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3 simple steps to improve the quality of property leads

If you’re looking to sell your home or you’re searching for rental leads, an important marketing approach nowadays is to display property on property portals. However, how can you ensure that this practice will lead to high quality leads? Here are Redstones top tips:

  1. 1.       Be selective

Be selective when focusing on property management lead generation. By advertising on the wrong portals, low quality leads can be the result. At Redstones, we use only the leading property portals, which have been proven to generate high quality leads. Online advertising is invaluable but that doesn’t mean advertising everywhere.

  1. 2.       Focus on photography

Whether you are trying to sell your property yourself or looking for rental leads through lettings agents, we’ve seen some images that are far from professional! Despite the quality of smartphones nowadays, using the camera function of your phone is not recommended. If you really want to present your property at its best and attract the right interest, professional photography involving the use of a wide angle lens is essential. It’s important to remember that buying a home is aspirational for most people and quality photography should reflect this to attract buyers. See our great example of photography being used at its best to truly ‘sell’ a property.

  1. 3.       Excellent descriptions

As part of an effective marketing approach, excellent, well-written descriptions are required that accurately describe the property. It’s always useful to use dimensions and include all advantageous features of the property. This may seem to be an obvious point but at Redstones, the use of poor quality descriptions amongst even professional estate and letting agencies never ceases to amaze us.

Ultimately, property management lead generation is about adopting a truly professional approach to marketing efforts, in order to gain high quality leads. This is a real area of expertise for Redstones.

Discover more about our other recommended approaches.

Stamp duty changes explained

We recently blogged about the new surcharge on buying second homes.

Stamp Duty

Stamp Duty

Essentially, from 1st April 2016, stamp duty is increasing by 3% for a second home. The increase will impact landlords and private individuals interested in buying a second home.

The new charge is levied on all properties over £40,000 and it applies to the entire price of a property.

Want to calculate what this could mean for you? Here’s our quick guide:

Stamp duty for buy-to-let and second home buyers

Bands

Rate pre 1 April 2016

Rate from 1 April 2016

Up to £125,000

0%

3%

£125,001 – £250,000

2%

5%

£250,001 – £925,000

5%

8%

£925,001 – £1.5m

10%

13%

over £1.5m

12%

15%

 

As the cost of buying and selling property rises, at Redstones, we are proactively advising our clients on where costs can be minimised and our own charges are extremely competitive too.

We also work hard to achieve the best possible prices for our properties. Find out more about which services attract clients to Redstones.

Redstones Lettings

Changes for the property management sector in 2016

Professionals working in the property management sector have always had constant changes, challenges or ‘obstacles’ to face in terms of business operations.

For example, in lettings, our team at Redstones need to keep abreast of all forthcoming legislation that will impact tenants and landlords, as well as buyers and sellers.

New legislation that came into force in October 2015 made it compulsory for all landlords to fit smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors into their rented properties and failure to comply can lead to a penalty charge of up to £5000.

Lettings agents are also required to be more vigilant about the risk of money laundering and in February 2016, the Right to Rent scheme went nationwide. Rent to Rent gives landlords the responsibility of checking the identification of everyone who is over 18 and expected to occupy their property, although this responsibility is transferred to agents such as Redstones, who have a thorough understanding of exactly how the checks must be conducted. All Right to Rent checks last for a minimum of 12 months and there are different checks required for tenants, depending on whether they have permanent or time limited rights to rent.

The property management sector in 2016 promises even more change, with schemes such as Help to Buy and Help to Buy ISAs and the recent increase in stamp duty on second homes to 3%.

At Redstones, we are accustomed to moving with the times, changing our processes and introducing simple systems that help our staff and clients manage change in the property management sector. Crucially, we also play a vital role in communicating the changes that occur and ensuring that our clients understand the impact on them.

We offer a valuable service that takes the hassle out of lettings, covering digital inventories, arranging annual gas safety certificates, managing inspections, credit control and much more, including staying on top of the legislative changes introduced in 2016 and beyond.

Find out more about property management services at Redstones.

Redstones Lettings

Maximising rental yield as a landlord

Landlords are naturally interested in turning buy-to-let investing into a profitable endeavour. So, in spite of higher Stamp Duty being introduced for second homes, how can you ensure that you become a successful landlord?

One key measure that will help you determine your success is rental yield. Essentially, rental yield is where you calculate the return on your investment or profit levels. To calculate rental yield, you need to calculate the upfront cost of buying the property and the cost of mortgage payments paid over 12 months, if you don’t own the property outright.

Calculate the rent you collect from tenants over 12 months and subtract your annual mortgage payments from the annual rent collected to work out a gross rental income. Then deduct all costs, including insurance, repairs and void periods from this figure to calculate a net rental income. A net rental yield is simply a percentage figure. Take net rental income and divide it by the initial investment figure, before multiplying by 100.

Calculating rental yield is a way of determining the quality of your investment. Capital growth over time and a strong rental yield (over 6% is considered as very good) represents a great investment.

Want to maximise your rental yield even further? Try our tips:

Increase or decrease rent – Increasing rental amounts is possible if your rent is set below the market rate and decreasing the rent can help you avoid void periods, if this is a concern.

Utilise tax reliefs – Although rental income is taxable, you can offset several costs such as letting agent fees, buildings and contents insurance, council tax, utility bills and maintenance costs. Not all tax reliefs will remain available for long however. From April 2016, the 10% wear and tear allowance will be scrapped.

Welcome pets – Not all rented homes allow pets, so tenants may be willing to pay more if your property welcomes them.

Modernise the property A decent kitchen and bathroom attracts a better calibre of tenant and means you can charge more rent.

Decrease overheads – Look at ways to cut costs, from remortgaging to finding cheaper tradesmen for property maintenance.

Discover more about how Redstone help landlords attract tenants and achieve the best price for their properties.

How to succeed in the property business

At Redstones, we develop and work with potential business owners or new franchisees that show real promise – regardless of whether or not they’ve worked in property management before.

That’s because our comprehensive training ensures that we equip franchisees with the knowledge they require to get up and running in their territory. What is most important is that our candidates are focused, customer service oriented and willing to constantly learn.

So if you’re looking for an estate agent or letting agency franchise, Redstones welcomes those from all industry backgrounds, as long as they can demonstrate the drive and determination it takes to make their own business succeed.

Take the example of one of our newest franchisees, Bobby Dhaliwal, who is the Owner/Manager of Redstones Coventry South. Bobby’s background is in retail management and his main introduction to the world of estate and letting agencies was through investing in his own properties.

Bobby says, “That’s when I realised that there was a real gap in the market for estate and letting agents who focused more on offering excellent customer service to landlords, tenants, buyers and sellers, rather than just being focused on generating business.”

He continues, “I became interested in running my own property management business and working with Redstones has given me a real foundation, including the tools and training I needed to get up and running.”

All new franchisees complete a comprehensive training programme. Reflecting on this training, Bobby states, “I received some fantastic one-to-one coaching from the Director of Redstones, Manjit Virdi, as well as excellent technical advice; all set at a good pace.”

“Without such strong support, I would never have reached this far and would have just ended up making the same mistakes as others who try to run their own property business.”

Interested in starting your own successful estate and letting agency too? Discover more on our Redstones Franchise site.

Day in the life of an agent

How to be organised when buying a home

Buying a home can often take longer than you may think! That’s because the home buying process consists of various stages and the length of time involved is often elongated if you have a mortgage or are part of a chain.

Of course, the process all starts with finding the home of your dreams. This leads to making an offer, usually made through the estate agent, which will always be subject to a survey and written contract.

In anticipation of your offer being accepted, speak to a mortgage broker or lender as early as possible to organise your mortgage application. This will involve quickly showing them evidence of your income or cash in your account.

A solicitor is required to conduct a number of searches with the local council to uncover any planning issues. This is important due to the saying ‘buyer beware’. Always take the time to understand any issues you may face later on.

Further checks include a property survey to value the property, which can be completed by your mortgage lender and another survey to determine the condition of the property.

If there are no problems at this stage, contracts can be signed and exchanged with the seller and a deposit on the house of at least 10% will need to be paid to demonstrate your commitment. Bear in mind that this deposit is non-refundable.

The final stage of the process is known as completion, when your new keys are handed over. The timing of when you can move in will depend on several factors, such as giving notice on a rental property or waiting for the current occupiers to move out.

The entire process can take over 6 weeks in total but as long as you act as quickly as you can to help your mortgage lender and solicitor, as well as ensure you have finances organised, you will be moving into that dream home before you know it!

Here’s Redstones overview of the buying process and further information on how we can help during this time, to make the process as quick and stress-free as possible.

Redstones illuminated sign

New surcharge on buying second homes

If you’re a landlord or an individual interested in buying a second property, the new 3% Stamp Duty surcharge which comes into force on 1st April 2016 will be relevant to you.

Stamp Duty

Stamp Duty

If you want to avoid the surcharge, you must complete on the purchase of a second property by midnight on 31st March 2016, unless you’ve already exchanged on or before 25th November 2015.

The charge applies to additional residential properties, covering buy to let or holiday homes. In contrast to Stamp Duty, the 3% surcharge is not a tiered tax where you only pay the rate above any threshold. It applies to the entire price of a property.

At the moment, the Government is considering whether professional landlords, companies or individuals who own 15 or more properties should be exempt from the surcharge.

However, the 3% surcharge does not apply to properties that are inherited or second homes under the price of £40,000.

So has this created a rush to buy investment properties? The truth is that many properties may have been inflated in price, as buyers rush to buy during the first three months of 2016. Therefore, if you are interested in buying a second property, it may even be cheaper for you to wait until after 1st April, as inflated prices could be more that the additional 3%!

Please note that all details will be finalised in the next budget, which is announced on 16th March 2016.

It’s not all bad news though! At Redstones, we proactively advise our landlords and help them to save costs wherever they can. Whether you’re a professional or first time landlord, Redstones are always on hand to help and advise on property management.