NEWS: Recovery position
Are banks and building societies making it easier for people to borrow? It certainly looks that way at first glance with experts predicting a "gentle recovery" in housing market activity, based on recent news reports. Before you get too excited, it should be noted that new figures show lending rising only slightly (by 2 per cent, in fact). Still it is going in the right direction. On the other hand, even if mortgages are more readily available, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics) points out that the UK is still facing an acute shortage of housing supply.
Meanwhile, important news for landlords is that after the cut off date in late June, they must now be meeting official deposit protection rules, or risk heavy fines. Are you covered?
Is your property tenant ready?
So you have a new buy-to-let property and are desperate to rent it out and get earning. You may be ready to become a landlord — but ask yourself: is your property ready to welcome tenants?
Research by Heart of House, the homeware and furniture line from Argos, reveals that 45% of tenants say they would feel at home once they’d put their own stamp on their rental property; and 36% would be more likely to stay longer in their rental property if it was more personalised. That means — even if you are aching to be creative — keep things neutral so that your tenants can make the space more to their tastes. Leave shelves empty so they can display candles and ornaments; and tell your tenants to use picture hanging strips to avoid holes from nails or grease marks from blu-tac.
Also, make sure the property is internet ready. A 'What Students Seek' report by Glide Utilities has revealed that the top priority by far for this year's students is fast internet, with 83% of those asked placing this above all other aspects. Next in line was inclusive bills, with 74% of respondents saying that this was something they specifically looked for when choosing accommodation; while 61% required their rooms to have double beds and 59% needed the property to offer big, functional communal rooms.
A woman called Lucy East made news headlines recently when she returned home from work, opened her curtains and found that she was staring at a brick wall instead of her usual view. It turns out that her neighbours had erected an extension on the boundary wall while she was out, just six inches from her bedroom window. They didn't need planning permission, either, because of recent changes to permitted development rights under the Town and Country Planning Act.
That doesn't mean to say that you can do the same thing. So when do and don't you need planning permission? The website www.gov.uk says that you’ll probably need planning permission if you want to build something new, make a major change to your building — such as building an extension — or change the use of your building. But don't guess. If in doubt, contact your local planning authority.
Carry on abroad
After enjoying a relaxing summer holiday somewhere sunny and warm, it's tempting to come back to a damp UK and think about buying a little bolt-hole abroad to keep that 'vacation' feeling going all year around.
If you do, though, the advice is: don't just find a property listed on the internet and do it yourself. In any market — particularly unfamiliar ones — it's crucial to get help and advice from estate agents. “Typically, we see clients head off on a trip to view properties that they think tick all the boxes, only for them to be shown somewhere different by an attentive agent who usually has a better understanding of what suits their needs than them,” says Elaine Ferguson, Head of the Resource Centre at OverseasGuideCompany.com. “Today's market conditions make working with an astute estate agent even more important in 2015.”