the property have permitted development rights? What do the other properties on the street look like? There are no silly questions when you’re thinking about a renovation project.

  • Add value

When buying a doer-upper, you can feel smug in the knowledge that any updates you do will add value. For example, many older flats or houses don’t have a central heating system, which would put a lot of buyers off. By installing one, changing the old windows, and investing in insulation, you’re not only energy-proofing, but you’re also saving money in the long run. Also, if you decide to sell, you’ll be able to command a higher purchase price.

  • Make your mark

It’s great moving into a shiny new home with a flawless kitchen and high-spec bathroom, but imagine creating your own space. There’s nothing like seeing your design ideas come to life and a renovation project allows you to do just that.

If you’re looking for a renovation project, get in touch with us at Nest in Essex. We’ll help you find your dream home.

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How to Wow Buyers with a Spacious-Looking Home

Five Ways to Make Your Home Look More Spacious

Find out how you can impress buyers by making each room in your home look as spacious as possible. A two-minute read.

Whether you’re marketing a one-bedroom flat or a seven-bedroom mansion, the same rule usually applies – big is beautiful.

We’re talking about big rooms, of course! It’s well known that a home that feels spacious will always fetch a higher price than a similar property that comes across as cramped and crowded.

The good news is you don’t need to go crazy with a sledgehammer knocking down walls to make a home feel roomier – a few clever adjustments will do the trick.

Here are five ways to make your home look bigger.

  1. Ditch the clutter 

Carry out an audit in each room of your home and identify any items you can live without for a few months during the marketing process. Put the ones you want to keep in storage and ditch the rest (some have probably been gathering dust for years). Don’t be precious; no one’s passing judgment on your hobbies or interests. Just give buyers what they want: a blank canvas that they can put their own mark on.

  • Get the furniture right

Perhaps you have a huge sofa that’s fab for family film nights but swamps your living room, or a 14-seat dining table that you only use at Christmas? Put super-sized items of furniture in storage and hire or borrow pieces that are in proportion with the room.

  • Use mirrors

Mirrors reflect light and make a space look bigger. Positioning a large mirror at the rear of a room is a great way to make it look roomier.

  • Go neutral

Dark walls and bold patterns make a room look smaller (and don’t even get us started on dark-coloured ceilings). Interior designers suggest painting the walls and ceiling the same light neutral tone to make a room feel more spacious.

  • Let there be light (artificial and natural)

Always open your curtains or shutters before a viewing to allow natural light in. Also, dot lamps around the room to generate more light. A variety of lighting creates depth (and hence a sense of space) in a room.

For more tips about marketing your property, contact us here at Nest in Essex