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Is the Increase in Utility Bills Putting First-Time Buyers Off from Purchasing Their Dream House?

rise in utility bills

While 2020 introduced us to something we could only believe in a movie and now cannot bear to hear more about; COVID. The year the whole world stood still!

The year 2021 was full of uncertainty for the property market, yet it was not as dramatic as it had been in previous years. Everyone anticipated the worst, which is one reason why the Stamp Duty holiday was announced.

Real estate agents at Mistoria Estate Agents were unable to find properties fast enough due to the high demand. All properties we put on the market were sold above the asking price by around 17%. These prices were driven by demand from first-time home buyers. However, we observed that investors paid greater than anticipated prices in order to seal a transaction.

As we neared the Christmas season, the one thing that held us up was having to wait for more stock. Even special celebrations were unable to deter our tireless investor or determined first-time buyer, as we continued to receive calls and solicitations for homes.

We are now in 2022, and the most popular subject is how the costs of utilities are increasing to the point that they are affecting whether first-time buyers can afford to buy their dream home.

We understand that property prices have increased at a greater rate than salaries throughout the years, making housing increasingly inaccessible for most people, and interest rates have gone up, increasing the cost of mortgages. This reduces demand for real estate and has an impact on the entire market.

We believe that house prices will not rise at the same rate as they have in recent years. However, some experts believe that prices might decrease by up to 2% over the next year, according to Russell Galley, Halifax’s Managing Director.

According to Rightmove, property prices are 7.6% higher than they were in January 2021. Galley’s hypothesis might prove to be incorrect as the year progresses, given the current deficit in housing and continuing high demand.

I believe the housing market has been a true phenomenon that has defied all odds. Is the rise in utility costs be the next epidemic keeping first-time buyers away? Or will it simply delay their purchasing decisions out even further? It remains to be seen whether altering buying habits and budgets can potentially influence the market over time.

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Letting To Students: Dispelling the Myths

student housing Salford / student housing north west

Many landlords often worry about letting out their properties to students, fearing that they will not receive rental payments, or that their houses will be destroyed during wild parties. However, issues like these are exceptionally rare. We thought we’d dispel some of the popular myths about renting to students in this blog post.

Damage to the Property

A landlord’s worst nightmare is undoubtedly that their property will be destroyed by a particularly wild student party. However, with the rising cost of living, students are increasingly opting to drink and party less, with some studies suggesting that 30% of the student population does not drink at all. With less spare money, students are also more conscious of the need to care for their house to protect their deposit. 

A recent survey by student utility supplier Glide also recently showed that 82% of students would rather stay in to binge watch TV and films than go out to party. Therefore, the chance of a landlord’s property being ruined is now much reduced. 

Payment Problems 

The typical image that society has of a student is of one surviving off pasta because they’ve spent all their money on alcohol. That, alongside the fact that this is the first time many will have had payment responsibilities before, leaves landlords worried that their student tenants will not have enough money to pay their rent. However, such issues are actually relatively rare in student properties, because tenants receive student loan payments termly. Furthermore, if students do miss their rent payments, they are almost always backed by strong guarantors – their parents. 

Noise Complaints

Students are typically known for playing loud music and screaming and shouting late into the night. But as they reduce their alcohol intake and opt to stay in for film nights with friends, landlords should actually see a reduction in the number of noise complaints they receive from neighbours. 

Finding the Perfect Tenants   

One of the best ways to look after your property is to engage with your tenants. If they feel like you are listening to their queries and worries, they are more likely to trust you and therefore respect both you and your property. Having a good relationship with their landlord is one of the key things students look for when renting a home. 

Still Have Concerns?

If you are worried about letting your property to students, come and speak to the experts in student housing North West based Mistoria Estate Agents. 

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Dealing With Damp and Condensation in Your Property

Liverpool letting agent

During the colder months damp and condensation can become a problem in your property. Here we take a look at ways you can avoid these issues…

Condensation

The most common cause of damp in a property is the build-up of condensation. It should be made clear to your tenants that it is their responsibility to prevent condensation in the property. Once you have installed extractor fans in bathrooms, stress that tenants should switch these on every time they shower or take a bath. It might be worth investing in an extractor fan that switches on automatically in time with the bathroom light. That way, you won’t have to rely on your tenants remembering to do so. Extractor fans should also be fitted in the kitchen above the hob. Boiling water causes lots of steam to be produced, which will settle on the walls and windows if not removed. 

Advise your tenants to open their windows regularly, especially in the kitchen and bathroom. During the colder months, they may be reluctant to do so, but windows need only be open for ten minutes a day for a noticeable difference in the levels of condensation build-up. Remind them that they need to close and lock all of their windows before leaving their house each day. 

Tell your tenants not to put wet clothing on radiators. The water vapour mixing with the hot air will rise and settle on walls and windows. You may wish to fit a clothes line to encourage your tenants to dry their clothes outside.

Rising Damp  

Rising damp occurs when groundwater seeps through the bricks and mortar of a building because its damp course has failed. It is your responsibility as a landlord to make the building watertight again by fitting a new damp course. The cost should not be passed on to your tenants. You should ask a professional for their advice; rising damp is often misdiagnosed and fitting a new damp course could end up being a needless expense. 

Penetrating Damp

Penetrating damp occurs when water enters a building via an external wall or the roof and settles inside. This will invariably be because of a fault within the building, such as holes in the roof, damaged gutters, or cracks in the external render. Again, it is your responsibility to ensure that these issues are remedied and that the house is fit for habitation. Fixing penetrating damp is usually a simple process. Make a note of anywhere that the damp appears and find that point on the exterior of your property. Around this area you should be able to quickly find the fault and fix it yourself with some simple DIY. For serious problems, consult an experienced surveyor. A check of the whole building may be required to ensure the damp has not become wet rot, which would be disastrous for the structural integrity of your property.     

Resolving Damp Issues  

North West letting agent, Mistoria Estate Agents have a dedicated maintenance team on hand to resolve any property issues for our landlords and tenants. Contact us now to find out how we can help you. 

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Should parents invest in student buy-to-let to help their children with university?

student buy-to-let

A recent survey found a massive two thirds of parents are considering investing in buy-to-let student properties to assist their child through university as fees and costs of living become more and more daunting.

The rising price of rent as well as high fees is making university a harder and harder prospect for many students who can often struggle to make ends meet with just their maintenance loan and a part time job.

The online mortgage broker Trussle found 66% of parents believe helping their child via purchasing a buy-to-let student property was a smart idea.

The idea is to let their child live in the property while they were at university for whatever in-house rent the family agreed, hopefully lowering their living costs.

Once their child had finished their course and were ready to move onto the next stage of their life the parents would then be able to rent out their house to other students and begin making returns on their investment.

The survey of 2,000 homeowners even found 53% of parents would consider downsizing their family home to help support their child through university.

Parents are not wrong that student buy-to-lets are a sound investment at the moment for the past few years they have outpaced the rest of the rental sector, with yields growing by as much as 17.86% larger than the rest of the rental sector.

The value of the private rental sector as a whole has also soared recently.

According to the Shawbrook Bank the total value of the private rental sector rose by 5.8% between August 2020 and August 2021 to a total of £1.4 trillion.

This is lower than the general rise of all properties which increased by almost 10% in the same period.

Shawbrook bank also found demand for rent was soaring with 42% of landlords saying they had more people than ever looking for a property, with a third of landlords adding they are looking to add another property to their portfolio in the next year.

Trussle did note in their survey that tax changes had skewed against landlords in recent years making buy-to-let investments not the super lucrative investments they used to be.

However, Miles Robinson, head of mortgages at Trussle said their data showed “that property is still seen as a safe and reliable way of generating extra income.”

The investments also make sense in the medium term through rental income and in the long term through the rise in property prices.

So, although the cost of entry may be higher than before, and the returns may not be as massive, there is still a huge demand for rental properties plenty of room to grow and huge amounts of confidence the rental market will remain strong.

One way to maximise your returns is to get the best advice on where to invest and how to manage the property.

The multitude of taxes and regulations that come with managing a buy-to-let student property can be mind boggling at first and this is where Mistoria can help.

Mistoria manages 1000 properties in the private and student rental sector and is a specialist in helping investors interested in getting involved in the market.

On top of this Mistoria can also give advice on where to invest, the dozens of university towns and cities across the UK present plenty of options but some offer vastly higher returns than others.

Rents may be high in London but property prices are even higher.

Whereas student property investments in Manchester and places like Bolton, Liverpool and Salford, property prices are low but the ever-increasing student population means yields are only going to increase over time.

Call us on 0800 500 3015 or email info@mistoria.co.uk.

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State of the market: Is now the time to invest in property?

invest in property

With lockdowns now firmly behind us and no prospect of them returning in full force any time soon the property market has come roaring back – could now be time to invest in property?

There is certainly plenty of evidence the housing market is booming –although figures have been inflated by the rush to take advantage of the stamp duty holiday which came to an end in October.

According to HM Revenue and Customs, in the UK in last month an estimated 160,950 homes changed hands, which was almost 70% higher than in August and 68% higher than the previous September.

Compared to the 50% drop in sales which occurred in April and May 2020 due to the pandemic, it is clear the market has put Covid behind it.

Zoopla has predicted 2021 will be the strongest year in the housing market since 2007, with around £500bn in sales.

Now that the stamp duty holiday has come to an end it is expected the residential sales market will slow and price growth is set to stall making now a perfect time to invest in property.

Sensing opportunity of a market lull before further growth, investors are out in force cash buying property left right and centre after laying low throughout the pandemic.

Property is on the verge of flipping from a seller’s market to a buyer’s market.

What does this mean for rental?

Research from Zoopla found rents were rising at their fastest pace in over a decade in all places in the UK except London.

They found rent would be on average £500 more per year by the end of 2021 compared to 2020.

Demand for rental properties across the country is expected to rise in the coming months.

As people decided to stay put during lockdowns, and with evictions made temporarily very difficult, tenants very rarely moved.

But now the economy is looking increasingly strong and lockdowns fading into memory more and more tenants will start looking for a place to move.

With a rise in demand, it could be the perfect opportunity for House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) property investment.

With the ability of being able to house multiple separate tenants into a single property, HMOs can easily absorb any rise in demand.

Combined with a rise in rents and the reproductive growth HMOs offer, they could be a wise investment.

If you are thinking of investing in property for rental and would like help and advice on how to manage a successful tenancy, please contact our experienced team or visit our contact page to find your local branch.

We manage 1000 properties and 3000 tenancies in the private and student rental sector and can help you with all aspects of rental property management.

Call us on 0800 500 3015 or email info@mistoria.co.uk

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How to avoid deposit disputes

landlords north west

What to do at the start and end of a tenancy to avoid a deposit dispute

Less than 1% of all tenancy deposits end in dispute, but when it does happen it can end up being an expensive nightmare for all parties involved.

Many potential disputes can be avoided and one of the quickest ways to make sure conflicts don’t happen is to ensure all the correct information is provided to everyone at the right times.

Keeping audit trails of any changes made to the property, both by the landlord and tenant, can drastically improve the chances of a dispute being sorted quickly and reduce the chance of any acrimonious feelings between those involved.

This needs to happen from day one until the last day of the tenancy. Make sure the new tenant knows what is expected straight away. By doing this it will help them as much as it will help you.

Here’s what needs to be done right at the start and right at the end of a tenancy:

When the new tenant checks in

Having a detailed as possible report about the condition of the property is important. This goes further than a full inventory and cleanliness. Make notes of the last time it was professionally cleaned as well as being up front about any marks or scuffs on the upholstery so any new ones can be noted.

Also point out brand new decorations down to the date it was done so it becomes clear what they are getting.

Making a note of different odours could also be a good idea, although smells can be subjective and caused by many things a distinct new one will be hard to avoid.

Always back all of this up with as much documentation and images as possible.

When the tenant checks out

This is where conducting a thorough inventory at the start will pay off. As the house is inspected, refer to it constantly, and if you had a hand in making it to start with you should know exactly what to look for.

As before, keep a note of every detail and compare your new document with the old one once you are finished.

Also, even if it looks clear make sure you touch it! Stickiness and pet hairs are often hard to detect but can be costly to remove.

What to do if you think a deposit deduction is needed

If you find yourself in a situation where the property has not been returned in a satisfactory state, you may need to deduct from the deposit.

This process can often cause disputes and conflict between landlord and tenant, so make sure you’re completely sure and have the documentary evidence to back it up.

Clear, concise reasoning as to why the landlord thinks a deduction is vital.

On top of this pointing out exactly where in the tenancy agreement the landlord believes the tenant has breached will be needed.

If the tenant decides to dispute the claim, then it will need to be taken to an adjudicator.

North West Landlords

North West landlords, Mistoria Estate Agents, conduct inventories and property checks on behalf of our landlords. We carry out thorough check in and check out inspections to ensure there is official paperwork, documentation and photographs at the start and end of every tenancy. Whilst it can feel like an uncomfortable process, we understand how vital it is for both landlord and tenant to be clear and consistent when it comes to the condition of a property.

If you own a rental property and would like help and advice on how to manage a successful tenancy, ensuring you meet all the legal requirements and remain up to date on guidance and legislation, please contact our experienced team. We manage 1000 properties and 3000 tenancies in the private and student rental sector and can help you with all aspects of rental property management. Call us on 0800 500 3015 or email info@mistoria.co.uk.

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Mistoria Estate Agents Bolton: Gold Winners in the British Property Awards, again!

Mistoria Estate Agents Bolton British Property Awards Gold Winner 2021-2022 For Letting Agent In Bolton

Mistoria Estate Agents have just won another British Property Award, this time for their Lettings division in the Bolton (South) category.

Their team performed outstandingly throughout the extensive judging period, which focused on customer service levels.

Mistoria Estate Agents have now been shortlisted for a number of national awards which will be announced shortly.

The British Property Awards provide agents throughout the UK with an invaluable opportunity to compare the service that they provide against the service provided by their local, regional and national competition.

Agents who go that extra mile and provide outstanding levels of customer service are rewarded with our accolade, which acts as a beacon to highlight these attributes to their local marketplace.

THE BRITISH PROPERTY AWARDS are one of the most inclusive estate agency awards providers as they do not charge to enter. This has enabled their award to be structured in a manner that ensures maximum participation, on average judging over 90% of agents that meet their minimum criteria on a local level.

The team personally mystery shops every estate agent against a set of 25 criteria to obtain a balanced overview of their customer service levels. The judging criteria is both comprehensive and detailed exploring different mediums, scenarios and time periods to ensure that agents have been rigorously and fairly judged.

Robert McLean from The British Property Awards said “Our awards have been specifically designed to be attainable to all agents, removing common barriers to entry, such as cost, to ensure that we have the most inclusive awards. Our awards have also been designed to remove any opportunity for bias or manipulation. If an agent has been attributed with one of our awards, it is simply down to the fantastic customer service levels that they have demonstrated across a prolonged period of time. Winning agents should be proud that their customer service levels provide a benchmark for their local, regional and national competition”.

FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE BRITISH PROPERTY AWARDS PLEASE CONTACT 0800 987 11 22

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Property market continues to boom despite end of SDLT holiday

property prices north west

It’s fair to say the housing market is experiencing a remarkable surge at the moment. And in the words of our own agents; people are making up their own prices… and buyers are paying it, and then some!

The unprecedented boom in the price of property has been put down to the Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) holiday, introduced by the Government at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, to keep the market moving during the numerous lockdowns. Nobody could have predicted the impact of this move.

The temporary nil rate for SDLT was introduced in April 2020 when the UK went into its first lockdown, allowing anyone to purchase a primary residential property up to the value of £500,000 without paying stamp duty. From 1st July, the nil rate band was reduced to £250,000 and will be reduced again on 1st October to return to the standard threshold of £125,000 (except for first-time buyers who have a threshold of £300,000).

Whilst potentially saving buyers thousands of pounds on the cost of purchasing a new property, it seems buyers are diverting the money “saved” in stamp duty and putting into the price they are willing to offer vendors. Add into the mix low interest rates, a stagnant stock market, savings made during lockdowns and no overseas travel, buyers suddenly have more disposable income that they are eager to put into a property purchase.

This action has driven up the cost of property to extraordinary levels, across the country. Mistoria’s own estate agents are seeing property selling for 30, 40, £50k more than it previously would have. Sarah Morris-Turner, branch manager at Mistoria Estate Agents Bolton said, “We can’t believe what we’re witnessing in the residential sales market at the moment. Every property that we bring to market we’re having to offer block viewings on due to the demand. From these viewings we’re receiving multiple offers, all of which are over the asking price!”

As original SDLT rates return on 1st October 2021, it was predicted that the end of the SDLT holiday would slow the market but, from Mistoria’s standpoint at least, this shows no sign of happening anytime soon.

Whilst rising prices has made for a seller’s market and boom time for the industry, there are concerns from an agent’s perspective. Morris-Turner continues, “It’s quite challenging valuing property in the current market. Some agents are valuing quite erratically giving false expectations to clients. As agents we have a responsibility to value property accurately, so as not to end up in negative equity. As and when the market dips, negative equity is a real concern for many buyers that suddenly find themselves with a property worth less than they paid for it.”

This call for caution is echoed by Dewi Caughter, branch manager at Mistoria Estate Agents in Cheadle. He says, “Whilst we are currently seeing property sell within seven days of coming to market, and for far more than the asking price, we predict next year may be more precarious for those currently paying overinflated prices for property. Should the market plateau, clients may face negative equity on their mortgages. It will be interesting to see how the market adjusts.”

There’s no doubting the SDLT holiday has done what it was intended to do in contributing towards keeping the housing market moving during the last 18 months of the Coronavirus pandemic but the long-term repercussions of such a rise in the cost of property is yet to be seen.

Property prices north west

If you’re considering buying or selling a property, the agents at Mistoria Estate Agents can help you navigate, make sense of and accurately value or make an offer in the current climate. Speak to our friendly and expert team on 0800 500 3015 or email info@mistoria.co.uk. You can find a Mistoria Estate Agent in Bolton, Cheadle, Liverpool, Salford and Walkden.

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Right To Rent changes from 30th June 2021

right to rent changes

Changes to Right to Rent legislation in the UK come into effect from 1st July 2021, ending the grace period put into place following the country’s exit from the EU. The change means that letting agents will move from checking nationality to checking the UK immigration status of all adult tenancy applicants.

Right to Rent is the legislation that requires landlords and agents to check the immigration status of prospective tenants to ensure they have the right to rent in the UK. The temporary changes meant that citizens of European Economic Area (EEA) countries and Switzerland only needed to prove their citizenship while applying for settled status in the UK. When the interim measures lift, it will mean that these people need to provide evidence of their UK immigration status too.

New guidance has been issued by the Home Office for agents and landlords to follow from 1st July 2021. The Home Office has been working with ARLA Propertymark, who says that “From this point, if someone is an EEA, EU, or Swiss national, you will need to see evidence of their UK immigration status rather than their national identification”. Anyone who has applied for and been granted settled status will have digital evidence of their application, and this should be shared digitally using the online Right to Rent services from the Home Office on the Gov.uk website.

Digital checks have been an option since December 2020 and involve the prospective tenant sharing a time code and their date of birth, which landlords use to check their immigration status online. However, not all applicants will use the digital service and may have other evidence of their immigration status, including physical documents.

Another change to Right to Rent checks is related to Covid-19. The way that checks were carried out was temporarily readjusted to make them safer during the pandemic. From 1st September, landlords and letting agents will be returning to face-to-face and physical document checks. This is in accordance with the easing of lockdown rules and social distancing measures, aligning with the roadmap for England set out by the Government. This change has been postponed twice, first set for 16th May, then 20th June.

Currently, Right to Rent checks can be made over video calls and tenants can send scanned documents or photos of documents using email or a mobile app. The online Right to Rent service can also be used during a video call if the prospective tenant has a current Biometric Residence Permit or Biometric Residence Card or has been granted status under the EU Settlement Scheme or the points-based immigration system. When these temporary changes end on 1st September, landlords and their agents must either check the applicant’s original documents or check their right to rent online if given their share code for the service.

Both landlords and EEA/EU/Swiss citizens applying for tenancies should be aware of these changes related to Brexit and to Covid-19. The situation regarding Covid-19 could also be subject to change, so it’s a good idea to keep an eye on what’s happening.

Mistoria Estate Agents are North West property experts and can help guide both landlords and tenants through any property related matter. If you need help and advice on the new Right to Rent changes and what is means for you, please contact our team on 0800 500 3015 or use our contact form.

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End of Stamp Duty Holiday: first deadline fast approaching

stamp duty holiday

The Stamp Duty holiday in England will end on 30th June 2021, lowering the nil rate band from £500,000 to £250,000 for all but first-time buyers, who have a threshold of £300,000 before stamp duty is due. The rates will then change again in October to return to the standard amount pre-Covid-19.

The temporary nil rate for Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) was introduced in 2020 when the UK went into lockdown amid the global Covid-19 pandemic, allowing anyone to purchase a primary residential property up to the value of £500,000 without paying Stamp Duty. From 1st July to 30th September 2021, the nil rate band will be reduced to £250,000 and then will be reduced again to return to the standard threshold of £125,000, again, except for first-time buyers who have a threshold of £300,000.

The rate of SDLT that applies to a purchase depends on the date that the purchase is completed and not the date that contracts are exchanged. This means that many people who are in the process of buying a house now could miss out on the extra relief but still have the opportunity to benefit from the £250,000 nil rate if they complete by October. The rate above £250,000 will be 5% on the next £675,000 (up to £925,000), 10% on the next £575,000 (up to £1.5 million), and 12% on the value above £1.5 million.

The adjustments to the Stamp Duty nil rate apply to main residences. Additional properties, for which there is no nil rate unless they are bought for less than £40,000, incur a 3% tax up to £500,000 until 30th June. This then changes to 3% up to £250,000 until October.

Anyone hoping to take advantage of the lower Stamp Duty rates, whether buying a main residence or an investment property, should think about moving quickly. Property purchases can take a number of months, and there are just over three months left until the SDLT rates revert to the standard amounts.

June 30th is the first Stamp Duty holiday deadline to pay attention to if you’re currently in the process of buying a property. Now is the time to try and speed things up and perhaps try to set a completion date before this deadline. If you miss this first deadline, you can still benefit from the Stamp Duty holiday, with a further three months to take advantage of the £250,000 nil rate. To check how much you’re going to pay, you can use the Stamp Duty Land Tax calculator.

If you have yet to find the perfect property, Mistoria Estate Agents can help you to speed up your search. Our estate agents will listen to your wants and needs and suggest properties for your shortlist. Please contact us on 0800 500 3015 or use our contact form. If you’re currently viewing properties, you can also speed things up by getting other necessities out of the way, such as lining up a solicitor and talking to a mortgage broker. This will put you in a good position to move quickly once you find the right property.