Category Archives: Property

Redstones Walsall Estate Agents

Planning to work for yourself in 2016?

The New Year often symbolises a new start and for many people, this means re-thinking their career. You may be unsatisfied with your current career, looking for a fresh start or want more flexibility and rewards.

If so, working for yourself by becoming a franchisee could be a serious option to consider for 2016 and beyond. Here’s why you should give it some thought:

Being your own boss

Fed up of that bad boss? A franchise allows you the freedom of being your own boss but you also have the protection of working within the framework of a tried and tested business. You don’t need to think of your own successful business idea, which is harder to identify than you may realise but you will need the passion, skills and drive to promote your own business.

Reduced risk

The success rate for new franchisees is now 91.8% – that’s significantly higher than most other start-up businesses. That’s because the franchisors will have developed a business model that works. This means that you don’t need to start from scratch and should just focus on making your own impact.

Your franchise is also far more likely to be successful if it’s part of a business sector you’re interested in, as you will easily be able to demonstrate passion. To reduce risk, due diligence and thorough research before you choose the right franchise is essential.

 Great income potential

Once your new franchise business is established, the income potential can be significant. If you’re looking for a career that is more financially rewarding, consider whether you’re satisfied with the income a franchise business could offer you.

 Flexibility

For working families and those who value work/life balance, as a franchise owner, there is flexibility in the hours you work. This is extremely valuable for some people, as it allows them to work around their childcare and family commitments.

 Support

Don’t forget that a franchisor will give you all the support you need to succeed – it’s in their best interests after all! This may mean offering advice on business planning or marketing, for example. This support is invaluable as you set off on your road to success.

If you like the idea of being a franchisee, how about owning your own prosperous property business?

Find out why many potential business owners are discovering that a Redstones Property Franchise is an attractive option.

Redstones Residential Sales

5 Signs You Need To Switch Your Agent

Whether you have a home to sell or a property to let, choosing a reputable lettings or estate agent to obtain the best price for your house or manage your property responsibly is vital. Identifying an unethical agent is not always easy; here are five signs that you may need to switch your existing agent:-

No communication

You’ve assigned the management of your property portfolio to your lettings agent who has promised to source suitable tenants quickly. A few weeks’ later you’ve yet to receive an update and your enquiries are fobbed off by the agent who claims there is a shortage of suitable tenants.  A reputable agent should keep in touch with you on a regular basis, with updates on enquiries about your property. If you are struggling to let it, there may be a simple explanation; perhaps the property needs some renovation work or the rental price is too high. A reputable agent will be able to provide you with this information to help you let your property in the shortest possible time.

Problems ignored

Whether it’s your tenant not paying their rent, damage to the property or a broken down boiler, your agent isn’t resolving the problem, yet is still collecting payments from you every month.  Before selecting your lettings agent find out what background checks they carry out on tenants.  These should include reference checks from employers, for example, as well as credit checks to prevent problems with non-paying tenants during the period tenancy agreement.  At Redstones our Platinum Total Care Service ensures your rental payments are guaranteed to be paid on time, every month.

Lack of marketing

If your agent has exclusive responsibility for the letting or sale of your house, you should expect a comprehensive marketing strategy to ensure that your property is let or sold in the fastest possible time at an optimum price.  As well as eye catching boards, Redstones takes advantage of every marketing tool at our disposal using state-of-the-art technology. For property which may be difficult to sell due to renovation issues, for example, we also offer an online auction method for a quick sale.

Too pushy

A reputable agent will possess in-depth knowledge of your local market, including appropriate pricing (whether for rent or sale) while at the same time listening to your concerns and respecting your opinion.  Homebuyers should also be wary of an estate agent who attempts to pressure you into favouring a particular property during your house search.  An ethical agent will listen to your requirements and provide you with a list of options that meet your criteria in terms of both location and price.

No follow up

Some agents believe that once you move into your new home their job is done. The best estate agents will follow up once you are settled in to ensure your move has progressed smoothly.  This is a sign of an agent with outstanding commitment to customer care.  Similarly, once a tenancy agreement ends, a reputable agent will be in touch at the end of to ensure your have been satisfied with their service.

Don’t tolerate poor service from your lettings agent.  At Redstones, we offer a Switch Agents facility which takes you through a series of easy to follow steps to switch your property management or sale to a brand you can trust.  Contact us today to find out more.

If you’ve enjoy outstanding service from Redstones Refer A Friend today. We pay £100 for every referral on the completion of a sale and £50 for every referral once a tenancy agreement is signed and the property rented out.

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.

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

Redstones Red Cup

Buy-To-Let : 7 Essential Tips For The New Landlord

At Redstones we are often approached by property owners new to the buy-to-let market for advice on where to invest their money. One of the most common – and concerning – themes we see is the lack of research carried out by would-be landlords.

Figures recently released by the ONS (Office of National Statistics) reveal that the average buy-to-let investor in the UK has a property portfolio with a value of around of £650,000.  With an average gross yield of 5.6% year-on-year, this would increase the value of the portfolio to £1.63m over the next 15 years.  A 1% yield would increase the value of an investment by c£80,000 but to achieve this, research is essential.

A buy-to-let property portfolio doesn’t suit a ‘one-size-fits all’ approach.  If you’re confused about your options, here are our top seven tips:-

Research your market : Be sure that buy-to-let is the right investment for you.  Would you money yield a better return in another investment, such as a franchise? While the market is buoyant now, property values can fall as well as rise and much is dependent on the location of your property. Potential landlords seeking to build a portfolio should research the market thoroughly to understand the pitfalls as well as the potential of entering the private rental market.

Talk to other landlords : Get to understand what it takes to be a landlord, not only from the financial investment but the personal and emotional investment that goes into letting out a property. Talk to other landlords or lettings agents about the trials and tribulations of a property owner.  Letting occasionally goes wrong so you must decide on whether you have the right temperament for life as a landlord.

Choose the right area : By this we do not mean the most or least expensive but a location people want to live in, whether for the transport facilities, student life or for the schools.  Compare the property you can afford with the locations people choosing to live in that type of property would opt for.  While your local neighbourhood might seem a natural option, don’t rule out looking further afield.

Work out your finances :  What rental income will you be able to charge for the property you are considering? Will this cover your mortgage payments? What will you do if your tenant is unable to pay, if the house is empty for a while or if you need to find a cash sum for a boiler repair? Again, talking to a reputable lettings agent with an in-depth knowledge of the area you are considering will provide invaluable insight.

Get the best mortgage : Broaden your search for the best buy-to-let mortgage available rather than contact only your existing bank or building society.  Talk to an independent financial advisor to ensure you are getting the best deal available for your financial circumstances.  In response to our clients’ needs, we recently launched Redstones Financial Services dedicated to providing you with the best financial advice and products.

Consider your target tenant : You may love the house you are purchasing but will your ideal tenant? Young professionals generally seek modern and stylish properties, while students need comfort rather than luxury.  Families need plenty of practical living space to accommodate the different needs of family members.  Will you rent your property your property on a furnished or unfurnished basis? All of these questions need answering before investing in your buy-to-let property.

Talk to a lettings specialist : Will you go it alone or rent your property through a lettings agent? At Redstones we offer varying levels of service from introduction only to a fully managed property service. For landlords concerned about their tenant’s ability to pay their rent, we also offer our unique Platinum Total Care Service.

As a potential landlord, we understand that the first steps into the private rental market are often overwhelming but it doesn’t have to be that way.  At Redstones we are always available to offer advice.  Contact us today for answers you need.

The Difference is Redstones.