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What Will the Homes of 2022 and Beyond Look Like?

In this two-minute read, we look at how new trends could change our homes next year and in the future.

If the past couple of years have taught us anything, it’s that no one really knows what’s going to happen in the future.

But we’ve dusted down our crystal ball (with the help of some Google searches) to discover the trends forecasted to shape the way our homes look, function, and feel.

Below are five trends that style and design experts are predicting will become a hit in our homes next year.

  1. Natural colours – We’ll all be going back to our roots – well, kind of. White, ivory, taupe, and grey will be must-have colours, along with the bounce-back of beige. Shades of green are being widely tipped as next year’s number one colour.
  2. Flexible spaces – As the pandemic highlighted, rooms in our homes now need to be multi-purpose. Home offices are still on the rise, and with a bit of careful planning, that space in the corner of your living room could be turned into a study/work/play area. This could spell the end for the man cave as it will be under pressure to become a family den.
  3. Good for the planet – As climate and sustainability feature more highly in people’s thinking, our thoughts are predicted to apply this mindset to our homes. Long-lasting materials such as stone, glass, onyx, marble, granite, and light wood will become more popular as furniture and features of home decoration. Indoor plants are also forecasted to experience a boom.
  4. Built to last – Has fast fashion hit its peak? Because fast furnishings seem doomed to being consigned to the past. Instead, interior design experts are predicting we will start buying better-made, longer-lasting furniture. It’s a bit like choosing a good estate agent to sell your home, it may cost more, but you won’t regret it in the long run.
  5. Going to extremes – In keeping with the theme of cutting down consumption, some experts are confident that extreme minimalism will become increasingly popular. The focus will be on functionality – if you haven’t used an item for a while, it’s time to lose it and create more space in your home.

Whatever happens in 2022, we’re confident that the home moving market will continue to see a lot of activity and price growth.

How your home looks and feels helps you enjoy its full potential, and that’s something that’ll never go out of fashion.

If you have a property question you need an expert answer to, contact us today.

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The Lowdown on Rent Guarantors

This three-minute read explains the role of rent guarantors.

When a landlord has a niggle of anxiety over whether a prospective tenant will pay their rent, there is a way they can help protect their investment.

A landlord can ask a tenant to provide a guarantor to ‘guarantee the tenancy’.

Guarantors are often family members or close friends – and a little bit like a human safety net.

If the tenant can’t (or won’t) pay what they owe the landlord, the guarantor has to stump up the cash – or face the landlord in court.

Extent of liability

As with so much in the lettings game, it all depends on the terms of the contract.

While some agreements only cover unpaid rent, others will also cover things like damage to the property.

An agreement should clearly state what is covered and outline the circumstances under which the contract will end.

This is important. If the guarantor has a change of heart mid-tenancy, they can’t simply walk away from their commitment. The agreement is legally binding.

When to use a guarantor

It comes down to the landlord’s discretion, but often a guarantor is used when a tenant:

  • Is new to renting.
  • Has gaps in their employment history or has recently started a new job.
  • Is a student.
  • Has a credit rating that is lacking in some way. That doesn’t necessarily mean the tenant has had financial problems; they may be young and have never had a credit card or other loans.

Important points

  • A landlord must check a guarantor’s credit and employment records closely (just as you would with a tenant). Guarantors are often required to own a property and have a gross annual income three times the rent of the rental property they are acting as a guarantor for. 
  • Most landlords prefer the guarantor to be UK-based as it’s easier to run credit checks on them and take legal action if required.
  • Issues can occur when people agree to be the sole guarantor on a rent agreement without realising this makes them liable for all outstanding rent and damage costs. For example, a mother agrees to be a guarantor when her daughter moves in with her boyfriend. However, the couple split, the ex-boyfriend disappears, and Mum is livid that she has to cover his payments.
  • Landlords must ensure that a guarantor understands what they’re signing, or they could claim that they were misled or pressured into an agreement.

For more information on any aspect of renting out a property, contact us here at Nest In Essex.

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Common Reasons Some Properties Can’t Be Mortgaged

In this two-minute read, we look at reasons why a property may be classified as unmortgageable.

Selling a property can be tricky at the best of times, but when a property is deemed unmortgageable things can get complicated.

‘Unmortgageable’ means lenders won’t allow a potential buyer to borrow the money they need to buy a property. For many sellers, this can be a knockout blow and can significantly reduce their options.  

Here are five common reasons why lenders won’t finance a purchase.

  1. The property is uninhabitable

This applies to derelict properties, buildings that have been abandoned, that pose safety risks or are considered not weatherproof. In addition, properties without a kitchen or bathroom may also be classed as unmortgageable. 

As a buyer, you may have big plans to restore a dilapidated property, but a lender may take a different view. If this is the case, always seek financial advice to learn how else you could finance the purchase.

  • Structural problems

If a property resembles the Leaning Tower of Pisa, chances are it’s got a bad case of subsidence – another big no-no for lenders. Other structural issues affecting whether or not a property is mortgageable include severe damp, dry or wet rot.

  • Short lease

If you spot a flat on the market for well below market value, it may have a short lease (under 70 years). A short lease knocks thousands off the value of a property as a buyer may struggle to get a mortgage (if they can get one at all). They’d also have to pay for a lease extension. This is costly (and can take ages) and there are often restrictions around how long you can own a property before applying for a longer lease.

  • Proximity to commercial or industrial sites

Lots of people live above shops so obviously these properties aren’t unmortgageable, but they aren’t always given regular residential mortgages. Particularly if they are above shops such as dry cleaners or restaurants (where there’s a high risk of fire/smoke damage). Similarly, if you buy near a factory or industrial site, a lender may be more reluctant to provide a mortgage as it may be difficult to sell on.

  • Doesn’t comply with building regulations

Sometimes extensions or building work is carried out without the necessary approval, or doesn’t meet strict building regulations. This can hamper a sale as a lender will need to see the necessary permissions/certificates to provide a mortgage.

Speak to us at Nest in Essex to find out how we can help you sell an unmortgageable property.

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

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.

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Landlords – Five Fantastic Ways to Make More Profit

In this two-minute read, we look at five fundamental ways landlords in can make their rental properties more profitable.

Some people think the only way landlords can make more profit is to ruthlessly keep hiking up their tenants’ rent.

But that’s incorrect on two fronts. Firstly, continually increasing a tenant’s rent is no strategy to keep them long term. Secondly, the five ways we’re about to share with you can increase your bottom line without being mercenary.

  1. Review your mortgage rates – regularly: Start by lowering your biggest regular cost – your buy-to-let mortgage. It’s possible to secure a new mortgage six months before the end of your current fixed term. So, if any of your properties are coming up for renewal in spring 2022, start researching the mortgage market now.
  2. Look into going limited – Tax changes affecting landlords in recent years have meant many are putting their rental properties through a limited company. There are several tax advantages but it’s usually landlords with medium to large portfolios who benefit from this approach. A good accountant can advise you on whether this strategy would work for you.
  3. Keep good tenants – Another good reason not to hike up rent every time a rental agreement is up for review is that it can end up with good tenants moving on. A tenant who pays on time, looks after your property, and is respectful to others is valuable to a responsible landlord. A four-letter word that leaves landlords chewing their nails is …void. A void period where your property is empty eats into your profits like nothing else – long-term tenants help you avoid this and any other set-up costs.
  4. Let it go – Some landlords take the DIY approach to lettings and want to do everything themselves. And while this may work for some, others find all the legislation, tenant liaison, and dealing with issues time-consuming and costly. A good letting agent will take care of all that for you, allowing you to get on with your life and have time to look at other investment opportunities – which leads us onto the fifth point.
  5. Grow your portfolio – A competitive buy-to-let mortgage market and soaring rental demand creates more opportunities to grow a portfolio and in turn, increase profits across more properties.

We’re here to help landlords gain a better return on their rental investments. To find out how we do that, contact us today.

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Four Ways Planning Permission Adds Value to Your Home

In this two-minute read, we look at a question we often get asked at around the question of whether being granted planning permission adds value to a property?

The quick answer to this is nearly always a yes.

Here are four ways being granted planning permission can add value to your property.

Lofty ambitions – Adding an extra bedroom

A loft conversion that adds an extra bedroom, especially with an ensuite bathroom, can be reasonably expected to add up to 15% to your property’s value.

In some cases, loft conversions might not need permission due to something called Permitted Development. But ALWAYS check with a local architect first. Don’t rely on a quick Google search, ask an expert.

Possible value added: Between 10% and 15%

Create space by converting a garage

A garage has so much more potential than what it was initially built for. Converting it is a great way to add more living space to your home.

Possible value added: Between 7% and 15%

Side or rear extension

Extending to the side or rear of your existing home can often be done without planning permission. But again, it’s always wise to check with an architect and your local authority before you start anything.

This kind of extension creates a host of possibilities to add more square feet to your home, automatically adding value.

Possible value added: Between 10% and 20%

The big one – Converting a house to flats

Feeling ambitious? This grander type of design is one for people looking to maximise a property’s value.

Being granted planning permission to split a property into separate living accommodations is a brilliant way to maximise value. 

This gives you the option of converting it yourself and renting the flats out or selling the property with the granted permissions to a property developer.

Possible value added: Between 15% (conservative) and 40% (ambitious)

If you know you’re going to sell the property at some point in the short term (12–18 months), it’s possible that simply having the permission granted will add value to your home.

This is regardless of whether you’ve had the work done or not.

Selling potential

Selling a property that has been granted permission for improvements often attracts a broader pool of potential buyers.

And by creating this extra interest, you fuel demand which usually leads to more offers and a higher sales price.

And remember, it’s wise to contact a local architect to see how feasible your ideas are. We can recommend someone to you.

If you want an expert opinion on what kind of value gaining planning permission could add to your property, give us a call today.

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A Landlord’s Guide to Rent Increases

In this three-minute read, we look at the issues landlords should consider before raising rents.

The uptick in inflation, along with pressure on interest rates, means that many landlords will be considering rent increases right now.

Before deciding on a course of action, here are some points to consider.

Why would a landlord raise rents?

  • Rising mortgage and maintenance costs.
  • Tax and legislative changes that impact profitability.
  • Changes in the supply of and demand for rental properties in the local market.

When can a landlord raise rents?

It depends on the terms of the contract. Your tenancy agreement should clearly state how and when rents can be reviewed, and the notice period required for an increase.

It’s vital that you understand the terms of your contract and – unless you enjoy messing with lawyers and tribunals – abide by them.

If you’re unsure where you stand, contact us here at Nest in Essex for independent advice.

How much should you raise rents?

It’s a balancing act as an OTT rent hike could cost you more in the long run.

To hold on to top tenants and enjoy good returns, do your research and play fair.

Look at what other landlords are charging for comparable properties. Be honest about the condition of your property and determine your price accordingly.

Telling your tenant

Be upfront and start the conversation sooner rather than later. That way, your tenant will have time to adjust to the idea and budget accordingly. Always serve written notice within the required notice period.

What if my tenant is unhappy?

Explain that you’re facing rising costs and talk about any improvements you’ve recently made to the property.

If a tenant is happy and settled, they’re unlikely to bother with the expense of moving if a rise is reasonable.

If your proposed rise causes a stir, make a judgement call. Weigh up the costs of finding a new tenant and the risk of having the property sitting empty against the extra income you stand to make.

Look at the big picture. If your tenant is a keeper, consider negotiating. If you’ve had issues with them in the past, maybe it’s time to part ways.

Where problems occur

Issues arise when:

  • A landlord is missing in action for a couple of years and then springs a massive hike on a tenant to make up for lost time.

  • The rent is set too low initially, and the landlord tries to play catch-up by introducing a big hike when they can.

  • Tenant/landlord relations are so poor that rational conversation isn’t possible.

  • A landlord doesn’t understand their contract and tries to bulldoze through a hike at the wrong time.

To avoid these issues:

  • Get professional advice from an experienced letting agent so that you set the rent at the right level the first time.

  • Have a long-term rental strategy. Some landlords, as a rule, increase rents incrementally every year or two to cover rising costs.

  • Ensure your contract is watertight and that you understand it.

  • Communicate regularly with your tenant. If you’re time-poor, a letting agent can do it for you.

For advice on formulating a long-term rental strategy, get in touch with us here at Nest in Essex.

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Why You Should Prepare Now for a Post-Christmas Sale

In this two-minute read, we look at why getting the marketing material for your property sale finalised now is a savvy move.

There’s one day of the year when the stars align for sellers and it’s not too far off.

If you’re planning on selling up anytime soon, you’d be mad not to capitalise on this opportunity.

Keep reading to find out more.

Behold the Boxing Day home hunters

You may think the festive season, with its public holidays, boozy lunches, and family gatherings, isn’t a great time to take a property to market – but you’d be wrong. 

Internet traffic booms on property portals on Boxing Day. 

Zoopla, for example, recorded a 70.5% spike in activity on 26 December last year. And Rightmove and the rest of the portals report similar surges.

Why? On Boxing Day, people have time to think about their future and look at what’s on the market.

But that’s not all

Importantly, those who are perusing property portals on Boxing Day are motivated to move.

Christmas sets all sorts of big life decisions in motion. Some couples decide to cement a relationship by moving in together; others conclude that it’s time to part ways.

Meanwhile, some families recognise that they need more space, while others admit it’s time to downsize.

With this pool of keen buyers, you’d think there would be an abundant supply of sellers. But surprisingly, many people delay putting their property on the market until the New Year.

This means the savvy sellers who get their act together in time for Boxing Day enjoy maximum exposure but less competition – it’s a win-win.

Do something now if you’re serious about selling

Before you put your Christmas decorations up (they’ll date your marketing photos), get your ducks in a row now.

Choose your agent (perhaps one who has suggested such a smart move like getting ready now for all those Boxing Day home hunters?) and organise your property’s paperwork.

Leave the photos, floorplans, and marketing strategy to the agents.

Then enjoy the run-up to Christmas, knowing you’ve done the hard yards and that you’re not missing a trick.

With everything in place, you can simply tell your agent when to launch your property to the market to bring it to the attention of all those serious, post-Christmas buyers.

To find out more about this way of making the most of a great window of opportunity, contact us here at Nest in Essex