Category Archives: Walsall

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Brexit leads to a boost for the Buy to Let market

Buy-to-let activity has seen a boost in August, despite Brexit, with research revealing that buy-to-let valuations were up by 12.7% in August compared to the previous month.

From a landlord’s perspective, it has been a tough year, as the Government has introduced many changes to try and create a level playing field between homeowners and investors. These changes include the introduction of the stamp duty surcharge in April 2016 and the abolishment of the 10% Wear and Tear tax relief for landlords who rent out furnished homes has been abolished, so they can only claim the amount that they have spent. Also, mortgage tax relief is set to be phased out from 2017.

Despite these changes, buy-to-let activity has increased sharply. An encouraging economic outlook, high levels of employment and fading fears of a recession have been positively received, despite the uncertainty caused by Brexit. The Bank of England’s decision to cut the base rate for the first time in seven years also seems to have stimulated property investors.

Despite legislative changes, the buy to let sector seems to remain buoyant and resilient. Manjit Virdi, Director of Redstones says, “We are still regularly liaising with property landlords that wish to expand their portfolio, despite the political and economic climate. As well as helping them identify the right next property for their portfolio, we help them manage the often time-consuming burden of being a landlord.”

Redstones offers a wide range of property management services, from credit control to meter reading, repairs and maintenance, gas certificates and much more.

At the same time, house sellers are taking advantage of reports that house prices will increase following Brexit by getting their properties on the market. With new properties always becoming available, keep your eyes peeled on the local market by checking the search function on our website or registering your details with your local Redstones office.

Reducing stress levels when selling your home

Selling your home may seem stressful, especially if you’re buying another house at the same time but there are ways in which you can make the process less difficult.

At Redstones, our top tips for sellers include:

Speak to a mortgage advisor as soon as possible. Before putting your home on the market, work out how much you will be able to afford in relation to your next property. Talk to an independent mortgage broker before you even start your search.

Find the right estate agent who will target the type of buyers likely to buy your home. Ask about their marketing methods and see how they will help you sell your home fast. At Redstones, there are many ways in which we can help.

It will really help the sales process along if you work with a good conveyancer or property solicitor. This doesn’t necessarily mean the cheapest. Check that they have the capacity to take you on and are not over-run with work. Recommendations from friends and family usually works best.

Take your time to pick the best buyer. If they’re a chain-free first-time buyer you may be able to move more quickly and there will be fewer parties will be involved. Check whether they have a mortgage in principle, as this proves they can afford your property. This is particularly important if you’re lucky enough to have multiple buyers, as minimal fuss (as well as the highest offer) is the goal.

We all hear about the difficulties of property chains, but rest assured that at Redstones, we carefully vet buyers and ensure they are in a strong position to move forward with the sale.

Finally, be organised, so that you’re not rushing around at the last minute. For example, complete any DIY work on your house before putting it on the market to increase the likelihood of a fast sale.

At Redstones, we pro-actively help our sellers achieve their objectives. Here’s our useful guide on the selling process.

Redstones Lettings

Longer tenancies supported by Government

Great news for landlords – the Government is now backing longer tenancies. The idea has been backed by the new Housing Minister, Gavin Barwell, who is trying to make longer-term tenancies available to tenants who want them.

His department has drawn up a model tenancy agreement which encourages longer-term tenancies and the Government is now working with the private rented sector to promote the scheme and identify any obstacles. This agreement sets out the rights and responsibilities of tenants and landlords, as a benchmark for tenancy agreements and outlines the ways in which families would benefit from longer agreements.

Manjit Virdi, Director of Redstones says, “I know that many of our landlords feel that long-term tenants make greater efforts to maintain their home and many tenants like the security of remaining in one property, so I believe this scheme will be welcomed by many.”

Interestingly, a recent report showed that the average tenancy agreement for a residential property in England stands at just 18 months, reflecting a short-term approach but clearly, some tenants will be happy to settle in one property for a longer period depending on their circumstances.

There are many stresses that come with being a landlord and finding new tenants once your existing tenants have left is just one of them. Although the average annual void period in the UK currently stand at 22 days, Redstones work pro-actively with our landlords to minimise void periods and identify longer-term tenants where possible.

Not only do we attract the right tenants, we pro-actively help our landlords manage their properties. Our uniques services for landlords include Redstones Platinum Total Care, which ensures that the rent is paid on time, every time and our Switch Agents Programme, which makes it very easy to switch to us if you’re dissatisfied with your current letting agent. This high level of service is what makes Redstones stand out in the lettings market.

Redstones - The Green Deal

Reasons to buy a new build home

If you’re looking for your next property, is a new build home something you’ve considered? Here’s Redstones guide to why it could be an attractive option for you:

Modern lifestyles – In contract to some older properties, new homes are very much designed with modern lifestyles in mind. This includes homes with open family space, space for a home office or a city apartment.

Peace of mind – New build properties usually come with a warranty and insurance of 5-10 years.

Flexibility – You will be the first owner, so you can decorate the home in your own personal style. There’s no need to attempt to fix the DIY disasters of the previous owners and there will be little costly maintenance and repairs to complete. If you buy a new property ‘off plan’, your new home can be reserved before it’s even built, meaning that you can choose your desired plot and personalise the house to your requirements.

Lower running costs – Generally, new homes will include efficient heating systems and higher levels of insulation, helping to reduce carbon emissions and significantly decrease heating bills.

Property chain – Often, with a new build, the length of the property chain is reduced as only the buyer is at the end of the chain.

Great incentives – The many incentives available include the Government ‘Help to Buy’ scheme. Some developers have their own schemes, such as part exchange or an assisted move that may involve part-funded deposits, payment of stamp duty or help with removal costs.

If these advantages appeal to you, it would be worth including new homes as part of your house search. It’s always best to keep your options open and at Redstones, we have many exciting new properties for sale. Just use the ‘Search’ function on our Redstones website homepage.

Redstones

Achieving the right style with your next home

If you’re currently searching for a new dream home, have you given any thought to how you can achieve that impressive designer interior, without the price tag to match?

Here’s how to achieve an effortlessly stylish look:

Declutter
We all hold onto furniture or household objects we don’t really like or use anymore. Make the effort to only include furnishings that you love, which really work together. Even re-positioning your existing furniture can have a big impact.

Simplicity is key
Why not let your high quality furniture or accessories do the talking and keep walls clean and crisp? Good décor should be easy on the eye and kept simple and striking.

Pay attention to lighting

To create a particular atmosphere or mood, lighting is key. It’s not just an after-thought. Nowadays, lighting itself can be a work of art. In particular, metallic finishes are becoming very popular.

Make bedrooms and bathrooms luxurious

Crisp, white sheets are the latest in vogue look and a bed throw and some plump cushions can help create the feel of a 5 star hotel. For bathrooms, keep toiletries hidden away, whilst displaying any luxury handwashes and complement this with some high quality, fluffy towels.

Kitchens
Kitchens are the heart of the home and make the greatest impact to visitors, so place some extra effort here. Keep all surfaces as clutter free as possible and freshen up the space with some beautiful flowers or plants.

Accessories
A great way to keep up with the latest trends, but with minimal expense, is to invest in simple accessories such as vases, candle sticks or small items of furniture that embrace the latest colour trends or finishes, such as copper or rose gold.

A welcoming front
Any pots and plants in your garden or near the front door creates a welcoming atmosphere and helps establish your stylish new home as one to admire.

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

Spring cleaning before your big move

Many people sell up and move home in the spring and summer, which makes right now a perfect time for a spring clean before the ‘big moving day’ to save you both time and money before a house move.

Remember that reducing clutter can help you focus on your plans to move, reducing the stress involved. Here are Redstones tips for making your spring cleaning much simpler:

1. Be prepared
Start cleaning a few weeks before you plan to move and ensure that the right tools are in place, including the correct amount of dusters, bins bags and cleaning products! Start looking into finding a professional removals company too.

2. Declutter effectively
Go through your house and work out what you do and don’t want to take with you to your new home. Don’t waste time and money on packing, moving and storing any furniture and items you no longer need.

3. Start cleaning
Clean your own house as thoroughly as possible for the new occupiers and think about arranging for your new property to be cleaned. It’s always better to clean carpets and windows without having to empty rooms again. You could tackle this yourself or there are plenty of cleaning companies that charge reasonably for this service.

4. Some useful cleaning tips
You don’t necessarily have to throw everything away. Save old towels and bed linen for the move. They can be used as dust sheets, for wrapping furniture or for covering carpets if any painting is taking place. Remember that some of your old belongings can still be valuable, so consider eBay or a garage or car boot sale. Finally, ensure you wear comfortable and protective clothes when moving and keep rooms well ventilated if working with chemical cleaning products.

Cleaning your current home and ensuring your new home is clean and comfortable too takes some organised effort but will help you settle in faster in the long-run.

Redstones Houses

Speeding up the home selling process

When you’re selling your home, often the last thing you want is for the process to take a long time. So, what is the best way to improve your home’s ability to sell? Redstones recommend that you try these top tips:

Understand the market
One of the main reasons for a house not selling is because it’s priced too high. Despite the money you may have spent on the property, you need to go with what the housing market in your area dictates. Look at the prices of comparable homes and ensure your home is priced competitively.

‘Fixer upper’ homes can be difficult to sell
Nowadays, more people are looking for homes they can move into quickly, without conducting significant repairs. Avoid making your home look like a ‘fixer upper’ by fixing any damage, painting the home to freshen it up or tending to the garden to make your home an inviting prospect.

Location, location, location
The location of your home is vitally important to a buyer. Emphasise the good points about your location to buyers, including access to amenities, schools or even strong broadband access!

First impressions count
Keep your home neutral, simple and uncluttered. When buyers come around for viewings, it’s important that they can imagine it as their home, with their belongings.

Always be flexible
Just like you, remember that buyers are busy people. Always be flexible about when you can show them around your home. Also, to compete with other homes in the area, make sure you are prepared for viewings by keeping your home clean and orderly to make the best possible impression.

If your home isn’t selling as quickly as you would ideally want, why not give some of these tips a try? Alternatively, Redstones offer tailored advice to help. Discover even more about the home selling process with Redstones.

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.