The Inside Edge

 

Choosing a flat for rental investment

by admin

Investment in Buy to Let properties has become a popular strategy in the UK for those developing a portfolio either for income or as a retirement investment.  Compared with other investments property is seen as relatively risk as property prices only go in one direction over the long term yet the return on investment is competitive and steady over time.   Those building investment portfolios often start with smaller properties such as flats, for which there is strong demand at the lower end of the housing market for singles, coupe sand sharers who have yet to buy a property of their own.  Putting aside the financial criteria for investment (balancing the expected income with budgeted costs) finding the right property can make a big impact on your investment.

If you’re going to buy a flat or house for investment then here are a few top tips for you:

1. Try to narrow your search from the start by making a list of criteria for your prospective property. Work out which are the most critical, and which are less important to you.  Does it need to be near where you live, for example, or be a certain size for the rental market you’ll be targeting?

2. Put yourself in the place of your future tenants. Make a list of things they’ll be looking for.  If it’s a student town, how close is it to the University, town centre and other facilities?

3. Price.  How much you can afford to spend will be limited by what you can borrow and what savings you have available but you might not need to spend all of it.  Doing a budget to work out what return you’ll get on your investment may be a better way to decide how much to spend than simply buying a property at the top end of your budget.

4. Sale-ability. If you don’t intend on holding on the property for the long term, how easy will it be to sell on?

5. Do your research. Try to gather as much information as possible concerning the flat or house. If you’re serious about the investment then this time will not be wasted and you can avoid nasty surprises later.  It’s worth checking any information given to you by the vendor and their estate agent unless it comes via their solicitor.  Visit the property as many times as you need to feel comfortable.

6. The area is as important as the property. Research of the local area well amnd speak to neighbours and locals to get a feel for the place if you don’t already know it well yourself.

If you have any tips of your own, let us know in the comments below.

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from → Buy to Let

Tips for finding the best mortgage

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Getting on the property ladder is not easy these days, especially for younger people and first-time buyers. There’s plenty to think about when looking for the right house, let alone finding the right mortgage with so many different mortgage options out there.  When thinking of buying a house, shopping around for a mortgage is extremely important; without properly researching what’s out there, buyers risk signing a deal that may not be in their best interests, and could end up paying more.

Before you even start looking to get a mortgage you should always make sure that you are aware of the state of the current housing market. Once you’ve made all the researches about the area you’d like to buy in, only then you should look around the many price comparison websites. This will give you a feel for what sort of mortgage deals are out there and which ones are the most adequate to your situation.

Totallymoney.com for example, returns results from over 3,000 mortgage companies; it searches for deals from the entire mortgage market and displays them objectively.
Note that not all price comparison websites provide every available offer on the market and brokers typically only include mortgages that they can sell themselves, so the best deals may not necessarily be included.
On the other hand, there are certain deals that can only be available through specific brokers this is why it is important to shop around and take your time before making a decision that will follow you for the next 25 years.

It is also worth noting that many online mortgage calculators can only give the approximate costs and will rarely include fees and charges. In reality, these play a significant part on total monthly costs, so having these calculated will prevent any unpleasant surprises in the future.

In the end you may still choose to consult an Independent Financial Advisor, and we would recommend that, but searching first on a mortgage comparison website will give you a good starting point in understanding what your options are and what you are likely to be able to borrow, at what rates and over what period.  Most importantly you’ll be able to budget for your total mortgage costs when considering making an offer on your new property.

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The top five UK retirement hotspots

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After a long hard life of working and bringing up kids, all most of us want from our retirement is a little bit of the good life.

Some nice views, friendly neighbours and plenty of opportunities for day trips and activities are all we ask for from a retirement property – in addition to top class facilities, high end fixtures and great staff.

If you’re looking for the perfect destination for your golden years, here are five of the best spots in the country for the older and more discerning members of our nation.

North Yorkshire

With breathtaking views, picturesque villages and friendly locals, it’s no wonder that North Yorkshire, and Skipton in particular have been voted the best place to retire to in the UK.

The result comes from findings put together by the government’s National Wellbeing Programme, and categorically show that retirees are shunning big cities in favour of the warmth and tranquillity of small town living.

Dorset

Boasting miles of beautiful coastline, historic cities and plenty of sunshine, Dorset has been a firm favourite among retirees for many years.

As a result, developments are springing up in the best locations across the country – have a look at McCarthy & Stone’s Google+ Profile or website for all of the latest projects.

Devon

Like Dorset, Devon has more than its fair share of rugged countryside and spectacular beaches, both of which play a large part in tempting retirees from across the country.

Small cities like Exeter make excellent retirement destinations thanks to their proximity to the sea, wealth of facilities and community atmosphere.

Cumbria

The stunning countryside of the Lake District is enough to tempt people of all ages to relocate. And if you’re looking for a spectacular setting for your retirement, this could be just what you’re looking for.

The small market town of Kendal makes the ideal retirement destination, giving residents easy access to the countryside and a picture postcard setting.

Norfolk

If it’s calm and tranquillity that you’re after, look no further than Norfolk.

This peaceful and relaxed part of the country has been a haven for the elderly and retired for years, with few hills, friendly locals and great scenery just waiting to be explored.

Reaching retirement can be an exciting time in your life, giving you the opportunity to relocate to your favourite holiday destination or move closer to friends and family.

And with a wealth of great value and high standard retirement developments across the country, you’ll be spoilt for choice when the time comes.

 

Sources:

http://www.theguardian.com/money/2012/jul/27/top-10-places-to-retire

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/property/retirementproperty/10425253/Top-10-places-to-retire.html?frame=2722910

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Is the city centre now an affordable option for first time buyers?

by admin

The city has always been synonymous with success. Property investors, hedge fund bankers and young CEOs have always lined the streets of the city centre, along with trendy bars, fine dining and modern apartments.

But, is the city changing? Urban regeneration and strategic development has meant that the centre of the city has expanded, and an explosion of modern apartments can now be found in new corners of the centre. As with any surge of residential investment, it is soon followed by a boom of leisure and entertainment facilities. As this trend has continued in major cities across the UK, it has brought a huge choice of properties – and the city centres are slowly but surely expanding, making them the perfect spot for young professionals looking to get a foot on the housing ladder.

A lifestyle option

Besides the benefit of being able to own your own home, there are plenty of other reasons why city centre living is ideal for first time buyers. Being in an exciting location, especially an up-and-coming quarter of town, within walking distance to work, close to friends and in the heart of the action, is great for a twenty-to-thirty-something professional.

Looking at two-bed semis in the suburbs is what many first time buyers do, without considering the alternatives. This is because many believe they are automatically priced out of the city centre. However, a quick look at current house prices shows that the difference is minimal. Average prices in Manchester show that an apartment in the central region costs £136,881, whereas a terraced property in the Trafford suburb costs £126,748. Similarly, a two-bed central apartment, again in Manchester, can be bought for £115,000, whereas a two-bed terrace in Stretford (a suburb four miles from the city) costs £129,950. For very little difference in cost, you can have the centre on your doorstep.

If the mortgage repayments seem a little steep, get rid of the car (and expensive parking fees), rip up the annual train ticket, and walk. After all, you’re paying to have the vibrant centre at your front door, so you may as well enjoy it.

The benefits of a modern home

A modern, city centre apartment may not be to everyone’s taste. But, even if you considered it a temporary option – a short-term investment that will help you fund the period property of your dreams – it is still an affordable and beneficial option for most.

A modern home will most likely need less renovation, and far less alterations. This can save a small fortune as many older houses (especially affordably priced ones) suffer from damp, poor insulation and require general updating and improving.

Heating bills will be cheaper in your modern apartment, both because they are smaller, and due to the fact that most apartments are built with energy efficiency in mind. Many apartments are serviced or managed, taking a weight off your mind, and any exterior problems, issues or damage, are covered by someone else. It’s also often possible to buy a furnished new-build home, or buy a furnishing pack from landlords and agents, again saving you money on the initial costs of moving in.

If you work and play in the city, you should live there, too, and now, thanks to an abundance of city centre properties and urban regeneration, the city is a lot bigger – making a central apartment the ideal home for first time buyers.

Author: The Hub offers spacious and stylish apartments, located in the heart of Manchester city centre. A shared equity scheme and competitive prices makes it the ideal choice for first time buyers. 

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Price trends for commercial property in 2013

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The commercial property sector is showing signs of recovery in the UK, with the market witnessing its sixth consecutive increase in the month of October. According to Investment Property Databank Ltd, the average value of offices, industrial properties and shops increased by 0.6 percent between September and October of 2013. This is good news for owners who saw a total return of real estate value and rental income reach a rate of 1.1 percent.

The increases aren’t just located in the capital city either. Industrial units across the country are currently growing in value at a stable rate; however, the real success stories are being seen in the South East. The returns on commercial property here have actually outpaced the growth of the sector in central London.

Commercial property for sale

Property agents are seeing commercial property reaping the benefits of economic growth. For example, office buildings witnessed a 0.9 percent increase, while warehouse values grew by 0.8 percent. Even the value of retail properties have seen signs of recovery with averages rising by 0.3 percent. Considering the recent trials and tribulations of the high street this is good news.

The increase in value of commercial property foots the overall trend seen in the job market and industrial sectors. Manufacturing and construction sectors grew last month, while British services increased at a quicker rate than any other time in the last 16 years.

The amount of unemployed people in the UK is currently dropping as more businesses find their footing and start to flourish. The number of jobless people actually declined to its lowest numbers since 2009 during 2013’s third quarter. Recent figures showed the unemployed amounted to just 7.6 percent in the UK.

Commercial property for rent        

Investors looking for an opportunity in the commercial sector should consider buying now. Prices are still low enough to find a bargain, but increases in average value show a great deal of promise, which may allow you to reap a decent ROI in the not too distant future.

You will find a variety of commercial estate agents online at RegionProperty.co.uk. This is an online search facility that allows you to browse commercial buildings from across the UK. Here, you can find a wealth of property for commercial purposes, from office buildings to warehouses and high street stores, both for sale and to rent.

RegionProperty.co.uk allows you to filter results using the simple navigation facility to browse by:

  • Price
  • Location
  • Number of rooms
  • And much more

If you are a relative novice in the commercial property field, it helps to gain advice from financial lenders and expert estate agents regarding commercial mortgages and property insurance for businesses.

Forecasts for 2014

Reports are positive for the commercial property sector looking to the future, with stronger investment demand for offices around the world forecast for the coming year. A report by Knight Frank – the independent property consultancy – says transactions across the world for commercial property totaled US$224 billion in the first half of this year. Investment activity has improved by 11.7 percent compared with last year. The organisation expects capital values to rise by around 5 percent between now and the end of 2014.

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Helpful Tips to Keep In Mind When Buying Your First Home

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My partner and I recently bought our very first house; we were so pleased to get onto the property ladder! The journey to get there wasn’t completely stress free though as there were a lot of things to think about, and plenty of hurdles to jump through. We’re still not able to relax completely in our home as we have some more renovation work to do – we bought a 1970s semi-detached property that looks like it’s never been updated since then! It’s all worth it in the long run though; we can do all the decorating we like, build an extension, have a pet… So even with the struggles, I urge you to push on if you’re in a similar position and want to buy your first home. Hopefully my own tips will help you on your way; here are my top picks…

Getting a mortgage

Unless you’ve had a sudden windfall, it’s likely you’ll be getting a mortgage to fund your property purchase. There are many providers and rates, so you’ll need to compare the market to see what works best for you. In order to get a mortgage, you’ll need to raise some cash for a deposit. The amount you’ll need will differ depending on which mortgage you go for, but will usually be at least 5% of the property price. If you are looking to buy in the next couple of years, figure out how much you’ll need to save each month in order to reach your target.

Picking a property

When the process to get your mortgage is underway, you’ll be able to look at properties that match the budget you’ll have once it’s fully agreed. I looked at property aggregator sites online and then contacted the individual estate agents to arrange viewings. It’s true, you’ll generally get a feeling when the house is right, but don’t get too swayed by decorations or furniture as all of this can be different when you move in. If you love two properties, create a list of the benefits and let your head decide which one wins overall.

Getting legal advice and assistance

When you come to making an offer on a house, it can be very helpful to have the assistance of a brilliant legal team. My advice would be to do some proper research into this area rather than going with the 1st property lawyers you stumble across. You’ll want to build a good relationship with your solicitor and their team as it could help to get the process moving more quickly. You should also enquire about whether they can help you with a survey of the property as you don’t want any nasty surprises when you move in.

Moving house

Finally, when it comes to moving day itself, try to stay calm. You’ll need to collect the keys and make sure your removals company can get in to the new property to unload your belongings. I won’t lie, it’s pretty exhausting, but it can be made easier by remembering little things like labelling a box with kitchen essentials such as your kettle and tea bags, as well as making your bed as soon as you can. My last tip is to have a pizza delivery number handy as you won’t feel like cooking your own dinne

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Bringing an Empty Home Back to Life

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With more 279,000 houses standing empty for over six months in the UK* and numerous district and county level strategy plans in place to handle the problem of vacant properties across the county, what would you do if you found yourself the proud new owner of a previously empty property?

Indeed national newspapers have reported on the £1 houses available in numerous locations across the North of England, although these do come with a fairly stringent set of criteria for those looking to purchase. However there are empty properties all over the country and many come at cut rate prices whether through an auction or otherwise. But that’s where the fun starts; these buildings are more often than not half dilapidated and in need of some serious love and affection.

Laying the Foundations

First things first, you’ll want to make sure you do your homework before putting pen to paper. It’s all very well to have big dreams about your new place; fitted out from head to toe in the latest gadgets, or maybe even complete with a brand new extension. However some properties will come with restrictions as to what you can do, such as listed premises, so it’s well worth your time to make the necessary enquiries beforehand.

You’ll also want to ensure your newly purchased property remains vacant until building work can begin i.e. protecting the building from squatters and vandals. Vacant property security companies, such as Safe Site Facilities who cover the entire UK from their base in West Sussex, are able to deliver short and long term solutions to guard against unlawful entry until you’re up and running with the renovations.

Be a People Person

Just like any creative project it’s important to have the right people on the job. Making sure you have the right builders and architect for your project will make everything go that much smoother. This means putting in the time to find someone who shares your vision for the property, which normally means following up with references and asking friends for referrals of professionals they’ve worked with before.

Make the Most of Your Materials

Choosing the right ingredients i.e. materials can make all the difference. Depending on your specific criteria there are materials that come with environmental credentials, others that will cut your budget in half and those that make the job quick and easy for those doing the building.

It’s All About the Money

We’ve all seen Grand Designs on Channel 4 where every single new build or renovation project seems to go wildly over budget. If anything budgeting will be even harder for an empty property, which may have unforeseen issues that take more to fix than they would to install from scratch. Therefore it’s vital that an emergency fund is included as one of your budget pots; that way if any unexpected problems do crop up, and they often do, you won’t have to get another loan or re-mortgage. Then of course when the build goes exactly to plan you’ll have a nice bit of extra cash on the side for that sofa you thought you wouldn’t be able to afford or another luxury you’ve been ogling!

A quick word on grants; taking on an empty property and bringing it back to life is not only a benefit to you but also the local council and your new neighbours who should benefit from increased house prices. Therefore you may be able to pick up a grant for a portion of the work to be carried out; it’s not guaranteed but is surely worth the time it takes to send off a quick enquiry.

* Shelter Website

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Scotland Sees The Start of Help to Buy

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A major initiative is underway to help first time buyers get their foot on the property ladder in Scotland. The Scottish Government began a three year investment program on September 30th 2013 with an allocation of £220 million financial support designed to ease the difficulties for those trying to buy a home. It is also hoped that the system will help kick start the stuttering property market which has shown some faltering signs of recovery recently.

The shared equity scheme, called ‘Help to Buy’ (Scotland) mirrors a similar scheme that was launched in England. It is open to first time buyers and available to home owners who are buying a new build home from a selection of participating construction companies. In order to qualify the property in question must be a buyer’s only residence and it is not available to anyone that owns another home.

Those that are eligible can access up to 20% of the purchase price of the property and then must contribute the remaining 80%. The figure will allow those involved to overcome the barrier posed in raising the deposit figure required by most mortgage lenders. The scheme will apply to homes ranging in up to £400,000 value in Scotland.

The government have recognised the fact that in recent years the general uncertainty in the market about the value of property and the prohibitively high initial investment costs has prevented many people from taking the first step and buying their own home. Instead high numbers have continued to opt for rental as the safer choice. The news comes on the back of a buoyant period in the Scottish rental market with Scotland’s leading property portal, Citylets, reporting a continued increase in traffic.

The Scottish Government has worked closely with the house building industry body, Homes for Scotland, and The Council of Mortgage Lenders to design a scheme that is best suited to the market in Scotland. All three of these parties will monitor the development of the program.

Speaking about the launch of the scheme Deputy First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon stated, ‘There is no doubt that getting onto, or moving up the property ladder has become tougher in recent years.’ She explained how the initiative would overcome the biggest obstacle to those attempting to get a foot on the property ladder. ‘House buyers are being hampered by the lack of affordable mortgages, with high deposits often a major barrier.’

Mrs Sturgeon added that the impact of the scheme is expected to work on a variety of levels. If successful ‘Help to Buy’ would not just assist those who are buying their first home, but would also aid second steppers to move on to a new property. In addition she underlined the wider impact stating that the scheme would support the housing industry through the government’s commitment to investment in affordable housing throughout Scotland. The head of mortgages from the Bank of Scotland, Nicola Noble, shared in the confidence that the system would make a difference to all of those families in Scotland who were looking for some assistance through a Shared Equity mortgage.

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What to look for in a rental property

by admin

Moving into your own place is an exciting time for most of us.

Then again, lots of us have heard (or experienced) the horror stories when it comes to renting – mouldy rooms, elusive landlords and broken furniture amongst the common complaints.

So what should you look out for? Recent research into features of a ‘dream home’ found that the most desirable feature is an indoor swimming pool, followed by an en-suite bathroom. Other responses included a cinema room, a sauna and even a moat!

You’re not likely to find many of those things unless you’re willing to spend a lot of money – but there are certain things you should check when searching for the ideal home to rent. Our friends at thinkmoney have put together this list to help you.

Adequate furniture

This point doesn’t really stand if you’re planning on kitting out your new home all by yourself, but many rental properties come fully or partially furnished. This can really help you keep your costs down, but don’t forget your monthly rent will probably be a bit higher than unfurnished properties.

If you’re looking for a furnished property, check that everything is in good condition. A bit of wear and tear is natural, but if you find things like broken slats on the bed or a sofa that sinks when you sit in it, it’s your landlord’s responsibility to get them fixed.

Heating & windows

If you’ve never lived in your own place, you might underestimate just how cold the winter months can get! Make sure your new property has a good heating system and preferably double-glazed windows, which do a much better job of keeping the heat in.

In general, electric heating systems will cost a lot more than gas, so you might want to steer clear of properties with a little electric heater in each room. Similarly, gas fires use gas a lot more quickly than a good gas boiler with radiators.

This will be less important if you’re happy to wrap up warm and leave the heating switched off – but there’s a lot to be said for the comfort (and lower bills) that a good heating system brings.

No mould & damp

Mould and damp are usually signs of a problem with the building itself – and they could be very bad for your health. Unfortunately it’s a fairly common issue with older properties, but landlords can (and should) get it fixed in most cases.

A friendly landlord

As a tenant, your landlord is your first port of call when something goes wrong – they are legally required to repair or replace anything that came with the property (as long as the problem is not your fault).

So it could pay to make sure you are happy with your landlord before you sign up for anything. There’s no way to be certain, but if you have any doubts about them you may want to keep your options open.

It may be easier if you find your landlord through a lettings agency, as they should only have honest landlords on their books – and will usually contact them on your behalf.

Ground rules that suit you

Most lenders have ground rules for their tenants, whether it’s no smoking, no pets or no decorating. Breaking any of these rules is likely to cost you your deposit, and maybe more – so make sure your new home suits you before you decide to move in.

If you’re planning on buying a puppy, check with your landlord first. And if you’re planning to wall-mount your TV, make sure they don’t mind before you start.

 

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Choosing the right holiday home

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If you’re thinking about buying a holiday property, experience of buying your primary residence will help in a way, but there’s a lot more to think about when buying a second home – especially if you plan on renting it out to holidaymakers. Here we have some advice on choosing the right holiday home from experts at RentMyCottage.com:

Planning

It goes without saying that a second home is a big financial commitment, and as the vast majority of those buying one will be using some form of mortgage borrowing to make the purchase, it’s important to set out your budget early. Just how much can you afford to pay every month towards a second home? It’s not just about the mortgage payments, either; there is contents and buildings insurance to consider, maintenance costs and, if you’re planning on renting out your holiday home to cover some of the cost, marketing bills.

Those who are looking to subsidise their mortgage payments through rental income should also understand that it can be difficult to get consistent bookings for your property – especially in the first few years of ownership. This can lead to gaps in income which you will have to make up in order to meet your overheads.

With any financial commitment there is a need for sound planning, but the variables involved with second home ownership make it even more important to have a viable worst-case-scenario plan in place.

Finding the right property

They say location is everything when it comes to buying property. This is true enough for second homes, but the criteria on which you judge the quality of a location changes. For a permanent residence, you’re looking at schools, local amenities and transport links – for a holiday home, the focus is more on proximity to popular tourist areas, attractions and places on interest. All these are valued by holidaymakers, and you’ll need them if you want to achieve regular rental income.

There are other practical considerations for a holiday home too; while you might want a more remote property, any secluded property which is unoccupied for long periods of time can be a target for burglars, and you might not know of any break in until you turn up at the property and find your planned short stay is ruined.

Price is also a key deciding factor: you’ll need to cover your costs, but some areas offer better value than others, and will therefore be more attractive to holidaymakers.

Obviously you’ll want to choose a property which suits your needs, but if you’re seeking rental income you should consider some of the things that holidaymakers desire: broadband access, a drying room, a fully-equipped kitchen: these are the kinds of details which can set your property apart from the rest.

 

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