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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. … Continue reading Winter Property Checklist

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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 … Continue reading Property Market Report Jan 2017

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In part one we considered the benefits of buying to let in principle. Here we consider some practical elements:    Attitude: Buying to let is a long-term investment. So don’t over-stretch yourself, because if you had to sell in the short term you would almost certainly lose money. Choose well:  Follow your head not your … Continue reading Buy to Let Part 2

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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 … Continue reading Catch 22 – Should I Sell First or Buy?

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Click below for details on how to add our Online Maintenance Reporting System to the homepage of your mobile phone Click Here

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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. … Continue reading Property Market Report November 2016

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The Christmas Market Trail 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 … Continue reading Local News November 2016

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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, … Continue reading Leytonstone Xmas Market Trail

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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. … Continue reading Buy to Let Part 1

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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 … Continue reading Making Moving Easier

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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. Is “open house” always the right approach? An open house viewing day/event strategy is only beneficial in certain circumstances. Firstly, the market, or at least the property in question, … Continue reading Secrets of Open Viewings

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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. Safety tips Here are … Continue reading Gas Safety Week 19-25 September 2016

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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 … Continue reading Repairing Obligations

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Most people move house rarely and often have little idea of the etiquette required if the stress of moving is to be minimised. Our job as progressive estate agents is to help buyers and sellers minimise this stress by seeing the world through their eyes and advising accordingly. For example, vendors often go to great … Continue reading The Courteous Buyer and the Wonderfully Eccentric Mrs Friday

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Leeds leading the way 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 … Continue reading August 2016 Property Gossip

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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% … Continue reading August 2016 Property Market Report

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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 … Continue reading What is Fair Wear and Tear?

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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 … Continue reading Offers in Context and Valuing Up

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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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Almost half the UK population own a pet, yet many landlords are reluctant to accept pets! According to research by The Dogs Trust, some 78% of pet owners reported that they had experienced difficulty finding rented accommodation that would accept pets. The Dogs Trust also suggest that some 45% of UK households currently own a … Continue reading Why Let Your Property to a Pet Owner

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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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When you are planning to move house it can be tempting to accept the first buyer who comes along with an attractive offer. However, buyers come in all shapes and sizes, and it is important to assess your purchaser’s ability to perform before accepting any offer. We often receive offers from people who themselves have … Continue reading Should We Accept the Offer?

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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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Despite the fact that many people regard letting agents as more or less the same, there are in fact numerous selection criteria on which to judge the good from the bad, and the exciting from the mildly indifferent. For example, there are many services and innovations which can make a difference to how effectively your … Continue reading The Right People

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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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