Streetwise Property Alert 25th November 2013

It’s good to see the Christmas appeal for the children’s hospice is now at £1,100. I’ve tried to thank everyone (who has contributed) on a one-to-one basis but cannot identify one or two members’ email addresses and there are a few anon contributions as well. Thank you very much if you have made a donation. If not, can you help to get us to £1.500? Not far now.

Give us a hand at www.justgiving.com/iain-c-maitland

Fools Rush In…

Just a reminder that you should not automatically rush in to make an offer as soon as a property hits the market. In Scotland, Registers of Scotland reports that the average Glasgow property sells for £10,000 less than its asking price. However, the gap between asking and selling prices is closing there. More to come on this topic – one of our correspondents is drafting a piece for the December newsletter.

First-Timer?

We are looking to update our old BTL course for first-timers for early 2014. Are you a first-time buy-to-let investor who might benefit from such a course? If so, please do drop us a line. If there are, say, 100 or so members who are interested in it – yes, it’s free – we will do an update over the Christmas and New Year break.

On that subject, we note that National Landlords Association (NLA) Chairman, Carolyn Uphill, has been in the news lately talking about going into BTL. ‘First of all, it’s imperative that prospective landlords don’t underestimate what they’re getting into. At the end of the day, it’s a business and landlords should know what they need to do to make that business succeed.

Before starting out, I advise to research thoroughly, understand the market and what sort of tenant you’re aiming the business at, and finally, to make sure you seek out the best advice possible.’

‘If you don’t want to manage your property, there are good agents out there, but you must make sure the agent is member of a professional body like UKALA before taking that route. However, it’s important to fully understand your legal obligations as you will still be responsible for certain things even if you use an agent, for example, making the home fit for habitation, ensuring there are no category one hazards which can cause injury, that gas safety appliances are properly tested and in working order, that the property’s Energy Performance Certificate is up to date before you rent.’

‘Finally and most importantly, being a successful landlord requires effective communication which, in turn, can help to reduce missed payments and voids that can have severe financial implications. With all tenancies, it’s important to establish a good, professional relationship from the start. It is also essential that you set out fair terms in your tenancy agreement and that both landlord and tenant understand their obligations throughout the tenancy. If you get this right, then the tenancy is likely to run smoothly.’ For more information, visit landlords.org.uk.

BTL Mortgage News

Cambridge Building Society has reopened its buy-to-let range and has launched a number of new products for landlords. There are fixed and discount rate products available to 75 per cent loan-to-value with a maximum loan size of £750,000. Included in the range is a two-year discounted rate at 3.59 per cent with a £199 application fee and a 0.5 per cent completion fee. A reduced-fee option is offered at 4.09 per cent with a £99 application and a £200 completion fees. A two-year fixed product is priced at 3.84 per cent with a £199 application fee and a 1 per cent completion fee. The same fees apply for a three-year fixed rate at 3.99 per cent though a reduced-fee option is available at 4.49 per cent with a £99 application fee and a £200 completion fee. As ever, talk to your broker.

If you missed the November newsletters – UKPA and IPA – please do email back and we will send these to you on an individual basis. Feel free to send them on to friends and colleagues alike. Ask them for a fiver please for www.justgiving.com/iain-c-maitland

Kickstarter Craziness

Kickstarter, the crowd funding website has provided funding for some pretty bizarre ideas.

A pair of artists raised over $2,000 to send funny hand-written letters to every household in Pittsburgh’s Polish Hill neighbourhood. Another guy pulled in $8,441 to help finance the creation of “a searchable ethnographic database built from the lyrics of over 40,000 hip-hop songs”. And a couple got $30,030 to publish a version of “Huckleberry Finn” that replaces Mark Twain’s use of a notorious racial slur with the word “robot.” At times the sums have been eye-wateringly high – $67,436 to build a statue of Robocop in Detroit and nearly $1 million in pledges to finance a band to wear iPod Nanos as wristwatches

So what? Well, it’s proof that there’s money out there for some pretty unlikely projects. And if it’s possible to raise money for those, surely your idea has to be investable too. Perhaps to get attention though, you need to inject a dose of craziness.

Streetwise Property Alert 22nd November 2013

Here we are at the end of the week with more UK property news for you…

UK Student Sector News

Knight Frank’s latest figures draw our attention to the London market where ‘Student rents are expected to rise by three per cent over the next year because of the rising number of students and the lack of available rooms to rent.’

James Pullan, head of student property at Knight Frank says, ‘While a big step up from last year, the long-term student rent trend is between 2.5 and 3.0 per cent in London and the regions. Student accommodation has emerged as the best-performing asset in the UK property market and generated average total returns of 7.8 per cent in the year to September.’ More to come on the London market; we are visiting next week to look at new developments.

Carbon Monoxide Reminder

OFTEC, the trade body for the oil-fired heating industry, is advising property owners to have their boilers checked to reduce the risks of carbon monoxide poisoning. OFTEC estimates that 12,000 properties in the UK use oil for heating purposes. Although oil-fired heating is said to be extremely safe for domestic use, all fossil fuels can give off the clear, odourless gas which led to 4,000 people being admitted to hospital in the UK in 2012, with 50 deaths.

Malcolm Farrow of OFTEC says, ‘The risk of carbon monoxide poisoning is significantly lower with oil-fired central heating but consumers should not be complacent. In order to save lives, we recommend having your boiler checked annually by an OFTEC registered technician to make sure that it is working properly. We also recommend homeowners install a carbon monoxide detector in their home. This is an important issue which we stress to our customers all year round.’ Further information is provided at oilsave.co.uk.

Licensing – More News

Here at UKPA, we regularly advise BTL investors to check, before investing, what the local council’s rules and regulations are regarding buy-to-let investment and HMOs etc. There is a trend towards blanket licensing on the basis that we are all ‘rogue landlords’ with ‘poor housing’. Doing some research on Croydon, prior to tomorrow’s visit, we note that ‘Croydon Council wants to cover the whole borough with the (HMO licence) scheme by extending (it) to the wards of Fieldway, New Addington, Shirley, and Selsdon and Ballards.’

Councillor Dudley Mead, cabinet member for housing, is quoted as saying, ‘People who live in this type of housing are often the most vulnerable members of society, who some landlords take advantage of. This licensing scheme will allow the council to regulate HMOs and ensure conditions meet the required health and safety, and fire standards, as well as making sure the properties are not overcrowded. It will also free up suitable accommodation to help the council manage a rise in homelessness.’ Licences – coming to an area near you soon (if not already).

All for now, see you soon.

Pizza Tours

There’s nothing unusual about Pizza delivery services, but one New York business has turned the idea on its head. It delivers people to the pizza.

The NYC Pizza bus is a rented former school bus which business owner Scott Wiener uses to take pizza fans to the best pizza restaurants in the city. It’s essentially a city tour with a difference. I don’t have access to the business model, but I’d be surprised if the company doesn’t make money from both the passengers, and via a kick-back from the restaurants visited.

Might this work in UK cities. A Curry Bus in Bradford  was the first idea that came to my mind.  And why stop at food? What other off-the-wall attractions would people pay to visit with a local expert?

Streetwise Property Alert 21st November 2013

More international property news and views today…

US Update

The Zillow Home Price Expectations Survey – based on the expectations of more than 100 leading forecasters for the US real estate industry – suggests that prices will rise by an average of 6.7 per cent in 2013. After that, capital appreciation is expected to be at a slower pace through to 2018 by which time it will be at 3.4 per cent a year..

‘The housing market has seen a period of unsustainable, breakneck appreciation, and some cooling off is both welcome and expected. Rising mortgage rates, diminished investor demand and slowly rising inventory will all contribute to the slowdown of appreciation.’

‘Policy discussions centred on reforming the nation’s housing finance system have only just begun, and it will be very interesting to see what comes out of these debates and how the market will react to new proposals. How much mortgages will end up costing average consumers, and the continued availability of traditional mortgage products like the 30 year fixed rate mortgage, are among the critical issues currently at stake for consumers in these debates.’ More to come.

London’s Hottest

A new report by Knight Frank names the hottest hotspots in London – ‘City Fringe’ followed by Islington which have seen 3.5 per cent and 1.7 per cent price rises in October. Islington is the one to watch. Daren Hayshom of Foxtons in Islington explains why, ‘It’s no surprise that Islington prices are rising at this rate, demand is incredibly high. With the new East line you can get to Canary Wharf very easily and there are some great schools – lots of families are choosing to move from the city where they might only be able to afford a flat to somewhere like Islington where they can buy a house.’ We will be visiting Islington in early December; email back for our report.

admin@streetwisenews.com

Turkey Lettings

Our friends at OPP Connect offer tips on investing in lettings in Turkey, courtesy of Istanbul-based TAM Property Management. Here’s a quick summary. Research the local area. This should really be done before you even think about investing in any location. There are many variables to consider but the most important of all is tenant demand. Seek out local knowledge. Local knowledge is nvaluable; the local market, the expectations of tenants and the kind of rents people are willing to pay for your property.

Take good photos. How often do you hear that a picture is worth a thousand words? Then how often do you see a property advertised with pictures that make a room look small, badly-lit or though photos that have been quickly snapped on a mobile phone? Make sure your property is listed in all the right places. International holiday lettings websites or more specialist websites such as www.evapart.org can provide ways to reach your target audience both in Turkey and internationally. Holiday let or long-term let? There is a big difference between letting out your city apartment to a long-term tenant and a holiday villa on the coast! Interested? We can do more.

All for today, we will back on Friday.

Big Foot Business

When Kathryn Kerrigan started work  she was disappointed at the footwear options available to tall women. At six-feet tall with a size 11 shoe, she began looking for solutions. While studying for an MBA, she put together a business plan for a company that sold dress shoes to women with larger feet — sizes 10 and above.

In 2005, Kerrigan launched her website, KathrynKerrigan.com. She works with a craftsman in Italy to create her original designs. Her shoes can be found in boutiques throughout the US and in her new flagship store, which opened this year in Libertyville, Illinois.

Three things to take from this I think:

1.It’s another example of a business coming out of a personal problem. What are yours and how might you solve them.

2.What are the footwear options like for taller women in the UK? It could be worth investigating.

3.Even mature markets (like women’s footwear) can be broken into profitably if you select a hungry niche, and then specialise.

Streetwise Property Alert 20th November 2013

Welcome to Wednesday’s email of UK property news and views…

UK Overview

According to the latest report from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), ‘demand in the UK is pushing house prices higher’. October’s RICS Residential Market Survey reveals that the net balance of surveyors reporting price rises is 57 per cent; an 11-year high.

‘It’s no secret the housing market is gathering some momentum and that buyer numbers are on the rise right across the country. A greater willingness by lenders to increase loan to values on mortgage products allied to the Help to Buy scheme has meant that more and more first time buyers are in a position to enter the market. In spite of this, the amount of homes currently up for sale is still nowhere near enough to keep up with demand and in order for the market to function correctly so this imbalance urgently needs to be addressed.’

‘House building starts have picked up recently but we are still well behind in terms of the amount of properties needed. If we are to create a more sustainable market, it is critical that many more good quality homes are built in areas where people want to live.’

It’s been two years since we ended our association with a regular supplier of BTL properties; we are now offering a regular stream of properties again (from a new source) and we are currently testing the service with regulars with a view to going live on 1 January. Let us know if you are going to invest in BTL in 2014 – really going to invest – and we’ll give you a heads-up on what’s coming through.

Northern Ireland Update

The Office of National Statistics reports that Northern Ireland property prices fell again in August and September. It suggests the average property price is now £127,000

Anecdotally, the feedback we receive is that the market is flatlining. (Some say up, others down but the across-the-board consensus is ‘much of a muchness’).

A report from RICS, the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, indicates prices have been rising!

The reality? As in the UK, it’s all down to the basis of each survey, its breadth and depth etc.

More to come – the Northern Ireland market offers a good example of how one market can see such different reports.

Scotland – A Summary

October’s RICS Residential Market Survey, just out, reveals that prices are up as demand exceeds supply. The net balance of chartered surveyors reporting price rises is at 54 per cent; a five year high. There is a clear imbalance between those wanting to buy property and the supply of property coming to market.

Sarah Speirs of RICS Scotland says, ‘The housing market is gathering momentum and buyer numbers are on the rise across Scotland. That said, the number of homes currently up for sale is still nowhere near enough to keep up with demand and – in order for the market to function correctly – this imbalance urgently needs to be addressed. If we are to create a more sustainable market, it is critical that many more good quality homes are built in areas where people want to live.’ More to come on Scotland.

All for now, see you tomorrow.

Streetwise Property Alert 19th November 2013

International property news and views today. Please read on…

Miami – Shall We Visit?

Incredibly – as it’s a good 18 months since we were shovelling deals galore to bottom-fishing members – there is still interest in Miami. Frankly, you may be too late. Trawling the latest set of figures from the Miami Association of Realtors, sales were up again in Q3 2013; 21.2 per cent and 8.7 per cent for homes and condos on a year-on-year basis. More specifically, there was an 89.5 per cent rise increase in home sales in the $250,000 to $299,999 bracket and a 50.8 per cent rise in condo sales in the $250,000 to $299,999 range.

‘The surge in sales of Miami homes and condos is driven by a robust demand for real estate from international buyers from worldwide markets and large numbers of US buyers from other states. The third quarter statistics reflect a significant strengthening of our local real estate market with more homes being sold faster than last year.’

We await latest figures on prices but if there are, say, eight to 10 serious members who want to go out there to view in early December, I’d be happy to arrange something and lead the trip. There may be a small subsidy as I can tie something up with one or two agents; but please don’t just step forward if you’re after a freebie. Been there, done that.

Turkey Update

Given one or two cautionary notes regarding Turkey, ISPAT – Investment Support and Promotion Agency of Turkey – offers, as you’d expect, some positives. ‘Turkey is ranked as the third most attractive real estate investment destination among emerging countries in 2012, according to a survey conducted by the Association of Foreign Investors in Real Estate. Similarly, according to another recent report, European Real Estate Assets Investment Trend Indicator 2013, prepared by Ernst & Young, Turkey ranks as the second most attractive market in Europe for real estate investors.’

‘Istanbul is one of the most alluring real estate investment destinations in the world. Another report, Emerging Trends in Real Estate Europe 2013, prepared jointly by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and Urban Land Institute (ULI), ranks Istanbul as the most attractive real estate market with regard to ‘development prospects’ based on the city’s impressing real estate potential. Turkey is one of the most alluring tourism destinations, as the sixth most visited holiday destination in the world. We get the message – lots of independent positives here. More to come.

New Zealand News

According to new figures from Realestate.co.nz in the NZ Property Report, asking prices across the country are rising. ‘This increase has been driven by all main centres hitting an all-time high – particularly notable is the increase by just over $16,000 in Auckland to make their new asking price a high of $666,126.’

‘October brought the highest number of listings we’ve seen across the board since March 2010 and in Auckland – this is the highest number of new listings we’ve seen in over five years. Listings are up, asking prices are up, seller confidence is high. The Hawkes Bay, Wellington and Canterbury regions have all seen significant increases in asking prices and set new records.’ For those of you who are looking at New Zealand, we have a four-page report coming out this weekend.

All for now, other than to say we have this week’s currencies review in; please email for that.

admin@streetwisenews.com

NaNoWriMo

Every November, over 200,000 people worldwide take part in NaNoWriMo — “National Novel Writing Month”. NaNoWriMo participants aim to write 50,000 words during the month, and tens of thousands of them manage to do it.  Fifty thousand words is an incredible amount to get gone in just one month, and  I’d wager that very few participants would have even got close without the incentive afforded by the event.

If you’re struggling to make progress with a project, setting a clearly defined goal like this can have a massive impact. And joining forces with others who share the same goal and have pledged to do the same thing, will multiply your chances of success. You don’t have to wait for someone else to start an event like NaNoWriMo in a field relevant to you. If there isn’t an event already, organise your own. It’s relatively simple to gather together like-minded people these days using social media and other online resources.

It’s Launched Today!

My new book is published today, and many of you helped me choose the title through a survey here at the bulletin.. It’s called “Why Didn’t They Tell Me? 99 Shameless Success Secrets They Don’t Teach You At Eton, Harrow Or Even The Classiest Comprehensive.” Apologies if that wasn’t your choice of title!

Anyway, you can get full details of the book by clicking here

Two things you need to know:

1. It’s my  most revealing book so far.

2.You’ll be shocked how low the price is.

Oh, and if you order a copy on approval using this link, I’ll make sure you get a signed copy…or I’ll leave it un-defaced if you’d prefer!  The book comes with a full 90 day money back guarantee, so there’s nothing to lose by taking a look.

I wrote the book with the type of entrepreneurial people who read this bulletin in mind, but if you’re looking for a Christmas gift for someone whose business, life or career could do with a kick-start,  it’s got to beat a three pack of boxer shorts!