Streetwise Property Alert 16th September 2013

The recent student accommodation introduction has proven very popular but we are still taking replies; until further notice anyway!

Student Accommodation News

We note Money Observer offers some words of advice on student accommodation in its latest issue. Let’s quote, ‘Demand for student accommodation remains on the up, undimmed by recent tuition fee hikes.

In its latest annual report on the student accommodation market, property consultant Savills asserts: ‘The student housing market has been a resilient and stable investment during the downturn and that is forecast to continue.’ The report, UK Student Housing, forecasts a total return of 9.3 per cent for the 2013/14 academic year.’

‘As well as offering healthy rental yields, student  accommodation has a number of other features that can make it an attractive investment. For starters, it has a low correlation to more traditional asset classes.

Adam Davis, director of fund distribution at property investment firm The Mansion Group, explains: ‘While most other asset classes struggled during the downturn in 2007/08, the fundamentals remained solid for student accommodation. Constant demand means it can deliver a predictable income stream.’

Indeed, the supply/demand ratio is the key strength of the student accommodation market. Although student numbers dropped off in 2012 when tuition fees were increased to up to £9,000 a year, intake rates have returned to the levels seen in 2010 (with 2011 discounted, as it was a bumper year with undergraduates looking to beat the tuition fee hike). While student numbers are stable, there is a continuing shortage of property.’ More to follow.

Home Mortgage? Hurry!

Fixed rate mortgage deals look set to rise soon as money market rates have been climbing. As such, lenders are expected to push up rates shortly. How much? Put it this way, over the past week or two, five year swaps have risen by about 0.25 to 0.3 per cent.

Andrew Hagger at Moneycomms is in the media saying, ‘Money market swap rates increased significantly last week with a massive spike on Thursday. We must now wait to see whether these higher rates hold but already lenders are starting to increase mortgage rates.’

BTL Licensing

We’ve long been saying that blanket licensing of BTL properties is coming and that, between now and then, you need to check with the relevant local council to see what they are doing regarding BTL in your locality.

Newham Council in London has led the way with a scheme that has been enforced for this year. Figures released by the council show 30,000 licence applications were received, 22,000 licences were issued, 67 prosecutions and 43 cautions were enforced and 2,320 properties have received warning letters.

Newham’s Mayor, Sir Robin Wales, says, ‘It is clear from our consultation that our residents, including tenants in private sector homes, massively back our plans. This scheme shows that Newham is leading the country when it comes to tackling bad landlords who flout the law. One in five unlicensed properties in the borough have been found to harbour suspected criminals.’ I rather think that BTL landlords may resent the implication that many of us are rogues and scoundrels but across-the-board licensing is certainly on its way. Food for thought.

Have you read the UK September newsletter? Please feel free to send it on to anyone who may be interested in UK property.

admin@streetwisenews.com

Streetwise Property Alert 27th August 2013

Welcome to today’s email of news and views…

BTL Mortgage Update

Teachers Building Society has made changes to the criteria on its buy-to-let products. The rental calculation has been changed to 125 per cent of the mortgage payment at 4.99 per cent. It was previously 125 per cent at 5.74 per cent.

The restriction on the maximum number of mortgaged properties in a landlord’s portfolio has been moved from three to eight.

There is also a reduction to minimum earned income requirements for buy-to-let products to just £15,000 per annum. As always, do talk to a broker first. We can introduce you to brokers if you do not have one at the moment.

Best BTL Locations?

New research by Move with Us and Home.co.uk reveals their top 10 BTL locations – based on those locations that deliver the highest gross yields.

B7 (Birmingham), 10.6 per cent

TN28 (Kent), 10.5 per cent

L14 (Merseyside), 9.6 per cent

GU6 (Surrey), 9.5 per cent

TS1 (Middlesbrough), 9.2 per cent

B35 (Birmingham), 9.2 per cent

L4 (Liverpool), 9.1 per cent

RH4 (Surrey), 9.1 per cent

B18 (Birmingham), 8.7 per cent

EN8 (Hertfordshire), 8.7 per cent

Worth mentioning, of course, is that yield is only one criterion for savvy BTL investors. And a generic gross figure can be quite different from a specific net figure. The only yield figure that is is of any relevance is your own. Still, food for thought…

admin@streetwisenews.com

Wind Farm Impact

Had a pizza with my wife in a restaurant last night. At the end, the waiter presented us with two coffees. He then hurried back with a look of alarm on his face. He had forgotten to warn us they were hot drinks which, apparently, he has to do every time he serves ‘anything hot’. (‘That pizza is hot’, the garlic bread is hot…’ etc). Madness.

I thought of that this morning when I read that the government has commissioned a report to assess whether wind farms affect local property prices or not. It’s really stating the obvious – would you buy a property near a wind farm? No? Then there’s the answer – it affects property prices.

Frontier Economics is to examine the impact of a range of technologies, including onshore and offshore wind farms, shale gas, anaerobic digestion plants, overhead power lines, coal, gas, nuclear and biomass power stations and coal mines on local property markets. Clearly, these will all impact although, to be fair, it will be interesting to see by how much in hard cash terms. More to follow.

All for now – see you again soon.

Streetwise Property Alert 15th August 2013

Welcome to today’s email…

Risk-Reward Alert

Our friend David Burgess at The Hotel Investment Company makes some interesting comments about risks and rewards. Here’s what he says, ‘Many investors want the biggest possible yield; 15 per cent, 20 per cent or more. Fewer want the 5 per cents and 6 per cents that are often offered in the UK; from buy-to-let, student accommodation and hotels etc. It’s just not enough!’

‘The problem is that, to generate yields of close to 20 per cent or more, the investments – however well they are dressed up and presented as safe and secure – have to have an element of higher-risk about them. Perhaps developers are paying over-the-top for seed capital. Maybe a ‘guarantee’ is added to make the deal even more attractive.’

‘You need to look closely at these higher figures, do your due diligence and take professional advice before investing and accept that, by and large, these are speculative investments where you might lose all of your money. That’s what higher-risk means!’ More to come.

Insurance Cover Reminder

Make certain you have sufficient contents insurance cover – do a room-by-room survey for yourself. According to Sainsbury Home Insurance’s analysis of loss adjusters’ data, the cost of replacing the contents of the average British home, in the event of a fire or other major disaster, is £44,500.

Sainsbury Home Insurance advises totting up, on a room-by-room basis, what it would cost to replace belongings. Always consider accidental damage cover and make sure it extends to soft furnishings. Note: not all polices cover damage made by pets – it’s important to check you are covered if relevant.

Flat screen televisions, DVD players, computers and laptops are high-risk items that are easy targets for thieves. Mark them with your name and postcode using an invisible ink pen that shows up under ultra-violet light. Reminder: one of the most common causes of disappointment with insurance is to find that you’re not covered for something you thought was in your policy. Check. Not all policies provide accidental cover for soft furnishings, including carpets, as standard.

Council Tax Tip

This one’s worth an occasional mention given the steady-ish stream of emails received on the topic. Check whether your property is in the correct council tax band – go to voa.gov.uk (or saa.gov.uk in Scotland). It’s a little-known fact that some neighbouring properties are often in different bands. It’s worth checking as you could get repayments for as long as you have owned the property.

In 1991, properties were given ‘drive-by’ valuations – i.e. valuers just drove by in a car – and, as such, some properties have ended up in the wrong bands and home-owners may be paying more than they should. (But note, there is a vice versa too – you may be paying less).

You can compare your property’s banding with neighbouring properties via the council tax list at the Valuation Office Agency’s website at voa.gov.uk or, for Scotland, the Scottish Assessors Association on saa.gov.uk. Just enter your postcode and house number for the banding; then do the same with neighbouring property numbers. See what the properties were worth 1991; go to nationwide.co.uk/hpi and use the house price calculator. If relevant, then contact the Valuation Office etc.

All for now, see you tomorrow.

Streetwise Property Alert 11th July 2013

House Prices – Latest News

According to recent figures from the Nationwide House Price Index, prices are rising at their fastest rate in three years; a 0.4 per cent rise in May was followed by a 0.3 per cent rise in June and the year-on-year rise is 1.9 per cent.

Brian Murphy of the Mortgage Advice Bureau (MAB) offers a good summary, ‘Homeowners will be delighted to see a third month of house price increases in Nationwide’s figures. Potential buyers will be comforted by the fact that mortgage rates are still heading in the opposite direction. As property becomes more desirable by the week, falling fixed rates mean they can still enjoy exceptionally low interest on their loans for increasingly long periods of time.’

‘This golden age of rate reductions is coaxing more borrowers through the door and, with the guidance of specialist brokers, there are plenty of favourable deals to help them contend with rising prices – especially as  lenders are playing their part with some offering low-product fees. The onus is now on the government to put more faith in property and act now to increase housing supply.’

Land Registry Update

The Land Registry is providing its historical ‘price paid’ data records available free-of-charge. ‘The downloadable information will give users access to one of the world’s largest property datasets, consisting of prices paid in over 17 million residential cash and mortgage sales in England and Wales.’

‘The first phase, released on Friday, includes records of sales at full market value lodged for registration between January 2009 and January 2012. The remainder of the data covering the period January 1995 to December 2008 will be released by November. Collectively, this represents over 17 years worth of ‘actual’ information on the country’s housing market.’ Visit LandRegistry.gov.uk to find out more.

admin@streetwisenews.com

Mortgage Product News

Aldermore’s 75 per cent loan-to-value, two-year fixed rate BTL mortgage product is now available at 3.98 per cent. The 80 per cent LTV product is available at 4.48 per cent.  Limited edition term variable rates are also available as part of the buy-to-let range at 3.98 per cent for up to 65 per cent LTV and 4.28 per cent up to 75 per cent LTV.

Saffron For Intermediaries has reduced the rates on its Buy to Let Light Refurbishment mortgages. For landlords buying or remortgaging a property which requires refurbishment work to be undertaken before being let, highlights include: rate cut from 5.89 per cent to 5.23 per cent (SVR minus 0.16 per cent), for two years from completion: available to 75 per cent LTV of the end value of the property, up to £500,000: for purchase or remortgage: 2.5 per cent arrangement fee and 2 per cent ERC in the first two years. As always, talk to your broker.

Florida Update

We’d make an educated guess that for every 100 Brits buying in the US, some 60 to 80 of what we’d call amateur investors (i.e. they buy one or two starter units) go to Florida, and, as often as not, Orlando. According to data from Florida Realtors, the market is on the move.

‘Home sales continue to increase, it’s taking less time for sales to close, and median sales prices are on the rise. This (June) is the seventeenth month in a row that we’ve seen the statewide median sales prices increase year-over-year for both single-family homes and for townhome-condo properties.’

‘The numbers continue to move in the right direction. We remain concerned about the rise in the percentage of sales accounted for by all cash buyers. These numbers understate the true condition of the market in that a great many sales are conducted directly with the financial institution holding the property and thus do not appear in the Multiple Listing Service. But those crying doom-and-gloom who read this growth in investor activity as the sign of a new bubble are far off-base and simply don’t understand the texture of the current market.’ More to come.

Beware Rule Changes

We say it time and again; when investing overseas, do think ahead, looking at as many ‘what if?’ scenarios etc as you can think of. Take Singapore as an example – very popular with some members. Its central bank has set new rules so that (local) borrowers can use only 60 per cent of their monthly incomes to service borrowings.

So what? Doris Tan, Head of International Residential Sales at Jones Lang LaSalle says, ‘The impact (on the local property market) will be great as there is a large number of people who want to be owners of private residential property. However, with the introduction of a lower overall quantum and more difficulty to qualify for a loan, it will definitely affect sales of both local and overseas properties.’ Food for thought? Will local buyers be pulling out of those ‘luxury’ two bed apartments that overseas buyers go for? Which way for prices then? Who will buy from you when you want to exit the market?

What About ‘The Extras’?

Have to say we have lost count over the past decade of the number of investors who have pulled out of a deal at a late stage because their budget did not extend to cover closing costs. Checking should be part of your early-stage due diligence.

Knight Frank’s latest Buying Costs report sets out the purchase costs and annual charges for a non-resident buyer purchasing a new-build property above US$3m (£2m) in 15 global cities. Okay, it’s not in the ballpark range of most IPA buyers but it makes interesting reading nonetheless. Non-residents can expect to pay 25 per cent on top of their purchase price when buying a $3m home in Hong Kong, for example. Check before progressing!

 

Streetwise Property Alert 25th June 2013

Okay, the Tenerife Hotel introduction seems to have ticked some boxes! I am tempted to see if we can put together a viewing trip for those who have replied so far. We have a brochure that we can send out on request; but, please (says the voice of painful experience) only for those who are seriously interested in investing rather than those looking for a subsidised weekend break to Tenerife!

Ibiza – A Safe Investment?

Daniel Chavarria Waschke, managing director of Sotheby’s International Realty, says that Ibiza is a ‘wise choice’ when it comes to buying property. Indeed, bottom-fishers are a little late according to Daniel. ‘Ibiza had its recovery year in 2012, light years ahead of faltering markets on the Spanish mainland, and is already booming again. Even off-plan and in-construction property is selling at a remarkable pace.’

Richard Way, editor of the Overseas Guides Company is quoted in the national media as saying much the same, adding, ‘Ibiza has an appeal as a bolthole in the winter months. Ibiza has some of the most exclusive hillside villas anywhere in the Balearics; arguably in Spain, too.’ We are currently talking to expats and agents and developers on the island; let us know if you are seriously interested in buying there. We will have some material for you shortly.

Golf Investments

I’m always slightly cautious when I read articles in the national press that praise a particular location and, near the end, you get a quote or two from a developer or agent who is active there. Far be it for me to say, but some investors might wonder which came first – the article and then the quotes or is it the other way round; a press release full of quotes is turned into an article and, in return, there’s a plug at the end for the developer or agent. Either way, that’s not to say it’s a bad article at all; just that you need to aware of what you are reading.

Anyway, there is a good article in the Telegraph today that may swing either way in this respect but does offer some useful tips when it comes to buying a golf property. Let’s quote, ‘Target resorts close to international airports. You want to spend your time on the fairway, not the motorway. Compare resorts in more than one country if possible. They all have their own pros and cons. Don’t assume you will get complimentary golf once you have bought the property. Be wary of resorts with a high property density. They may prove a tricky long-term investment.’ If you want to read more on golf lets, drop us a line. We can do an article for you.

admin@streetwisenews.com

Legal Matters – Check First

If you are buying overseas, one of the first things you need to do as part of your due diligence is to check the ins and outs of buying as a foreigner. Sometimes, you are welcomed with open arms (at least for now) and on other occasions you are not that welcome at all. There is a widespread – incorrect – assumption that anything that is ‘sort of British’ (to quote a recent member looking at what he called ‘a former colony’) is the same as Britain. No! No! No!

Take Australia as an example. As property expert Eddie Chung explains, ‘As a foreign national in Australia you are subject to certain restrictions imposed by the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) that regulate your ability to buy Australian property. Under the current rules, unless a specific exemption applies, the acquisition of both residential and commercial properties in Australia by foreigners will need clearance from FIRB by default, regardless of the value of the property and nationality of the purchaser.’

We are looking at doing some checklists for the early autumn for the most popular markets; tell us where you are buying in the next 12 to 18 months. We’ll add up the replies and do checklists for the  most popular six to eight.

All for now, do email back if you’d like to follow up on anything covered in today’s email. We look forward to hearing from you.

admin@streetwisenews.com

Upcycling Opportunity

I was reading about a business run by Scott Hamlin in Portland Oregon, and wondered how many other people might be able to cash in on something like this.

Hamlin’s company, Looptworks buys up  end-of-line, unwanted fabric from warehouses in Asia which is destined for landfill or the incinerator. It then turns it into shirts, skirts, laptop sleeves and backpacks. The company is very much for profit, but has a strong environmental ethos.

Any enterprise that has a positive environmental impact will be well received by prospective customers and the media. Upcycling (converting waste materials or useless products into new materials or products of better quality) is environmentally friendly and can be highly profitable if done well. Are there upcycling opportunities in your sphere of expertise? Do you know of any waste materials that could form the basis of a new upcycling opportunity?

Streetwise Property Alert 21st June

Have you received our monthly currencies review? It’s essential reading if you are exchanging currencies soon. Email back and we will send it to you. Meantime…

Spain – Lift Off?

Over in the US, the New York Times reports that ‘Large investment firms have spent billions of dollars over the last year buying homes in some of the nation’s most depressed markets. The influx has been so great, and the resulting price gains so big, that ordinary buyers are feeling squeezed out.’ There are many pundits who think – hope – that the same may be about to happen in Spain and that this will be the turnaround trigger.

For example, we note one story – of many – that ‘A planned sale by Sareb, the Spanish state-organised bad bank, of a portfolio of property homes, mostly in the regions of Andalucia and Valencia, has attracted interest from a host of private equity buyers. These are understood to include the US funds Apollo, Lone Star and Blackstone. It seems like the moment when it starts to happen. The flow of deals has been zero so far, but this should be the opening of the doors for a lot of transactions.’ We are familiar with agents and others who whistle loudly in the dark but there is a growing sense that there may be some big sales coming.

admin@streetwisenews.com

London – The Way Ahead

In London, we note that Mayor Boris Johnson sets out that, as the population will reach 10 million by 2030, 400,000 new homes are needed in the next 10 years. Is it going to happen? Hard to see.

Helen Evans, chief executive of the Network Housing Group, one of the largest housing associations in London, calls it well, ‘Affordability in London is no longer just an issue for the unemployed or minimum wage workers, it is a problem for the majority of young professionals and working families who are dealing with house prices rising at 3 to 4 per cent annually but pay packets in London shrinking by 3.9 per cent over the last five years.’

Supply-demand-price – you cannot beat the basic economic principles; over at London Property Alerts we’re looking at the 16 hottest locations over the next five to 10 years. Sign up to London Property Alerts to find out more.

Australia – Hotspotting

We cover down under locations; Australia is very popular. Peter Koulizos, property lecturer and author, aka thepropertyprofessor.com.au, makes some interesting points about hotspotting. Let’s quote. ‘I have sourced data from the ABS to help determine how each of the capital city markets has performed in the five years from March 2008 to March 2013. Sydney – 15.1 per cent. Melbourne – 16.1 per cent. Brisbane – 0.0 per cent. Adelaide – 5.3 per cent. Perth – 6.4 per cent. Hobart – 3.2 per cent. Canberra – 15.0 per cent. Darwin – 40.7 per cent.’

‘However, this doesn’t mean that every suburb within these capital cities have performed poorly. I have used data from RP Data to compile the list below which highlights just a few suburbs from each of the five major capital cities which have performed relatively well over this five year period. Sydney (15.1 per cent). Arncliffe – 35.3 per cent. Campsie – 34.8 per cent. Ashfield – 31.4 per cent. Marrickville – 31.0 per cent. Can you see a common theme in these outperforming suburbs? It’s their location. All of the suburbs above are relatively close to facilities (CBD) or near water (beach or river). Suburbs in these types of locations (especially those close to the CBD) tend to do well in almost any market as this is where the demand for property, relative to supply, is the greatest.’ Good advice.

All for now. See you over the weekend with the latest property introductions.

Property Alert 4th June 2013

Home Building Signal

We’ve always said that if you want to see a market on the move, see if the housebuilders are back. Quite simply, they will not build where they cannot profit; and they cannot, generally, profit in a market awash with foreclosures that pull prices down to below cost levels; as we have seen in parts of the USA and Spain in recent times.

We note, from The Tampa Bay Times over in Florida, that ‘Florida luxury home builder WCI Communities Inc. plans to raise up to $150 million in an initial public offering. The Bonita Springs company, which designs, sells and builds homes along Florida’s Gulf Coast, said it expects to benefit from low interest rates and rising rents that have encouraged more Americans to buy homes after the housing bust.’

Looking here? Drop us a line and we will introduce you to ex-pat agent Andrew Batty who is active in this part of the world. admin@streetwisenews.com
‘Golden Visa’ Update

Following on from recent news in Spain, where we reported that foreigners who purchase properties above €500,000 will receive residency permits, we note that Cesar Garzon of SpanishLawConsultants.com is being quoted in OPP Connect on the subject.

‘It will now go to public information and consultation of public and administrative bodies, as the Council of State, and shall be processed by way of urgency. In my opinion it will be passed before the end of the year but will come into force on 1 January 2014.’
Follow The Agent?

Fair to say that agents follow the money and many investors watch to see where the big agents are going as a heads-up of an expanding market. If that sounds like you, you’ll be interested to know that Winkworth, franchisor of the chain of residential estate agents, has signed a master franchising agreement in India with Narayanan Soundararajan.

‘The Indian property market has gone from strength to strength over the last decade and is now considered to be one of the most vibrant real estate markets in the world. We therefore hope that bringing our established and respected brand to this market will prove to be a great success.’ The plan is to have Winkworth franchised offices across all of the major cities in India. Food for thought.
Turkey – More News

There is, amongst many Brits buying overseas, the belief that only the British are doing it. Not so. New figures from the Environment and Urban Planning Ministry in Turkey reveal that Russian and British buyers are most active here but that, since the rules allowing foreign buyers were relaxed, there are now purchasers from more than 180 countries buying here. Where? In the last 12 months 14,599 foreign buyers have bought properties in Turkey. The province of Mersin is most popular followed by Izmir and Yalova. Surprisingly, Istanbul did not make it into the top 10 list.

Loxley McKenzie, Colordarcy’s MD, says, ‘The Turkish government has taken spending on transport and infrastructure to a whole new level this year. I think this goes some way to strengthening the case for Istanbul as a property investment destination, particularly considering the growth in tourism that the new airport will bring. Much of the money is being raised inside Turkey which suggests that the country is feeling confident enough in its long term future to encourage this type of investment.’

Property Alert 3rd June 2013

Compulsory Landlord Licensing

We’ve long been offering members a heads-up on compulsory landlord licensing – we think it’s going to be universal within the next year or two. Money-maker or a necessary check on rip-off landlords? We’ll leave that to you to decide; either way, it’s coming.

According to new research by the Local Government Information Unit (LGiU), eight out of 10 councils expect to take a more proactive stance in relation to the private rented sector in future.

‘Our research shows that councils were interested in many different forms of engagement, including voluntary accreditation schemes and better training and support for private landlords. However, a third of council respondents said they would consider introducing compulsory licensing in their local area in an attempt to reduce health and safety risks in properties and to protect tenants from unscrupulous landlords.’

Tenants Improvements

The Association of Independent Inventory Clerks reports that it has seen a wide range of ‘improvements’ being made by tenants between starting and ending a tenancy. These include; replacing lawns with gravel; installing ponds; assembling outbuildings such as sheds and greenhouses. GW LET’s Rob Denman offers some words of advice.

‘A tenant is legally obliged to maintain a rented property throughout their tenancy and return it to the landlord in the same, or similar, condition as it was initially let. This includes any outdoor space such as gardens and driveways. If a tenant does make alterations without your written consent and you are unhappy with these changes it is your right as the landlord to demand the tenant pays to return it to its original state.’

‘Alternatively, you could retain the tenant’s deposit to cover the costs. However, the success of your case is often dependent on the level of detail of your original inventory. While compiling an inventory is a time-consuming activity, it is an essential part of a landlord’s duties; neglecting it could, and is, costing landlords dearly. Recent figures from the Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS) have revealed landlords won just over a third (35.8 per cent) of all disputes in 2011-12 with ‘insufficient evidence’ the primary cause for this low margin.’

Park Home News

It’s being reported in various specialist media that the owners of park home properties are free to sell their homes on the open market, including using estate agents, rather than having to do it via park home operators.

Housing minister Mark Prisk states, ‘For too long, some unscrupulous operators have made residents’ lives a misery, intimidating people and manipulating the rules to turn a quick profit. So we’ve closed the loopholes to root out the rogues and ensure that those who run an honest business will flourish. We’ve also given councils the power they need to protect the vulnerable, so park home residents who know their rights will be able to enjoy their rural retreats in peace.’

Given the new ruling, we are looking at expanding some coverage into this sector. Let us know if this interests you.

Property Alert

Market On The Move?

Whisper it quietly, but the top house builders have all reported profit growth of 33 per cent or more in the most recent year and, what’s more, they are now actively seeking new development land according to industry reports. (That, no doubt, will see another wave of landbanking scams coming soon – watch this space).

Looking at a recent Savills’ report on this subject, we note, ‘There are clear signs of more positive industry sentiment and activity. Latest government house building statistics reveal that private starts in England, at 22,200, were 7 per cent higher in the first quarter of this year than in the final three months of 2012.’

‘House builders, having rebuilt their balance sheets, are looking to secure a pipeline in an improving market. However the market is highly localised and values remain very suppressed beyond the pockets where land is trading, but real opportunities exist in many urban markets for developers able to take a long view.’ More to come.

Rents – What’s Happening?

We’ve signed up to The Rent Check to keep you up-to-date on current and future trends. The Rent Check report monitors rents agreed by more than 1,500 private landlords in England and Wales and who are all members of the National Landlords Association. ‘The Rent Check report will track movements in the private rented market every six months analysing changes in actual rental rates by property type and region.’

‘The data shows 87 per cent of landlords achieve their listed asking rent or higher, 61 per cent are confident in the prospects for their own letting business and 41 per cent have agreed higher rents over the past 12 months compared to 7 per cent who had agreed lower rents. The average tenancy lasts two and half years.’

‘Excluding London, the average monthly rent for a two bedroom flat ranges from £480 in the North East to £695 in the South East. Rent for a three-bedroom property, terraced and semi-detached houses, ranges from £500 in the North East to £935 in the South East. In London, average monthly rents for a two-bed flat are £1,515 in zones one and two, £1,060 in zones three to six, £1,815 for a three-bed property in zones one and two and £1,435 further out in zones three to six.’

‘Open House’ Viewings

We’ve had a huge response to the London property sourcing service and, fingers crossed, we should start matching members and properties soon. I would stress that, although we welcome everyone, this one is really for people who are ready and able to start investing rather than the ‘I want 50 per cent off and no money down’ members.

Catching up on London reading, we note that search consultant Erica Evans makes some interesting comments on ‘open house’ events. ‘In the more sought-after parts of London, such as the South West, West and North West postcodes, we have seen consistently brisk activity levels. We believe that many estate agents are still struggling to understand just how strong demand level is, evidenced by the large number of ‘open house’ viewings that are tending to be arranged. These are little more than on-site auctions where the agent is largely guessing at true demand and price levels.’ Food for thought.