Should You Sell Your Property At Auction?

If you’re thinking of selling your property have you considered selling via auction? At Redstones, we offer this facility to all of our clients. It offers a straightforward solution with no estate agency fees to pay and the buyer secures the sale through paying the deposit.

Here we consider some of the reasons for selling at auction and the types of methods available.

Why sell your property at auction?

Selling at auction offers a number of advantages:-

  • In most cases you gain the optimum price for your property which can be higher than selling through an estate agent.
  • Unforeseen legal issues that arise during a ‘conventional’ purchase are avoided.
  • You know that the contract is legally binding the moment the hammer falls at the auction.
  • You aren’t caught up in a sales ‘chain’.

Reasons for selling at auction

Certain properties are more suitable for sale at auction than others, for instance:-

  • A run down property that will need considerable investment and renovation.
  • An unconventional or unique property which can’t always be categorised. For these properties, auctions are ideal as they determine the market price for the seller.
  • A property that is difficult to sell due to location, for example.
  • The need for a quick sale due to a change in personal or financial circumstances.

Before reaching auction

Before your property is placed for auction, you must agree your reserve price. This is a vital part of the process as you are indicating the minimum acceptable price you will accept for the sale of your property. You cannot change your mind once the auction begins.

At Redstones, we have extensive experience at selling property through auction and provide guidance on this matter.

When preparing your property for auction we recommend you treat it as a ‘normal’ house sale and ensure it is presented as well as possible to encourage potential buyers to make a bid during the auction process.

Modern or traditional method?

There are two methods available for selling property at auction and at Redstones we offer both:-

Traditional method of auction : This requires a legal exchange of contracts immediately after the auction has finished and is more suitable for property which has been repossessed or for commercial investments.

Modern auction method : The majority of our clients selling at auction use the Modern (or ‘Conditional’ Auction Method. For both sellers and buyers it is more user friendly, offering a longer period for exchange and completion to take place. The modern method of auction is recommended by Redstones.  It is also closer in the process to a more traditional property purchase. On agreeing to buy, the purchaser pays a non-refundable reservation fee to secure the property. They then have 28 days to exchange contracts and a further 28 days for completion to take place.

Selling your property by auction doesn’t need to be a daunting experience. With the right advice and guidance, it offers a viable way for residential property owners to sell quickly, at an optimum price.

If you are thinking about selling your property contact Redstones today for advice on the most appropriate way forward for your unique circumstances.

For more information on the methods of selling by auction, please visit our website.

Redstones - The Green Deal

The Green Deal – How Will It Affect Landlords?

In 2011, the government introduced its Energy Act which included the ‘Green Deal’.  In essence, this new Act aims to reduce carbon emissions in properties therefore improving their energy efficiency and making them warmer.

The Green Deal itself offers a new way to pay for energy efficient property improvements. Green Deal Finance is available to pay for cavity insulation, double glazing and so on, with costs being repaid through the savings made on electricity bills.  Once the loan is paid in full, the people living in the property will enjoy the full savings benefits. For landlords, this means that the costs are met by tenants.

How does this affect landlords?

From 2018 it will be illegal for a landlord to rent out a property with a poor energy rating and all private rental properties must carry a minimum E rating on Energy Performance Certificates.  It is estimated that this may affect around 10% of privately rented homes, making them impossible to let within 4 years’ time unless action is taken.

Some changes will take effect in 2016 with tenants legally able to demand improvements to energy efficiency from their landlords.  Fines may be imposed for those landlords who fail to meet any requests which are deemed ‘reasonable’.

There are two contrasting views regarding the effect of the Green Deal on landlords.

Positive

As far as landlords are concerned, the advantages offered by the Green Deal mean that:-

  • Older properties will benefit from improved energy efficiency.
  • Costs will be met through electricity bills, ie, paid by the tenant.

Concerns

The Residential Landlords’ Association has raised a number of concerns however, namely:-

  • The potential risk that properties may be harder to rent due to the charges on the Green Deal for any properties requiring improvement. The perceived risk is that tenants may resist payment of charges.
  • The Energy Act will result in discrimination against the private rented sector which already has a higher energy efficiency rating than the owner/occupier sector.
  • The cost of the work required may have been under-estimated as the private rental sector contains a significant proportion of houses built before the First World War and a higher number of tenants living in ‘fuel poverty’.
  • The calculation of costs versus savings of the Green Deal itself do not take into account the financial circumstances of a tenant.  Costs savings may therefore be less than anticipated, casting a negative light on the Green Deal.  The anticipated interest rates on the Green Deal may also deter tenants from embracing the scheme.
  • The RLA believes this will particularly affect those tenants living in fuel poverty and has recommended that tax allowances for landlords should be increased, or landlords are allowed to pay the Green Deal charges in order for their property to achieve Band E.

The overall effect on the private rental market is yet to be understood but it is vital that all landlords are aware of the impact that this may have on their property portfolio. More information on the Green Deal can be found on the government’s official website.

Landlords with a property portfolio who may be affected by these changes should contact their lettings agent who can advise them on the best course of action.

For prospective landlords or for those thinking of expanding their current portfolio, in addition to carrying out their standard research before purchasing a property they must also consider the age of the property and ensure they meet the new requirements ahead of 2018.

Thinking of letting your property? Contact Redstones today to discuss the range of services we offer from introduction only to full management.

Redstones Walsall Head Office

7 Unique Benefits Of A Redstones Franchise

Making the decision to invest in a franchise is not one which is taken lightly.  When you finally decide that establishing your own lettings agency business via the franchise route is the right option for you, your next decision is which franchise brand will enable you to develop a profitable, reputable business.

Redstones The Property Experts sign

Redstones The Property Experts sign

Here you’ll find a video from our franchisees explaining why they chose to invest in a Redstones franchise:-

As a Redstones franchisee you will be given comprehensive training and support to ensure your achieve your business goals.  To complement this training we equip all of our franchisees with the unique marketing tools to run their business and stand out in a competitive market including:-

Platinum Total Care Service : A major concern expressed by our customers is the problem arising from tenants who fail to pay their rent on time every month.  This is a realistic concern; tenants may lose their job or be unable to work due to illness. Whatever the reason, Redstones Platinum Total Care Service guarantees that landlords receives their rental payments on time every month regardless of whether or not their tenant has paid. It is a unique offering in the private lettings market.

Utility Warehouse : As a responsible lettings agent, Redstones also seeks to offer benefits to its tenants as well as landlords. Our membership of Utility Warehouse means that our franchisees can now offer tenants the ability to source the most cost effective deals on their utility bills. With the cost of living continuing to rise, this is an invaluable marketing tool.

RIghtmove Micro-Site : Each franchisee is provided with their own micro-site on one of the UK’s most well-known property websites – Rightmove. You can see a typical example of what this looks like on the website for our Walsall office. This online platform gives all of our franchisees increased visibility and cements Redstones’ reputation as a franchisor of choice in the private lettings sector.

Redstones Financial :  The ability to find cost effective financial solutions to a variety of needs is a very real concern among both our tenants and landlords.  Our recently launched initiative, Redstones Financial means our franchisees can now offer a source of independent financial advice to both their clients and tenants.

Switch Agents : We know from speaking to a range of disillusioned landlords that standards across the industry are still poor in places. Our response to this trend is our Switch Agents facility which enables unhappy property owners to switch the management of their property portfolio to Redstones in a series of easy steps. It’s yet another marketing tool which enables our franchisees to attract new clients to their business.

Additional Income Streams : Once our franchisees are firmly established in the private residential lettings sector, Redstones offers the option of expanding your business into the residential sales, commercial sales and commercial lettings sector too. For franchisees who have previous experience, they may choose to include these services on their business launch.

Redstones Auctions : For customers who require a faster sale we also offer the Redstones Auctions option incorporating both modern methods and traditional methods for placing properties for sale at auction.

With the range of options available, there’s no need for property owners to look further than Redstones for all of their needs. It all adds up to a more intelligent business model.

The difference is Redstones.

To find out more about the latest initiatives offered by Redstones and for more information on our unique franchise model, contact us today.

Is Your Property Ready For The Winter

Landlords : Is Your Property Ready For The Winter?

Autumnal weather is well and truly upon us and for landlords, now is an ideal time to ensure your rental properties are ‘fit for purpose’ as the weather gets colder. Follow our tips below to ensure your property is in peak condition in time for the winter months.

Carry out a boiler service

When was the last time you had the boiler serviced in your rental property? Regular gas checks are essential as part of your tenancy agreement. If you’ve neglected this mandatory part of your obligations as a landlord, now is the perfect time to service the boiler and any other gas appliances in your property.  For landlords who carry out mid-term inspections or who let their properties through a reputable estate agent this should be routine.  Our advice is, don’t delay – have you ever attempted to secure the services of a gas engineer during a cold snap?

Check all pipes and guttering

All pipes and guttering should be thoroughly secured to the walls and, together with brickwork, checked for leaks, fractures and blockages. Leaking pipes may freeze and burst during the winter months and in this case prevention is certainly better than cure.

Pay attention to bathrooms

From our experience of property management at Redstones, we know that bathrooms can often suffer from excessive condensation and damp, resulting in loose or cracked tiles which lead to leaks and water damage. Check bathrooms thoroughly for any telltale signs and rectify any potential problems immediately.

Carry out regular checks if your property is empty

‘Void’ periods – the times when your property does not have a tenant – during autumn and winter months mean that you must pay extra attention to your property. Carry out regular visits and checks to ensure your property is secure and your heating is working properly.  If you are struggling to find a suitable tenant, consider contacting a reputable lettings agent who specialises in your local area and can help you to find a tenant quickly.

Insulate your property

With all landlords required to provide EPCs (Energy Performance Certificates) on their rental properties, insulation is essential. Check the cladding around your pipes and boiler, ensure that your taps aren’t leaking and seal windows and doors with appropriate draft excluders.

Keep your tenants fully informed

While the maintenance of your property is your responsibility as a landlord, it is worth investing some time putting together an information pack for your tenants. Include advice on operating the boiler, locating stopcocks and ensuring heating is on if they are away during the cold weather. With the arrival of darker nights, it is also vital to ensure your property is thoroughly secured with deadlocks and burglar alarms.

Carry out tests on smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors

While these tests should form part of your regular inspections, with colder weather approaching, it is essential to ensure that your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are fully functional.

Make sure your insurance policy is up-to-date

Insurance can be a grey area for many landlords as maintenance issues aren’t always covered by landlord policies. For your peace of mind, Redstones Financial Services provides a full range of financial services for landlords and tenants.

For more information on your responsibilities as a landlord, you may also find our blog 8 Landlord Obligations You Need To Know helpful.

Thinking of letting your property? Talk to a reputable lettings agent. Contact Redstones today to discuss your options.

House_keys

8 Landlord Obligations You Need To Know

At Redstones, we are often asked about the checks and safeguards landlords must put in place to ensure the safety of their tenants and also comply with the law.

Most landlords are aware of the requirement for gas safety and electrical checks but here we’ve summarised some additional mandatory requirements that you may not be aware of.

Smoke Alarms

It is mandatory for any property built from June 1992 onwards to be fitted with smoke alarms on each floor of your property.  It is the landlord’s responsibility to ensure that these alarms are in working order before a tenancy agreement commences.

Houses of Multiple Occupation (HMO)

Every landlord must obtain a licence from the local authority for houses of multiple occupation, for example:-

  • Properties rented out to at least three separate tenants who share a kitchen or bathroom in the same property, typically student accommodation.
  • Properties which are three or more storeys high.
  • Properties let to over five people who are from more than one family or household.

Failure to obtain this mandatory licence can result in a fine of up to £20,000.

Landlords of HMOs are also required to provide smoke alarms, an electrical installation condition report, a portable appliance test and a carbon monoxide alarm (see below).

Carbon Monoxide Alarms

As we noted above, HMOs must be fitted with a carbon monoxide alarm. A growing number of landlords are fitting carbon monoxide alarms in their private rental properties regardless of this law in order to protect their tenants.

Oil &Wood Burning Stoves

Annual safety checks and services must be carried out on all oil, wood burning stoves and other similar appliances. Furthermore, wood burning stoves that were fitted after 2011 must also have a carbon monoxide alarm as well as a certificate with proof of the date of installation.

Legionnaires’ Disease

Landlords must carry out a risk assessment for all of their properties to ensure there is no adverse risk from Legionnaire’s Disease. Our previous blog provides more information on this issue.

Chimney Sweeping

Any properties with working chimneys, which includes gas fires, must be thoroughly cleaned at the beginning of a tenancy and ideally once every year to offer protection to your tenant. The only exception to this rule is if your insurance provider decrees otherwise.

Disabled Tenants

If your tenant has a disability they are entitled to request you, as the landlord, to make any necessary adjustments to your property to accommodate their needs. This may include, for example, providing a ramp for wheelchair access.

Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)

In October 2008, a new rule came into effect which requires all prospective tenants to be supplied with an EPC from an accredited inspector when considering a rental property.  These certificates must last for 10 years and no property can now be marketed for letting without an appropriate EPC.

Thinking of letting your property and not sure where to begin? Talk to Redstones today about our range of property management services.

We look forward to hearing from you. 

Always Adding Value : Redstones Joins Utility Warehouse

At Redstones we are continually looking for new ways to improve our service to our customers, as well as providing additional income streams for our franchisees. Most of the time, our ideas are prompted by listening to the concerns of our landlords and tenants.

As a result, we are delighted to announce we have joined Utility Warehouse.

With the rising cost of living we understand that our tenants, like most people, are looking for the most cost effective deal on their utility bills. Redstones can now offer them that facility.

Being a member of the Utility Warehouse Discount Club also means that our franchisees are now able to offer these additional benefits to our tenants.

With the rising costs of running a home showing no signs of abating, Utility Warehouse currently provides over half a million homes and small business in the UK with their landline telephone, broadband, mobile, gas and electricity services. Costs are covered in one single utility bill every month, which makes managing your cashflow much easier.

Utility Warehouse also offers a facility to enable you to move from your current supplier by helping you with early termination fees too.

This is the latest innovation in Redstones’ unique approach to customer service.

Our additional services include:-

Redstones Financial

This recent addition to our brand was the direct result of listening to concerns expressed by both our landlords and tenants over finding a financial advisor who they could trust.

Redstones Financial

  • Guarantees that we will find the most suitable and cost effective financial products to meet the individual needs of our clients.
  • Offers a wide range of financial products which include mortgages, life insurance, home and car insurance, savings facilities and pensions, as well as critical illness and health insurance.

Furthermore, your calls are answered by friendly, professional advisors and are not directed to a call centre. This was a particular concern expressed by our customers and a major influence when setting up Redstones Financial.

Platinum Total Care Service

For landlords concerned about tenants paying their rent on time, Redstones offers a Platinum Total Care Service.  For our clients selecting this service, we guarantee that your rent will be paid on time every month, regardless of whether your tenant has paid.

Switch Agents Service

The residential lettings market is thriving but as it is largely unregulated this means anyone can set up a lettings agency. This unfortunately attracts a number of unscrupulous companies into the sector. If you are unhappy with the service provided by your current lettings agent, our Switch Agents facility takes you through a series of simple steps to transfer management of your properties to Redstones.

Marketing At Its Best

With our state of the art technology coupled with our innovative approach to marketing, both Redstones franchisees and our clients benefit from our continued investment into our brand and commitment to excellence. Our decision to join Utility Warehouse epitomises that commitment.

For more information on our services for landlords or to find out more about becoming a lettings agency franchisee with Redstones, contact us today.

Landlords and Legionella : Your Questions Answered

Landlords are responsible for an extensive range of checks on their properties which most of you will be aware of, for example, safety tests on gas systems, electrical appliances and the requirement for an Energy Performance Certificate.

A lesser known requirement for landlords is the need to carry out a risk assessment for Legionnaire’s Disease which applies to ‘those with responsibility for the control of premises, including landlords’ according to the UK’s Health and Safety Executive.

In order to comply fully with these requirements, we’ve provided answers to the most frequently asked questions below:-

What is legionnaire’s disease? Legionnaire’s disease is a potentially fatal form of pneumonia which is spread by water droplets. Legionella bacteria has the ability to multiply in hot or cold water systems and storage tanks and can therefore be spread through showers and taps.

What must the risk assessments cover? All risk assessments must both identify and assess any potential sources of exposure to Legionnaire’s disease by your tenants.  If any at risk areas are identified landlords must take necessary steps to prevent or control those risks.

Who carries out the risks assessments? As a landlord you are personally responsible for ensuring the risk assessment is carried out.  If your property is managed by a reputable landlord, they will carry out this check for you prior to letting.  At Redstones, we incorporate this check as a standard part of our service to landlords who engage us to fully manage their rental properties.

What do the risks assessments involve?

According to the Health and Safety Executive, a number of very simple measures can be carried out to manage the risk of your tenants’ exposure to Legionnaire’s disease, including:-

  • Completing flushing out of the system before the property is let.
  • Ensure that debris is not contaminating the system. This means that where appropriate cold water tanks have a tight fitting lid..
  • Set controls, for example, ensuring that water is stored at a temperature of 60C.  Bacteria typically flourishes at temperatures between 20C to 45C.
  • The removal of any superfluous pipework.

Any areas containing stagnant water or outlets which are used infrequently, together with thermostatic mixing valves should all be thoroughly inspected.

Should I inform my tenants? It is essential to inform your tenants of any measures put in place to control the risk of Legionnaire’s disease, for example, ensuring that showerheads are regularly cleaned. This is especially important for tenants who may be more susceptible to infection such as elderly people or those with a serious illness. Tenants should also be made aware of the need to inform landlords if the hot water is not heating up properly. These checks can also be carried out during regular mid-term inspections or gas safety checks for example.

How long must records be kept for? Records and details of all risk assessment checks carried out must be kept for at least five years.

Failure to carry out risk assessments for Legionnaire’s disease may leave you at risk of fines or imprisonment.

Take the stress out of renting your property.  Contact Redstones today to discuss the wide range of services we offer to landlords.

If you’re new to the lettings market, you may also find our recent blog helpful – HMRC Cracks Down On Landlords