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Who Is Your Dream Tenant?

In this three-minute read, we talk about three types of tenants and the pros and cons of each.

Currently, the UK rental market is booming, with landlords finding tenants quicker than ever according to Rightmove, and demand for rentals up 3% from last year. As a landlord, this is great news, so why not maximise the opportunity by finding the perfect tenant for your property.

Families

As the most common type of tenant in the UK market, is your rental family friendly?

Pros: Families tend to rent for the long term and once they’re settled, they often stay put. This is a massive plus, as a long lease requires minimal input. A typical family tenant will also be keen to furnish the property themselves, saving you costs and hassle.

Proximity to a school – especially one rated Good or Outstanding by Ofsted – can boost demand for your property and command a higher yield. Similarly, if your rental offers outside space and is close to shops, you’ll see a surge in interest from the family sector.

Cons: With families comes the potential for more wear and tear. This means you’ll want to make sure your property is finished to the highest quality to protect against damage. You’ll also want to ensure that any repairs are dealt with quickly.

If a family is on a long lease, they will make the home their own by hanging pictures, decorating children’s rooms and so on. So, at the end of a tenancy, you can be pretty sure your rental property will need a spruce up.

Professionals

Often regarded as the dream tenant, working professionals want proximity to transport links or their place of work.

Pros: With professionals comes the stability of a secure rental income and less chance of arrears – a huge bonus for private landlords. Less wear and tear and reduced potential for noise makes working professionals the crème de la crème of the rental market.

Cons: Just because they’ve got a good job when they move in, you can’t guarantee your monthly rent without some sort of rent protection. As the last 18 months have taught us, jobs can easily be lost, and financial situations can change quickly.

Students

Typically, students have a bad rental reputation, but is this a fair conclusion?

Pros: If a rental property is located near a university, you have the option of renting a property room by room – maximising your rental yield.

With most students receiving some sort of finance to support their studies, your rental income is safe with a reduced risk of arrears. You may also have the backup of the ‘bank of mum and dad’ just in case funds run low.

Cons: Unfortunately, lots of students means lots of partying and could lead to a higher risk of damage. There’s also a chance that maintenance issues may not be reported promptly. You can also expect a high turnover of tenants as the academic year is only around 10 months. This means more admin, advertising, and a need for end-of-tenancy problems to be resolved quickly.

For more advice about what type of tenants are attracted to rental properties, contact us at Nest in Essex on 01268 500988

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What Social Media Tells You about an Estate Agent

In this three-minute read, we look at the critical role social media plays in reaching out to potential buyers.

When choosing an estate agent, it pays to channel your inner Miss Marple or Sherlock Holmes and do a little online sleuthing.

As we all know, many estate agents are known for having the ‘gift of the gab’. You’d be hard-pressed to find one who doesn’t claim to have a strong community standing, good track record, and proven marketing formula.

But how do you know if they’re telling the truth? Social media is a good place to start.

We’re not suggesting you believe everything you see on the internet. But a quick online snoop will provide plenty of clues as to how proactive an agent is, and whether their claims marry up to reality.

Top tips for online sleuthing

Step into a buyer’s shoes

Even if you’re not a big Facebook or Instagram user, many people – including potential buyers – are, so peruse the social media of local agents and analyse what you see. The best agents are dynamic, professional, consistent, and personable – qualities that should come across on their social media channels.

Presentation of properties

Compare how different agents market properties. Look for an agent who uses high-quality images or video footage of clutter-free rooms and informative and engaging property descriptions. Steer clear of agents who use grainy snaps of darkened rooms. In our image-focused culture, dodgy pictures are a huge turn-off for buyers.

Engaging content

Top agents do more than just market properties on social media – they engage with the local community about a range of issues. Look for content about the area, shout-outs to sports clubs and charities, and articles about important topics of the day (these might cover property-related matters or more general talking points). Savvy agents use social media to build a following so that when they have a property to market, they have a ready-made audience.

Testimonials

Reviews and testimonials can give you an idea of an agent’s strengths and weaknesses. Feedback from sellers, buyers, and other professionals involved in the property chain, such as conveyancing solicitors, can provide useful insight.

Do they have personality?

Ideally, an agent’s social media will give you some idea of what motivates and drives their business. Why does this matter? Selling your home is one of the biggest (and possibly most stressful) transactions of your life. Better to go through the experience with someone you feel comfortable talking to and whom you trust.

For an example of how an experienced agent uses social media effectively, go ahead and follow us at: @nestinessex  

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How to Choose a Garden Room That’s Just Right for You

In this three-minute read, we look at the growing popularity of garden rooms as places to work and play.

Garden room. Man cave. Home studio. Shoffice (shed/office). Call it what you will but having a standalone space in the garden where you can work, unwind, or pursue a favourite hobby is one of the fastest-growing property trends in recent years.

Now, garden sheds are nothing new; Britain’s first shed was built in 1481. But a ‘garden room’ is far more than the old-fashioned lean-to your granddad used to store the lawnmower.

Garden rooms are high-spec spaces with plenty of mod cons: mains electricity, heating, and WiFi. They also often include full-height glazing, a kitchenette, toilet, hot tub, bar, or home cinema.

If you’re considering investing in a garden room, here are some tips to help you get it right.

Identify its purpose

Start by having a clear idea of how you’ll use the space. Will it be an office, yoga studio, gym, or games room?

If you don’t have a strong vision, your garden room could turn out to be a glorified storage cupboard, crammed with boxes and odds and sods.

Find the right location

If space is tight, your options will be limited. However, if you have a big outdoor area, give careful consideration to the location and orientation of your garden room.

If you’re creating a mini music studio, opt for a location some distance from the house so that noise isn’t an issue. On the other hand, a children’s playroom might be best near the house, so you can keep an eye on the little ones.

Also, remember that:

  • An east-facing garden room will catch the morning sun (ideal for early bird, work-from-home types).
  • A west-facing garden room will get the afternoon sun (perfect for a post-work parents’ chill-out space).
  • A south-facing garden room will catch lots of sun (great in the winter months) but will get quite warm in summer, so consider adding a louvred canopy.

Insulation

Keep your garden room cool in summer and warm in winter (and save money on heating) by opting for insulated walls, roof, and flooring.

When architects, builders, and manufacturers talk about insulation, they use the term U-value. The lower the U-value, the better (the best insulating materials have a U-value nearing zero).

Landscaping

It’s called a garden room for a reason, so make sure your space is surrounded by lush greenery – being close to nature is good for your mental health, after all.

Plant trees, shrubs, and bushes around your garden room so that it feels like an integral part of the space.

Planning

Before you get started, always seek confirmation from your local authority about whether any outbuilding you’re thinking about needs planning permission.

For more advice about how to add value to your property and market trends, get in touch with us here at Nest in Essex

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Why Being a Landlord Is a 24/7 Job

One of the best things about going on holiday is that once you’ve packed your bags and locked the front door, you can breathe a sigh of relief.

After months of hard work and stress, you can finally relax, unwind, and recharge – unless, of course, you’re a landlord.

If you manage a rental property, you’re always on call.

You can’t switch on your out-of-office and mute your WhatsApp for a fortnight and hope for the best. If there’s an urgent problem at your property, you have a legal responsibility to act promptly.

Sometimes you’re just unlucky

The best landlords are organised. They stay on top of routine maintenance and make sure that gas and electrical checks (that are required by law) are performed on time.

But no matter how diligent you are, the unexpected can still happen.

While emergencies are rare, they do occur – and often at the worst possible time (when you’re en route to an exotic location or living it up with friends at a wedding or birthday celebration).

Why not just risk it?

You may be tempted to cross your fingers and hope for the best.

Unfortunately, we’ve seen many landlords take this approach – and get caught out.

The exasperating thing about managing a property is that when something goes wrong, it can go very wrong.

And you can’t sweep an urgent issue – a gas leak, burst pipe, break-in, or fire – under the carpet and continue clubbing in Ibiza for a week.

If you do, you could be putting your tenant’s life at risk (cue costly legal action) or your property on the line (think of all the water damage that burst pipe will cause if you don’t fix it ASAP).

There is a solution

Get a professional to manage your property for you. That way, when you go on holiday, you can truly switch off and leave it to someone else to deal with any issues that occur.

You can be anywhere in the world, and someone will be keeping an eye on your property – and your tenants. It’s the best way to protect your investment.

To learn more about why many landlords use our property management services, get in touch with us here at Nest in Essex

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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