Make Money From Your Photo’s

Photo sharing app Instagram has grown rapidly in popularity over the past 12 months.  SnapMyAd is a new app that earns Instagram users rewards for letting brands use their photo’s in ad campaigns.

Users sign into the service with their Instagram account details. They can then select the images they would be happy to be used by third parties who may be able to use them to sell their product.  Instagram users often include products in their photographs, essentially acting as promotion for those products. Through SnapMyAd, companies can set up promotion campaigns to collect these images. Photographs that are selected or receive a high number of likes from fans are then rewarded with perks and discounts from that brand or company

SnapMyAd gives Instagram users the opportunity to make money from their photo’s. Perhaps if you have an Instagram account, you can make money this way, or the idea might be a springboard to something else. What other social media content could be marketed for profit?

Streetwise Property Alert 30th September 2013

Welcome to today’s news and views. The Exeter student accommodation deal is now live and we can provide masses of materials for anyone who may be interested in this investment. As ever, email back.

Student BTLs

New research from Zoopla reveals the student property investment hotspots. The top ten, from one to 10, Glasgow, Hull, Manchester, Cheltenham, Cambridge, Buckingham, Luton, Bristol, Lincoln and London. The basis of the findings? Zoopla takes the average asking prices for four-bedroom properties within major student centres and compares these with average student rents achieved to give a gross yield.

Lawrence Hall of Zoopla says, ‘The largest number of students or most prestigious university clearly isn’t necessarily best for investment returns. Landlords need to do their research and take into account the student demand, property supply, average property values and average monthly rents.’

‘There is no apparent North/South divide when it comes to student buy-to-let investments and a number of towns in the North are showing higher gross yields than the South as a result of property values having remained lower over the past few years whilst rental demand has increased.’ Have to say these findings are a little at odds with what we normally see – London usually comes top – but they are, as ever, food for thought.

New BTL Fixes

Paragon has six new BTL fixes for the professional landlord market. The new product range consists of six, two-year fixed-rate buy-to-let mortgages. Three of the new products are for self-contained, single unit properties at an ICR of 125 per cent at product charging rate or 5 per cent – whichever is the greater. The range also includes three identically priced products for landlords looking to purchase HMOs or multi-unit blocks with a 130 per cent ICR at 7 per cent. Rates for the new products start at 4.50 per cent with a maximum loan-to-value of 75 per cent for all products. The 5.99 per cent fix for HMOs/multi-unit blocks has a zero product fee.

‘These new products have been designed for professional landlords who are looking to grow their portfolios at a time when confidence is returning to the buy-to-let market more generally. Landlords operating at the professional end of the market usually have more bespoke requirements and are investing in more niche properties so we have tailored three of our new products specifically for HMOs and multi-unit blocks.’ As always, do your due diligence, tall to a broker etc.

Student Investing

Going back to student investing and to show you how perfectly respectable organisations can provide conflicting information, we note the recent report from Savills which ranked university towns in terms of their appeal to investors. Savills picked nine locations as offering the best opportunities. These are Bath, Brighton, Bristol, Cambridge, Cardiff, Edinburgh, London, Oxford and St Andrews.

At the bottom of its list are smaller, more rural university towns such as Carlisle, Farnham, Ormskirk and Pontypridd. Neal Hudson of Savills says, ‘The calibre of the university is important, but you do have to take into consideration wider market forces such as property prices and demand.’ More to come.

Finally, we are looking at the idea of a regular monthly get-together for members in London on a Saturday where we would chat through, with various guest speakers, the latest topics, upcoming news and share one or two exclusive opportunities. Let us know if this might interest you. There would be a limited number of spaces. All for today, see you tomorrow.

Get Into The Movie Business For A Pound!

Our old friend Geoff Thompson’s next film looks set to be a stunner – and you can get a slice of the action for less than a pound.

‘Volatile’ is based on the true story of an ordinary burglary with extraordinary consequences. What happens when a man decides to take matters into his own hands and get his possessions back? It was a decision that almost cost him everything.

The film is being financed through Kickstarter and there are benefits to be had at every level of investment – starting at just £1. For just a little bit more cash you can really get involved though, with days on set, background character roles, on screen credits and a whole host of other benefits up for grabs. You can get full details, including a video presentation by the writer, director and  star actors by clicking here.

The people behind this are totally genuine and the script looks a winner. This could be your opportunity to get in at the start of something big for little more than beer money.

Streetwise Property Alert 23rd September 2013

Lots of interest in the Liverpool BMV BTLs! We were planning a visit this Thursday but I have to meet some members at Gatwick at an awful hour so we will re-arrange shortly. Meantime, we are still sending out PDFs.

BTL Basics

The site has some advice on buy-to-let; 10 tips for first-timers. Let’s quote some of the best of the best.

Try to buy something that is not very old – this will mean less maintenance down the line.

Pick something lettable – two-bedroom houses and flats appeal to the widest range of potential tenants. Avoid large family homes, which appeal to fewer potential tenants.

Don’t restrict yourself to your own immediate area, make sure the area has a healthy market for tenants and try to avoid rundown areas. This will have a direct relationship with the type of tenant you will attract – and poor-quality tenants will cost you money.

When making an offer on a property, be patient but ruthless – as an investment buyer, you are not in a chain and can move at speed. This has value to the seller so be prepared to walk away if you are not getting the deal you are after.

Using a mortgage makes your money work harder – a rental income high enough to cover a repayment mortgage is a good indicator that you are getting things right.

That reminds me – we’ve been promising a BTL report for first-timers. We will start work on that this week and it will be ready in two to three weeks.

Time To Buy?

The year is certainly going better than expected. We note that Rightmove has increased its upside forecast for the year. At the end of 2012, it predicted that property prices in the UK would rise by 2 per cent in 2013. In July, it raised that forecast to 4 per cent. It’s now raised it to 6 per cent.

Their Miles Shipside says, ‘We forecast the national average increase in new seller pricing for the whole of 2013 to be in the region of 6 per cent, partly driven by the strength of southern markets but increasingly contributed to by the more buoyant areas of the north.’ Want to know where these ‘buoyant areas of the north are’; we have a list of hotspots coming soon.

Create The Tardis Effect

Great article at on making your property look bigger than it is – the appearance of space is a key seller, of course. Let’s quote some of the site’s best tricks.

Bathroom – wall-hung furniture such as the toilet, vanity basin and cabinets, leaves space underneath the items meaning the eye can travel round the bottom half of the room uninterrupted, giving the impression of more space.

Living room – you can do clever tricks with paint in your living room if you have a skirting board or cornice. For instance, painting both the same colour as the wall will make the room appear taller. You can do the same trick with curtains; keep them the same colour as the wall and hang them closer to the ceiling to make the eye travel upwards and make the room seem taller.

Kitchen – take down cabinets and replace them with open shelves, especially ‘floating’ versions so there are no brackets to distract the eye.

Bedroom – you could place two large mirrors at opposite ends of the room to each other to ‘open up’ the room.

Hallway – install a large chandelier; it’ll distract from the narrowness of the hallway.Okay, not all of these will apply to you and yours. You may disagree with some of them. But, as ever, it is food for thought.

All for now, do let us know if you are interested in those BMV BTLs in Liverpool. We have a PDF we are sending out and we can have a chat, answer questions, arrange a visit with you etc.

The Power Of A Good Review

Every restaurant owner knows that reviews on the likes of Trip Advisor are very important these days, but until recently, it was impossible to assess exactly how important. Work by two economists at the University of California Professors Michael Anderson and Jeremy Magruder, is the first attempt to measure the relationship between online star ratings and customers’ purchasing decisions. The pair focused on the effects of positive online ratings on 300 San Francisco restaurants. They found that a restaurant with a rating improved by just half a star – on a scale of 1 to 5 – was much more likely to be full at peak dining times. Indeed, an extra half-star rating caused a restaurant’s 7pm bookings to sell out  up from 30% to 49% of the evenings it was open for business.

Many products and services are subject to online review scrutiny these days, and what’s important for restaurants is likely to be important elsewhere too. Something to think about.

Streetwise Property Alert 20th September 2013

Arrears & Voids

According to new research from the National Landlords Association (NLA), arrears and voids are down. 39 per cent of landlords have had rental arrears in the past 12 months; that’s down nine per cent on the previous year. Void periods are down to 33 per cent, a fall of five per cent on the previous year.

‘It is positive to see reductions in the instances of arrears and voids. This demonstrates that, long-term, enduring tenancies are on the rise as it is in every landlord’s business interest to maintain good, long-lasting tenancies and avoid voids. However, it is worrying that void periods often come as a surprise to landlords. Whilst voids represent more of a problem in the North than in the South, where demand is far higher, it is imperative that empty properties are filled quickly, following any necessary maintenance and improvements.’

‘The NLA’s advice to landlords looking to minimise void periods is to talk openly with their tenants about their future plans. This will give the landlord some idea of when the property might next be empty and allow them to make any improvements and plan advertising activity in good time. It is also wise to budget for 11 months’ rent per year to avoid needing to find additional funds to cover outgoings if a void does arise.” For more information, visit

Exeter Student Accommodation

We have a new university student accommodation scheme coming later this month; I cannot put out full details for about another two weeks but if you have registered your interest in student accommodation with us previously, and might wish to find out more, I can release some information on a one-to-one basis. There will be a head-start visit with me on Saturday 28 September for those who wish to secure a unit.

HMO – Heads Up

We often talk about our expectation that all BTL landlords everywhere will need to be licensed locally; and sooner rather than later. A regular correspondent from Nottingham reminds us of what he calls ‘the creeping expansion’ of HMO rules and regulations and draws us to a local press story.

‘Nottingham City Council is looking at increasing the number of areas where landlords have to apply for a licence for a house to be turned into a house of multiple occupation (HMO). The proposals would affect around 3,200 HMOs in parts of the city, including Lenton, Radford, Arboretum, Hyson Green and The Meadows.’ Food for thought.

Better Hurry Then

BNP Paribas Real Estate’s Housing & The Economy report makes interesting reading. All in all, and mindful of where prices have been these past few years, the report states that UK property prices will rise by a cumulative 33 per cent between 2007 and 2017. As you would expect, London is tipped to lead the way with 69 per cent cumulative growth between 2007 and 2017. Note; London growth was, the report states, 1.6 per cent in 2012, will be 6.8 per cent this year and will be 8.6 per cent in 2014.

All in all, ‘This year is expected to be a turning point for the housing market with house prices forecast to rise across all regions. Price rises will not be confined to this year but look set to continue to the end of our forecast period in 2017. Admittedly, there will be considerable variation in growth rates across the country but it will certainly be an improvement on 2012, when house prices fell in all regions except London and the South East.’

Pay Day Loans Leads

There is much controversy surrounding pay day loans for understandable reasons, but if none of that bothers you, they can be a source of income for lone entrepreneurs.

T3Leads is a lead generation company which pays people to generate leads for a variety of different markets, including payday loans, car loans and insurance. These are then sold on to their merchant partners.

The leads are captured via lead generation websites, so you as an individual only need drive potential leads from your website to theirs.  According to the company, payouts for payday loan leads can be as much as £100 per lead, and as long as you’re not generating fraudulent traffic or leads, they’re very unlikely not to allow you into their programme.

If you have existing websites and customers, this could be a good way to generate some extra revenue.

Streetwise Property Alert 18th September 2013

Welcome to today’s email…

BTL Rental News

According to the latest Countrywide Monthly Lettings Index, the average BTL rent has now reached a two-year high of £867. Yields are an average of 6.1 per cent, up 0.7 per cent over the past year. Wales saw the highest yields at 6.6 per cent followed by the Midlands at 6.5 per cent, the North at 6.4 per cent and the East of England and Greater London at 6.2 per cent.

‘August is traditionally a busy period for the rental market with tenants, particularly families, wanting to move into their new rented accommodation before the start of the school term in September. However, demand is not being met by supply and currently there is a particular lack of family-sized properties available to rent, especially in the South of England.’

‘Improved conditions in the sales market are attracting reluctant landlords to sell these types of properties specifically in the catchment areas for good schools. With four or five tenants vying for every property, tenants need to act quickly.’

Best-Buy BTL Mortgages has named its top five fixed-rate BTL mortgages by loan-to-value (LTV).

60 Per Cent LTV

Principality Building Society

3.19 per cent to 31 August 2015

Maximum loan-to-value 60 per cent

Fees: arrangement £900, booking £99

Rate fixed for two years

Incentives: free valuation and legal fees

65 Per Cent LTV

Coventry Building Society

3.79 per cent to 31 July 2015

Maximum loan-to-value 65 per cent

£999 fee

Minimum advance of £25,000

Incentives of free valuation for all borrowers and free legal fees for those remortgaging

Option to make overpayments or take payment holidays

70 Per Cent LTV

Virgin Money

3.65 per cent to 1 November 2015

Maximum loan-to-value 70 per cent

£999 fee

Minimum advance £50,000

Option to make overpayments up to 10 per cent of outstanding balance each year.

75 Per Cent LTV

Nottingham Building Society

3.49 per cent to 1 November 2015

Maximum loan-to-value 75 per cent

£990 arrangement fee

Minimum advance £50,000

Incentives of free valuation and £150 rebate.

Those remortgaging in England and Wales are also offered free legal fees

80 Per Cent LTV

Yorkshire Bank

4.79 per cent fixed to 30 September 2015

Maximum loan-to-value 80 per cent

Fees: arrangement £999

Available to first-time buyers

Rate fixed for two years

Allows overpayments

Do visit in the first instance; great site.

Off-Plan Caution

Good article on buying off-plan property in The Independent today. We all know the upside – agents and developers tell us all the benefits.

The article highlights one or two of the downsides. Let’s quote, ‘Buying off-plan relies on prices going up – if they don’t, you will have lost money before you’ve even set foot in it. Signing a contract in good times is never a guarantee that the value will not collapse while it is being built.’

‘A new home is sold at a premium of 5 per cent to 10 per cent. This year, property investment advisers Huntley Hooper said older homes in central prime London produced quadruple the return of new ones over five years to the end of 2012 (a return of 42.7 per cent compared with 10.7 per cent).’

‘Developers can go bust, taking your deposit with them and, if you have to pull out of the deal, the developer could hold you to the contract you signed, which means that if they have to re-sell at a lower price, you will pay the difference. “You may be able to secure a better price, but be wary of deals saying ‘buy off-plan and save 40 per cent’ – they
can’t really justify this as a sale price hasn’t yet been established.” Food for thought.

All for now, see you soon.

Analogue Parking

We’ve recently seen some complicated app based crowd sourcing systems which help people to find parking spaces in busy city centres. We don’t tend to bring you ideas like that though. Let’s be honest, few of us have the time, skills or resources to capitalize on things like this. And that’s the problem with a lot of ideas these days – they’re incredibly technical. It’s good then, to see that the same thing (and probably better) can be achieved by old fashioned methods.

The ‘Here’ campaign was created by  an advertising agency in South Korea to promote S-Oil, one of the countries biggest oil companies. Imagine a car park and in each bay is a helium filled balloon, tethered to the ground by a piece of string around ten feet long. The balloon has an arrow pointing downwards with the word ‘Here’ printed on it. When a car drives into a space, it runs over the string and lowers the balloon. When it leaves the space, the balloon pops back up, alerting other drivers to the availability of a space.

I mention this for two reasons:

  1. It’s an idea which could easily be copied in any UK car park. Perhaps you could persuade a local company of the promotional potential of the idea.
  2. As evidence that sometimes we can get too technical for our own good. We don’t need an ‘app for that’. Some string and balloons work equally well.

Streetwise Property Alert 17th September 2013

We’ve had a good response to the German armchair  investment. I cannot say too much about it in public but I can confirm that we think it’s a great deal and you should ask for details so you can do your due diligence, use your own lawyer and see for yourself.

Euro Prices – At Last!

The latest global index from Knight Frank shows that European property prices are, all in all, up for the first time since 2010. Prices in Europe rose 0.7 per cent over the past 12 months. As you’d expect, there are wide variations. Remember my mantra to A Level students? If A goes up 10 per cent and B goes down 10 per cent, the average is not
representative of either.

The Knight Frank figures showcase this perfectly. Turkey was the strongest market performer, up by 12.2 per cent over the year. Greece was the weakest market performer, down by 11.5 per cent over the year. Bottom fishing? Prices in Greece, Spain and Italy are now 31 per cent, 29 per cent and 15 per cent off their market peaks. Tell us where you
are looking to buy in Europe; we’ll tell you what’s happening beyond the average.

London? Heads Up

We have a paid-for service at London Property Alerts and are looking to offer a free trial period for serious investors who will be buying in the next quarter. We run a paid-for service because, to be blunt, there are a lot of members who like a freebie and get into the system when they have no intention of buying. It can cause issues. If you are
serious and would like a free trial, send us your detailed requirements in the first instance.

We have, for paid-for members, sent up extensive links with developers to ensure that they can get the best, pre-market deals. That’s especially important these days as we note, from new Chesterton Humberts research, that overseas property buyers take some 70 per cent of new-build homes in prime London.

With demand for prime new-build properties set to remain robust and new supply struggling to keep up, we expect investment volumes will be higher this year than last. The relative weakness of sterling means that many overseas buyers can achieve effective discounts on purchase
price whilst acquiring an asset that will almost certainly appreciate considerably over time and which they will have little difficulty in selling when the time comes.’

More On Mexico

Remember the news from Mexico? In short, buyers from overseas are expected to be able to buy coastal properties for the first time? At present, we are told, foreigners have to partner with a local bank in an agreement called a fideicomiso to buy in these restricted zones but it is complicated and time-consuming which puts many people off,’

That’s set to change and, as a result of the news, it’s being reported that ‘searches for luxury coastal property in Mexico by overseas buyers have increased by 27 per cent…Cancun and Playa del Carmen are set to benefit most with 57 per cent of all property searches by UK residents centered on the state of Quintana Roo in which they are located.’

Without wishing to get too ahead of ourselves – I am the man, after all, who once wrote a report on The Effects On Property Of The 2012, er, Paris Olympics (to be offered in the national media on the day after the announcement) – we can do a report on request. Let us know?

Have you read the international property newsletter for September?

Please feel free to send it on to anyone who may be interested in overseas property.