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A Landlord’s Guide to Coping with the Energy Crisis 

This eight-point plan outlines the best way landlords can manage the issue of energy bills. A two-minute read.

This year’s colossal hike in energy costs has left millions of households reeling. And with no relief in sight, the problem is likely to stay at the top of the agenda throughout 2022.

Here’s an eight-point plan to help landlords deal with the issue as best they can.

  1. Make sure your tenancy agreement clearly states who is responsible for paying energy bills (most typically, it is the tenant).
  • Even though your tenant will most likely pay the bills, do your bit to keep costs down by staying on top of maintenance and draught-proofing. Repair any rickety windows that might allow heat to escape and install energy-saving light bulbs.
  • Take a meter reading when a new tenant moves in and record it in the inventory. (That way, there can be no confusion or dispute with the previous tenant.)
  • Explain to your tenant (if the bill is in their name) that they are entitled to shop around for the best energy deal. Also, discuss the benefits of having a smart meter. These provide detailed energy usage information to allow tenants to understand what’s driving their fuel costs.
  • Some energy suppliers require a few days’ notice to end a contract. It’s the bill payer’s job to notify the fuel supplier. Your tenant may not be aware of this, so give them a gentle reminder a week or so before their tenancy ends.
  • When your tenant moves out, take a meter reading and pass it on to the relevant energy supplier along with the tenant’s forwarding address. 
  • As the landlord, you’re responsible for the energy bills during void periods. Ensure that most of the lights are switched off (you might want to leave a few on for security purposes). In the warmer months, turn the boiler off, too. In winter, you might want the heating on intermittently to ensure the pipes don’t freeze and protect against dampness.
  • Consider investing in big-ticket energy-efficient measures such as solar panels, insulation, and triple glazing. These will bring down fuel bills and add value to your property.

Much of the above can be handled by an experienced letting agency – making your life a whole lot easier.

For more advice on our property management services, contact us here at Nest in Essex.

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Can Nice Smells Help Sell Homes?

Have you got a big one? A small one? Maybe you’ve got a wonky one.

Whatever its shape or size, we’ve all got one.

We’re talking about your hooter. Smack bang in the middle of your face; the nose is a great tool when trying to sell your home.

Known as ‘scent branding’, businesses all over the world are investing in signature scents to harness the power of smells, memories, and emotion.

In simple terms, a nice smell can help your property stand out in a crowded market.

In this two-minute read, we look at some of the top scents you can easily use to get your buyers’ noses twitching.

Baking

It’s an oldie, but a goodie. A recent poll by Bankrate UK found that baking was the winning smell for buyers of all ages. Those heady scents of rising yeast evoke emotions of comfort and safety.

You don’t have to be Mary Berry producing perfect loaves, but you could get some pre-made cake mix to pop in the oven before a viewing. If you’re a disaster in the kitchen, you can also buy ‘fresh bread’ scented candles.

Fresh linen

The smell of clean clothes is a winner when it comes to younger buyers. But instead of hanging out your laundry for all to see, grab yourself a fresh linen scented candle. It’s an aroma most associated with cleanliness.

Lavender

Once you get away from the bees hovering around a lavender bush, you can’t help but notice that intoxicating smell. So, it’s no surprise that the smell of lavender ranks highly when it comes to favourite fragrances. Lavender has got lots of positive qualities and is known for evoking feelings of calm and relaxation.

Coffee

Put your instant blend away, we’re talking about real freshly brewed coffee. It’s a strong smell that’s popular with younger age groups, and brewing a fresh pot before a viewing is easy (and cheap) to do. And if you get on well with the potential buyers, why not share a brew with them?

Vanilla

One of the most popular scented candle variations, vanilla is a great way to disguise unpleasant smells in the home (think whiffy pets or dirty gym kits). Aromatherapy buffs also believe that vanilla is a great stress reliever, creating a calm environment. What better smell to help sell your property?

Top Tip: Less is more when filling your home with scents, so don’t go crazy with artificial smells such as air fresheners. Instead, keep the aroma subtle and fresh. 

If you’re thinking about selling your home, contact us at Nest in Essex today – we’ve a nose for sniffing out the best results for our clients.

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Landlords – How to Improve Your Relationship with Your Letting Agent

As trusted local letting agents, we work with a lot of landlords. Finding tenants, managing properties, organising inspections – we take care of each step. However, more and more landlords are choosing to work alone, but is it as easy as they think?

Here’s why we think working with an agent is the best way to rent out your property.

Save time

Even if you’re a full-time landlord, finding, vetting, and keeping tenants happy is time-consuming. While there are many online options for finding tenants, there’s a lot to be said for an experienced letting agent taking care of this process for you.

Firstly, agents have a ready-made list of vetted, potential tenants looking for properties, so they are well placed to get your rental off the market and occupied quickly. By getting a letting agent to take care of referencing, negotiating, and rental agreements, you can focus on more enjoyable matters.

Maximising your income

By placing your property on the market with a reputable letting agent, you’re more likely to achieve the monthly income you need, as they’ll be able to market your property in the most professional way. The quality of marketing is often reflected in the number of enquiries from potential tenants.

Also, good agents offer landlords a variety of income protection strategies – such as rent protection and organising deposits. They’re also covered by professional indemnity insurance, so they’ll be checking and double-checking that everything is done properly.

Accurate valuations

Experienced local letting agents know their market. They know who will be interested in your property and how much they’ll be willing to pay. This is essential knowledge that you, as a landlord, may not have.

Also, if you’re not 100% happy with an agent’s valuation, shop around. Contact at least three agents to find a happy medium and go with who you feel is the most professional. Ask if they can show you comparable evidence of rents they’ve received for similar properties to yours.

Legal expectations

There’s a lot to learn about the legal requirements of renting out a property. As experienced agents, we know what certificates and checks need to be obtained and can organise these to be done for you.

At Nest in Essex, our lettings team offer excellent customer service and expert advice. So, if you’re looking for a new agent to take care of your rental property, give us a call on 01268 500988 to see how we can help.

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The Key to Getting Top Price for Your Home (Hint: Choose a Great Estate Agent)

This two-minute read explains how to identify a great estate agent – one who’ll land you the best deal for your home. 

What separates a mediocre estate agent from an exceptional one? It’s not what they say; it’s what they do.

While some agents talk a big game, in reality they just go through the motions. But great agents (and we like to think that here at Nest in Essex we fall into that category) go all out to get the very best deal.

That’s because top agents know that now, more than ever, every extra pound added to a sale price matters to sellers (and can be put to good use to cover DIY or furniture in their new home).

So, how can sellers spot a great agent from a run-of-the-mill one? Here’s what to look out for.

A comprehensive marketing plan – The great thing about the internet is you can see if an agent means business. Top agents use professional photography, floor plans, and sparkling copy to showcase properties and engage buyers. They also regularly update their website and post live feeds, video tours, and property sneak peeks on social media. Contrast this with the coasters who throw a few shabby images on a property portal and then wait for the phone to ring. Who do you think achieves the best result?

Negotiating skills – People often overlook the importance of negotiating skills in the selling process. But when you’re close to sealing a deal, a savvy negotiator can really make a difference on price. A great agent has soft skills – the ability to listen, read body language, and interpret the dynamic between couples – along with industry nous.

Has a rapport with buyers – To know if a buyer is serious and how much they are willing to spend, a great agent needs to be personable and have good communication skills.

Can explain their valuation – A top agent doesn’t just pull a figure out of the air; they do their homework. So, when a potential buyer pushes for a price drop, a great agent can justify their valuation and stand their ground.

Honest feedback – A great agent won’t just tell you what you want to hear but what you need to know. If your house needs decluttering, or you need to improve how you stage it, they’ll be straight with you.

Here at Nest in Essex, we’re serious about delivering for our clients. Get in touch to learn more about our successful selling track record.

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Why Renting Your Property to Family Could Be Problematic.

Here are some questions you should ask yourself before you rent your property to family or friends.

Do they need to sign a tenancy agreement?

Yes, yes, and yes again! They might be family, but they’re also your tenants and both parties need to know what is expected of them. For example, they might say they want to stay for 12 months but then leave after just six. Without a tenancy agreement, there’s nothing to stop them – putting your income at risk.

Should I take a deposit?

This is a personal decision that you need to make, as there’s no legal requirement for a landlord to take a deposit. However, it is a good way to protect your property and any contents from damage.

Similarly, by having a professional inventory carried out before they move in, both parties know the exact condition of the property and how it should be left.

Should I do a tenant reference check?

Asking family for personal finance details? It might make you feel awkward just thinking about it, but it’s an essential step of the rental process.

While you may think you know your family/friends’ financial background, it’s still worth making extra checks. Referencing will ensure that your potential tenant can pay the rent and highlight any issues with previous landlords.

Are there any legal issues I should be aware of if I rent to family/friends?

Not exactly, but renting to family/friends could cause problems if you have a mortgage. In fact, a lot of lenders are quite strict about this issue, and you may need to ask their permission before you move family in.

This is because the lender could be concerned that you’d charge family members less rent, or be more lenient if they didn’t pay – both of which could impact loan repayments.

Renting to friends or family can often be a great option, but it’s one you need to consider carefully and go into with your eyes wide open.

For more advice on anything and everything related to rental property call our lettings team today on 01268 500988.

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Want to Achieve Top Asking Price for Your Home? Join a Winning Team

Selling a home is not a solo project – well, not if you hope to achieve top selling price. A three-minute read.

If there’s one piece of property advice worth remembering, it’s this: be wary of anyone who tells you that selling a home is so easy that you should do it yourself.

Many things in life are easy, like singing Baa Baa Black Sheep out of key or eating a whole packet of chocolate biscuits/family-sized crisps in one afternoon.

But what’s not a doddle is achieving top asking price for a property (and if you’re going to the effort of selling your home, that’s what you want, right?).

It takes a team with expertise and experience across a range of areas to nail a great sale.

Not even the most ingenious multi-tasker has the skills to cover all the bases themselves.

Here’s a list of who should be on your home-selling team.

Estate agent – a good agent will be an expert on the local area and get the asking price just right. They should be a pro at viewings and negotiations and have a savvy social media strategy to generate interest in your property.

Photographer – All top agents use a professional photographer for marketing photos. Most viewers start their property search online and expect to see high-quality images (not shadowy snaps that make a property look like a crime scene).

Conveyancer/Solicitor – Once the sale is agreed, you’ll need a good solicitor or conveyancer to handle the paperwork. Shop around or ask for word-of-mouth recommendations to find the right professional, as a good conveyancer/solicitor can speed up the process.

Removal firm – On the day you complete, you’ll want the logistics to run smoothly – and for your treasured possessions to be handled with care.

Proactive seller – Sellers are vital members of the team, too! A proactive seller rids their home of clutter, so that it shines in the marketing photos, and keeps the property tidy for viewings.

And a few special mentions

If you’re selling up to move to a new property, your team will also include a mortgage adviser to land you the best deal and a surveyor to inspect any property you’re considering buying.

Here at Nest in Essex, we believe that selling a home is a team sport. Get in touch to find out more about our friendly, expert team.

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Why Landlords Should Respond Promptly to Tenants (And Not Mess Them About)

When a tenant gets in touch, don’t faff about – a prompt response will save you time and money in the long run. A three-minute read.

Picture this: you’re frantically busy at work, scrambling to meet an urgent deadline when your phone pings.

It’s your tenant raising what seems like a pretty minor issue, so you make a mental note to get back to them in a few hours when things calm down.

But time flies, and before you know it, days have passed, and you still haven’t taken action to address the issue raised.

Most landlords will be familiar with this scenario, although you could easily substitute ‘urgent work deadline’ for ‘important family commitment’ or ‘life in general’.

While time management is a challenge for us all, it’s not good practice to drag your heels when addressing tenant concerns.

Here are six reasons why you should always respond to tenants in a timely fashion.

  1. Build trust – Ignoring your tenant sends a message that you’re not that bothered – about them or the state of your property. To build a good rapport (one that encourages your tenant to stay long term), you need to be responsive.
  • Nip problems in the bud – Issues like leaks and damp will only get worse (and more expensive to fix) the longer you leave them. Address problems before they escalate into serious repair jobs.
  • Health and safety – It can be difficult to tell if an issue is a minor quibble or a major safety risk unless you investigate. Ignoring a concern or jumping to conclusions without knowing the facts could put your property and your tenant’s safety at risk.
  • Avoid getting fined – Your tenant could be raising a valid issue – one that, if left unaddressed, could land you with a hefty fine from the local authority for breaching health and safety regulations.
  • Insurance – Failing to act on an issue that has been raised could invalidate your insurance and leave you footing the bill after a major incident, such as a burst pipe or fire.
  • Good karma – What goes around comes around. If you ignore a tenant’s texts and emails, what do you think they’ll do when you try to get in touch with them?

In today’s digital world, people expect a quick response day and night. If this 24/7 obligation is too onerous for you, get a letting agent to manage the property – they’ll be the ones on call round-the-clock instead of you.

Get in touch with us here at Nest in Essex to learn more about our property management services.

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Quick Tips for First-Time Buyers

Taking that first step on the property ladder is simultaneously exciting and terrifying. No matter how old you are, buying your first property will make you feel like a proper grown-up.

Before you even find the right property, there’s lots to learn, so in this quick read, we’ve pulled together our top five tips for first-time buyers.

Be mortgage savvy

There are so many different options when buying a first home – whether you’re getting a loan from the bank of mum and dad, wading through Help to Buy admin, or going it alone. In every case, a mortgage is the first step you need to take.

For a rough estimate of how much you’ll need to borrow, there are plenty of online tools that can help. You could also speak directly to your bank or high-street lender about their mortgage deals. If you need some extra help, speak to us about a financial adviser or mortgage broker. We work with plenty of first-time buyers and have all the info you need.

Be real

When you first start looking, it’s important to be realistic about your budget. By looking at properties way outside your price range, you could find it harder to see the potential in those that suit your current financial situation. Get yourself a vision board and focus on the things you really need from a new home.

Be in the know

Newsflash: not all properties are on Rightmove or Zoopla. While these sites give you a good idea of what’s available and for how much, by registering with agents such as ourselves, we keep you in mind (and updated) before something even goes online.

There’s nearly always competition for a property, so it’s best to speak to experienced agents and register what you’re looking for instead of just relying on the internet.

Be open

You might have a very specific list of requirements, such as area, parking, outside space, and so on. However, it’s important to be flexible when you view a property. It might not tick every item on your list, but it may also have tonnes of potential. Always view a property before you rule it out.

Be calm

Once you’ve found a property, stay calm. If you’ve got your mortgage sorted, you’ve got a conveyancer, and you’re regularly in touch with your agent, there’s no need to worry. We understand there’s a lot to get done before you exchange; our job is to help you take any stress away.

We have served many first-time buyers at Nest in Essexover the years, and we’re ready to help you get your feet on the property ladder. Contact us on 01268 500988 today.