News & views from Urban Sales and Lettings

Hosting your own viewings

Category: Blog
Posted by: Administrator on 22 July 2013
Comments: 0

If you have chosen to sell your property with an internet based estate agent you will normally arrange and host your viewings personally. This can at first seem a rather daunting prospect but don’t be put off! After all who knows your property better than you?! No matter what the reason behind deciding to host your own viewings be sure to follow our top tips to make the most of every one.

First things first it is essential that your property looks its very best for each and every viewing. If this poses an issue for you why not consider arranging back to back viewings on an open day, adopting this strategy means you only need to clear the house of clutter and pets etc once in a while rather than every evening! This approach can also work well if the property you are selling is currently tenanted as it will cause the least inconvenience to your tenants.

Before your first viewing make a plan of how you are going to host, ask yourself the following:

  • What room will be best to start with? Usually it is best to begin the viewing downstairs in the largest room.
  • Where do you want to end up at the end of the tour? Choose a large light room as you may be talking for a while and don’t want prospective buyers to feel crowded.
  • What are the main points you want to cover? Things such as period features or newly installed double glazing are all positives you should be sure to mention.

Don’t forget to talk about the location of the property in general terms, catchment areas and transport links can be serious selling points! Taking the time to plan will really help the viewing flow and you will be far less likely to forget important points you want to get across. Consider doing a mock viewing for a family member or friend to gain confidence and get your patter off just right for the real thing.

Your viewing plan will of course be specific to your property and its individual features but generally it is best to stick to the following do’s and don’ts :

Do…      

  •  Be friendly and professional
  •  Host viewings uring the day whenever possible
  •  Allow the viewers to enter each room before you
  •  Offer the viewers the chance to look around on their own
  •  Encourage questions and respond to them honestly

Don’t…

  • Conduct viewings alone for safety reasons
  • Be tempted to talk non-stop!
  • Rush the viewing

 You may be surprised at how quickly the average viewing is conducted, ten minutes is about the norm so if your potential buyer spends longer looking around take it as a positive sign! As the viewing draws to a close be sure the potential buyer is clear on what their next step should be if they want to arrange a further viewing or put in an offer. Should they contact you directly? If so give them your personal contact details. If you would prefer them to deal with your agent politely let them know and make sure they know how to  make contact.

Vital questions to ask potential buyers

Category: Blog
Posted by: Administrator on 17 July 2013
Comments: 0

Once you are planning on arranging a viewing with a potential buyer there are questions you should consider asking in order to prevent  wasting your time hosting viewings for unsuitable prospective buyers. Harsh as it may sound when it comes to selling your property alongside genuine buyers there will always be those nosy neighbours, general time wasters and the ever frustrating no shows! So be sure to ask the following questions in order to avoid them as far as possible.

When you make the call to arrange the viewing date and time take the opportunity to engage your potential buyer in a little conversation, you don’t want to come across like you are interrogating prospective buyers so be sure you keep your tone friendly! Below are some questions you may wish to include:

Are you a first time buyer? This question will normally lead on giving you information about chain length and will help give you a feel as to how quickly the sale would be likely to progress should this particular buyer make an offer on your property.

Do you have a mortgage agreed in principle? If you are looking to sell quickly it is in your interests to have buyers who are prepared and ready to go. Getting a mortgage agreed in principle can take time so if it has already been done so much the better!

Do you have a property you need to sell? Asking this question will prompt others during the conversation such as… Is your property on the market yet? Are you under offer?

How many properties have you viewed? The purpose of this question is to gain information on how far into their property search this potential buyer is and if the know the area well etc. The answer given could easily lead you to ask further questions such as, have you put an offer in on anything yet?

During this conversation keep in mind that your potential buyer will normally want to ask you questions too  about your position and the property itself. Remember honesty is always the best policy! If your estate agent is marketing your property as a three bed semi but in reality your property has two double bedrooms  and a single be upfront about it; If the potential buyer needs three double bedrooms they are unlikely to offer on your property anyway meaning that any viewing will be a waste of time for all concerned!

That is not to say be negative, on the contrary! Most situations can be honestly put forward in a positive light. If for example your property has not seen a lick of paint for 20 years and is in need of renovating be direct about it; Yes, some buyers just won’t be interested in a property that needs renovating which is a shame but the viewing would have been pointless. Focus on the positives; does your asking price reflect the work that needs to be done? If so point it out as a bargain!

Taking five minutes to hold a conversation prior to making a viewing will help you make viewings with genuinely interested buyers that will hopefully lead to offers and a quick sale!

 

Mould and condensation in rental properties

Category: Blog
Posted by: Administrator on 12 July 2013
Comments: 3

Unfortunately mould and condensation are issues that the majority of landlords have to face at some time, especially if they have invested in a period property. The winter months can be worse for mould issues but complaints from your tenants can arise at any time. Mould problems are serious as any tenant suffering from them will make you aware! Mould can be a health issue and is particularly problematic if your tenants happen to suffer from asthma or allergies.

As the landlord you need to keep an eye out at your regular maintenance visits for the start of mould and respond to any mould related issues your tenants may bring to you promptly.  During property inspections visits look for potential mould friendly behaviours; for example does your tenant always have an airier or two full of wet washing, or is the house freezing cold? These are the two main culprits so feel free to point them out.

First off in the fight against mould you need to know the main causes, which are; damp, leaks, condensation, inadequate ventilation or heating. So to avoid mould developing into a serious issue be sure to deal with any damp issues promptly and ensure the property is well dried should you suffer from a leak or flood.

When it comes to mould in rental property the main culprits are usually the bathroom and kitchen. No surprises there as they are generally areas that are steamy and may not be well ventilated, it’s pretty hard to get your tenant to open the bathroom window when taking a shower in December! But there are steps landlords can take to protect their properties, anti mould paint can be highly effective especially if you do not have a fully tiled bathroom; installing adequate ventilation equipment to deal with moisture will be most costly than a lick of paint but will also be far more effective as a long term solution.

So if your property has a mould problem and your tenants are unhappy about it - who is responsible? If the mould is occurring as a direct result of structural problems the landlord will be responsible for resolving the issue. However, the vast majority of mould issues within rental properties are caused by lifestyle factors which the tenants can directly affect. It is without doubt in the best interests of both parties to resolve the issues promptly, failure to do so will generally result in the tenants leaving at the end of their contract and the landlord will be left with the difficult task of finding new tenants willing to take on a property with mould problems. There are various sprays and treatment washes available that coupled with good ventilation and sensible heating levels should see off the mould for good, incurring relatively little expense to the landlord. More serious cases with underlying structural causes will need to be looked into by a professional company dealing with mould and its causes.

It is always advisable for landlords to keep their tenants up to date with how they intend to combat mould, the majority of tenants who feel their complaints are being dealt with in a timely manner will adjust their living habits slightly usually resulting in the end of the problem for both parties.

 

Sellers don’t neglect your gardens!

Category: Blog
Posted by: Administrator on 12 July 2013
Comments: 0

When it comes to selling your property it can be all too easy to focus on giving the inside a facelift whilst ignoring that jungle of a garden lurking at the rear! The majority of buyers won’t be expecting a stunning landscaped paradise but they will want to see a presentable, useable outside space. Potential buyers need to be able to visualise themselves living in your property and that includes outside space, so follow our top tips to make sure your garden doesn’t let down your property as a whole.

Maintenance is key so cut the grass regularly to keep things neat and tidy and ensure pathways are swept and clear of any rubbish. Depending on size and variety hedges can be difficult to maintain but a well trimmed hedge will set of the garden parameters so it is well worth the effort. The same goes for fencing, if a panel has blown down in the wind or been damaged now is the time to fix it, a fresh lick of wood stain is a cost effective and simple way to spruce up your garden. Generally having a tidy up won’t take long at all but getting rid of those rubbish sacks next to the shed and dandelions in the gravel will have a positive effect on the way your garden is perceived.

Ponds can be highly attractive when well maintained so get a net and rid yours of debris to make sure yours looks its absolute best for viewings. It takes just a few minutes to remove fallen leaves or grass cuttings but doing it regularly will help improve the colour of the water. Why not add a few water lilies for sophisticated interest?

Plants quickly add colour and interest to even the smallest of outside spaces which is fantastic but they are often expensive and moving can seem like a bad time to invest in perennials! So why not plant them up in a few attractive containers, they will look great during your viewings and are easy to move once you sell! A word of caution though; don’t over do it a patio crowded with lots of plant pots can look messy and cluttered.

Drives are outside space so if the approach to your front door is a weed strewn slab of tarmac that was once a front lawn consider giving it a re-vamp. You may not have the budget or inclination to deal with major work but a good weed killer and jet wash session really can work wonders. After all you want the first impression of your house to be a positive one so don’t be tempted to focus all your energy on the back garden.

Children’s toys may be an important part of your lifestyle but that jumbo sized trampoline or swing set could be detracting from the size of your garden; consider storing them elsewhere during the sales period if possible.

Sheds and outbuildings can often become dumping grounds so take this opportunity to have a good clear out. Maybe a trip to the local dump might be in order to get rid of those half empty paint tins and the old lawn mower that hasn’t worked for a decade! As with your fence why not give your garden shed a new coat of paint or wood stain.

Garden furniture should be looking its best so give everything a good wash down and dress your garden as you would do your home. Potential buyers often see garden space as a continuation of living space especially if there are doors that open our directly to a patio; so if you are hosting viewings in the summer dress your table attractively and let your viewers imagine themselves hosting their first BBQ!

After all the hard work you have done getting your garden ready for viewings make sure potential buyers can see your lovely garden from the inside of your property, draw the blinds or curtains and clean the windows inside and out; that way even if the weather doesn’t encourage potential buyers to venture outside they can’t miss your newly re-vamped garden!

 

Re protecting tenants deposits – Don’t get caught out!

Category: Blog
Posted by: Administrator on 19 June 2013
Comments: 7

A recent Court of Appeal ruling (Superstrike Ltd vs Rodrigues) may have potential ramifications for the private rental sector in the UK. This decision on tenancy deposit protection clarifies the position of deposits taken before the legislation came into effect in 2007.

In this case, the landlord of the property agreed an assured shorthold tenancy for one year less a day with the tenant to commence in January 2007. The deposit was paid by the tenant to the landlord under the terms of agreement at that time. Prior to 6th April 2007 the protection of deposits was not compulsory. There had been a voluntary code, but the deposit for this property was not protected and was just held by the landlord. After the fixed term of the tenancy ended it became a statutory periodic tenancy. In June 2011 the landlord served notice on the tenant which is where the issue in question arose.

The court had two questions to deal with:

  • Was there a new tenancy arising in January 2008 when the fixed term ended and the tenancy became a statutory periodic tenancy?
  • Did the new tenancy mean that the landlord must now protect the deposit?

It was argued that the commencement of the statutory periodic tenancy was a new tenancy and not, in fact, a continuation of the previous tenancy. The judge upheld that as it was clear from the 1988 Housing Act, the end of a fixed period tenancy is the creation of a new and distinct statutory tenancy rather than a continuation The tenancy from January 2008 should therefore have been treated as a new tenancy.

As the statutory periodic tenancy began after April 2007 it was argued that the deposit which had previously been received should have been protected within 14 days as per the legislation which had come into force. As this was not done the landlord had no legal basis upon which to serve notice and possession could not be granted.

 This means that at the end of a fixed term when a statutory periodic tenancy commences, the deposit will be treated as having been paid to the tenant and repaid to the landlord as a new deposit. If a tenant moved in prior to April 2007 and their tenancy became a statutory periodic tenancy after April 2007 the deposit must have been protected at that time. If the deposit was not protected upon the commencement of the statutory periodic tenancy then the landlord will not be able to serve notice on the tenant if they are still in the property. The safest way to deal with this would be to refund the money to the tenant after which point a Section 21 notice may be served.