Whether you’ve been a landlord for years or you’re just starting out, finding a letting agent you can trust and build a long-lasting relationship with is a big deal.
Renting out your property is about so much more than just money and business. As well as wanting an agent who can find you the perfect tenant, you’re sure to have feelings around confidence, connection and communication. None of these are financial concerns, but our experience tells us how prized they are by all of our landlord clients.
Investing in a Fife buy to let property has become a very different sport over the last few years.
In the glory days of the five years after the turn of the Millennium, where we had double-digit house price growth, mortgage companies (notably Northern Rock, HBOS and their ilk) desperate to get on the buy to let mortgage bandwagon with rates so low it would make the belly of a snake seem high and an open mildness to give loans away with not so much more than a note from your Mum and with hardly any regulatory intervention… anyone could make money from investing in property – in fact it was easier to make money than fall off a log! Then we had the unexpected flourish of the property market, with the post credit crunch jump in the property market after 2010, when everything seemed rosy in the garden.
Yet, over the past five years, the thumbscrews on the buy to let market for British (and de facto) Fife investors have slowly turned with new barriers and challenges for buy to let investors. With the change in taxation rules on mortgage relief starting to bite plus a swathe of new rules and regulations for landlords and mortgage companies, it cannot be denied some Fife landlords are leaving the buy to let sector, whilst others are putting a pause on their portfolio expansion.
With the London centric newspapers talking about a massive reduction in house prices (mainly in Mayfair and Prime London – not little old Fife) together with the red-tape that Westminster just keeps adding to the burden of landlords’ profit, it’s no wonder it appears to be dome and gloom for Fife landlords … or is it?
One shouldn’t always believe what one reads in the newspaper. It’s true, investing in the Fife buy to let property market has become a very different ballgame in the last five years thanks to all the changes and a few are panicking and selling up.
Fife landlords can no longer presume to buy a property, sit on it and automatically make a profit
Fife landlords need to see their buy to let investments in these tremulous times in a different light. Before landlords kill their fatted calves (i.e. sell up) because values are, and pardon the metaphor, not growing beyond expectation (i.e. fattening up), let’s not forget that properties produce income in the form of rent and yield. The focus on Fife buy to let property in these times should be on maximising your rents and not being preoccupied with just house price growth.
Rents in Fife’s private rental sector increased
by 1.96% in the past 12 months
Rents in Fife since 2008 have not kept up with inflation, it is cheaper today in REAL TERMS than it was 11 years ago and some landlords are beginning to realise that fact with our help.
Looking at the last few years, it can be seen that there is still a modest margin to increase rents to maximise your investment (and it can be seen some Fife landlords have already caught on), yet still protect your tenants by keeping the rents below those ‘real spending power terms’ of the 2008 levels.
Buy to let must be seen as a medium and long-term investment ….
Rents in Fife are 10.28% higher than they were 3 years ago and property values are 11.04% higher than Jan 2016
…and for the long term, even with the barriers and challenges that the Government is putting in your way – the future couldn’t be brighter if you know what you are doing.
Investment is the key word here… In the old days, anything with a front door and roof made money – yet now it doesn’t. Tenants will pay top dollar for the right property but in the right condition. Do you know where the hot spots are in Fife, whether demand is greater for 2 beds in Fife or 3 beds? Whether town centre terraced houses offer better ROI than suburban semis? With all the regulations many Fife landlords are employing us to guide them by not only managing their properties, taking on the worries of property maintenance, the care of property and their tenants’ behaviour but also advising them on the future of their portfolio. We can give you specialist support (with ourselves or people we trust) on the future direction of the portfolio to meet your investment needs (by judging your circumstances and need between capital growth and yields), specialist finance and even put your property empire into a limited company.
If you are reading this and you know someone who is a Fife buy to let landlord, do them a favour and share this article with them – it could save them a lot of worry, heartache, money and time.
We’re moving into a new decade, and so the last thing that you want is for your home to look dated. Throughout 2019 we have seen some extreme trends in interior design; from the embracing of industrial elements to the resurgence of entirely neutral spaces. We have taken a look at what to expect this year and how to get ahead with your design aesthetic, whatever your budget.
Colour makes a comeback
One of the key trends this decade has been that of neutral spaces with a few accent pieces to liven up the décor, however this year one of the main inclinations in design will be towards colour; bolder, brighter and braver! Rebecca Breslin, Wayfair Professional design manager, is calling for an end of “Greige, grey and all neutral everything without texture or visual interest” and therefore if you are looking for a change this year then start by adding colour into your home – burnt oranges and deep blues are set to be en vogue throughout the whole year.
Paper set to tear up the market
A feature wall has been the mainstay of every makeover show and glossy magazine before-and-after shoot since the early naughties, however 2020 is set to end this fad. Rather than a singular wall that is adorned with wallpaper, we are going to see all four walls covered with paper – in line with the brighter aesthetic of 2020. Wallpaper has seen something of a renaissance over the past decade, with designs from Gucci and Dior all the way through to stick-and-peel examples flooding the marketplace, and this isn’t set to end this year. If you want to experiment, then start with smaller spaces such as studies, toilets and guest bedrooms where patterns will seem less overwhelming.
The crisp, white kitchens that have been an enduring design staple over the last decade are set to move into retirement in 2020, with colour making its way back into the heart of the home. Kitchen cabinets, more specifically, are to become a real focus in kitchen design – therefore if you are looking to stay on-trend then think about rejuvenating your cabinets. Navy blue matte cabinets with vintage gold handles will transform your aesthetic immediately and mixes the traditional and vintage visuals that are set to be all the rage this year.
Give art a start
In these modern days of mass production and consumerism, vintage art and antiques are making a huge comeback due to the perceived one-of-a-kind nature of the objects and that they possess their own unique story. If you are looking to make small changes to your home that make it chic, then adding some select pieces of art is a great start – adding pieces to your kitchen walls will add particular interest to an otherwise utilitarian space.
Soften the edges
Throughout the 2010s, chicness has often been related to strong lines, sharp edges and minimalism, however as we move into the next decade this is set to be turned on its head for an altogether softer look. As well as a nod to 30s glamour (think metallics such as silver and gold, as well as scalloped seating) curves and fluid shapes are set to be popular this year; from circular side tables to rounded-edge sofas.
Furnished properties can vary in the level of furniture and furnishings offered. It is extremely important for prospective tenants to find out exactly what is being included in furnished properties before signing any contracts. When viewing rental properties on the market, remember that the furniture and decor may all belong to the current tenant, and so shouldn’t be the sole decider for signing the contract. Continue reading Prospective tenants: furnished or unfurnished lets?
You are buying your first home, which has most probably dominated the landscape of your day-to-day life for some months as you go through the property purchasing process for the very first time. You have been saving every penny you can in order to get your deposit together and pay any legal fees, but now that the property is secured you need to furnish it.
Now you’re wondering how you are going to fill your property with furniture and your budget is tight. So, we have put together our top tips to make your house a home, without having to spend a fortune…
Speak to the Seller or their Estate Agent
Whoever is moving out of the property that you are buying will most likely have their own plans for their next property, and those plans often involve new furniture as they upsize or downsize. Don’t be afraid to discuss leaving any furniture behind with them – it saves them the hassle of moving items, making this is a mutually beneficial arrangement.
We are all aware of the rise of online auction sites and when furnishing your first property they should be your best friends as there are plenty of bargains and hidden treasures on the likes of eBay, Facebook Marketplace, Amazon, Gumtree or the Shpock app. Search for pieces of furniture that have small imperfections or are second-hand and you can pick up some really quality affordable pieces, especially if you’re willing to put in some elbow grease and refurbish them (think of giving a bargain Welsh-dresser a lick of chalk-paint to give it a traditional yet chic feel).
Friends and Family
Your family and friends will most certainly have items of furniture in their homes which they are either not happy with, do not have the space for, or are simply looking to get rid of – this is the time to cash in on those good relationships! Offer to pick things up from their homes to take the onus off them, and in return you could end up with a fully furnished home at a fraction of the cost.
Love it or loathe it, there is one furniture giant which has been furnishing homes affordably for some time – Ikea. The Swedish giant certainly offers good value for money, and when it comes to the essentials, it could be a real lifesaver. We would recommend shopping around for any item of furniture and not simply furnishing a room just so that it is finished – the general consensus says to wait two weeks before making a furniture purchase just to mull over your options. Buying at specific periods will also help you to save – think Black Friday, Cyber Monday, New Year or summer which all offer extreme discounts.
If you’re furnishing a home with a budget in mind then something you will want to avoid is an aesthetic that looks “cheap” or mis-matched, and the finishing touches can help you to create that chic finish which you will no doubt be aspiring to. Soft furnishings should be at the top of your list in terms of finishing off a room – curtains, blinds, cushions and rugs can all set the tone of a room no matter what other furniture is present. Visit vintage stores and fabric shops and you will be able to find some nice fabrics to work with, especially if you are a dab-hand with a sewing machine.
Wondering what the essentials are? Here’s our list…
Dining table and chairs
Wardrobes (if you have built in wardrobes you’re on to an instant saving)
Chest of drawers
Kitchen items (kettle, toaster, pots and pans)
These are just some of the key points to focus on when furnishing your first home.
As we head towards the Winter months, now is the optimum time for landlords to prepare for the potential issues that may arise from the harsher weather. Spending a little time and effort now may well save money further down the line in the event of an accident or repair cost. Here’s our list of essential landlord checks:
The number one priority for every landlord should be checking that the boiler in your property (or properties) is in good condition, as repair costs can be extremely expensive. Book a boiler service to ensure that everything is working correctly and safely as boilers can break down with the surge in gas consumption that comes in the colder months.
Protect the Pipes
Adding lagging to your pipes (specially designed pipe insulation) is an inexpensive measure which will give you peace of mind knowing that your piping will not burst due to freezing and splitting. Focus on pipes in external areas and lofts which may be subject to the most extreme temperatures and you should avoid any problems as the cold sets in.
Smoke and CO Alarms
In line with regulations interlinked smoke alarms must be installed in each hall on each floor including every reception room and a heat detector in the kitchen – now is the perfect time to double-check these are in good working order and that your tenants are safe in your property. If your rental property has a fireplace (or solid fuel appliance) or central heating system then an additional carbon monoxide alarm must be fitted within one meter of the appliance in the same room, as the chances of these items being used increase astronomically in winter.
One of the key pieces of advice that we can give to protect your property through the winter is to create healthy dialogue with your tenants. As they are living in the property day-to-day, they will be able to tell you about any smaller issues so that you know how to avoid any larger issues. Make sure your tenants know where the stopcock is in the property, where the fuse board is located and who to call in case of an emergency. This could be invaluable in saving you time and money.
Protect the Roof
Chipped, cracked or dislodged tiles on your roof could lead to significant water damage and in cold temperatures this can lead to structural issues with water freezing and expanding. Double-check that your roof is in tip-top condition, and whilst you’re at it take the time to clear out your gutters to avoid blockages when the inevitable rain falls.
Designing a child’s room can be tricky; there are a number of factors to consider so it is hard to know where to begin. Design trends are forever changing and your child is constantly growing, so it is important that you consider a few things before starting.
Striking the balance between fun and practical is a challenge and designing something that your child does not grow out of too quickly is not easy, but by taking the time to think it over, you can save yourself a lot of hassle and create a space that is fun for them and easy for you to manage.
Draw Up A Floor Plan
Before you start buying all sorts of cute and colourful furniture, it’s important to remember that depending on your child’s age, this room could have a variety of functions.
Have a think about what the room will be used for and draw out a plan. If the room just needs to be a comfortable place to sleep then you should have plenty of freedom, however, if it also needs to be an area to play and study, you’ll require a good amount of floor space and maybe a dedicated little corner for a desk.
Everyone’s home and preferences are different but you want to get as much out of the space as possible, so take a moment to consider the role that the room will play and how it may change over the next few years.
Choose The Right Colour
It may be tempting to simply ask your child what their favourite colour is and then start buying paint or wallpaper.
While it is a good idea to include your child in the design of their room, if their favourite colour resembles a highlighter pen, then your best option is to go with the more neutral shade of that colour.
Your best strategy is to aim for a colour palette that nicely blends with a variety of furniture and will not look so childish once your child turns into a teen. Save yourself a redecoration job in 18 months by picking a colour that will age well with the rest of the ever-changing décor.
Decide On The Flooring
When it comes to flooring you have a few options, all with their pros and cons, so you just have to decide which will be best for you.
Carpet helps keep the room a little warmer but is vulnerable to stains. Hardwood is much more durable and easy to clean but does not provide much cushion for a child that is a little more clumsy than most. You could also opt for rubber flooring that does offer the benefits of both carpet and hardwood; however, it is the most expensive option of the three.
The flooring that is best for you is dependent on the age of your child, but research your options while keeping your budget in mind and make sure your choice of flooring compliments the room and doesn’t break the bank.
Getting The Furniture Right
There are two key things to keep in mind when choosing your furniture, functionality and lifespan.
We’ve already established that space is a valuable commodity so finding multifunctional furniture can be a real lifesaver.
Beds that have storage built in underneath are quite easy to find and the extra storage they provide can go a long way, as well as free up more of the room for other essential items. This also gives you an opportunity to get a little creative and look for ways to combine 2 items into one such as adding some padding to a desk or dresser so that it also can be used as a changing table.
The other consideration for furniture is its lifespan. There is a lot of cute miniature beds, tables and chairs that might look great, but you must remember that they will grow out of it quicker than you think. A good strategy would be to buy some furniture that they can grow into. Their small clothes may not justify full sized dresser just yet, but it will not be long before you are looking for extra storage space and their feet are hanging out of the end of the bed.
Add Character Through Accessories
Now that your room has been planned out, you have chosen your colour palette, had the flooring fitted, assembled and placed the furniture, it’s time to add character.
The great part about this phase of designing the room is that because the rest of the room’s features were kept neutral and timeless, you can now give your child a good amount of freedom to add their own personality to the room from accessories.
Whether it’s action figures, bed covers or posters, you can basically style the room however you want and the best part is, these accessories can be easily replaced and changed over the years at the same rate as your child’s taste in décor shifts from one thing to the next.
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
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?
Yorkshire & The Humber
East of England
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.
Since 2016, there have been several changes to the property market across the United Kingdom – predominantly to the lettings sector. Despite these alterations to taxation, stamp duty and bureaucracy around rental properties, most buy-to-let investors are still finding the market to be lucrative, with stable returns.
With a number of landlords departing the market when initial government changes took place in 2016, competition in the marketplace is greatly reduced and the professionalism of the sector has blossomed.
Chris Baguley, Commercial Director at buy-to-let lender Together, said: “As casual owners exit the sector, buy-to-let is becoming ever more professionalised, as individuals and companies adopt a more rigorous approach to acquiring the right properties in the right areas, and getting them ready to rent within a limited time frame on a tight budget. Perhaps most notably in the housing sector, the balance of today, there is therefore notably less competition than there was before.
“Even if we don’t see the capital growth which has been evident over the past two decades, the income available from property investment can still be attractive compared to other asset classes.”
With rental incomes increasing – the Office of National Statistics announced this month that private rents rose 1.3% on an annual basis in May, increasing once more from April – the opportunities for buy-to-let investors are evident. Additionally, financing your properties has become easier with specific buy-to-let mortgages now offered by a plethora of lenders, who are fiercely competing with one another to keep their market share, providing investors with an opportunity to obtain extremely attractive rates.
A recent survey of more than 5,000 investors found that almost three-quarters of those surveyed considered buy-to-let to be the best, least volatile long-term investment. Indeed, some 83% of buy-to-let investors who were questioned stated that it was either unlikely or very unlikely that they would sell their property over the next year, with almost 60% going on to state that they had no intentions of selling for the next five years.
Fife Properties Group Office Owner, Jim Parker commented: “The term Safe as Houses still applies today. The returns from investment property are still as attractive as it was several years ago for the reasons stated above. However, getting the right property, whether to go sole trader or ltd company, the taxation implications regarding income tax and capital gains later are all extremely important to get right in the beginning. I’ve been involved in this as an active investor and landlord for over 26 years and learning by someone else’s experience is always the best way to go. It’s not the first time I’ve helped first time landlords get started and I still offer this service today.”
Fife Properties currently offer a FREE initial consultation service which not only provides an idea of the rental value of your property but gives extremely useful advice on getting started. To book an appointment click the link: https://www.fifeproperties.co.uk/property-valuation/