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As we all know, most areas are currently experiencing massive rental demand and this is especially true in the Docklands areas where demand is severely outstripping supply. This situation will be exaggerated over the coming few weeks as we enter, what is traditionally, the busiest time of year for the rental market. With that in mind, I thought perspective tenants would find it useful to understand what they can do to try and get ahead of the curve.
Renting a property can be a daunting process. Market conditions in the Docklands, Canary Wharf and East London areas mean prospective tenants need to be prepared and ready to make an offer as soon as they are happy, or face losing their dream property.
Most local agents are currently low on rental stock and tenants could risk losing out on the rental property of their choice if they are ill-prepared. Demand is currently outstripping supply, so it is important that you are in the best position possible to successfully secure a tenancy; this means having a deposit ready, preparing your references, and being able to move quickly.
It is vital that prospective tenants are prepared and comfortable with their decision as soon as possible. Having all your ducks in a row is crucial to speed up the process and improve your attractiveness, as it will ultimately show the landlord and agent that you are a serious bidder.
The Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA) has prepared the following advice for prospective tenants looking to secure a tenancy on their dream property:
What do you want?
Draw up a list of property features that are ‘must haves’ and ‘desirables’. If a property fails to tick the majority of the ‘must haves’ on your list don’t waste time viewing it and move on to properties that have the features that you deem important. Properties rent quickly, so filtering out the ones you are not interested in or are unlikely to put an offer in for will increase your chances of viewing your dream property sooner.
Consider being flexible around when you book to view rental property. Most people will view property in the evenings after work or during the weekend. Try taking time off work to look at property during the day, this will increase your chances of seeing something before anyone else.
It is also a good idea to view multiple properties during the same appointment; viewing three or four properties will help you understand the value of the property and give you a better idea of the rental market. Remember, you may have to refine your expectations about what your budget will get you once you have a better sense of the market in any one area.
Prepare your referees
You will be asked for a reference when renting a property; having this information ready – so the letting agent can conduct the relevant checks – could enhance your chances of securing a rental property ahead of those who are not as prepared.
References will need to show that you can afford the rent on the property and that you’ve been a good tenant before. If you are a first time renter, a financial reference and a reference from your employer should be enough, but if you are self-employed you may have to get a reference from your accountant. Your referees should be prepared to provide a rapid response to the letting agent as delays at this stage of the process may see the property being let to someone else.
Desirable properties usually get snapped up quickly. So make sure you put in an offer as soon as you find a property that matches your requirements. Procrastinating for too long or viewing too many properties may result in it being too late to offer on a property and finding out that a tenancy has already been agreed. If you’re renting with others, make sure you are in a position to make a joint decision as soon as possible after viewing a property.
Have the cash
Remember, once a tenancy has been agreed you will need to pay a deposit. Typically this can range from four to eight weeks rent. Informing the landlord or agent that you have this ready will help your application for the tenancy.
Use an accredited agent
Ensure you understand the rental agreement and all related fees before making any offers. If you are still confused or uncertain, seek out a member of ARLA for advice. All ARLA agents must adhere to a strict code of conduct, as well as offering client money protection and redress schemes, which protect you if things go wrong. Using an ARLA agent is similar to using an ABTA approved travel agent. It will ensure you are dealing with an ethical and properly regulated letting agency
Remember that our experienced team at Landmark are here to help, so feel free to contact any of us with any questions you may have. I hope you have found the above helpful.
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I often get asked "How can I make my property attractive to buyers?" For the best chance to sell your home it is important to make sure your property stands out, and in the forthcoming cold, dark winter months this couldn’t be more important. By incorporating a few simple tips, sellers can enhance the look and feel of their property, increasing the chance of attracting an offer.
Simon Gerrard, President of NAEA, says: “Winter can be cold, dark and wet, which often means properties are unable to promote some of their best features. By incorporating a few simple tips, sellers can enhance their property’s look and feel and increase their chance of attracting an offer.
“Quite often, it is the smallest changes to a property that can make it stand out over others. A warm, inviting atmosphere in the dreary winter months is key. Simple things such as making sure a home is warm and well lit can improve saleability during the darker months and additions such as welcoming garden lights to enhance the entrance to your home can appeal to buyers’ imaginations.”
The NAEA’s top tips for those looking to sell their property during winter are as follows:
First impressions count
Outside is where the biggest impact of the bad weather will be and this is obviously the first sight of your home a prospective buyer will have. Winter can make the front garden and paths look dull and dirty, so ensuring these are clean and clear of leaves will improve the attractiveness of the property.
Go with the flow
Check the gutters and drain covers are properly cleared of dead leaves and other debris as leaky gutters and down pipes cause damage and are unsightly.
In the Garden
A messy garden can signal the need for too much work and thus detract buyers. If possible, clear patio furniture away, if not ensure they are securely covered. Fix or secure any loose fence panels or gates. It is also advisable to cut back overhanging branches; this will help brighten the property.
Bright and beautiful
Ensure your home is well lit. This means making sure all of your lights work, including the security lights. If a viewing takes place during the day, open all of the curtains and blinds to ensure as much natural light as possible can enter the home. Making sure the doorways, entrance, stairs or porch are clear of clutter can help create an inviting home.
Warm and friendly
It’s important to make your house feel warm and homely. If a buyer enters a property that is cold they’re unlikely to stay long. Smell is also important. You are going to get a bad reaction from buyers if there is an odd aroma or damp smell hanging around. So freshen up, let some fresh air circulate and the old cliché about the aroma of fresh bread or roasting coffee really does work!
Flying off for the winter
If you are going away for any period over the winter the heating should be left on at a low temperature (minimum of 15°c). If you are away for a long period and don’t want to keep the heating on 24/7 make sure it is on a timer. Longer spells at a lower temperature can be more economical than shorter blasts at higher temperatures.
Dealing with below zero temperatures
If you find a frozen pipe don’t ever try to defrost it with a direct flame like a blow torch, as this can cause even more damage. Instead use a gentle heat such as a hot water bottle or hair-dryer.
These simple tips will really help your property achieve the best price possible. Feel free to contact our team for any questions you may have.
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Lets take a look at a brief 7-point checklist for anyone buying a home:
Leasehold vs Freehold - There are two main types of property ownership in the UK and you should always check which applies to the home you're buying. Leasehold means you effectively own the land on which the property is located for a defined period of time; extending this can incur a substantial fee. For this reason knowing the length of time remaining should be a key consideration. Freehold is more straightforward, although the details of the deed should always be checked over by a reputable solicitor.
Access - Never assume you have automatic access rights to a property, and be sure to check this thoroughly before you buy. Relying on a neighbour's goodwill for access via a shared drive, for example, can be risky and if circumstances change you could be left in a difficult situation.
Boundaries - A property's legal boundaries may not be listed on the title deed. While physical boundaries (such as a fence or hedge) appear more obvious it is always worth consulting with your estate agent at viewing stage to ensure there is no confusion. Remember, you will be responsible for any trees or plants on your property that hang across boundaries.
What's listed? - Although listed buildings are a fairly well-known phenomenon, their restrictions can be complex, therefore it pays to check what the listing covers. For example, the status of features like fireplaces and windows should be checked before refurbishment.
Planning Permission - Just because an extension or loft conversion looks the part, doesn't necessarily mean it has planning consent. Always check that any additions to the property have full written planning permission, otherwise you could be left with the cost and responsibility of reverting the property back to its original state.
Block Parties - If you live in a shared block it can be managed in different ways, and this should be something the selling agent can clarify. On occasion, a block may be managed by an external agent, or the other leaseholders may have taken on management responsibilities as a group ('Right to Manage'). In both cases it is prudent to establish in advance what this means for you, both in terms of fees and responsibilities.
Future gazing - Remember to ask your agent if they are aware of any planned developments in the vicinity of the property. Under the revised consumer protection regulations, agents have an obligation to declare any information that consumers need in order to make informed decisions.
Remember that our experienced Landmark team are here to help, so feel free to ask us any questions.