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In this two-minute read, we look at the reasons why people struggle to sell their homes and what can be done about it.

Monday was officially the most depressing day of the year, as if we needed reminding.

Scientists claim it’s the perfect storm for a downer.

 Money is tight, resolutions have fallen by the wayside, and the weather is rubbish. Add to that the lockdown and you have a recipe for doom and gloom.

 And if you have a home that won’t sell, you can feel down in the dumps.

 But at Accord Sales & Lettings, we believe it shouldn’t be that way. 

So, we’ve come up with four ways you can beat the home selling blues.

 

Is the price right?

 The right price is vital to securing a sale. Buyers have budgets, so if your home is just over their limit, they won’t find it if they are searching online. Mortgage lenders are also put off by an overvaluation. Check what similar homes in Havering have sold for and get a new valuation from another agent, but be mindful of any contractual obligations you may have with your selling agent.

 

Are your photos up to scratch?

Nowadays, online searches are the most popular way people look for properties, which means photos are crucial. An excellent agency takes the time to get these super important parts of the marketing puzzle in place and looking good. Bad photos cause buyers to scroll past your property.

 

Try the mystery shopper approach

 A good agent will let you know what prospective buyers think of your home and the interest it is generating. If this isn’t happening, get a friend or family member to pose as a mystery buyer, with a budget in your property’s price range, and phone the agent to see if they mention your home. If they do, great, if they don’t, it’s a cause for concern.

 

Are your chances being clogged up by clutter?

 Choosing a new home is a big step. Buyers want to visualise what your property will look like after they have moved in, complete with their choice of décor and their belongings. Make it easier for them to do this by making your home look and feel more spacious.

Rooms should be clutter-free and well lit – small touches can make a big difference, and first impressions count.

 We hope that’s helped. Please feel free to get in touch if you have any questions about banishing the property selling blues.

 *You can still sell your home at this time. Accord Sales & Lettings strictly adheres to the government’s Covid-19 restrictions.

 

Copyright 2021 Accord Estates Ltd

In this three-minute read, we look at England’s new leasehold reform package.

What will the new leasehold reforms, announced last week, deliver for leasehold property owners in Havering? Here’s what we know so far.

Now, ‘leasehold reform’ may not be the sexiest of subject matters, but if you are one of the 4.3 million people in England who owns a leasehold property, don’t doze off as these changes could significantly impact you.

Background

England’s medieval leasehold laws are loathed by leaseholders who have dubbed them ‘fleecehold’ laws. Key gripes include:

  • The cost of lease renewal or freehold purchase. This can be tens of thousands of pounds, or even more. If negotiations with the freeholder break down, the leaseholder can go to a tribunal, but this takes time and can be expensive.
  • Escalating ground rents. In the worst cases, the ground rent on a leasehold house doubles every ten years, leaving the leaseholder with an ever-growing bill and making it impossible to sell the property.
  • Exorbitant service charges for maintaining communal areas and gardens at apartment blocks.
  • Freeholds being sold off to a cash-hungry third party.

Here’s a rundown of the proposed reforms.

No 1: Owners of leasehold homes or flats will be given the right to extend their lease by a maximum term of 990 years at zero ground rent. (Currently, leaseholders of houses can only extend for 50 years with a ground rent while leaseholders of flats can extend as often as they wish at a zero ‘peppercorn’ ground rent for 90 years.)

Benefit: In theory, the change would provide security and eliminate ground rent. However, it’s not yet clear how much it would cost to secure a 990-year lease so it’s impossible to do a cost versus benefit analysis.

No 2: Owners of leasehold flats in apartment blocks will be able to shift to a Commonhold Agreement model.

Benefit: Flat owners could take control of the upkeep of their building, ending rip-off maintenance charges. Getting all the relevant parties to agree to move to a Commonhold Agreement may be difficult though.

No 3: Introduction of an online calculator to simplify determining the cost of buying a freehold or lease extension.

Benefit: This would take some of the hassle out of the negotiation process but much depends on the formula used to calculate costs.

No 4: The abolition of ‘marriage value’.

Benefit: ‘Marriage value’ is a rather cumbersome rule that has probably caused a few divorces in its time. It means that if a lease falls below 80 years, the cost of renewing it shoots up.

When will these changes be introduced?

Legislation regarding change No 1 will be brought forward in the upcoming session of Parliament. The rest will take longer to realise. (If you’d like to be kept informed on the progress of these reforms, we’ll be monitoring the situation closely, so please get in touch with us here at Accord.)

To learn more about the leasehold changes and how they could affect the value of your property, get in touch with us here at Accord Sales & Lettings.

Copyright 2021 Accord Estates Ltd

In this two-minute read, we look at the benefits of building a good relationship with your tenant.

Type' landlords are' into Google, and the words that come up next are pretty unflattering.

According to the global digital giant, the most commonly searched phrases are 'landlords are parasites' and 'landlords are leeches'.

A few other choice terms – that we're too polite to use here – come up as well, but you get the drift.

There is a common public perception that all landlords are modern-day Fagins, renting out flea-ridden hovels at rip-off prices.

This raises two questions:

  1. Is this a fair and accurate description?
  2. Does it matter? Being a landlord is about providing rental accommodation, not winning a People's Choice Award.

You can probably guess our answer to Question 1. The suggestion that landlords are universally evil is blatantly untrue. There are some unscrupulous characters in the industry, but they are in the minority. There are many good landlords in Havering – we work with many of them every day – who take their responsibilities seriously. But since when did a tenancy running smoothly make the news?

So now we get to Question 2 – who cares if landlords are hopelessly misunderstood? Well, we certainly don't think the negative stereotype helps.

Some tenants adopt a bunker mentality that makes every conversation that little bit more difficult. It's much better if the lines of communication are open and positive. That way, if a problem does occur, the tenant is more likely to be patient while the landlord addresses it.

To build a positive relationship, it's essential that landlords:

  • Be on top of all routine maintenance. Being sluggish when it comes to keeping the property in good condition builds resentment.
  • Respond promptly to a tenant when they get in touch. Making them wait a few days because you're snowed under with other commitments is unprofessional.
  • Carry out regular inspections. Misunderstandings are less likely to happen if you stay in touch.

In our experience, ongoing dialogue can prevent messy legal disputes. And the last thing you want is for the relationship to break down and for all communication to take place via lawyers.

If you can't dedicate the necessary time to managing a good relationship with your tenant, a good letting agent can do it for you – and save you money in the long run.

To find out how the Accord team is helping Havering landlords manage their properties through the pandemic's challenges, get in touch.

Copyright 2021 Accord Estates Ltd

In this two-minute read, we look at the increasingly sophisticated scam that fraudsters are using to separate homebuyers from their hard-earned cash.

 

Even though we’re in lockdown, criminals are still out there trying to swindle people, so if you plan to buy a new home in Havering in 2021, please heed UK Finance’s latest warning about an email scam that is on the rise.

 

Here’s how it works. Fraudsters hack into the system of a conveyancing firm and monitor their emails. When a deal nears completion, they send the buyer an email that looks like it has come from the conveyancing solicitor. There has been an administrative error, it says, and the bank account details for the transaction have changed. 

 

The buyer, anxious to secure their dream home (and, in the current climate, take advantage of the Stamp Duty holiday), follows the instructions and sends the funds – to a fraudster.

 

UK Finance, which promotes secure financial transactions, says this type of crime is on the rise with £16.2 million lost in the first half of 2020. While it’s not the largest type of scam in the UK, it is particularly ruthless as large sums of money are involved; one poor soul lost £300,000.

 

Tips to avoid being scammed

 

- Don’t assume that fraudsters write or speak in a certain way – their emails can be polite and polished and feature logos and letterheads that are perfect copies of the real thing.

 

- If you have even a quiver of doubt, step back from the situation and take a breath. Buying a home can be a fraught process and it’s easy to get caught up in the moment.

 

- Never send money without verifying the authenticity of the account information – call, or even better, visit your solicitor’s office to confirm the details. (Note: Don’t call the number listed on the invoice that has raised your suspicion, this could be a fake.)

 

- Work with people you trust. Go with conveyancing solicitors and estate agents with longstanding reputations.

 

Fraud red flags for homebuyers

- Emails that notify you of a change of bank details.

- Duplicate invoices, one will be real, one will be fake.

- Pressure to act ASAP. Fraudsters often strike on a Friday afternoon. They’re hoping you won’t realise your mistake until after the weekend (and they’ve had time to move the money on).

- A change – no matter how minor – to an email address. Often the fraudulent email will come from an address that is similar to the legitimate one. 

 

 

Here at Accord Sales & Lettings, we’re here to support you through the homebuying process. We’re happy to provide expert advice and share our years of knowledge and experience.

 

Copyright 2021 Accord Estates Ltd

In this two-minute read, we look at why landlords who self-manage their buy-to-lets can never really put their feet up at Christmas.

 
Picture this: It’s 4pm on Christmas Day, and you’ve just snuggled down on the sofa to watch a bit of telly. Your belly is full, and your lids are heavy after a Mistletoe Margarita or two (or three, but who’s counting?). Then your phone rings. It’s your tenant – and there’s a problem.
 
A pipe has burst in the flat that they rent from you and there is water everywhere. You need to get a plumber on it straight away, and you need to make sure the electricity is off, or someone could get electrocuted. The tenant, who has a small child, is panicked and upset. You have no choice but to spring into action (and sober up) – and write-off the rest of Christmas.
 
What frustrates you most, as you to and fro with tradespeople and the tenant over the next few days, is that your flat is in good nick. When it comes to maintenance, you do all the right things.
But no matter how diligent you are as a landlord, you can never guarantee that something won’t go wrong at the worst possible time.
 
There are things you can do to minimise the risks, but luck also plays a part.
 
Ahhh, nobody told me that as a landlord I’d be on call 24 hours a day, every day.
 
There is a way to avoid all this hassle and stress – let us here at Accord Sales & Lettings manage your property for you. That way, when the pipe bursts on Christmas Day, you get to stay on the couch (result!), and we deal with everything for you.
 
You do, of course, pay for this service and some landlords baulk at that. They prefer to save themselves a little bit of cash and bear all the responsibility themselves. Often, they treat the role of landlord as a full-time job, so they can manage all the paperwork, meet all the legal regs, and deal with tenants and tradespeople.
 
But unless you got into the private rental sector because you wanted a second career in property management, you might ask if it’s worth doing everything yourself.
 
It’s one thing to arrange routine maintenance when you’re having a quiet week at work, or to take a day off to meet tenants at the start of a tenancy, but what happens when your diary is packed?
 
If you need to travel for work or want to go away on holiday, who’s holding the fort for you? If you’re engulfed in a major crisis at the office, and there's an emergency at your property, how will you cope?
Just because it’s Christmas, New Year, or the Champions League Final, doesn’t mean a boiler can’t pack it in, or a tenant can’t get caught in a messy midnight dispute with a neighbour.
We acknowledge that these are worst-case scenarios; most tenancies run fairly smoothly with only the odd hiccup. But as a landlord, you need to be prepared for the unexpected.
 
If you’d like to learn more about the property management service we offer here at Accord Sales & Lettings, please get in touch.
 
Copyright 2020 ACCORD ESTATES LTD
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