Trading Places Property News

Firstly, if you want to attract a high calibre tenant, you should decorate to a high standard. These days, most landlords appreciate that a good quality rental property will not only attract the best types. Having found the ideal buy to let investment, which is affordable, located close to shops and station, with good sized bedrooms and in reasonably good overall condition, you now need to make sure it stands out from the crowd, especially if competition is high in your marketplace of tenant, but also return a higher rental and result in less investment throughout the tenancy and during void periods; furthermore reducing the length of a void period, between tenancies.

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We understand the disappointment of vendors whose experience of the sales process has fallen short of their expectations.   This disappointment can sometimes be the result of setting your expectations too high or perhaps being influenced by having such high expectations in the first place, as a result of poor advice and decision making. It can be difficult trying to adapt mentally, especially if choices and decisions are based on achieving a certain figure. A prime example where this can be particularly stressful is when selling for the final time, with dependence and reliance on the money generated from the sale. Unfortunately, once a property has been on the market for some months, the chances of finding a buyer willing to pay your desired price are reduced. When a property has lost its marketing appeal, a break can be a good option, providing time is on your side of course.

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The unexpected hung parliament might appear to have once again cast a shadow over the housing market. Or maybe not! We know that the stability and strength proposed by Theresa May might not be delivered after all, but is that really so bad for a market already in danger of overheating? Certainly, the lack of available properties for sale has helped to escalate prices to unsustainable levels in some areas.  It is well known that job security, employment levels and interest rates play arguably the greatest roles in determining the shape of the property market, yet these were seldom presented as burning issues by any party during the election. An increasingly uncertain Brexit does, of course, suggest an increasingly uncertain future. However, in the twelve months since the Brexit referendum the market has actually risen by a respectable 4.1% (source HMLR) so perhaps its ill-effects were overestimated.

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This year we welcome our first ever Summer Fest to the borough. The latest addition to the Get Together series sees a new summer festival which combines craft beer and sport. Check out the latest offering from HemingwayDesign, take part in Tour De Waltham Forest and watch some great sports or event have a go yourself! Unique from other events, the Summer Fest event is the only beer and sports festival where attendees can win cool prizes competing in free, fun events! There will be multiple matches and tournaments for you to watch and participate in.  B Spoke, a new high summer happening curated by the award winning HemingwayDesign events team.

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Waltham Forest Council has partnered with The Restart The Repair Café Leytonstone lets residents learn how to fix their electrical items, clothes and bikes for free. There will also be free advice on how to upcycle furniture and clothes, which can all be enjoyed over a slice of cake. Get free repairs and upcycling advice for your bike, electrical items, clothes and furniture, over a slice of cake.Project,Traid, Shed Homewares and Dr Bike to run the Repair Café. As well as carrying out repairs the experts will also provide free demonstrations and advice so residents can pick up some basic repair and upcycling skills in a relaxed setting.

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Election periods usually add a degree of confusion to the property market, but this effect appears to be less pronounced this time around. Indeed, the level of sales agreed nationally is actually 2% up on that recorded during the run-up to the last election in 2015, albeit down 2% on the same period last year. According to Rightmove, asking prices have risen for the fifth consecutive month albeit at a slowing rate of 1.2%. This may have been somewhat distorted, however, by the increase in the value of typical family homes with a 5.4% year on year increase. Rightmove’s research shows that families with children under 11 years of age are twice as likely to move than other homeowners. Clearly, this sector usually has a real reason to move - upsizing, downsizing, school moves, etc.

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The Energy Efficiency (Private Rented Property)(England and Wales) Regulations 2015 mean that, from April 2018, private non-domestic (and domestic) landlords must ensure that properties they rent in England and Wales reach at least an EPC rating of E before granting a tenancy to new or existing tenants. We are already planning ahead and will be in touch with our managed landlords in the next couple of months to give advice and help plan ahead where necessary. According to the latest ARLA data, the number of available rental properties in London fell by 1/3rd in April, compared with March. The number of landlords selling up, based on ARLA members, was 4 per branch in the month of April.

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“Location, location, location” may be the cornerstone of wise property investment, yet many people are unaware of the importance of location when making the right choice of estate agent – whether buying or selling. Estate agency is an intensely local business. It is essential that agents are fully conversant with the issues of the day relating to property within what is often no more than a mile or two from their office. Ideally, they will themselves be resident in the area in which they are selling. At Trading Places, we are more conscious than most of the overriding importance of providing a local service, delivered passionately by local people. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why we enjoy such a good atmosphere in our offices. Most of our team have been with us for many years (on average nine years), and everybody spends time in the local area outside of working.

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Trying to secure finance on a property where Japanese knotweed is growing in the garden can be extremely problematic. If Japanese Knotweed is growing on land adjacent to the property being financed, this too can pose a problem. But what do you know about this herbaceous perennial plant? If you have a garden, here are a few things you ought to know about this invasive plant. It can be very difficult to spot Japanese Knotweed and can often be mistaken for Bamboo, Broadleaf dock, Bindweed, Russian vine or Ground elder. In the spring, reddish/purple shoots appear, growing up to 2cm’s per day. Bamboo-like stems spread from the roots and will produce heart-shaped/shield-shaped green leaves, which come late summer/autumn will develop small creamy white flowers. If you suspect you have Japanese Knotweed, then it’s best to speak to an expert. In a word “yes”, if left to its own devices.

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Analysing and understanding the UK property market is notoriously difficult. Conflicting reports and biased perspectives often confuse people who simply want a degree of reassurance that their purchase or sale is well-timed. Many people who currently have no intention of moving are also naturally curious about the value of their home, which is usually their biggest investment.There are two aspects of the property market that interest us most – property values, driven by the relative balance of supply and demand, and transaction volumes, which are primarily influenced by confidence levels and affordability.The past year has been relatively unstable: we saw a massive rush to purchase buy-to-let investment properties before a change to the SDLT tax regime in March 2016. We then had the Brexit referendum, a change in Prime Minister, an American election and continuing sporadic terrorist activity.

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Wednesday’s budget was noticeable for the absence of any mention of the housing market. This oversight was met with derision from almost ever organisation with an interest in the property sector. There has been a succession of housing ministers over recent years, each of which has introduced several, mostly ill-considered, policies which have effectively damaged the sector by tinkering with it, rather than by providing serious reform. Of course, if you’re a regular homeowner you could be forgiven for asking “what’s the problem?” The British housing market has proven to be a secure and profitable investment that has withstood considerable economic stresses and has consistently outperformed many other investment sectors, whilst simultaneously providing a roof over our heads. However, the problem lies in the very success of the market itself.

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There can be nothing better suited to the internet than property, and hits to property websites far outnumber those of any other industry. The ability to be able to search in the comfort of your own home, usually without having to provide any personal details, is certainly attractive and has transformed the way the public begins to look for their new home. So will the internet replace traditional estate agency? It would certainly seem not. Ultimately property search portals are regarded by buyers and tenants alike as a supercharged local property newspaper, with a fairly comprehensive selection of homes on offer. As many sellers have discovered, the benefits of using an estate agent far outweigh the simple ability to source a buyer or tenant. In some ways, finding the buyer or tenant is the easy bit!. The internet certainly helps the agent to do this, which in turn frees up time to be more proactive in helping those “home-seekers” identified as being particularly motivated.

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The Northcote E11 As reported in The Bush Telegraph, Leytonstone has a new addition to the High Road in the shape of Theatre of Wine, an established independent wine retailer with branches in Greenwich and Tufnell Park. They do weekly wine tastings so if you enjoy a drop of “the grape”, why not pop in and take a look around? http://www.theatreofwine.com/ourstory/ Yet another action packed events calendar for March. One date in our own personal diaries is 18th March, when Sexy Rumours once again visit The Luna Lounge, who were absolutely brilliant when we saw them late last year. In fact, the whole night is going to be a busy one with music playing on both floors (starting at 7pm downstairs and 8pm upstairs) Sexy Rumours are a London based band that specialise in performing versions of famous hits from the 70’s to the 00’s that you won’t hear at your average night out. https://www.facebook.com/sexyrumours Do take a look at the Luna Lounge events calendar for March http://www.

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We love the challenge of matching a tenant to a property, or a property to tenant, and in our opinion the right tenant will usually make for a happy landlord. Letting negotiators/consultants often feel the pressure of having to find a willing tenant, and quickly. A company operating a low basic and high commission salary structure will often experience fast turn-around times, as their staff go like the clappers competing with each other for the prize. Shorter void periods must spell goods new for landlord’s right? But what about careful tenant selection! Taking it one step further, negotiators/consultants relying on a high ratio of commission are already competing in-house, but what if a property is also being marketed by another letting agency? Would this further promote the mentality of “any tenant will do?” One of the reasons we avoid multiple agency instructions is because prefer to focus on finding the right tenant, by working together as a team, not individuals.

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As we approach Valentine’s Day it would seem that there’s a fair bit of love involved in estate agency! Estate agents are, if anything, matchmakers after all and just as people fall in love with the right person, so buyers also need to fall in love with a property if the sale is to succeed. Just as a good matchmaker will not simply put people on a database and expect them to enter into a long term loving relationship, so our job is far more than a simple broking service. That’s why we go to great lengths in trying to understand our buyers’ needs, preferences, hopes, desires and aspirations in respect of their future home. Only through this understanding can we help guide them to the right property. Of course, our matchmaking brief may be to find a Cheryl Fernandez-Versini or George Clooney, which, in property terms, can be somewhat ambitious, but in all seriousness buyers tend to have up to ten factors on their wish list that they seek to fulfil.

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The courts have been busy with private rented sector related cases and in this article we look at three of them. The decision around Section 24 tax changes (not being able to offset mortgage interest at the highest marginal rate of the tax payer) was a judicial review of changes yet to have its full effect. Following the budget announcement that landlords who pay higher rate tax will not be allowed to claim mortgage interest at the higher rate (phased in over four years) landlords got together and challenged this decision under judicial review procedures. It is important to understand that judicial review challenges the process, not the decision, so even if the landlords had won, it would still have been possible for the Government to follow the right process and still bring in the same decision.

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Household emergencies generally occur during the depths of winter, but we recommend that homeowners undertake winter property check to prevent unforeseen property headaches in the months to come, with January often being one of the coldest months of the year. Here are some pointers: Make sure your central heating system is working as it should. Don’t wait until the really cold weather arrives to discover that the central heating is not working properly and if a service is overdue consider booking an engineer asap. A sudden cold snap can burst water pipes, causing flooding. Make sure you know the location of the stop-cock.  Ensure your pipes and tank are properly lagged but do not insulate underneath your tank. If you are going away, leave the heating on low and leave your loft hatch open. If you have only recently moved into your new home then make sure you know where the stop cock(s) are.

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Goodbye 2016 and hello 2017, and what a start to the year it has been. Tenant and buyer registration numbers have returned and whilst stock levels remain low, a number of new instructions have hit the market and valuations have been plentiful. Buyers are making offers and tenants are moving again, so for now we are being kept very busy indeed. Has the spring market come early or will it be an extended one this year? Rightmove point to a 0.4% (+£1,086) rise in the price of property coming to market so far in January, a fraction down on the 0.5% rise recorded in the same month last year. In greater London they are reporting a monthly asking price increase of 1.4%, and Robert Nichols, Managing Director at Portico in London had this to say: “With volume typically leading price, we do expect property prices to soften this year - especially in prime central London and the most expensive boroughs.

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Many who receive a good offer for their home turn it down because they have not yet found “the right property” and worry that they will in effect become homeless should they sell first (although we have never known this to happen!)      Of course the problem would become a self-fulfilling prophecy if everyone were to take this stance, and the entire market would grind to a halt. But in reality it isn’t that bad and, whilst we don’t have a magic wand, the closest thing we have to a miracle cure is to encourage sellers to have a little faith. Because as soon as you find a buyer, amazing things can happen! First, the fact that you have a buyer in place positions you as a “red hot buyer” with estate agents; certainly “hotter” than a buyer who has a property to sell, which is yet to be put on the market. This means you will be offered new properties as soon as they come onto the market, often ahead of public marketing or portal exposure.

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The property market depends on fluidity and activity to be regarded as healthy. This year the number of transactions has been light, based on a dearth of supply. This has itself fed the problem with sellers being reluctant to put their property on the market if they only have a limited choice of onward purchase. But this seems to be easing. Last month, HMRC reported a 1% increase in transactional volumes – a small but significant step in the right direction that compares very favourably with the 4.3% drop during the previous month (although still 8% down on the same time last year). There is a feeling that with all the current woes of the world, the market might just be beginning to peak, with perhaps an interest rate rise a distinct possibility, albeit previous chatter was of a further rate reduction. According to one national firm of estate agents, buyer demand is down 22% on the year and there are still nine buyers registered for every property available.

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A day of local Christmas markets in the heart of Leytonstone set up to support the High Street and local designers and traders. Set over three locations. Stones Throw Market in St John's Hall, Church Lane Market on Church Lane and Lister Road Market on Lister Road. Each market is offering something different from Father Christmas and international food at Lister Road; handcrafted items and homemade treats on Church Lane plus local designs and retro wares at Stones Throw. The day will be topped off with carol singers and a lantern walk from Lister Road to St John's church. A great community event giving locals the chance to buy something interesting for Christmas or simply to pop by for a bite to eat and a cup of tea. Entry to each market is free. 5-Dec-15 11-5pm stonesthrowmarket@yahoo.co.uk Four local markets are joining forces on Saturday 3rd December to provide a bumper day of Christmas shopping and entertainment for Leytonstone residents.

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Four local markets are joining forces on Saturday 3rd December to provide a bumper day of Christmas shopping and entertainment for Leytonstone residents. The Christmas Market Trail will run throughout Leytonstone town centre between 11am-4pm. There will be over 70 craft, vintage and food stalls, plus church tower tours, Santa's Grotto and children's craft activities, festive food and drink and a great atmosphere. Venues include St John's Church, Leytonstone Library Hall, Leytonstone Methodist Church in Lister Road and the pedestrian area near the Matalan store. The largest venue, Leytonstone Methodist Church, still has some vacancies for craft stalls - email forestcircuit.london@gmail.com to apply. Look out for posters, leaflets and banners around Leytonstone, and follow the Facebook event 'Leytonstone Christmas Market Trail' for more updates.

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Many people still consider buy-to-let as a viable alternative to pensions and saving investments, and with good reason. The effect of low-interest rates and a historically rising property market make buy-to-let one of the most attractive long-term investments accessible to the public. Obviously there are risks associated with such an investment, though the same could be said of all potential high return investments. During 2016, the banks have been busy writing to us, first to tell that us even less of our money will now protected under the FSCS (Financial Services Compensation Scheme), and more recently in relation to their “new” (lower) savings rates. From November, Santander will be cutting the top rate for their 123 current account in half with perhaps other banks set to take a similar stance. It’s getting harder to benefit from having your saving in the bank.

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Moving day can be stressful enough, but a bit of forethought can go a long way.   For example, many people take the opportunity to clear any unwanted junk out of their homes and lives. Charity shops, car boot sales, and friends can be grateful recipients of some items. Our advice would be to have a clear-out before you put your property on the market. An uncluttered house with tidy cupboards and a clear garage all improve the presentation of your home tremendously, thereby increasing its saleability and possibly its price. The reduced volume should also bring down your removal costs, or at the very least save you time towards the end of the process, when various other aspects of the move will be demanding your time. You can bring these costs down further by considering if there are any bulky pieces of furniture that you are thinking of having restored. For example, your current sofa might not look right in your next home unless it is recovered.

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Recently Trading Places' own Gary Butler was interviewed by the Guild of Professional Estate Agents on the subject of "open house" viewings to sell your property. An open house viewing day/event strategy is only beneficial in certain circumstances. Firstly, the market, or at least the property in question, should warrant an open day e.g. there should be sufficient buyer demand. We have found that by allocating specific viewing time slots, you allow prospective buyers their own time to take everything in. Even if those time slots are just 10-15 mins long, the prospective buyer is able to focus on the viewing, instead of bumping into others.  In our experience, and based on client feedback, house hunters really do appreciate this one-on-one time and they feel more comfortable asking questions. We would usually start with a 2 hour viewing window and have the event take place 7-14 days after the property goes onto the market.

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The sixth annual Gas Safety Week is here and Trading Places are proud to be part of it.It will see organisations from across the UK working together to raise awareness of the dangers of poorly maintained gas appliances, which can cause gas leaks, fires, explosions and carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. Here are the top three tips to stay Gas Safe: Check your gas appliances every year. Check your engineer is Gas Safe registered  Check your engineer's Gas Safe ID card Find out and get all the gas safety tips on the Gas Safe website.

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Recently, in the Supreme Court, the five Supreme Court judges overturned the Court of Appeal decision in the Edwards V Kumarasamy case which decided that a leasehold landlord was liable to compensate his Assured Shorthold tenant for injuries caused to his knee as a result of tripping over a communal paving stone when taking his rubbish from the main door of a block of flats to the bin store. Mr Edwards was suing his landlord for a breach under s11(1) (A) of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985; however, Mr Kumarasamy did not own the block and his lease did not include the pathway where the accident happened, this was owned by the freeholder. Mr Kumarasamy was unaware of the potential hazard and his long lease had an express proviso that the head-landlord (the freeholder) could only be liable for disrepair on notice. In this case the lessee (Mr Kumarasamy) and the head-lessee (the freeholder) were not aware of the hazard.

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Leeds Building Society will now allow tenancy agreements without setting a maximum term of 12 months. A number of lenders are now accepting longer term tenancies, most only allowing to a maximum of three years and Leeds will be amongst the few with no maximum. It’s worth checking the terms of your current buy to let mortgage for conditions relating to tenancy term. Not only for maximum terms but also minimum terms e.g. some lenders may stipulate that a fixed term tenancy is in place at all times so do take a few minutes to review the small print. It seems delays in the conveyancing process are inevitable with the introduction of the new CON29 forms, which demand more information. The following was taken from the Law Society Website The Law Society's revised CON 29 and CON 29O forms will go live on 4 July 2016. The aim of the revisions is to improve the quality and consistency of information provided by local authorities.

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The property market apocalypse predicted by some following the Brexit referendum appears to have been averted. However, the timing of the referendum, combined with the 1-2 month lag in the reporting of sales figures has made it difficult to assess the real impact. The latest sales figures reported by the Land Registry/ONS suggest a 10% decline in transaction volumes against the same time last year, but this could simply be a result of April’s rush to beat the Stamp Duty increase on second homes and buy to let investments. House prices are reported to have risen by 8.7% nationally over the year with the average property now standing at £229,000. The important thing is to look at the snapshot of activity right now. We’re at the tail end of summer, yet demand remains high. Rightmove has reported a 1.

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The term “fair wear and tear” appears on most tenancy agreements. But what is fair to a landlord may not necessarily appear fair to a tenant, and vice versa. With current deposit rules in place, it helps to think like an adjudicator, a topic we have covered previously. In general terms it is usually understood that fair wear and tear means that in regard to any apparent damage done to part of a landlord’s property, the landlord must take account of reasonable wear in the day to day usage of the property, and he/she must not expect over-compensation, or betterment. Indeed, within reason, wear and tear is part of the cost of letting a property and will vary depending on the type of tenant a landlord takes on.

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When you market your property, you will naturally want to achieve the highest price today’s market will pay. But how do you know what this is? Sadly, there is no almanac of “correct” prices relating to an address and a date, and online price “calculators” can be wildly inaccurate, so most people will take the advice of their chosen estate agent to guide them towards the right decision.  The statistical data to which we as agents have access can be of tremendous assistance in assessing the correct asking price for a property when combined with up-to-the-minute local market awareness and in-house research exercises. This information can also be of great help when weighing up the relative merits of an offer from a prospective purchaser. Whilst buyers do of course make offers, what an individual purchaser is willing to pay, may or may not reflect the maximum likely selling price in a given market. This is where the stats come in.

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As we all know by now, the Bank of England has reduced the base rate to 0.25%, with all nine members of the Monetary Policy Committee voting in favour of the cut. According to data from the Office for National Statistics, those with a variable 25-year repayment mortgage could save around £22 per month and those with a tracker product should see their monthly payments reduce by approximately £24.16 on a mortgage of £200,000 over an average 25-year repayment mortgage (or £41.66 if interest only). On the flip side, savers will be less impressed with the news and it should be noted that some mortgage products may include a “collar” in the small print, stating a minimum level at which their rate will drop to. The BoE are also to buy £60bn of UK government bonds and £10bn of corporate bonds. They plan to introduce a new scheme encouraging banks to keep lending, by allowing banks themselves to borrow at somewhere near to 0.25%.

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George Osborne may no longer be Chancellor of the Exchequer; however he had made several tax changes, which directly impact the PRS, with arguably the biggest of them all still to come. Landlords currently enjoy tax relief on mortgage interest; however April 2017 will see the start of a 4 year plan to change this, with the potential to push lower rate tax payers into a higher rate of taxation. The changes will be phased in as follows: In the 2017/2018 financial year, the deduction from property income (as is currently allowed) will be restricted to 75% of finance costs e.g. mortgage interest, with the remaining 25% qualifying for a “capped” 20% “tax reducer” In the 2018/2019 financial year, that figure of 75% will become 50% (with the remaining 50% qualifying for a “capped” 20% “tax reducer”) In the 2019/2020 financial year, the figure of 50% will become 25% (with the remaining 75% qualifying for a “capped” 20% “tax reducer”). As from 2020/2021 all financing costs e.g.

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As the holiday season gets into full swing and the 6 week school holidays begin, it’s quite usual to experience a summer slow-down. However, this summer will see sellers with even less buyers to choose from as some hold back, hoping prices may dip. As we have mentioned before, it’s important to establish the true reasons for a slow-down and a more traditional (a more evenly balanced) sales market, will often see less activity during the summer months and at Christmas. That doesn’t mean to say buyers stop buying, and with a ratio of approximately three “new” buyer registrations each day in July so far, there is still an appetite to buy property. For those looking to sell in the short term there is a choice, perhaps in some cases dictated by circumstance. Sellers can wait for the autumn market or try to sell now, either way, with less buyers around its worth doing everything possible to maximise your chances of attracting a buyer.

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Having worked in the industry for some 20 years, I have witnessed various types of market; from peaks to crashes as well as everything in-between. It’s a case of using your experience to identify market changes, sometimes subtle, and then adapting the selling strategy and the advice given to sellers. There will be many people working in estate agency who are yet to experience anything other than a strong seller’s market, and when the time comes they will need to adapt and learn new skills in order to be successful in a more balanced, or weakened market. One of the key features in estate agency is providing the seller with feedback. In recent years, subject to a correct marketing strategy, demand has been so strong, that in many instances giving feedback has been a case of putting forward a number of offers (following an open day), then progressing those offers until a sale price is agreed.

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A few weeks back, our mortgage brokers alerted us to a new HSBC 2-year fixed rate deal at 0.99% and we are now reading various reports indicating that the mortgage market will become even more competitive post Brexit, with suggestions of 2 year deals as low as 0.95%. It would appear the "long term product" market, such as 5 and 10 year deals is set to grow, albeit there’s a view that early repayment charges are a stumbling block for some would-be long term committers. Click on the following link https://www.mortgagestrategy.co.uk/brexit-price-cutting-push-fixes-0-95/ to read an article by Mortgage Strategy Voices are whispering that a falling pound could actually lead to more foreign investment in some markets, and as is usually the case investors will look to buy at the bottom of the market. It’s a case of assessing when this time has arrived (an obvious point I know).

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Yes, we all know Waltham Forest introduced a selective licensing scheme last year and under their early bird scheme it cost £250 for a 5 year licence, rising to £500 thereafter – only this is no longer the case because as from 1st April 2016 the cost of a 5 year selective licence has increased to £650 so by the time 2020 comes, and on the basis the council extend the scheme beyond the initial 5 year period, how much will a licence then cost? Many landlords saw the introduction of this licensing scheme as a money making decision, whilst others wanted to see rogue landlords punished, feeling it unfair they tow the line whilst the few bad apples continued to give landlords a bad name, and as such welcomed the scheme.

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Earlier this year a landlord was fined over £11,000 for letting a property which had a dangerous gas boiler. Another landlord was fined and handed a suspended prison sentence for installing a boiler that was not checked by a suitably-qualified gas engineer. In another case, a landlord was fined almost £3,000 for failing to provide a gas safety record for two rental properties. There seems to have been a spike in the number of landlords being fined for gas safety failings and there are of course the new rules that came into play last October in relation to smoke and carbon monoxide alarms. Is your gas safety check up to date?.. and have you issued your tenant with a copy of the current gas safety record/certificate, within the required timescale? Which? Mortgage Advisers have given some tips to help people avoid a long chain, therefore increasing the chances of a successful purchase. 1.

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The Upper Leytonstone Jumble Trail is happening again this year! It's on Sunday 26th June between 11am and 4pm. More information.

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Those of you living in Waltham Forest will probably remember recent reports of bricks being stolen from local churches and even people’s front gardens. Thieves would drive their van into the wall before making off with the bricks, which would sell on for around £1 per brick. The bricks in question are of course the old yellow “London stock” type, some dating back before the Victorian era, and a very popular choice for property owners looking to build an extension with a desire to match the extension to rest of the property. This is not the first time we have experienced an attack on our front gardens. Several years back people were waking up to find their front gate had suddenly disappeared. One week we had over half a dozen reports from confused tenants curious as to the whereabouts of the front garden gate.

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As you look through the pages of most online property advice sites or property-related newspapers and magazines, you are likely to come across one survey or another that seeks to prove how various property improvements add a certain percentage to the value of a property. There has been a marked increase in the number of people undertaking improvements whose motivation is specifically to increase the value of their property prior to a sale. If you are considering such improvements, you should approach such surveys with caution. For example, the public’s response to a previous survey as to which home improvements were most likely to add value were at odds with the view of a panel of property valuation experts and Chartered Surveyors. The public’s view was that a new kitchen would add more value than either a loft conversion or an extension.

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When a landlord finds a good tenant they usually want to try and keep hold of them, likewise when a tenant has a good landlord they will want to stay on at the property. There are of course circumstances that mean a tenant needs to leave the property, perhaps they are buying a home of their own or their work takes them away from the area; however, sometimes a tenant will look elsewhere simply because they are not happy with their landlord. Research by Direct Line has found that on average the British renter spends an average of 18 months in a rented property. In Birmingham the average stay is 2 years and 4 months, whereas on the opposite end of the spectrum the average Cardiff renter vacates within 12 months, followed by Leeds (12 months) and Bristol (14 months). The analysis also focused on how long it takes a landlord to replace a tenant, with an average time of 22 days. Such void periods are costly and should be factored into your yield calculations.

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According to the latest research from Gocompare.com Mortgages, dodgy home repairs, tiny rooms and poor lighting are just some of the things that would send a prospective buyer running for the hills - but what is the biggest turn off? The survey conducted by Gocompare found that damp was the biggest area of concern for house-hunters with 71% of those asked saying that evidence of damp patches on walls or ceilings would put a stop to them buying a property. 65% said they would avoid homes that had been poorly maintained.  Odious odours were also cited as deal breakers with 61% saying that bad smells from pets, damp or cigarette smoke would turn-them off a property.    Matt Sanders, mortgages spokesperson for Gocompare.com said, “Moving home is a big undertaking for sellers who want to attract the best price for their property and buyers who, in the main, want well maintained properties.

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1: So here’s the obvious one. Now days most people regularly switch energy suppliers, seeking out the best deals available. However, not everybody finds the time and others may have tried this a few years back and found that the potential saving hardly seemed worthwhile. Well prices and deals do change. When your deal comes to an end you will usually be moved onto the standard tariff, costing you more than before. If it’s been a while since you last switched, why not spend half an hour looking around on-line. Your current supplier can tell you how many units of gas / electric you have used over the past 12 months, which will be helpful when browsing through the price comparison websites. Don’t be worried about asking the question, you are entitled to the information and don’t owe your current supplier any loyalty, not when they are offering new customers a better deal than the one you will be moved onto once the contract ends.

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So here we are at the height of the Spring market, following a roller coaster ride, triggered by the Stamp Duty Land Tax deadline that prompted so many investors and second home buyers to act before the additional 3% tax kicked in. It is interesting to note the short term effect this has had on the market. For example, April saw an otherwise unexpected rise of 62% in transaction volumes – that’s about 60,000 more transactions. The knock on effect in terms of property value has been profound, with lower end investment and first time buyer properties rising by 6.2% over the past four weeks alone, against a much smaller (0.4%) rise in the price of property entering the market in the last four weeks generally (excluding London). In fact, the top end of the London market, which has so often skewed the view of the market when included in national figures, has certainly lost its froth, with some prime postcodes in the capital falling by up to 12% over the past year.

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As an estate and letting agent, our job is to sell or let a property. Sounds obvious really! However, some people judge an agent’s ability to do the job on the varied amount of advertising undertaken on behalf of each client, rather than on the strategy and reasoning behind their advertising policy. Clearly, it is virtually unheard of that someone will buy or rent a property on the strength of an advert, without actually visiting it. So the purpose of a property ad is not to sell or let the property, but rather to encourage an interested party to enquire further and arrange to see it. Nevertheless research, and our experience, has shown that in many cases a buyer or tenant will not go on to purchase/rent the first property they enquired about from an advert. The chances are that once they have made contact, the agent will begin to gain a thorough understanding of the home seekers wants, needs, preferences and areas of potential compromise.

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You only get one chance to make a great first impression! When it comes to letting your home, attention to detail could be pivotal in securing the best possible rent –quickly.  Most tenants have a good idea of their preferred location, minimum accommodation needs and ideal style of property. Yet it is often presentation that makes the greatest difference. A well-presented property not only looks more attractive, but also suggests that the landlord cares for it. This in itself can attract a more careful tenant. So here are a few tips that we hope landlords might find useful:A new coat of paint on the front door gives a great first impression. Have the carpets professionally cleaned. Check that the grouting/sealant in the bathroom is not discoloured. A bottle of wine in the fridge suggests that you will be a welcoming landlord! Make sure all the lights work and the house is well-lit – even during the day.

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We recently heard that Mortgage Trust has revamped its buy-to-let range to include a revamp on some existing products, as well as launching over 20 new products. Fixed rate deals for Landlords include a two year fix at 3.05% (75% LTV) and a five year fix at 3.50% (75% LTV). Research carried out by Direct Line for Business has revealed that 1 in 10 private landlords do not have a formal tenancy agreement in place with their tenants. They go on to say that even where contracts are in place, landlords may unwittingly be asking tenants to sign documents that are not legally compliant, and of those who do not use a letting agent, 58 per cent used adapted tenancy agreements from either old agent contracts or other landlords (38 per cent) or an updated template they found online (20 per cent).

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When it comes to large sums of money there will always be those looking to exploit the vulnerable. As a licensed member of ARLA (Association of Residential Landlords Association) we receive notification when a scam comes to light and felt this one was definitely worth sharing with our readers. In addition we have information about a different scam, one which has recently struck right here in Leytonstone. So what does a scam look like to tenants? They will first try to gain the victims trust, often citing that they themselves have been let down before, to try and get the victim to empathise with them, before requesting funds to be transferred: Email from fake landlord (upon receiving a response to their “fake” property advert) "I inherited the apartment from my grandfather when he passed away, I am from Munich, Germany, so I decided to rent it out.

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One of estate agency’s fundamental tasks is to secure the highest price that an able purchaser will pay for your property in a given market. In an ideal world, we would have a hot-line to Camelot who would feed us with a regular supply of lottery winners prepared to pay ridiculous prices for modest properties. Unlikely, but we’re working on it! In the real world, most estate agents operate using certain procedures and protocols that have been employed for decades, if not centuries. In addition to the somewhat archaic system of property transfer we have in this country, there are traditional elements of the sales process that have become “the norm”. Examples of these include the way in which viewings are conducted and how buyers and sellers are treated, both of which could do with a concerted makeover nationwide. The most obvious example is the way in which prices are maximised.

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In a previous article we focussed on issues to think about when buying an unmodernised property. However, sellers should also be careful when considering the sale of a property in need of renovation. Firstly, unmodernised is unmodernised! It is usually a waste of money to make improvements to a property on which people will want to do their own thing, and you could well fall between two markets. Certainly clear away an overgrown garden and remove whatever debris you can from the house. Preventative maintenance such as repairing a leaking gutter (miniscule cost to repair, but huge consequences if left unattended to) should also be undertaken. It may well be that you have several buyers, which potentially puts upward pressure on the price. However, a surveyor might possibly “downvalue” the property, especially if his estimate of the renovation costs is higher than the buyer’s or there are no comparable sales in the vicinity.

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The property market is, as expected, hotting up in line with expectations for the Spring. The flurry of activity in the Buy to Let market prior to the April Stamp Duty increase deadline has now died down although it did appear to have ignited a chain reaction in asking prices, with Rightmove recording a record high in the average asking price of £303,700 - up 1.3% on the month (7.6% on the year). The Office for National statistics confirms a similar increase in annual sale prices, although they cite £284,000 as being the average house price (NB Rightmove figures relate to new entrants to the market prior to any reduction and can be skewed by a number of other factors). Whilst intense deadline-driven investment-buyer demand may have made life difficult for first time buyers, hopefully the way forward will now be clear for them to compete favourably with their BTL competitors.

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Whatever further plans the chancellor has in mind for the PRS there is a train of thought that come 2020 many landlords could be making a loss on their rental returns. This idea is based on changes to mortgage interest tax relief coupled with a series of theoretical rate rises between now and 2020. There will always be theories and suggestions, although given there are a number of on-line mortgage calculators why not perform your own "stress test" based on theoretical rate rises. The chancellor has targeted landlords and we are yet to see whether more changes lay ahead, we sincerely hope not. At 6pm on 21st March, in the Council Chambers in Waltham Forest Town Hall, there is a landlord forum.

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Our friend Marc Bradshaw will be braving the gruelling London Marathon again this year, raising money for St John Ambulance. We wish him all the very best of luck. Please consider sponsoring him at Marc's London Marathon fundraising page.The Virgin Money London Marathon is one of the great British sporting events, combining elite athletics, mass participation and record-breaking fundraising in one race. The course is a gruelling 26 miles 385 yards long, passing through the streets of London from Blackheath to the famous finish line at The Mall.

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In a previous newsletter we considered some of the dangers associated with pricing your home in relation to other properties available for sale (i.e. those remaining unsold). This time we'll consider pricing in relation to the properties which have actually sold. When considering what asking price to quote, common sense dictates that the price of other homes, which have sold, could be a good indicator as to the price you should be quoting. However, your research may well prompt you to price your property at a level which could under- or over-estimate your optimum sale price. Irrespective of national trends, the property market is very sensitive to imbalances in supply and demand. When there are many buyers all seeking a particular type of property, of which there is only one available, the competition factor will result in the seller being able to maximise the achievable price.

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At the start of a tenancy there will be certain information you should provide to your tenant, like a gas safety record/certificate, EPC, electrical certification, deposit protection documentation, an inventory and if applicable license conditions. Ensure your tenant is given all the essential paperwork, which can best be achieved by issuing a welcome pack, also containing copies of appliance manuals, safety instructions and emergency contact details. You never know when something might go wrong, but when it does it will need to be resolved, and often quickly. Consider all eventualities and have plans in place. Have a contingency fund and easy access to "checked-out" round the clock contractors who can tackle the more urgent types of repairs, at very short notice. Unlike a problem occurring at your own home, where you might decide it can wait an extra day or two, a rent paying tenant will have their own expectations on turn-around times.

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George Osborne's budget on 16th March was pretty disappointing for the property market and it does seem that opportunities to encourage investment and to build more new homes were missed. The most important announcement was the confirmation that the 3% surcharge in Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) on buy-to-let properties and second home purchases announced in the Autumn statement is to stay. Some commentators have suggested that this will push up rents, but we suspect that it will actually have the desired effect of making first time buyers more competitive in the market when bidding against a buy to let investor, who will generally pay a figure dictated by expected rental yields, not vice versa. The expected waiver of the 3% for institutional investors who buy more than 15 properties has not happened, further removing the types of investment that could have developed brownfield sites and desperately needed build-to-let developments.

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There can be nothing better suited to the internet than property, and hits to property websites far outnumber those of any other industry. The ability to be able to search in the comfort of your own home, usually without having to provide any personal details, is certainly attractive and has transformed the way the public begins to look for their new home. So will the internet replace traditional estate agency? It would certainly seem not. Ultimately property search portals are regarded by buyers and tenants alike as a supercharged local property newspaper, with a fairly comprehensive selection of homes on offer. As many sellers have discovered, the benefits of using an estate agent far outweigh the simple ability to source a buyer or tenant. In some ways, finding the buyer or tenant is the easy bit!.

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Over the past 2 years we have come across more and more tenants seeking shorter tenancies, or a tenancy with a break-clause allowing them the freedom to serve notice during the fixed term. The reason given - "we are saving up to buy our own home". Having said that the numbers are pretty low when compared with tenants looking for a more secure type of tenancy giving them a fixed period of certainty. We have read reports that up to 2/3rds of tenants are saving up for a deposit, with many prepared to look further afield in order to make their home ownership dream a reality. Elsewhere we have read that less than 50% of tenants have anything currently saved towards a deposit. Is the desire to own your own home anything new? Well no…., perhaps new to some is the realisation that if rents continue to rise the ability to save for a deposit becomes more difficult.

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Stamp Duty rates changed in the December 2014 budget. Now you pay higher rates only on the proportion of the property price in the higher bands. Also, from April 2016, buyers of buy-to-let and second homes will pay additional stamp duty. Here's our handy guide to the new rates.  BracketsStandard rateBuy-to-let/second home rate (from April 2016) Up to £125,000 0% 3% £125,001 - £250,000 2% 5% £250,001 - £925,000 5% 8% £925,001 - £1.5m 10% 13% over £1.5m 12% 15% Rates under the new system are based on various portions of the sale price e.g., for a sale price of £600,000 there is no tax to pay on the first £125,000, then 2% is payable on the portion between £125,000 - £250,000 (£2500) and 5% payable on the portion between £250,000 - £600,000 (£17,500): total tax due = £20,000.Under the previous system tax was payable at 4% on the £600,000: total tax due = £24,000.

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This month's Market Report comes at a somewhat confusing time for the financial aspects of buying and selling a property. It is effectively a crossroads at which recent Government initiatives seem to collide. These include things like Help-to-Buy, SDLT Stamp and inheritance tax changes, and higher taxes for buy-to-let landlords and second home owners. Indeed, the Institute of Economic Affairs has said that almost all of the Government's interventions in the housing market have been "a step in the wrong direction". For example has the Help-to Buy scheme pushed prices out of reach for whom it was designed to help? There has been a huge rush among buy to let investors forming limited companies since the beginning of the year in order to avoid the 3% additional stamp duty that they will need to pay unless they complete by 1st April.

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We came across an interesting article on leaseholds and it prompted us to think “how many of our landlords have leases below 80 years?” A lease below 80 years attracts a marriage fee and many lenders will not lend on a lease with less than 70 years left to run. The lower the length of lease, the more costly it will be to extend, so when you do come to sell this could well be a bigger problem than you think. Check your lease and if you need advice then speak with a suitably qualified surveyor or a solicitor. Before we start, please note we are not mortgage brokers and when it comes to giving mortgage advice this should always be left to an expert, such as an independent mortgage broker. We noticed a high street lender advertising a 5 year fixed rate mortgage deal at a rate sub 2% with another offering a 10 year fixed rate at around the 3% mark.

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When considering the value of a property prior to putting it on the market, many vendors understandably look at the asking price of other properties currently on the market locally, and draw pricing conclusions based on this research. Whilst this is not an unreasonable way of determining value, there are some traps to look out for. Firstly, an important observation is that if a property is on the market, it is by definition “unsold”. Unless it is relatively new to the market, an unsold property can often be one that is overpriced. If it had been priced correctly it would have sold, but in the event the market has rejected a property then it will probably only sell if the price is reduced. The longer a property remains unsold the less impact it will have, so if you have a similar property and you price it at about the same level as the unsold property, the chances are that yours will remain unsold as well.

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If your tenancy is to work out well from day one, there are a few key guidelines you should follow: Position yourself as a strong contender by having good references from previous landlords prepared in advance. Your new agent will of course want to verify these references but the landlord of a property you are viewing may have a choice of tenants to select from so why not show yourself to be a good option? Make sure you agree with the inventory and condition report, then sign and date it to avoid any misunderstandings down the line. Always ask for a written receipt for your deposit and details of where it has been lodged. Ensure you have emergency procedures in place and that your landlord or agent provides a telephone number to call if anything goes wrong. Know where the water, gas and electricity cut-off switches are in case of an emergency.

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Having just celebrated its first birthday, new property portal On The Market (OTM), has so far struggled to have a significant impact on the two leading portals, despite its TV advertising campaign. The service sought to compete with the likes of Rightmove and Zoopla yet traffic to OTMs site has been anything but impressive.  According to independent web monitoring firm Hitwise, of the three main players, On The Market’s web traffic accounts for between 2% and 3% with Zoopla fifteen times this amount and Rightmove accounting for 68% of total hits. (Dec 2015)The reason this is so important is that many agents have signed a five year agreement with OTM – which is much cheaper than Rightmove and Zoopla – on the basis that the agent can only subscribe to ONE other major portal! We regard this as a serious obstacle for vendors and landlords.

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We enjoyed helping out with the Davies Lane Primary School Winter Fair. Letter is reproduced below.

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If your property is currently on the market, it may be tempting to assume that your agent is in full control of the situation, and that sooner or later a buyer or tenant will materialise. But don’t be so sure! Sometimes an agent will take the same view and simply sit in hope having, apparently, exhausted their own marketing options. We believe in a much more proactive approach and would invite anyone who is currently “waiting in hope” to contact us for a free and confidential marketing review meeting. Our aim during these meetings is not to criticise your chosen agent, but simply to help you consider some key facts about the progress of your sale from day one and offer constructive advice where we feel there are things you could do to make a difference. For example, we would review the following in context: 1. The response to date and feedback from viewings and advertising. 2. The number of viewings in relation to local averages 3.

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What a great start to the year! Confidence is strong in what appear to be signs of an early spring market and all the talk of an early interest rate rise have been kicked into touch. A rise anytime during 2016 now looks very unlikely and a recent article in The Times gives an opinion that the next rate rise may not happen until 2019 and that markets are pricing in a 50pc chance of a rate CUT this year.

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Many people think that agents’ property particulars are designed to give a comprehensive overview of a property that is on the market. We believe this is not strictly the case, and that their role is to encourage people to inspect a property that might be suitable for them. Too often the agents’ particulars focus on extensive flowery descriptions of the property, instead of sticking to the information that matters most. Our knowledge of buyers suggests that people simply want to know enough detail about a property to decide whether to rule it out or decide to view it. Too much detail at such an early stage is unnecessary and can actually be counterproductive. Some detail on the other hand is deemed essential to many buyers and we always listen to what people have to say on this subject.

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As we approach Valentine’s Day it would seem that there’s a fair bit of love involved in estate agency! Estate agents are, if anything, matchmakers after all and just as people fall in love with the right person, so buyers also need to fall in love with a property if the sale is to succeed. Just as a good matchmaker will not simply put people on a database and expect them to enter into a long term loving relationship, so our job is far more than a simple broking service. That’s why we go to great lengths in trying to understand our buyers’ needs, preferences, hopes, desires and aspirations in respect of their future home. Only through this understanding can we help guide them to the right property. Of course, our matchmaking brief may be to find a Cheryl Fernandez-Versini or George Clooney, which, in property terms, can be somewhat ambitious, but in all seriousness buyers tend to have up to ten factors on their wish list that they seek to fulfil.

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When letting your property, your primary objective is simple – you want to find a reliable tenant who pays the rent regularly and looks after your property as you would yourself.   The reality is usually more complex than this. Letting your property comes with legal obligations and social responsibilities, many of which are unknown to anyone who does not make a point of keeping up with this rapidly changing legislative environment.It is certainly worthwhile getting professional advice at the outset, not just about how to maximize the likely rent you can expect to receive, but also about how you can avoid the various traps and pitfalls along the way. There has certainly been a steady increase in the number of obligations and responsibilities imposed on a landlord of late.

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The 29th February only occurs every four years – which is about as frequently as many people used to move house during the heady days of property speculation that sparked the boom market. Nowadays most buyers and sellers are more level-headed and don’t leap from place to place quite so often. They tend to move for “real” reasons such as a change of job, children on the way, downsizing, debt, divorce etc. These “real” sellers tend also to quote realistic asking prices, as their main objective is to move, rather than simply to sit on the market hoping that someone will buy their property at that flatteringly inflated figure an over-optimistic agent suggested they should quote in order to get the business! Yes, even in this market an unrealistic asking price can cause a property to “hang around” for longer than the seller can afford to wait.

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So here we are at the beginning of a new year and one of the most impressive stats that we look back on goes back not just to 2015 but over the past 20 years. A report just out by PPRM suggests that property has outperformed every other major asset class at an average annual increase of 9.34%. In fact an investment in the London property market 20 years ago would have performed 2.5 times better than the FTSE and four times better than gold, which was actually only marginally ahead of cash savings!Most of this gain has been via capital appreciation, and rental yields have now fallen slightly representing an average of 4% in the northeast and just 2.7% in London,Of course, for most homeowners, property is a tax free investment. The tax angle on buy to let is certainly going to be more noticeable this year, with a 3% levy on second homes and a phased reduction in the amount of tax that can be claimed against a mortgage.

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As you will have no doubt heard, the Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne announced a 3% hike in Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) on buy-to-let properties and second homes in his Autumn Statement. This was met with “outrage” from various quarters, such as the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA) and others who describe it as “the nail in the coffin of the buy-to-let and holiday home market. Shares in some major estate and letting agency firms fell on the news. Certainly if you are in a fortunate enough position to be able to buy an investment property or second home, then yes, an average £250,000 purchase will cost you an extra £7,500. This additional expense might ultimately have to be absorbed by the vendor, who may have to accept a lower offer than expected, as the investment buyer will have less in their pocket.

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Selling your property is easy. Just advertise it on line and wait for the buyers to flock to your door!! If only!    Sadly, too many estate agents rely on this approach, which inevitably results in disappointment. Indeed, in some respects finding the buyer is the easy bit. But, when you think about it, there is far more to moving than simply finding a buyer. At the refreshingly different estate agency Trading Places, we believe in helping you move, and this means going far beyond the service offered by most estate agents. It all starts with the amount of time, commitment and personal accountability that we invest in our valued clients. We won’t simply rush in, measure up, stick pictures of your property in our window and hope for the best. We will take the time and trouble to understand all relevant aspects of your situation and then we will work with you to achieve what you want.

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Important safety announcement for all consumers who have purchased a Hotpoint, Indesit or Creda branded  tumble dryer after April 2004. Please see attached safety recall notice for full details. 160108205106_0001.pdf (56.

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The section 21 notice is the landlord’s best friend, allowing the landlord to seek possession of the rented property for no reason, other than the agreed period of renting has finished. The Deregulation Act 2015 has substantially changed the rules around these notice for. Since first introduced in 1989 the section 21 notice has survived almost unchanged. It was changed in 1996 so that it had to be in writing, but nothing more serious. Now the Deregulation Act 2015 has made a number of major changes that all landlords need to be aware of. The first change is to remove the requirement for the periodic version of the notice (the notice under section 21(4)) to end at the end of a period. Before this change there was only one day in the month when the notice could end, now it can end on any day in the month. It still has to be in writing, it still has to be at least two months long and no shorter than a notice to quit. The last point can be ignored from monthly or weekly rentals.

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We were delighted to attend Davies Lane Primary School on Saturday 5th December for their annual Christmas Extravaganza Fair to give out the star prize in the raffle. The kids were having a fantastic time playing, making wonderful creations and painting everything that wasn’t moving, and some things that were. The volunteers and staff were absolutely amazing, a real credit to the school. We look forward to offering them our continuing support.

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It was a real pleasure to have met Rev Jack Dunn, the new vicar at  St Andrew's Church, following the recent Christmas sale. We were delighted to give to him our contribution to the fund, which in total has raised a healthy £840. He spoke enthusiastically about the recent afternoon tea club with an attendance of over 100 people and other events including karate. He explained that the church were hoping to get extra funding from the national lottery to upgrade the church hall and to introduce other activities such as a toddler group for local families. His enthusiasm to make a difference in Leytonstone was very infectious and we at Trading Places wish him the very best.

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The Home Office has announced that from February 1, 2016, the Right to Rent scheme will be extended across England. This means all private landlords, or their agents, in England, including those subletting or taking in lodgers, will have to check new tenants have the right to be in the UK before renting out their property.The scheme is being extended following an evaluation of the first phase in the West Midlands and has received the continued input of a panel of industry experts, housing and homeless charities and local authorities.Right to Rent is one part of the government’s ongoing reforms to the immigration system to make it harder for people to live in the UK illegally.As of February 1, anyone who rents out private property in England will need to see and make a copy of evidence that any new adult tenant has the right to rent in the UK (for example a passport or a biometric residence permit).

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On Sunday 13th September Leytonstone Town Centre will again play host to Waltham Forest Council's annual Car Free Day, which will be taking place between 1pm and 6pm.  It's all part of the Leytonstone Big Weekender. Following on from last year's successful event which attracted several thousand visitors, the 2015 event will again provide visitors with a vibrant car free street environment where they can enjoy an afternoon of FREE entertainment, including live bands, performers, an international market, cycling displays, children's entertainment and numerous stalls. The day is part of London wide series of events to promote Travel Awareness. High Road Leytonstone will be closed to traffic, between the junctions of Harvey Road and Gainsborough Road. Church Lane and Kirkdale Road will also be closed to traffic with parking suspended. The traffic diversion routes are shown on the plan below.

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You rarely turn on the TV to watch the news these days without some story about immigration. From the plight of those fleeing North Africa to lorries stacked up on the motorway while officials deal with striking workers and those trying to enter the UK through Calais making the most of the traffic chaos. To add to all that the government have now announced further measures for landlords in respect of immigration act penalties. The original trial was in the West Midlands, it ran from December 2014 for 6 months (though those operating in that area are still required to continue the ‘Right to Rent’ checks even after the trial). Following the trial it was always the intention to introduce the scheme nationwide, the trial was simply to learn any lessons from the small scale exercise.

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We received a lovely letter from Davies Lane Primary School where we supported their Annual Summer Fair on 13th Jun 2015. It was a great day and we were proud to be part of it.

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In the rush up to the General Election one piece of legislation to find its way through onto the statute book was the Consumer Rights Act. This legislation is quite wide reaching and certainly not only focused on the private rented sector, even though it does include specific provisions that apply in the private rented sector. Following on from decisions by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) last year, this legislation makes it a specific requirement that agents’ fees are clearly displayed on web sites and within their own offices. This change will make the “guidance” of the ASA into clear law. Part 3 Chapter 3 covers the requirements to display fees and allows local Trading Standards to enforce the legislation with penalties of up to £5,000. The requirement to display fees does not include a requirement to display rent and deposit amounts.

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The Queen's Speech has implications for home-owners and landlords. From the BBC:"Plans to  support home ownership and extend the right-to-buy scheme to 1.3 million social housing tenants in England feature in a new Housing Bill. Under the plans, housing association tenants will be able to buy the homes they rent at a discount. There will also be help for first-time buyers, with 200,000 starter homes made available to under-40s at a 20% discount. Both are commitments which were included in the Conservatives' general election manifesto. The government says the bill will increase the housing supply and ensure local people have more control over planning."Full report at: http://www.bbc.co.

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This is a large piece of legislation covering a wide range of issues but for the rented property world the parts of interest are 30 to 41.

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Our friend and contractor Marc Bradshaw is running the London Marathon in April 2015! We're supporting him all the way as he raises money for St. John Ambulance - a great cause. Please help us by making a donation. We'll bring you further news of his run after the event:http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/MarcBradshaw  The Virgin Money London Marathon is one of the great British sporting events, combining elite athletics, mass participation and record-breaking fundraising in one race. The course is a gruelling 26 miles 385 yards long, passing through the streets of London from Blackheath to the famous finish line at The Mall.

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The new budget is here, George Osborne's sixth. Here's what it might mean for you:http://m.bbc.co.

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Regulations have now been laid in Parliament to require private rental properties to be brought up to a minimum level of energy efficiency from April 1, 2018.It means the clock is now ticking for such homes to achieve an EPC rating of at least E.http://www.propertyindustryeye.com/rental-homes-must-achieve-e-energy-rating-within-three-years-legal/A government amendment due to be debated on Wednesday has major implications for how agents deal with repair requests and how private landlords can take possession of their properties.The proposed ‘retaliatory eviction’ amendment to the Deregulation Bill would extend existing restrictions on a landlord’s powers to evict where they do not protect a deposit or have a licence where required, to alleged health and safety hazards.The change could mean a six-month delay on serving a Section 21 notice where a tenant had complained in writing about the state of a property.http://www.propertyindustryeye.

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Although the Government had promised legislative changes to deal with the Superstrike court cases, their original proposed changes had some serious flaws and so, following lobbying from the industry, the Government have made some further amendments to the proposed Deregulation Bill in respect of deposit protection. The original changes were in four paragraphs. The first paragraph is essentially unchanged and requires ‘Superstrike deposits’, i.e. those received before April 2007 but going statutory periodic after April 2007, to be protected by a scheme. This was the essence of the Superstrike judgement so no real change anyway, just a clarification. However, the logical implication of the Superstrike decision was that all statutory periodic tenancies and other renewals also needed to comply with deposit regulation, though it was a little less clear how a deposit held in the custodial scheme could be “re-protected”.

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Trading Places were delighted to donate a Hudl 2 tablet computer as the top prize for a fundraising event on behalf of Davies Lane Primary School on Saturday.

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The Bank of England has held UK interest rates at a record low of 0.5%.It has also decided not to extend its quantitative easing programme, designed to stimulate lending in the economy, beyond the £375bn already spent.Read the full story at http://www.bbc.co.

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We've heard of "bijou", but this is quite something. The potential inhabitant of this £100,000 Streatham flat will have to put up with compact living for the bargain - as the property measures just 206 sq feet. Read the full story at http://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/london-flat-on-sale-for-under-100000--but-you-have-to-access-bed-via-a-ladder-9784642.

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First-time buyers in England under the age of 40 could buy a house at 20% below the market rate if the Conservatives are re-elected, David Cameron has pledged.The Conservative leader said a future government led by him would build 100,000 new homes for such people.They would be built on brownfield land already identified for development and exempt from some taxes, he said.He was speaking as the party prepares for its annual conference this weekend.Conservative politicians and activists will gather in Birmingham from Sunday for what is the final conference before next May's general election.Full article at http://www.bbc.co.

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Following the Superstrike versus Rodriguescase in June 2013, the Government said they would amend the legislation to negate the affect of Superstrike (a decision they had not anticipated). Following private amendment suggestions for the Deregulation Bill, the Government have now tabled proposed amendments to deal with Superstrike.The essence of Superstrike was that the deposit was taken before deposit protections started in April 2007 and the fixed term ended after April 2007, when deposit protection was in force. A statutory periodic tenancy then arose by virtue of section 5 of the Housing Act 1988. The two questions for the court were a) was the statutory periodic tenancy a new tenancy or the same one continuing and if it was a new tenancy b) should the landlord have done anything with the deposit (as no money physically changed hands).

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With the Olympic Park right on our doorstep, the Commonwealth Games opening today, and Spurs, West Ham, Leyton Orient, Romford, Dagenham and Charlton Athletic all pretty much round the corner, sport is never far from our minds.The BBC have a fantastic quiz to find out which sport is right for you. I got "Bowls"!http://www.bbc.co.

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This year has seen several changes to court issues.The first change brought in from 22 April was that the fee for accelerated possession proceeding applications (using form N5B) has increased from £175 to £280. The same prices apply to rent arrears possession using form N5, if submitted to the local court.Whilst these are steep increases the greatest increase lies in the online possession system where the fees for the N5 have increased from £100 to £250. This has significantly eroded the cost advantage of the online service.In May 2014 several of the court forms were changed and so all applications must now be on the revised forms. You can always check the latest versions of forms on the HMCS website and the court form finder.Lastly and by no means least, is the legislation contained within ‘The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012’.

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