Category Archives: Letting Agent

Redstones - The Green Deal

How a garden can increase the value of your home

If you are selling your home, it’s worth considering the impact of your garden in increasing its value. A recent study by the Home Retail Group stated that in Britain, we spend £80 billion on our gardens and two fifths of us would refuse to choose or consider a home unless it had a sufficient garden.

In fact, one in seven homeowners believes that their garden has added more value to their home than their original investment.

If you wish to enhance the value of your home, use plants, flowers, furniture and lighting creatively, keeping the garden well-lit and maintained to add potential value. It needs to look easy to maintain if you’re planning to sell in future. Good quality garden furniture, a patio and well maintained grass are all attractive. Selling in summer is a good idea too, as buyers will be able to picture themselves relaxing in the garden.

Keep fences well maintained and create privacy. Another good tip is to create defined spaces, such as a set area for a barbeque, an area for seating and a greenhouse/shed area.

Conservatories also help to create additional space and offer the best return on investment when upgrading your home, as does your garden and any extensions. Conservatories create space without the need for planning permission depending on their size and they are exempt from building regulations. Many can also be constructed at a reasonable price of £5,000.

With a pleasant garden being a key selling point for many homes, it’s time to give it your full attention now!

At Redstones, we are pro-active at offering you valuable tips that will help you present your property at it’s very best when selling. Discover some great reasons to use Redstones.

Redstones Lettings

Good news for landlords looking to maximise their investment

Recent statistics have shown that buy to let properties still outperform most other types of investment, with average returns made by landlords in England and Wales being 9.6%.

Despite the recent increase in stamp duty, it is essentially house price rises that influence the return that landlords make.

It is calculated that the average price of a home in England by 2030 with be over £450,000. Already, between 2000 and 2015, house prices have risen by 84%. Of courses, property prices vary throughout the country, with London experiencing the highest rise, although this trend does impact the West Midlands too.

In fact, house prices have increased by 36% since April 2011 alone. This is out of step with the average weekly pay packet, which has risen by 7% only.

As a result, many people are locked out of home-ownership, leading to higher demand in the private rental market.

Inflationary property prices will continue to boost the buy to let sector, even if rental yields don’t quite the same returns. It therefore makes sense for landlords to consider expanding their property portfolio in the future.

At Redstones, we continue to offer landlords a high level of support, to take the time and hassle away from property management. You will find that our comprehensive range of services is over and above what’s offered by many other letting agents.

Redstones Buyers

Finding tenants with a good credit score

As a landlord, an essential part of finding good tenants is checking their credit. This is the best way of predicting whether or not they will be able to pay their rent on time.

There are various issues to consider in regards to credit scores, such as the age of your tenant. When you rent property to younger tenants, they may not have built up enough positive credit history to achieve a high credit score. However, remember that if a potential tenant has a low credit score but you feel they would be a good tenant, you could consider a co-signer such as a parent.

Another issue is the region where the property is located. Factors such as employment rates and property values can impact credit scores, so the region’s average credit score needs to be taken into consideration.

Many credit reports highlight issues that may have adversely impacted your prospective tenant’s credit score. It’s worth investigating these issues, as some of them may not matter as much as others.

Income, of course, is another factor and a credit report helps to assess whether the tenant has enough money to pay the rent, with enough left over for other expenses.

Clearly, a mixture of judgment and intuition, as well as evidence, helps determine good tenants.

As part of the detailed tenant screening process at Redstones, we can advise on credit issues and much more to take the hassle out of finding good tenants.

To safe guard you in any eventuality Redstones launched the Redstones “Platinum Total Care Service”. Rent is guaranteed whether the tenant pays or not.

Redstones Lettings

Buy to let market to remain strong

Despite recent reports to the contrary, the buy to let market in the UK remains bouyant, with a growing private rented sector set to continue into the future.

In fact, the latest research shows that over the past 15 years, the sector has more than doubled. There are now 4.3 million households living in privately rented accommodation, demonstrating strong rental demand.

So, what has caused the private rented sector to grow? Firstly, more people are now living for longer and an increasing number of people live on their own. Furthermore, some people delay a choice to settle down with a family or they are staying in higher education for longer periods of time.

In addition, there is also a growth in population, which includes more migrants arriving in Britain. This is also combined with less available social housing and difficulties for first-time buyers in terms of affording properties.

Affordability is a key issue as house prices have been growing at a rate that has outpaced earnings, meaning that first-time buyers stay in rented accommodation for longer as they save for a deposit.

Whilst the Government states that it wants to get more people on the property ladder, the private rented sector is still likely to flourish.

There will be changes, however, as the new higher stamp duty for second properties could lead to higher rents and fewer properties available for rent. There is also tax and regulatory changes planned, which means that the buy-to-let market could grow at a slower rate but it will still continue to grow, nevertheless.

At Redstones, we regularly work with new and experienced landlords with property portfolios of all sizes and proactively advise them on market shifts. Here’s what makes us one of the leading lettings agents and property management experts in the West Midlands.

Redstones Property Management

How to be a good landlord

We’ve dealt with many landlords over the years at Redstones, so we know what makes a good one! Attracting and retaining good tenants isn’t always easy, but becoming a good landlord will help you achieve this. So, if you want to become the best landlord you can, we have some top tips for you:

  • Spend some time educating your tenants at the beginning of the process, so that they clearly understand your requirements and expectations. It certainly prevents misunderstandings later down the line. A fair tenancy agreement should also be in place upfront.
  • Often the quality of your rental property determines the quality of your tenant, so always keep your property well-maintained and clean when showing potential new tenants around.
  • Stay on top of repairs to minimise problems for tenants and have tradespeople on hand that can complete repairs quickly and cost efficiently.
  • Be pro-active and contact tenants after they’ve moved in to check how they’re settling in. This type of effective communication and courtesy speaks volumes about your status as a good landlord.
  • Always listen to tenant’s concerns and do your best to address them. It is this type of effective communication that convinces a good tenant to stay.
  • Make a full inventory, including photographs and meter readings to prevent any disagreements over damage throughout the tenancy.
  • Safety first – Gas and electrical equipment must be installed and checked annually by a registered engineer. Also, fire alarms and carbon monoxide alarms must be fitted by law. Regular checks are also necessary.

As a landlord, working with Redstones will mean that we can take care of all of this time-consuming detail for you. We’re experienced in finding good tenants and can advise you on exactly what you need to do to become a good landlord.

Find out more about our vast array of services for landlords.

bad-reviews

Do estate agents deserve their bad reputation?

If you’re thinking of starting an estate agency, what has the reaction of your family and friends been? Be honest, perhaps some of them have mentioned a bad reputation for poor service in the property sector.

You may have heard stories about unscrupulous letting agents who take their commission and leave either the landlord or the tenant in the lurch or perhaps the estate agent who isn’t doing enough to sell a home.

What has really caused this negativity and is the entire property management sector to blame? At Redstones, we support new franchisees to run an estate agent franchise that will be renowned for excellent customer service. After all, we understand that customer service is what will set you apart from your competitors.

In our comprehensive training, ensuring high customer service levels are covered in-depth. We explain business practices, such as our Switch Agents programme, which focus on improving service levels for landlords.

We also explain how franchisees can incorporate inevitable legislative change into daily operational management, such as the recent requirement for all rented properties to be equipped with smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors, as well as newly introduced Right to Rent checks.

In addition to training and successfully managing change, communication will be the cornerstone to building a positive reputation for an estate agent franchise.

Director of Redstones, Manjit Virdi says, “Regardless of the industry-wide or more localised market changes that are occurring, regular communication with buyers, sellers, tenants and landlords on all relevant issues avoids frustration. We ensure our clients are well-informed every step of the way and we recommend the right approach to communication to all new Redstones franchisees, in order to ensure customer satisfaction.”

Discover more about starting your own letting agency franchise.

Redstones Images

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.

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 right to rent

Right to Rent introduced nationwide

Originally trialled in the West Midlands, since 1st February 2016, the Right to Rent scheme has gone 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 the landlord is responsible for these checks, the responsibility can be transferred to their agent as part of a written agreement. Checks apply to occupiers who sub-let and residents with lodgers, as well as landlords.

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.

Managing Director of Redstones, Manjit Virdi explains, “We are working closely with our landlords, so they understand the implications of this scheme. As amendments to the Immigration Act are currently under consideration, this may result in changes to Right to Rent, which we will be pro-active in implementing.”

Checks must be conducted correctly, as fines are in place as part of the scheme. These fines can escalate to £3,000 per illegal occupier.

Manjit continues, “Our staff are fully trained on the correct manner of conducting Right to Rent checks and are always on hand to advise landlords and tenants.”

The correct process involves keeping a clear copy of each identification document and retaining the copy securely. A record must be kept of the date on which the check was made and all copies need to be retained securely for at least one year after the tenancy agreement comes to an end. More information is available via the Residential Landlords Association.

Right to Rent is just one element of the thorough tenant screening process conducted at Redstones. Get in touch with us to find out more.

Redstones Buyers

How to find the perfect tenant

Every landlord’s dream is to find the perfect tenant, who pays on time and maintains the property. If you’re currently in the process of looking for new tenants, here how to ensure you find the best!

Advertise effectively

Ensure that your buy to let property is highly exposed. A reputable lettings agent such as Redstones uses all the latest marketing techniques, such as social media and our ‘Switch Agents’ programme to capture high quality tenants.

Check credit scores

Once you have identified a potential tenant, a credit score is vital to ensure the tenant’s background won’t cause an issue for you. Checking credit scores is a simple method of ensuring your rent will be paid on time. They help you to assess financial stability and proof of regular income.

References

References are essential, as they provide some guarantee of the character of your tenants. References can be from employers or previous landlords and should include at least two references.

Meet your tenants more than once

You always gain a better sense of people the more you meet them! If you are keen on some prospective tenants and have offered them a second viewing, give them plenty of time to walk around and ask questions. Be organised and always make time for viewings, as they are essential to the process of finding a good tenant.

Pick your location carefully

Think carefully about where your buy-to-let property is based. Ideally, good tenants want to be around local amenities such as shops, road links and decent schools.

Maintain your property
Try to visit your property regularly and ensure all maintenance is up to date. If your property is in good condition, it will continue to attract good tenants and will always look smart if last minute viewings are arranged.

Keep expectations high
If your property has been vacant for some time and you’ve not been satisfied with the people who have viewed it, it’s tempting to lower your expectations. However, continuing the search for the best possible tenants will pay off in the long-term.

If you keep these valuable tips in mind, you will soon be rewarded by attracting the perfect tenant.