October 2019 - Fife Properties
Fife Properties

Is the buy-to-let market still viable?


The buy-to-let market has had somewhat of a difficult time over the past few years due to changes in government legislation and taxation. Since July this year, however, the number of buy-to-let mortgages approved has risen considerably and is proving that there is life in the market for those looking to invest.

With competitive mortgage rates available, especially if a larger deposit has been accrued, anybody who has the desire to become a landlord now has the opportunity to do so. A new report by HomeLet showing that the average rent around the UK has reached a record high of £970 per month demonstrates that the potential to reap rewards through buy-to-let is exceptional.

HomeLet data shows that rents have increased in every single region of the United Kingdom over the past twelve months, up to 3.5% greater than at the same point in 2018. For those looking to invest, this presents tremendous opportunity to be able to invest locally and see the benefits.

Biggest annual increases in average rents

Region August 2018 August 2019 Annual Change
London £1,632 £1,689 +3.5%
North West £717 £741 +3.3%
South West £826 £852 +3.1%

In terms of rental yields, we are also seeing record highs in terms of the average yield that landlords are reaping, with the average now reaching 4.5%, up from last year and the highest in three years. For those looking to maximise their yields, there is a growing trend towards Houses of Multiple Occupancy, or HMOS, as they tend to provide a yield approximately 20% higher than a typical rental property.

So, which region provides the best rental yield?

North West 6.20%
Yorkshire & The Humber 5.90%
East Midlands 5.40%
Scotland 5.30%
West Midlands 5.10%
North East 5.10%
South West 4.40%
Wales 4.20%
East of England 4.10%
London 4.10%
South East 4.00%
National average 4.50%


On a local level in Fife, the annual rental increase is 2% and the rental yield is 4.5%.

However, in Fife, there are real gems out there producing yields of between 6% – 12% sometimes greater.

You can find out more by tuning in to our Lettings Director, Richard Cook’s Investment Property of the Week Vlog via our social media channels every Thursday @ 7pm.

Preparing your home for winter

As the temperatures begin to sink and the days begin to shrink, one thing is for certain – winter is upon us. Along with the shorter days and colder temperatures come the wintery pleasures of warming up alongside a roaring fire, long walks in the country and crisp, frosty mornings. However, it’s also important to remember that the winter months can have a harsh effect upon our homes, causing problems for heating systems and external fixings alike. Follow this list of tips to prepare your home for the chillier months.

Pipe dreams
As the temperatures drop, the water in your pipes can freeze causing them to burst and major damage caused to your home. In order to avoid this, keep an eye out for any gaps in external walls as the cold air could reach the pipes and encourage them to freeze over. Sealing over any gaps in external walls, as well as adding insulation around vulnerable pipes in areas such as the loft and garage could mitigate this problem. Further to staying vigilant to external wall gaps, keeping your heating on a low-level (around 4 degrees) – even when you’re away from your home – will maintain a consistent temperature around pipes, thereby avoiding the problem of pipes freezing over.

Boiler spoiler
When was the last time that you had your boiler checked? A poorly maintained boiler wastes energy and costs more to run, as well as running the risk of leaking carbon monoxide into your home. Having your boiler serviced will reap rewards in the long run, as well as giving you peace of mind in terms of safety and efficiency. Naturally, one of the key components of your boiler system are your radiators – a handy hint to maximise their efficiency is to put kitchen foil behind them for the heat to be reflected back into the room.

Fill the gaps
Around a quarter of the heat lost from your home escapes through the loft, and therefore having good loft insulation is key to staying warm this winter. As well as the loft space, cavity wall insulation can make a real difference to keeping your home warm and energy bills low – with a typical saving of £145 per year saved on energy bills simply through having insulation installed. In terms of cost, there are a number of government grants and subsidy schemes available to help you with the initial outlay of insulating your home and staying warm this winter – so do your research and stay warm for less.

The big switch
If you feel that your winter energy bills are high despite your best efforts to prepare your home for the cold months, then give your energy supplier a call and have a chat about being allocated a more cost-effective tariff. Remember that you will never experience a disruption in service if you decide to change suppliers, so feel free to shop around and find the best deal that works for you. You can use online comparison tools as well as literature direct from suppliers to find the most competitive energy rates and offers, so turn up that thermostat and get extra cosy!

Down the drain
As the leaves fall from the trees, drains and gutters can easily become blocked with debris, causing build-ups of water which could make its way into your home in the form of damp. As the temperature drops, these leaves are prone to freezing which can weigh down your guttering and damage external structures. Ensure that your drains and gutters are debris free by checking lower-level guttering on your property and clearing these out by hand as safely as possible – if the lower-levels are blocked then higher levels may also require a closer inspection.

These are all simple tips that are really easy to do but could avoid a huge bill from a burst pipe, blocked drain or inefficient boiler. Some, such as insulation might not even cost you any money at all as the government provide this free of charge.

Tips on selling as the days get shorter


As the days get shorter, it is more important than ever to present your property in an appealing manner if you are going to attract potential buyers. With that in mind, we have put together some season-specific advice to help you find a buyer…

Let the light in
Never is it more important in the year to keep your rooms bright and airy than during the change between seasons. This is because of how quickly the levels of light fluctuate, turning your beautiful property into a less-appealing version of itself, with dark rooms and corners. To avoid this, use uplighters to brighten up your rooms during viewings – this type of lighting can be easily placed into corners or areas which may appear darker. Furthermore, blinds and curtains should be drawn back to allow plenty of natural light and don’t forget to turn any lights on under kitchen cupboards etc. to create multiple sources of brightness.

Keep paths clear
During this time of year, leaves may start to fall from the trees leaving debris around your property. Ensure that your kerb appeal is kept to its maximum by clearing away any wilting plants and debris from your property, especially on the path to your front door where potential buyers will most certainly be looking. If you have the time, consider tidying up your flower beds and removing any shrubbery which may not be looking quite as lovely as during the summer months.

Clean, clean and clean again
Of course, presenting your property in a clean and tidy state is a given, however you should consider other areas to spruce up in order to maximise the available light. Clean your windows regularly to ensure that they sparkle for prospective buyers and let in as much natural light as possible (this will also help with the aforementioned kerb appeal). Clean your front door so that it looks at its best – many of us will have white UPVC doors to match double glazed windows, and if this is the case then use a cleaning product to rejuvenate it.

Keep it cosy
You want your property to seem cosy and inviting and the drop in temperature gives you the perfect chance to make your home comfortable and welcoming. Turn the thermostat up so that during viewings your property is warm and incentivises your viewers to really take their time looking around before they brave the cold weather once more. If you have a fireplace, think about lighting it up or at the very least light some candles.

These are all simple tips that really don’t need a huge outlay in money to do but could completely revitalise your property’s appeal, so it’s worth considering doing when selling to enhance the buyer experience as it often translates to a quicker and even higher offer.

The Perils of Condensation

If allowed to enter your home unchecked, dampness can cause untold damage to your property, possessions, and even to your health. Dampness can be expensive to remove, and at the very least, causes an unpleasant and lingering musty smell.

Condensation is just one form of dampness, but it’s the most common and often most ignored. During summer, your guard is down. How can my house be affected by condensation when it is a problem typically associated with cold weather?

The truth is that condensation can be caused by changing temperatures that occur within your household, and not just outside of it. Kitchens, bathrooms, and attics are more susceptible to this problem due to there being higher chances of steam or inadequate ventilation in these rooms.

So, before your condensation issue escalates into a full-blown black mould problem, we have a few recommendations for you that can keep your home, health, and happiness better protected.

Know the signs

Nip your condensation problem in the bud by keeping an eye out for:

  1. Excess water on your windowsills
  2. Peeling paint or plaster
  3. Mould on clothes or fabrics
  4. Musty smells
  5. Presence of black mould

Unfortunately, by the time that some condensation warning signs are noticeable, the damage can already be quite extensive, and that’s why it’s best to take a preventative rather than a reactive approach.

Our suggestions

When facing difficulties with condensation, good ventilation is key.

Give your house plenty of room to breathe. Leave small gaps between your furniture and walls, don’t cram too much into too tight of a space – as air will not be able to circulate efficiently – and hang wet laundry outside.

It is essential that your kitchen is properly ventilated whilst you are cooking! Cover pots and pans and make use of your extractor fan. Don’t have one? Invest now and save yourself a bigger bill later. It’s also important to have properly ventilated washing machines and tumble dryers.

If able, close your kitchen door when cooking or boiling a kettle. This may seem excessive, but it will stop condensation spreading from room to room.

As for your bathroom, keep your windows open during and after baths or showers. Again, invest in an extractor fan if you have a windowless bathroom. Mould growth will thrive in this environment, and without proper bathroom ventilation, you risk breathing in these harmful spores.

Say no to condensation

Whether you are trying to sell your house, or simply live in it, condensation must be dealt with before the problem progresses beyond your control.

When you think about it: The government has been beating the insulation drum for many years and single glazing has been changed to double glazing, cavity wall insulation has been provided free of charge to many households, front doors are now UPVC and perfectly sealed, laminate flooring has become more popular closing off all the spaces that air would have circulated. Everything that could have caused a draft has almost been eliminated. So what do you think happens when steam rises from the shower, bath or pots and pans when cooking. Even the simple act of breathing during the night gives off water vapour. It must go somewhere, so it goes straight for the cold areas in your house and condensates. Water on your windows, damp patches on outside walls or behind your furniture, bathroom ceilings, cupboards that haven’t been aired in years the list is endless.

Hence the need to change your lifetime habits to stop the spread by doing these simple things every day.