Thursday, 5 November 2020

Tunbridge Wells’ Homebuyers Have Saved £495,920 Thanks to the Stamp Duty Holiday – Yet Many Could Miss Out

Tunbridge Wells’ homebuyers and Tunbridge Wells’ landlords purchasing residential property have saved £12,398 since the Chancellor reduced stamp duty on 8th July 2020, yet many more Tunbridge Wells homebuyers could miss out.

My analysis of properties sold in Tunbridge Wells from the Land Registry between the introduction of the stamp duty holiday on 8th July 2020 and


14th August 2020 (which is the most up to date sales data), reveals that many Tunbridge Wells’ homeowners have saved a considerable amount of money in stamp duty. According to my research…

since the stamp duty holiday was launched, 40 Tunbridge Wells’ homeowners have saved on average £12,398 each.

That’s a total Tunbridge Wells property value of £17,918,495.

Mind you, it’s not all good news as I estimate 88 Tunbridge Wells’ homebuyers risk missing out on stamp duty savings (worth as much as £15,000 each) due to solicitors/conveyancers and mortgage lenders struggling with demand and failing to hit the 31st March 2021 deadline.

The short-term tax relief, together with the easing of lockdown restrictions, has seen demand for Tunbridge Wells property soar this summer as Tunbridge Wells property buyers race to move home.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak introduced a stamp duty holiday in the summer, with the stamp duty holiday due to end on 31st March 2021. Yet, I fear the combined pent-up demand caused by…

·       the post Boris Bounce

·       people wanting to leave the metropolitan city centres for homes in the countryside

·       property with gardens

·       property with extra rooms for working from home

·       and the stamp duty savings

…has created a certain amount of constipation and backlog in the Tunbridge Wells property market.

I know 31st March 2021 seems an age away, however nothing could be further from the truth. The average Tunbridge Wells’ property sale was taking 19 weeks between the offer price being agreed and the keys/monies handed over BEFORE THE POST-LOCKDOWN. So with as many as 40% to 50% more Tunbridge Wells’ homeowners in that same sales pipeline of agreeing the offer and the legal and finance to be sorted as we speak, solicitors/conveyancers and mortgage lenders are really struggling with demand for their services, meaning the average time will increase. Hence, I believe as many as…

88 Tunbridge Wells people could miss out on the

£1,091,030 stamp duty tax savings.

 There is time left to sell and legally complete your Tunbridge Wells property sale before 31st March stamp duty deadline if you put the property on the market now with a realistic asking price, a decent marketing plan and razor sharp reflexes when it comes to the legal and mortgage work.

Yet with 40% to 50% more home movers in the system, those looking to sell their Tunbridge Wells home should be very suspicious of agents being too optimistic on their initial asking price (many estate agents get a commission to put a property on the market, meaning they over-egg the pudding on the suggested asking price to flatter you, only to badger you to reduce the asking price weeks later).

Those wasted weeks at an inflated asking price will mean the difference between you securing a buyer and you then buying your next Tunbridge Wells home with or without the stamp duty savings, which are up to £15,000 per home move.

And whilst many Tunbridge Wells buyers seem ready, willing and able to pay top dollar prices for Tunbridge Wells properties that match their changed post-lockdown home needs, speaking privately to many Tunbridge Wells agents, some Tunbridge Wells homeowners’ price expectations for their Tunbridge Wells homes are now becoming too optimistic, meaning they will undoubtedly lose out.

We also can’t forget as many as 1 in 5 mortgage surveys are being down valued by the surveyor, meaning unless all parties are willing to negotiate, the sale falls through and the homeowner has to go back to ‘Square One’.

My best piece of advice for those currently sold and in the sales systems with lawyers and mortgage brokers is to speak to your solicitor and mortgage broker every single week and ask if there is anything you need to do to ensure the sale proceeds smoothly and expediently. Also, if you are asked for any information from your solicitor or mortgage broker in between times, drop everything and respond quickly to their request. The odd day here and there will make all the difference.

Tuesday, 3 November 2020

Royal Tunbridge Wells’ ‘Generation Rent’ to become ‘Generation Buy’?

 

Boris Johnson has attracted both praise and horror in equal measure with a new plan for 95% mortgages to help beleaguered first time buyers to get on the property ladder, but would that expose UK taxpayers to too much risk? In this article I discuss the implications of what that would mean both nationally and locally in Tunbridge Wells.

With the  Tunbridge Wells property market taking off due to the stamp duty holiday introduced in the summer, Boris Johnson announced at the recent Tory Conference a plan to offer first time buyers long-term low interest rate 95% mortgages (meaning they would only need to raise a 5% deposit). Yet when someone borrows more than 75%, the banks normally take out insurance in case the buyer defaults and the bank lose money if the property gets repossessed.

When the economy is good, the risk is low - so the insurance premiums are also low for the banks – meaning they are happy to lend high percentage loans. Yet, nobody could deny we are entering a period of uncertainty in the coming 12/18 months, meaning the insurance premiums for the banks have gone through the roof.

Mortgage companies have avoided riskier high percentage first time buyer mortgages since the start of the Coronavirus predicament. At the end of February 2020, there were just under 400 95% loan-to-value mortgage products accessible for first time buyers, yet today that figure stands at just 26.

Another reason for removing the number of 95% mortgages was that the demand for lower percentage loans exploded after lockdown was lifted, and with many mortgage staff still working from home, the banks and building societies focused their attention on getting those (less risky) mortgages sorted first. Therefore, they removed the higher percentage loans from their books, so they weren’t swamped with too much work ... so, one must ask, should the Government take on that risk from mortgage providers in the form of a guarantee from the Government — sparking concern among economists the Government is already burdened with debt – does it need anymore?

Yet taxpayers have been funding a similar scheme for years. The Help to Buy scheme, which allows first time buyers to buy a home with a 5% deposit (and the Government guaranteeing between 20% to 40% of the loan) has been in operation since 2013. Taxpayers are already guaranteeing £16.049bn of loans for 224,133 for first time buyers, and when we look closer to home locally, since 2013…

169 first time buyers in Tunbridge Wells have used the Help to Buy scheme to help buy their home, relying on the Government to guarantee them on average £70,420

That means in Tunbridge Wells alone, £11,900,980 is at risk if those  Tunbridge Wells homeowners’ default on those pre-existing Help to Buy Loans … yet the default rate is quite low.

So, should the Prime Minister be playing with the housing market? Ought he instead allow open market forces to be applied to the property market, allowing it to find its own normal and leave the mortgage providers to decide on mortgages based on risk, because all the Prime Minister will potentially achieve is a synthetic rise in property values?

Some in fact have argued it would be better to spend that

public money on delivering affordable rental properties?

However, in the long run isn’t it better for the country as a whole that British people own their home rather than rent because the Government will have rent to pay for those tenants when they retire if they are on the basic (low) state pension?

Personally, I don’t disagree with the initiative, yet all I am querying is, what are the Tunbridge Wells first time buyers going to be able to buy? The Tunbridge Wells property market is already quite drawn-out, as ultra-low interest rates have augmented the gap between the first home and the second home, the second home to the third and so on and so forth, so  is this initiative  fashioning a massive demand that will inflate property prices up the Tunbridge Wells property ladder still further and ultimately lead to even more frustration down the line?

However, could this be the very thing that saves

the  Tunbridge Wells property market in 2021? 

Firstly, with the stamp duty holiday due to finish by the end of March, there are suspicions the property market will stall. And secondly, the very popular Help to Buy scheme mentioned above also finishes at the end of March 2021. This boost instead of fueling house price inflation could stabilise the property market.

In fact, the Government are hoping the property market will help power us out of recession. The early signs are good as the Tunbridge Wells housing market has exploded as a result of the stamp duty holiday introduced in the summer. It certainly needs to as the country’s GDP only grew by 2.1% in August, down from 6.4% in July, 9.1% in June and 2.7% in May.

As a country, our GDP is still 9.2% below the levels seen pre-Covid. With the property market doing well, the country remains on course to leave recession in Q3, yet with the impending triple peril of rising unemployment (after furlough), further lock-down restrictions and a messy end to the Brexit transition period does this mean we are potentially in for an interesting ride?

Only time will tell if ‘Generation Buy’ will help save the property market, the econ
omy and ultimately Boris? In the meantime, I think it will be a safe bet that people still need homes to live in … and irrespective of what happens to the property market, with that simple fact, the winners in all of this will be  Tunbridge Wells buy to let landlords.

Tell me your thoughts on this …

TUNBRIDGE WELLS PET OWNERS - KEEP YOUR FURRY FRIENDS SAFE AND SOUND THIS BONFIRE NIGHT




Some simple, soothing ways to keep your pets calm this firework season in Tunbridge Wells

Today we look at ten steps you can take to soothe pets through the anxiety-inducing fireworks season.

Halloween has been and gone and next up on the calendar is Bonfire Night.

Some people enjoy it. Others endure it. 

One thing is for sure, and that's with all the loud bangs, strange sounds, and unexpected flashes it's a testing time, to put it mildly, for our pets.

At Martin & Co we love people, properties, and pets and that's why we've collated these six tips for animal lovers in Tunbridge Wells

Check out these ten tips on keeping animal calm from the RSPCA:

1) Give them a walk during daylight hours to avoid times when fireworks are likely to be set off.

2) Close windows and curtains
to stifle the sound of fireworks.

3) Put on the TV or radio to mask the firework sounds.

4) Create a quiet 'safe' space where your dog can feel in control.

5) Make some hiding places around your home where they can retreat to.

6) Give them a little extra TLC (tender loving care, that one's from us).

Advice for cat owners:

7) Just like you would do for dogs provide hiding places in your home.

8) Get them inside. Cats can become more stressed if they're outside during fireworks.

Advice for small animal owners (rabbits, gerbils etc.)

9) Partly cover outside cages and pens with blankets to create an Tunbridge Wells which is quieter and hidden but make space for the animals to look out and see where they are.

10) Ensure there's bedding small animals can burrow in as it helps them feel safer. 

At MARTIN & CO we are all about finding you a home you AND your pets will love and feel safe and comfortable in.

If you have any questions about what's happening in the Tunbridge Wells property market right now, please get in touch.

Thanks for reading.

Have a Safe one




Monday, 2 November 2020

WHAT THE NEW LOCKDOWN MEANS FOR LANDLORDS AND TENANTS IN TUNBRIDGE WELLS

How will the new lockdown impact the rental market in TUNBRIDGE WELLS

In this two-minute read, we look at what the announcement on Saturday by Prime Minister Boris Johnson means to landlords and tenants in TUNBRIDGE WELLS.

The writing has been on the wall for several days now, but on Saturday we received confirmation that England will go into lockdown from Thursday, November 5 until at least December 2.

So, how will this affect landlords and tenants in TUNBRIDGE WELLS?

Well, firstly it's good news from a property moving perspective because the Housing Minister Robert Jenrick confirmed in a tweet on Saturday evening that the market was still very much open for business.

QUESTION:

‘Can I still move home?’

ANSWER:

‘Yes – the housing market will remain open throughout this period. Everyone should continue to play their part in reducing the spread of the virus by following the current guidance.’

The Minister's tweet linked to an information guide about the new lockdown which you can find at the bottom of this article.

At MARTIN & CO, we continue to work hard for our landlords and tenants in a Covid-19 secure way, while strictly following the regulations laid out by the Government.

Yes we Can

We can still conduct safety first viewings using PPE, hand sanitisers and social distancing.

We will still carry out inspections safely and sensitively.

We remain able to organise maintenance and repairs under the new lockdown.

And we will keep everyone we work with updated about any changes that may happen.

Here for YOU

We appreciate this is an anxious time for many of our clients and that's why we want you to contact us if you have any questions, concerns or want to get a better understanding of what's happening.

As we were in the first lockdown, we are 100 per cent committed and focussed on doing the right things for our clients, our colleagues, and our community.

Thanks for reading.

PS: Here's the Government article:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/new-national-restrictions-from-5-november

Copyright: MARTIN & CO (Tunbridge Wells)

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.