Wednesday, 19 August 2020

SIX WAYS HOMEOWNERS IN TUNBRIDGE WELLS CAN SPOT A LEGAL EAGLE FROM A TIRED TURKEY

We share the things you should look for when instructing a solicitor to do the legal work when selling or buying a home.

When you are selling a home, you have two crucial decisions to make.

Firstly, choosing the right estate agent to sell your home is often the difference between getting a good deal or ending up with no deal.

Secondly, selecting the right conveyancing solicitor will no doubt make your life easier and less stressful. Picking a bad one often leads to headaches, hassle and having to chase them up continually.
During the last 11 years we’ve been serving the people of TUNBRIDGE WELLS, we’ve learned a thing or six about what to look out for when it comes to choosing a legal eagle over a tired turkey or a grumpy goose.

Conveyancing is legalese for transferring the ownership of property, whether you are buying or selling.

What Is a Conveyancing Solicitor, and What Do They Do?

A conveyancer, or sometimes known more simply as a property solicitor, does the following for you:

Handle the contracts, be on hand to give legal advice, they are the people who carry out local council searches, they will deal with the Land Registry, and they are the people who will transfer the funds to pay for your property.

They have a significant and vital part to play when it comes to progressing your sale or purchase through to a successful end.

We realise the importance of their role, and that’s why we’ve come up with the six things to look out for when it comes to choosing a conveyancer or a property solicitor.
Six Top Tips

1) Look for recommendations. Ask your family and friends who they have used and would they recommend them.

2) Communication is key. Some solicitors are notoriously tricky to get hold of and can take days/weeks to respond to your questions. Before instructing any solicitor, it’s worth asking if they have a system in place where you can view/check on the progress of your sale or purchase? And what is the minimum timeframe within which they promise to get back to you?

3) Do they embrace technology? This is an excellent question to ask as some solicitors do not hold technology in high esteem, which can cause problems along the line.

4) Holidays. It’s not unreasonable for you to ask if a solicitor is going on holiday during the period when you are looking to buy or sell. The last thing you want is to be nearing the exchange of contracts to seal the transaction and then discover your solicitor is sunning themselves in Marbella. Even worse is that they won’t return for a fortnight and no one else has been left to work on your file.

5) Do your research. Make sure your chosen property specialist is a member of the Law Society of England and Wales/Law Society of Scotland and a member of the Law Society’s Conveyancing Quality Scheme. Conveyancers must be members of the Council for Licensed Conveyancers.

6) Ask us. We’ve worked with hundreds of different conveyancing solicitors over the years. And we’ve experienced a real mix of the good, bad and the ugly (not that we are saying they’re unattractive cowboys or girls). Feel free to give us a call, and we’d be happy to provide you with recommendations and more insight into why choosing the right solicitor or conveyancer will make your life easier and raise your chances of property success.

There are plenty of great solicitors and conveyancers out there, you just need to do your homework to find them.

Thanks for reading and get in touch if you want answers to any of your property-related questions.
We’re here to help.



Tuesday, 11 August 2020

What’s next for the Royal Tunbridge Wells Property Market

 There is no doubt that Coronavirus will affect the Royal Tunbridge Wells property market, but just how?
The ensuing economic challenges are going to impact the Royal Tunbridge Wells (and UK) property market, yet no one knows the real answer. The newspapers eulogise different opinions, but that's all they are – opinions and everybody's got a different opinion. The truth of the matter is we don't know and won’t know for another few months at least, if not more?

There have been some outstanding Government supportive measures both for tenants, landlords, home buyers and sellers (including a pause on evictions for tenants, and for landlords and homeowners, mortgage payment deferments and stamp duty reductions to make buying a home cheaper), and whilst these are only temporary, they have done their job, meaning there is a good level of activity in the Royal Tunbridge Wells property market.

A lot of that is pent-up demand from a couple of years of uncertainty because of Brexit. Also, we had the General Election in late 2019, so there have been so many reasons for people to sit on their hands.  At the beginning of 2020, it was like a water hose ready to burst with the Boris Bounce in January and February. Then, just as things were beginning to get going in the Royal Tunbridge Wells property market, we had everything freeze up for months during lockdown. So, since lockdown has been lifted …

the Royal Tunbridge Wells property market is open
 once again for business and there is unquestionably some impressive activity both in the sales and rental market

So, back to the original question and where are we going? I think what we will see is a subtle change to where people want to live because of the pandemic. People working from home has shown that the need to be in the big cities has reduced and as employees have realised, they can work very efficiently from home, plus they are happier and have a better work/life balance. Their employers are also happy as they get more work out of their staff and can reduce their costly office footprint in the cities. The same goes for Royal Tunbridge Wells tenants as they are wanting more from their rental homes. Three trends we have noticed is there is greater demand for properties with gardens, greater demand for Royal Tunbridge Wells landlords who will accept pets (as they now can have them as they work from home) and finally, tenants willingness to pay top dollar for ‘top of the range’ properties, whilst more basic and uncared for properties without all the ‘bells and whistles’ need to go for a discount. There certainly has been a flight to quality.

Yet, what worries me is the fundamental future uncertainty in 2021 and beyond. What will things look like say in spring 2021 when the Stamp Duty reductions are phased out? Any property sold needs to have completed by the end of March 2021 to take advantage of the tax holiday, meaning you need to have sold your Royal Tunbridge Wells property by November 2020 at the very latest to ensure your property purchase and sale deal goes through in time (as it is taking on average up to 17 weeks between sale agreed and completion). This is where the difference between a great solicitor, brilliant estate agent and awesome mortgage broker compared to average ones will show. Good ones, when all three are working together for you, can get the sale through in 6 to 8 weeks, not the national average of 17 weeks, meaning if you are cutting it fine, you might not be able to take advantage of the tax savings in the Spring. Give me a call if you want to know who the best of the best in Royal Tunbridge Wells are to ensure you don’t lose out on those tax savings.  

The value of the average Royal Tunbridge Wells home
currently stands at £476,200

So, what is going to happen to the Royal Tunbridge Wells property market? It really depends on the economy as a whole and of course the property market is a large part of that. I know one thing that buy to let landlords and home buyers don't like is ambiguity and the British housing market has always lived and breathed on emotion and sentiment. People will only buy and sell property (and borrow the money to make those transactions happen) when they feel good. Are all these things like Stamp Duty holidays just putting off the inevitable? Are we heading for the mother of all property crashes?

Well, let me put sentiment and opinion aside for a second and look at the simple facts.

We have an increasing population,
yet we don't build enough houses
Since 1995, we have built on average 150,200 properties per year. The Barker Report said 2004 the country needed 240,000 per year to satisfy annual demand for new homes and whilst the number of new homes built in the UK last year rose 1% to a 13-year high, only 161,000 homes were built. That means over the last 25 years, with the difference between actual homes built and the targets set out in the Barker Report, we have an inbuilt shortage of 2,245,000 fewer homes, meaning.
Since the Millennium, property values in
Royal Tunbridge Wells have increased by 171.3%

Other factors have contributed to that. The average age of a person leaving their parents’ home in the UK is 24.4 years and that has been dropping for a few years meaning more homes are required. People are also living longer (in 2000 the average person lived until 77.7 years and now it’s 81.1 years – doesn’t sound a lot until one considers for each additional year the average person lives in the UK, we need an additional 356,500 homes). Finally, we have got immigration. In the year ending March 2019, 612,000 people moved to the UK (immigration) and 385,000 people left the UK (emigration) – meaning a net increase of 227,000 people (or a requirement of c.100,000 homes to house them in one year alone). All those factors in themselves mean …

we have more demand for Royal Tunbridge Wells property than we have supply and that's not going to change any time soon.

Property markets are driven (like all markets) by supply and demand so I believe Royal Tunbridge Wells property values can only rise in the long term. The question is whether Royal Tunbridge Wells people will have the sentiment and confidence to borrow money on a mortgage and invest in Royal Tunbridge Wells property, yet at the moment with ultra-low interest rates, borrowing money to buy a home has never been so cheap and if you are in it for the long-term (which you should be with property) then I think it's good news.

One piece of good news is that mortgage lenders are willing to lend up to 90 per cent loan to value mortgages for first time buyers (and in some rare cases 95 per cent), albeit with a lot of strings attached … yet this is a good sign as the banks and building societies wouldn’t be lending at these levels if they were too scared.

Investing in property, be it for yourself to live in or buy to let is a long-term game. We might see an uplift in prices in the short term because of the demand mentioned above, then again, we might see a dip in 2021 ... yet again for the reasons mentioned above - until we start to build new homes to the scale of 300,000+ a year (something that has never been achieved since 1969), the long-term picture appears to be good. Be you a Royal Tunbridge Wells landlord, Royal Tunbridge Wells house seller or Royal Tunbridge Wells buyer, you have to be a lot more strategic and thoughtful about what you are going to do. If you would like to pick my brains, drop me a message on social media or pick up the phone.

So those are my thoughts, tell me your thoughts for the future of the Royal Tunbridge Wells property market? 







Monday, 10 August 2020

TUNBRIDGE WELLS LANDLORDS - SEVEN SIMPLE STEPS TO RENTAL SUCCESS


In this two-minute read, we look at seven fundamental steps landlords in TUNBRIDGE WELLS need to take to put themselves and their rental properties on the path to success.

Being a landlord can be challenging, complicated and confusing. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
By following these quick tips below, you’ll make your life easier and your properties more profitable.

1)          Get Three (Free) Valuations. So, you have a property to rent? We suggest calling in three different letting agencies to compare prices, people, and approach. Be careful not to be sucked in by cheap fees as it’s often reflected in the service you get.

2)          Picking a Letting Agent. Look for professionalism, integrity, value for money and a proven track record of serving local landlords in TUNBRIDGE WELLS.

3)          Marketing Magic. How, where, and when your property is marketed adds significantly to its chances of success. At Martin & Co Tunbridge Wells, we use several different platforms, tactics, and techniques to attract the largest possible audience for your property.

4)          The 3 Ps. If you want to attract quality tenants at the best price, your property must be clean, well maintained and nicely presented. Remember the 3Ps as they are worth repeating – presentation, presentation, presentation.

5)          Dealing with offers. Once quality tenants have been found, and the rental price agreed, we will carry out all the necessary work. This includes gathering references, creating tenancy agreements, collecting the initial deposit and rent, and arranging for a thorough check-in and inventory to take place.

6)          Moving in and on. Once all the above has been carried out and is in order, you/we can release the keys to your new tenant. By establishing excellent communication during the moving in process we lay the foundations for good future relations.

7)          Hassle-Free Property Management. We offer different tiers of service, from let only where we will find you a quality tenant and carry out all the preparatory work, right through to full property management.

When you decide to have your property fully managed, it means we take responsibility for most things that need doing and sorting out.

This includes collecting rents, arranging safety checks, property inspections and making sure maintenance and repairs are carried out by skilled local professionals. AND we’ll keep you the right side of the mountain of rental regulations and laws affecting rented property in TUNBRIDGE WELLS.

Thanks for reading, and if you are a landlord looking to have their life made easier and rental property more profitable, please get in touch with us today 01892 543856
Dave Rogers MARLA MNAEA

Saturday, 8 August 2020

WHY LAUGHING DOES WONDERS FOR YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM


Here I  look at why laughter is so crucial during tough times.

There's a lot of uncertainty in the world now.
But one thing you can be sure of, is that someone, somewhere, is making the most of life and having a bit of a giggle.

And that's a wise move, as laughing during times like these is not just good for the mind, it's great for the body.

Medical research has shown that having a good chuckle has several immunity-boosting benefits.
Researchers found that it stimulates organs, because you take in more oxygen when you are belly laughing. It also fires up then cools down your body's stress responses, leaving you feeling more chilled out.

It also soothes tension by increasing circulation and helping muscles relax. Remember how good you felt after something had REALLY made you laugh.

Long-Term Benefits
The pandemic has highlighted the importa


nce of a healthy immune system. Along with exercise, a proper diet and plenty of sleep, laughter is up there when it comes to making us more resistant to bugs, viruses and ailments.

According to scientists in America, the long-term effects of laughter include improving your immune system. This is because negative thoughts create chemical reactions in the body, wearing us down. But laughter and positive thoughts can release something called neuropeptides, which combat stress and potentially more serious illnesses.

No Sense of Humour? No Problem
Let's face it. Some people were absent from the queue when a sense of humour was being handed out. Maybe you know someone like that? The good news is humour can be learned, meaning the joys of laughter needn't be exclusive to people with a lighter, brighter disposition.

Here are two ways people can lighten up and have a laugh.
Consider laughter yoga (we're not joking). It's where people practise laughing in a group. It's faked laughter at first but can soon develop into genuine howls of hilarity.
Show me the funny – make time to share a giggle with friends and family who are always game for a laugh. Their mirth will rub off on you according to the medical boffins.

As estate agents, we need a sense of humour, and this article wouldn't be complete without a joke.
So, here's one from Olaf Falafel, who won the best joke award at last year's Edinburgh comedy festival with this gag.

"I keep randomly shouting out 'Broccoli' and 'Cauliflower' – I think I might have Florets."

Thanks for reading and if you have any serious (or silly) property questions, feel free to ask us. We're here to help people move successfully across TUNBRIDGE WELLS.

David Rogers MARLA MNAEA
Martin & Co

Friday, 7 August 2020

TUNBRIDGE WELLS HOMEOWNERS – PUT EXTRA POUNDS IN YOUR POCKET BY IMPROVING YOUR GARDEN




We look at ways to smarten up your garden to boost its appeal when thinking of selling your home.

One of the most significant property trends to emerge from lockdown is the growing importance of outdoor space to buyers.

Industry insiders report that post-lockdown, an increasing number of people are looking for homes with a garden – or at least access to communal spaces.

This anecdotal evidence is backed up by Rightmove, which says searches for homes with gardens increased by 42% in May. 

With buyers’ priorities shifting, we advise sellers in TUNBRIDGE WELLS to invest a little time and effort to get gardens, roof terraces and balconies looking their best.

You don’t need to be Monty Don or Carol Klein, but you do need to get the basics right. A little bit of TLC will push up the asking price and speed up the sale.

Here are some tips:

- If your garden looks more like a junkyard than a backyard, you are missing a trick. Cut the grass, blitz the weeds and trim back overgrown bushes and hedges (this will make the space look bigger and brighter). 

- Repair any broken or damaged fences. This is a must, especially if you are marketing a family home. Parents will want to know that their little ones can’t wander off. Pet owners will want to ensure that their beloved pooch stays put.

- If you have swings or a trampoline in good condition, it’s okay to leave them in situ (provided they don’t crowd the space). But anything that is faded or broken must go. Footballs, sandpits and scooters need to be stored away too.

- A lick of paint goes a long way. Add a splash of colour to sheds, decking and fences.

- Ditch the clutter. Don’t take it personally but people won’t be impressed by your collection of power tools or your assortment of garden gnomes. And don’t even get us started on caravans. These need to go into storage when selling.

- Once you’ve cleared the space, consider adding a few blooms or hanging baskets. When it comes to identifying where to place them, put yourself in the shoes of a viewer. Buyers will get their first glimpse of the garden when they are inside, looking out through a window. Identify these key focal points and place your plants there for maximum impact.

- Dress to impress. If you have a separate office or studio space, make sure it is presented as such. Often people cram offices with bikes, tools and boxes. You want potential buyers (who may work from home) to be able to walk around inside and envision themselves working in there. If your office has electricity and broadband, shout about it.

- Don’t forget the front garden. Even if the front of your property only has a small amount of space, invest in a few pot plants to make it look welcoming. First impressions are hugely important.

- And a final word on bins and laundry. It’s a pet peeve of ours when marketing photos feature bins (everyone has them, we don’t need to see them) and laundry drying on the line. A good agent knows the deal is in the detail and would ensure they are NOT featured in any photos.

If you’d like more advice on how best to present your home, contact us here at Martin & Co We’d love to help you make your next move.

Monday, 3 August 2020

EVICTIONS UPDATE FOR LANDLORDS IN TUNBRIDGE WELLS


Today we look at the latest news on the evictions front and the moves needed to avoid legal action.

It takes flexibility, compassion, and stamina to navigate the eviction process at the best of times. But, due to Covid-19, it takes more careful and considered steps than ever to repossess a property.

Last week, Housing Minister Christopher Pincher gave more detail about how the process will work once the current ban on evictions, introduced back in March, is lifted on August 23.

Pre-action rules explained
These new guidelines are called ‘pre-action rules’ and will remain in place until the end of March 2021.

If a landlord wishes to evict a tenant, they will have to:

- Inform the court and tenant in writing that they wish the case to proceed. Without this ‘reactivation notice’, the courts will consider the case dormant.

- Provide the courts with any information they have on how Covid-19 has impacted their tenant. 

- Provide a full arrears history.

Fail to follow these rules, and judges can adjourn proceedings, something that will only drag the process out even further.

What Action Landlords Can Take (FOR ENGLAND AND WALES)
These changes will only exacerbate the existing backlog of cases. The housing charity Shelter estimates there could be as many as 200,000 in the pipeline.

Landlords in TUNBRIDGE WELLS can avoid getting caught up in this legal nightmare, by treating eviction as the absolute last resort. Here are some tips to navigate your way through tricky situations and to hopefully avoid court action.

-          As they say, it takes two to tango. Don’t sit back and wait to hear from your tenant. You, or your letting agent, need to stay in regular contact with your tenant. That way, if they hit hard times, you can respond quickly.
-          If a tenant is struggling to pay their rent, don’t press the panic button. There are several strategies you can pursue, from rent reductions to flexible payment plans. Before you negotiate one of these options, please seek advice from us.
-          It’s easy to feel emotional or stressed when difficulties arise, but you need to remain cool-headed and pragmatic. What you do at the early stages of a dispute can be critical to recouping rental funds and determine the nature of the relationship in the future.
-          And of course, keep a record of all conversations and text and email exchanges.

These steps are the basics of managing tenancies during the Covid-19 crisis.

If you don’t feel qualified or comfortable doing all this yourself, we’re lettings experts and we can do it for you. We can take the lead, lighten the load, and make your life a lot easier.

For more advice about managing your property during Covid-19, contact us here at Martin & Co Tunbridge Wells 01892 543856.  

We’re here to help guide you through these difficult times.

Dave R

Friday, 31 July 2020

SIMPLE WAYS TO SHOW TUNBRIDGE WELLS FOODBANKS MUCH-NEEDED SUPPORT

As the Eat Out to Help Out scheme happens across the country next week, spare a thought for local foodbanks in TUNBRIDGE WELLS

People have experienced varying levels of hardship and distress, both emotionally and financially, since the Covid-19 outbreak began.

Someone summed it up wonderfully when they said: “We are all in the same storm, but some of us are in different boats.”

Every aspect of our lives has been touched in some way by the lockdown and foodbanks are reporting a shortage in donations as people’s minds are understandably elsewhere.

August is traditionally a slow month for donations to foodbanks, which tend to receive a flurry of items in the run-up to Christmas.

Covid-19 has exacerbated this seasonal issue because a lot more people have sadly fallen on tough times, increasing demand at a time when donations decline.
But the good news, is that we can all do something to help.

How you can help
Some of the essential, everyday goods that are most popular with foodbanks are:
Tinned soup.
Tinned fruit.
Tinned vegetables.
Pasta, rice, and sauces.
Cereals.
Long-life products.
Tea, coffee, cordial, and biscuits.

Even the smallest donations add up when people pull together to help their neighbours and their community.

Many foodbank websites have regularly updated sections asking for specific items if they are running low. So, it’s worth visiting their sites and seeing what is most needed.
Certain products should ideally be avoided, including dairy, dented tins, perishable items like fresh fruit, and homemade cooking or baking.

And it’s not just donations of food that are welcomed. Many foodbanks need financial support to keep their operation running. So, another way of helping could be to make a monetary donation.

At Martin & Co Tunbridge Wells, we feel fortunate that we can support our local foodbanks in any way we can, including publicising the excellent work they do and saluting their amazing volunteers who make it all happen.

Thanks for reading.
Dave R     MARLA MNAEA 

Wednesday, 29 July 2020

OPPORTUNITY IS KNOCKING IN TUNBRIDGE WELLS – WILL YOU BE OPENING THE DOOR?



The clock is ticking for buyers and sellers in TUNBRIDGE WELLS who want to get moving

We discover why the opportunity clocks are ticking for people wanting to make the most of the Stamp Duty holiday.

“Life is a Game” is a quote attributed to Mother Teresa, but it could be easily applied to property.
And as with all games, there are winners and losers when it comes to selling a home.
Timing always plays a part in how successful you are, as does having a talented estate agency working on your behalf to get you a winning result.

The announcement earlier this month that Stamp Duty for properties under £500,000 is eliminated until March 31, 2021, means there’s now plenty of opportunity knocking on the doors of homeowners in TUNBRIDGE WELLS. Buyers can save up to £15,000 during this window.

Opportunity Clocks
Depending on what source you look at, it takes on average (from a cold start) between 176 to 200 days to sell a home.
This means the opportunity clock is now ticking before that March 31 deadline.
The Stamp Duty holiday means:
·       Deals that were dead in the water over a difference in the value buyers and sellers were prepared to accept (especially between £15-30,000) are now potentially resurrected.
·       Having more to put down as a deposit is opening more of the mortgage market to buyers.
·       As is the decision by several lenders to reintroduce 90% Loan to Value mortgages.
·       If you’re thinking of selling, you’ll also benefit from the Stamp Duty removal if the place you’re buying is under the £500,000 bracket.

But it’s not enough to put your most valuable tax-free asset up for sale and hope the rising tide of a buoyant market in TUNBRIDGE WELLS helps you achieve the premium price for your property.

You also need to remember the following five things, which we’ve related to classic game shows to help you remember.

Blankety Blank – Watch out for cheap and not so cheerful agents or agencies that promise the earth but can’t back it up with evidence and case studies.

The Price is Right – Overvaluing a property will mean it sticks, no matter what the market is doing or if stamp duty has been put on hold. Pricing it correctly to sell at a premium price is a skill experienced agents like us have.

Through the Keyhole – When you are on the market, your property gets put under the microscope so prepare it thoroughly so that viewers will feel like it’s a place they’d love to call home.

Countdown – Remember that date – March 31, 2021 – The sooner you start marketing your property, the better. The clock is ticking.



Bullseye – When you choose an agent with an excellent track record and fair fees who values your property correctly and can guide you on every aspect of the selling process, you’ve hit the bullseye. And you won’t be left thinking about what you could’ve ‘won.’

At Martin & Co Tunbridge Wells,  we see working with a client to sell their home as a team effort. So, if you like the sound of our approach and are interested to know how we’d help you make the most of the Stamp Duty window of opportunity, let’s talk.

Thanks for reading.
Dave R

Saturday, 25 July 2020

THE COURT RULING THAT ALL LANDLORDS IN TUNBRIDGE WELLS NEED TO KNOW ABOUT


We look at what a recent court ruling that found a “no DSS” letting ban was unlawful means for landlords.

A disabled mum-of-two emerged victorious from York County Court earlier this month after winning a case that sent ripples through the lettings industry.
The woman, who was on housing benefit, had been blocked from renting a property by a blanket “no DSS” lettings policy.

The court heard the woman, who had a part-time job, good references from two previous landlords and a reliable guarantor, had been treated unfairly. The judge agreed and awarded her £3,500 in damages and costs.


Legal implications
The ruling is significant because, despite lots of rumblings over “no DSS”, it is the first time a judge has ruled it is unlawful and discriminatory. 
Homeless charity Shelter says the case sends a clear warning to landlords “that they risk legal action if they continue to bar housing benefit tenants from renting”.

Now some legal eagles have noted that as the ruling was made in a county court, it is not binding on other courts. But we think this is splitting hairs. 

Even before the York court case, some tenants had won out-of-court settlements after challenging adverts which openly banned benefit claimants.

The direction of traffic is clear: blanket bans that take no account of an individual’s circumstances are increasingly risky. A one-size-fits-all approach can leave a landlord exposed to the threat of legal action and one big headache.

Push to end “no DSS”

The term “no DSS” has been used in property listings for years to make it clear benefit recipients will not be considered for a tenancy.
It’s loathed by welfare charities who argue it should be a relic of the past. (History buffs take note, the DSS – the Department for Social Security – ceased to exist back in 2001!).

There are many reasons why historically some landlords have not rented to people on benefits. One is that some mortgages and insurance policies were invalidated if the tenant was on benefits. 

But things have changed. Many lenders, including the Co-operative, Nationwide and NatWest, have loosened buy-to-let mortgage restrictions that relate to benefits tenants. And the phrase “no DSS” has been banned by property portals Zoopla and Rightmove. 

Finding the right tenant for your property
Understandably, a landlord wants to find a reliable and respectful tenant.

But slapping “no DSS” at the end of a property listing can be like hitting a walnut with a sledgehammer.
Landlords need a more nuanced strategy which considers applicants on a case by case basis.

This legwork might take a little more time, and involve more admin, but in the long run, it is worth it.  This is where we come into our own as experienced, ethical letting agents.

Who – other than a lawyer, of course – wants to get caught up in a legal dispute over the fine-print of the Equality Act 2010? We can think of about 5,000 other things we’d rather do with our time.

If you’d like more advice about how to find a good tenant and protect your investment, contact us.

We’ll take the stress out of the rental process and give you back time to focus on other priorities you have.

At Martin & Co Tunbridge Wells we’re here to help landlords navigate the TUNBRIDGE WELLS lettings market. If you have any questions about the issues raised in this article, please get in touch.

Thursday, 23 July 2020

Are Buy to Let Landlords to Blame for Royal Tunbridge Wells’ Housing Crisis?

Isn’t it funny that nobody boasts they are a buy to let landlord anymore? Roll the clock back to the early millennium and you couldn’t go to the local golf club or shop at a Waitrose without someone dropping buy to let into the conversation as easily and as often as the weather. 

Yet now, Royal Tunbridge Wells buy to let landlords have almost pariah status, as they place a brown paper bag over their head when they enter a letting agency, lest they be recognised as such. They can easily be recognised though, as the average age of a UK tenant is 32 years old, whilst the average age of a UK landlord is between 40 and 61 years old.

Joking aside, if it wasn’t for buy to let landlords – Royal Tunbridge Wells and the UK would be in a rather difficult position when it comes to housing our local people. Many people believe that if you take buy to let landlords out of the loop of the UK property network, then it would be the land of milk and honey for first-time buyers priced out of the market. Those Royal Tunbridge Wells landlords provide those tenants with a mixture of homes to live in and using market forces, ensure the right number of Royal Tunbridge Wells homes are available. In fact, the stats show that…

Royal Tunbridge Wells buy to let landlords provide 5,353 homes
for 10,874 Royal Tunbridge Wells tenants

Yet the retort from many tenant organisations would be that Royal Tunbridge Wells landlords are wealthy middle -lass people, voraciously exploiting the failing Royal Tunbridge Wells property market for their profit and greed. Of course, the demographic of an average Royal Tunbridge Wells landlord is they tend to come from more fortunate backgrounds, with 3 in 4 landlords aged between their late 40’s to late 60’s and 4 in 10 having a degree level qualification.

It also wouldn’t surprise anyone to learn that those who invest in buy to let Royal Tunbridge Wells property are likely to be better off than those who have not yet been able to buy a home. Yet, that is the nature of the country we live in and it’s a consequence of a competitive free market economy (the alternative didn’t go too well in Soviet bloc). Indeed, asserting that the buy to let landlords represent a transfer of wealth and money from tenants to landlords is like saying that the pub represents a transfer of wealth from drinkers to the pub landlord.

Don’t get me wrong, the tax loopholes for landlords up until 3 or 4 years ago were a little ‘too’ generous, still these were closed by the Tory’s themselves. However, should the Government try to place even more burden on landlords like some are suggesting, forcing them to sell, I am certain some Royal Tunbridge Wells first time buyers would find it cheaper to buy their first home. This is because they wouldn’t be in competition with Royal Tunbridge Wells landlords to buy the starter homes both types of buyers crave, meaning house prices would drop (simple economics would dictate that). 

Yet, if the supply of Royal Tunbridge Wells privately rented homes contracted at a greater rate (because landlords were selling up) than demand, this would make renting more expensive (again simple economics) for the vast majority of Royal Tunbridge Wells tenants who were still renting a local home. Irrespective of whether property values dropped, it might take years for a tenant to save for a deposit, whilst for the rental properties the landlords wants to sell, the tenants only need to be given two months’ notice to leave so the property can be put on the market. 

One might ask why don’t the local authorities build more council houses?

Well, Government funding has been tight because of the Credit Crunch deficit since 2009 and going forward because of the current situation with Covid-19, it will get even worse. In fact, of the 617,230 new homes built in the country over the last 4 years, only 8,270 or 1.33% were built by local authorities, meaning only just over 1 in 100 of all new properties built in the last 4 years were built by the local authorities.

This is important as the number of people in rented property has been growing over the last 20 years. In fact, when you look at all the tenants in council and private rented accommodation locally…

34.3% of Royal Tunbridge Wells people live in a rented property

Interestingly, the demographic of a council house tenant is totally different to that of a tenant in a private rented home. The average age of a council house tenant is 52 years old (compared to 32 years for a private rented tenant), so it appears the older generation have the upper hand on council houses. So again, who exactly is going to house the people of Royal Tunbridge Wells, especially the younger generation that can’t afford to buy?

Local authorities haven’t got the money, housing associations get their money from central Government, so the only other source of housing is private landlords. The problem existed before private landlords filled the gap. No doubt many Royal Tunbridge Wells landlords have certainly gained from the problem, especially between 2000 and 2007, yet at the same time, they have helped home millions of people. 

Consequently, are Royal Tunbridge Wells landlords greedy and selfish?  For most law abiding Royal Tunbridge Wells landlords, who look after their tenants and their properties really well, nothing could be further from the truth… and yes they have made some money – yet if you take into account property maintenance, mortgage finance, taxation, agent fees, surveys and inspections – it’s really not the gold mine many think it is. 

Not until all the political parties stop using the housing issue as a political football will this issue be sorted. For example, it makes sense to allow mass building in the South East, again driving up supply and making property more affordable, yet that would wind up the Tory voting home county heartlands. It’s a shame because we do have the room to build more homes, in fact…

Only 1.2% of the country has houses built on it

The country needs a massive root and branch change to sort things out, yet I have grave misgivings that any politician has the stomach or the political resolve to do anything about it. 

If Covid-19 does affect the confidence in the property market that will in fact be good news for Royal Tunbridge Wells landlords, as long as the Government doesn’t put its big ‘size 9’s in to the rental market by taking even more money out landlords pockets.

Historically, ambiguity in the property market typically results in an expansion in activity in the private rental market. Prospective home movers will rent in between selling their home and buying the next one, while budding first time buyers typically postpone their purchase and stay in the private rental market for marginally longer … which all increases demand for rental property.

Monday, 20 July 2020

GREAT NEWS FOR FIRST-TIME BUYERS IN TUNBRIDGE WELLS AS POPULAR MORTGAGES RETURN


We look at the return of 90% loan to value mortgages (LTV) and the flurry of activity in the housing market.



The property market has received a shot in the arm with some lenders including Nationwide reintroducing 90% LTV mortgages for first-time buyers.

As Nationwide is Britain’s second-biggest lender, the decision is another piece of good news for the sector which has roared back into action in recent weeks.
Metro Bank, Coventry for Intermediaries and Platform, the intermediary arm of the Co-operative Bank, have also brought back 90% LTV products.

Why are 90% LTV mortgages such a big deal?
For many first-time buyers, the most significant barrier to purchasing their own place is getting the deposit together.

With their 10% deposit requirement, 90% LTV mortgages are the most accessible option for those striving to buy their first home.

So, when lenders pulled their 90% LTV deals in June due to uncertainty over the economy, first-time buyers felt the squeeze. This was a broader concern for the industry because if property newbies can’t enter the market, it affects all the other players in the property chain.

First-time buyers are a driving force in the housing market, responsible for more than a third of all sales (according to property portal Zoopla). But now good mortgage deals are back on the table, things are looking up.

Back on track – big-time
After months in the doldrums due to lockdown, there has been a flurry of activity in the TUNBRIDGE WELLS housing market.

Miles Shipside, commercial director, and housing market analyst at Rightmove, said: “There’s been record demand for property on Rightmove since the market reopened.”
*IN ENGLAND AND NORTHERN IRELAND ONLY 

The big-ticket decision in the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak’s recent mini-budget, was a Stamp Duty holiday on the first £500,000 of a property – a move that could save buyers up to £15,000.
The special measure is only available until the end of March 2021 but is a double whammy of good news for first-time buyers when combined with the 90 % LTV announcement.

The Perfect Time to Move in TUNBRIDGE WELLS
Crucially, it’s not just buyers who have returned to the TUNBRIDGE WELLS market. Sellers, many of whom were forced to sit tight during the lockdown, are now ready to move.

It’s estimated that lockdown prevented about 175,000 sellers across the UK bringing their property to market. Many of those are now making up for lost time.
With so many sellers keen to move after being held up by lockdown, the stamp duty holiday and the mortgage news now is the perfect time for first-time buyers to get onto the ladder.

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Here at Martin & Co Tunbridge wells, we’re here to help you make your move. Whether you’re a first-time buyer, or someone looking for pastures new, we can make it happen.