1. Mortgage interest tax relief changes Before April this year, landlords could deduct their mortgage interest costs from their income when calculating their tax bill. Now though, you can only offset 75% of your mortgage interest, and this figure is being gradually reduced to zero by 2020. Instead, landlords can claim a tax credit worth 20% of their mortgage interest – a change which will hit high-earning landlords hardest.
2. The end of the wear and tear allowance Until 2016, landlords letting furnished homes could deduct 10% of the annual rent from their profits before they paid tax to account for ‘wear and tear’. This ‘wear and tear’ allowance was permitted regardless of whether they had actually spent any money on furnishings that tax year. According to the new taxation rules, landlords can only deduct the cost of replacing or repairing household items like-for-like.
3. Right to Rent checks Under ‘Right to Rent’ legislation which came in to force in February 2016, landlords have to ensure their tenants have the legal right to live in the UK. This involves checking passport or visa paperwork before the lease is signed. WIth RAH managing your property, we’ll deal with this on your behalf, but the consequences are severe – if you’re found to be letting to a tenant who is living in the UK illegally, you could face a fine of up to £3,000.
4. Energy efficiency regulations From 1 April next year, any properties rented out privately must have a minimum emergency performance rating of E or an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). The rules will apply to new tenancies from April 2018 and for existing tenancies from April 2020. Fines of up to £4,000 can be imposed for landlords who breach the rules.
5. The Housing White Paper In February, the government released a White Paper on ‘fixing Britain’s broken housing market’. Primarily, the paper focuses on freeing up land for housebuilding, encouraging construction of starter homes and addressing unfair rental practices. With the uncertainty caused by the recent general election, however, it remains to be seen which – if any – policies will be implemented.
6. A property market slowdown Landlords need to be aware of market pressures caused by external events. We found that last year’s Brexit vote had little effect on \cambridge house prices, and any talk of a house price crash has so far been unfounded. That said, transaction levels have been slowing in recent months – if value growth follows suit, property investors may see weaker returns.
7. Section 21 eviction process In 2015, new regulations were brought in surrounding the Section 21 eviction process, requiring landlords to follow the rules around evictions more closely. While these requirements have existed for some time, some self-managing landlords may not be aware of the complexity of the process. As an ARLA qualified agent, RAH is fully up to speed on the Section 21 requirements.
8. Tenancy deposit protection Compulsory tenancy deposit schemes have been around for a decade, but there are signs that the deposit system might be beginning to change. From deposit free renting in the build-to-rent sector to apps offering tenancy insurance, a number of schemes are being touted as a new alternative – so it’s important for landlords to keep abreast of the latest trends and technology.
9. Stricter buy-to-let lending regulations Last year, the Bank of England announced it would introduce tougher new requirements for buy-to-let borrowers. The new rules require landlords to bring in higher levels of rent relative to their mortgage costs. In addition, landlords with four or more properties will face additional stress testing, and be required to provide more information about their income and debts.
10. The continuing impact of stamp duty changes The stamp duty surcharge – taking effect in April 2016 – is arguably the most divisive of the measures introduced to cool the private rental sector. The 3% surcharge means, for example, that a landlord buying a £200,000 home would now pay £7,500 in stamp duty, compared to just £1,500 before the changes. Landlords need to factor in these additional costs before making a new purchase.
Redmayne, Arnold and Harris is an ARLA (Associated of Residential Letting Agents) regulated agent, and have been for many years. In addition to this, we have several members of the Lettings Department who individually, are ARLA qualified, having passed industry exams and continuing with training as part of professional development. This ensures our staff are fully up to date on industry changes.
Whether you are a Landlord or a tenant, here are our top 7 reasons why using an ARLA regulated and qualified Agent to manage your property, will leave you and your property in safe and trustworthy hands:
- ARLA registered agents are covered by the ARLA Client Money Protection Scheme, protecting landlord and tenants rents and deposits. If your agent isn’t ARLA and were to declare bankruptcy, or deal on the wrong side of the law, your money’s gone and you’re on your own!
- Any ARLA agent must have Professional Indemnity Insurance, giving landlords and tenants peace of mind in the unlikely event of negligence or bad advice.
- Our ARLA qualified members of staff are required to be trained and qualified in addition to following a structured programme of Continuous Professional Development skills – keeping their industry specific knowledge up to date.
- All ARLA agents voluntarily adhere to the Code of Practice and Rules of Conduct for their professional body, which means they trade to the highest possible professional standards.
- If something were to go wrong with an ARLA agent, you know you have an option to redress the situation by taking the matter up with ARLA.
- All ARLA Agents are regularly updated with government legislations, including important safety checks such as Gas Safety Certificates and Smokes and Carbon Monoxide (England) Regulation 2015.
- ARLA offer continuous support to registered Agents in the form of regular regional update meetings and a direct helpline to a team of solicitors, specialising in the lettings industry.
On the face of it, its worked. There are fewer investors in the market and we have seen an increase in landlords selling up. This has meant that properties considered to be ripe for investment have become much more price sensitive with investors scrutinising yields and long term capital growth with far more intent.
The main area where I am seeing a change is off-market opportunities. Landlords who are considering selling their investment are increasingly looking to sell directly to investors without going on the open market. They want to reduce the risk of unsettling their tenants and suffering void periods. I currently have several off-market opportunities that have come directly to me. This is a distinct change from recent times where landlords have been focussed on going to the open market to achieve the best possible sale price.
For those investors still in the market, there are good opportunities out there. Off-market, fully let deals are attractive as they are less complex and offer immediate returns. The structure of the property investment market may be changing, but it still provides for a solid, long term investment.
Published: 25/05/2017 Last Updated: 25/05/2017 09:22:20 Tags: Lettings
To read the full report in the Cambridge News click here
Published: 03/04/2017 Last Updated: 06/04/2017 12:10:47 Author: Alex Gray Tags: Market Update
So, after years of rising prices and tales of buyers being outbid on house after house, what is really happening to the Cambridge property market in 2017. Well as always, it depends what on the location, type and value of your property
Firstly, it must be said that the market was distorted last year. There was a surge of investors buying last Spring to beat the introduction of higher levels of Stamp Duty for second properties and this really helped to push up both prices and total number of sales. There has now been a readjustment.
Secondly, there is a major split in the market between traditional second-hand properties and new homes. Cambridge has seen unprecedented levels of house building over the past few years and this has led to an over-supply of very similar new houses and apartments on large developments. Typically, large developers release schemes in phases with prices changing based on demand. In a rising market this means higher prices at each stage. But this can only carry on for so long before buyers say enough is enough and now there is a definite slow-down in sales. The average time to sell a home in Cambridge has risen from 4.1 weeks in March 2016 to 7.5 weeks today. This change is driven by what is happening (or not) on large new developments.
The new homes market now makes up nearly 40% of the total number of properties on the market in Cambridge and is hiding a shortage of supply in the traditional market where houses and apartments are still selling really well. Nowhere is this truer than for pretty, Victorian houses, priced correctly in the Kite, close to the Station, in Newnham or in De Freville Avenue. These homes remain incredibly popular with buyers. We recently sold a two-bed terraced house in York Street where there were 17 viewers and seven offers with the final sale price substantially more than the original guide.
Even in the new homes market there are variations. Smaller developers selling interesting, high spec houses and apartments in good locations are still finding buyers happy to pay premium prices. Making sure these specialist developers have access to the right advice and sales expertise is exactly the reason we are welcoming Oliver Hughes to our team.
What of the future? The Sunday Times recently ranked Cambridge in its best 20 locations to live. Under the headline ‘Boom Town for the Brainy’, the newspaper said: “You can’t argue with this honey-coloured hotspot’s popularity. The population is soaring, thanks to great rail links and blossoming tech businesses”. Outside the city, The Halifax Quality of Life Survey 2016 recently placed South Cambridgeshire the sixth most desirable place to be a resident in the country. Cambridge and its surrounding villages remain a great place to buy. And, if you are thinking of moving in 2017, take a look behind the headline statistics to understand what really is and is not selling locally.
Even for students, the days of damp, dirty and cramped digs are long over. Only seven percent of University of Cambridge students now live in private rented accommodation, most are housed in College-provided blocks with en-suite bathrooms and all mod cons. Anglia Ruskin University now dominates student demand in Cambridge but if you want to find the best student tenants you will need to offer standards that come close to the new purpose-built rooms on offer throughout the city.
Making initial impression count can make all the difference when it comes to attracting tenants. As a landlord, having a ‘they can take us as they find us’ attitude rarely results in you achieving your rental expectations.
So here are my top tips for the things you must check before you allow potential tenants to come round.
1. Providing fast broadband and decent cable/satellite are now basic pre-requisites for mellenials. Once upon a time services simply covered gas, electricity and water but wi-fi and digital television are just as important. If a tenant can see they are up and running, they know they won't have the hassle of sorting them out.
2. Kitchens and bathrooms are key. TV Property programmes and swanky boutique hotels have raised the bar on the quality of kitchens and bathrooms and this is changing tenant expectations. Think about installing mid range appliances in the kitchen rather than the cheapest. You don't need to lay travertine everywhere but quality tiling and worktops will make a good impression. If you cannot do anything else, at the very least make sure kitchens and bathrooms are spotless.
3. Think like a tenant. Now is the time to look at your property with fresh eyes. Check for peeling paint in the bathrooms, polish those light switches and tighten the screws to fix those rattling door knobs. You need to show your property has been looked after and is loved. Tenants will make a snap judgement about your attitude to future maintenance issues based on what they see on a viewing.
4. The entrance is the keystone of your kerb appeal. If the front door needs a lick of paint, choose a tasteful colour. Make sure the outside lights work. Even if you don't own the areas around the entrance it is in your interest to check that the path is clear and move the bins away from the front of the property. Make the entrance hall a welcoming space. Nothing ruins the first impression more than a crowded hallway where you have to fight your way past coats, shoe racks and piles of post.
5. If your property has a garden don't neglect this important space. An overgrown jungle suggests that you don't care about the property and could leave the impression that you won't sty on top of the maintenance during the tenancy. Pruning, trimming and landscaping will make sure your garden presents a positive first impression. And now is not the time to argue with the local council about who mows the verge outside your property. Swallow your pride and do it yourself (at least while viewings are taking place).
6. If the sun isn’t streaming through the windows, the right lighting can make all the difference. Poor lighting can make your home feel dark and drab so install brighter modern lights to make your home seem sunny, cheerful and up to date.
7. And keep on top of the cleaning! Even if the property has been professionally cleaned after the previous tenants moved out, you may need to do periodic top up cleans. While some potential tenants can ignore stains and dust, most cannot and will imagine themselves living in the space, as you present it. If your property looks (and smells) clean, prospective tenants will be far more likely to see the potential.
Field of dreams; Cambridge’s most impressive single building plot goes on sale for £2.25m; half an acre with planning permission for seven bedroom Arts & Crafts style home with adjacent swimming pool complex
Published: 29/03/2017 Last Updated: 29/03/2017 17:10:04 Tags: Building Plot
We are marketing a half-acre plot of land in one of the finest streets in Cambridge. The patch of land, nestled behind Churchill College, is set to become the foundation for a 7,300 sq. ft seven bedroomed home which will come complete with an indoor swimming pool complex and yoga studio.
Storey’s Way is widely acknowledged as one of the best addresses in Cambridge. A quiet, leafy avenue running from Churchill College on Madingley Road, past Trinity Hall playing fields and onto Huntingdon Road.
The site at 68 Storey’s Way is currently home to a modest four bedroom, 1950s house which will need to be demolished to make way for the new buildings. Full planning permission has been granted to create an Arts & Crafts style building in keeping with neighbouring homes built in the 1920s and 1930s.
It is thought that the house at nearly 10,000 sq.ft of total accommodation will be worth around £4million once completed – making it one of the most impressive private homes in the City.
Oliver Hughes commenting on the sale said ‘This is a unique opportunity to create a bespoke home of outstanding luxury and quality. The special character of Storey’s Way stems from the Arts & Craft houses with their spacious gardens. Number 68 is no different.
Unusually for a prime Cambridge plot, there are no substantial restrictive covenants. This means the buyer has flexibility on subsequent plans and applications, a real chance to build a dream home, architecturally linked to the past but with all the advantages of modern living.”
Click here to view the full details
The history of Storey’s Way
Storey’s Way is a Conservation Area, who’s character is determined by the detached family houses with their spacious gardens. The boundaries of the Conservation Area are defined by the original L-shaped plot of about 42 acres which was allotted to the Trustees of Storey’s Charity by the Enclosure Award of 1805. The original charity was established in 1692 when ‘Edward Storey of Cambridge, gentleman’, bequeathed the rents and profits of his estate for the construction of ten alms houses for the benefit of widows of Anglican clergy, and of widows and maidens ‘of sober life and conversation’ of the parishes of St Giles and of Holy Trinity.
By the late 1890s the Trustees of Storey’s Charity, decided to raise capital for re-investment by selling some of their agricultural land for high quality housing covering some 35 acres. 74 freehold plots were offered for sale, varying in size from a quarter of an acre in the northern area to half an acre elsewhere. By the end of 1914 eighteen plots had been sold, but during and immediately after the Great War, sales were slow and the last plot was not sold until 1932.
The first houses were built in 1912, with the majority being built before 1930 and a few from the post-war period. There are several Baillie Scott houses in the ‘Arts and Crafts’ style located at the west end of the road. The houses are characterised by a continuity of style of the 1920s but with a wealth of variation in roofs, gables, decorative timbering, tile detail, windows, porches and brick or render finishes. The influence of the Arts & Crafts Movement is still recognisable in many of the gardens with formal design close to the house and ‘wild garden’ beyond. Yew and beech hedges are common, as are close-boarded or slatted, low, wooden fences.
Alex moves from Tucker Gardner where he enjoyed a 20 year career. Alex brings a wealth of experience and knowledge as well as a shared enthusiasm to help our clients. Having worked his way up in the estate agency business, Alex was a director at Tucker Gardner for more than 14 years, where he took over the full management of their regional office network following the acquisition of the firm by Countrywide, the UK's largest estate agency chain, in 2014.
Commenting on the appointment, Nick Redmayne said, “We’re delighted to welcome Alex. He has a proven track record of selling houses, apartments and new homes in the Cambridge area. He has a incredibly strong focus on customer care which ties in completely with our ethos at Redmayne Arnold & Harris."
Alex added: “This is a great opportunity for me to build on the enviable reputation which Nick Redmayne, Chris Arnold and NIck Harris has established over the last 25 years. When you are helping a client sell a house, you are not just dealing with their biggest asset but also their family home. By bringing together best estate agency practice, local knowledge and cutting-edge technology, we have the chance to expand take a wider market.
Handling offers and negotiating the final price is a key step and one that requires sensitive handling. A quick cash offer after the first viewing can be good news. But it is also vital to test the market fully, to give all interested buyers a chance to view to make sure your client gets the best price in the market at that time. Keeping the person who made the original offer happy while allowing others a chance, requires diplomacy (and the patience of Job).
Once a property is Sold Subject to Contract (or Sale Agreed or Under Offer), the fun really begins. Until contracts have been exchanged, either side can pull out of the sale, buyer or seller. And, across the country 35% of agreed sales fall through, not only causing distress to at least one side but also incurring expensive solicitor and surveyor fees.
Our level of fall throughs is much lower than the national average and this is down to time and effort we put in after a sale is agreed, carefully nurturing a sale to completion. To get a sense of the common pitfalls, we interviewed Jane Bailey who has responsibility for progressing sales at RAH. This is her list of recommendations to ensure a smooth sale.
1. In my world it is paperwork, paperwork, paperwork rather than location, location, location. If you are selling, get your initial paperwork done early – a solicitor cannot send out a draft contract to the buyer until you have filled out the forms they need to check you are who you say you are. There is no point insisting on a fast exchange of contracts if you delay the start of the process. If you have had work done to the house, make sure you have the guarantees or building regulation sign-off to prove that everything has been completed properly. The same is true about fixtures and fittings. Think about what you are leaving behind and return the form to your solicitor quickly. That way, any problems or issues can be identified early and sorted out before they jeopardise the sale
2. On the buyer’s side, providing the right paperwork on time is key to getting a mortgage offer quickly. Mortgage offers take more time than you think. It is more than a year since new mortgage regulations changed the way that lenders assessed new borrowers, who must now meet tough affordability criteria. If that utility bill is out of date by the time you send it, you will have to start again
3. Communication is king. Most sales involve a chain of people and a problem at any point in the chain can affect your sale. Making sure that milestones are reached at the right time is vital. With the rise of online estate agents and solicitors, talking to a real person about eliminating a blockage in the sales pipeline is becoming more and more difficult. Having someone on your side who can talk to (and badger) the different estate agents, solicitors, surveyors and other professionals is really important
4. Be prepared for a renegotiation of the price. Mortgage valuations may come back lower than anticipated. Equally surveys can throw up structural problems that need attention. Both reasons can prompt buyers to ask for a price reduction. If the market is strong you may decide that remarketing is the answer but if you are under time pressure to move quickly negotiating a new price might be the better option. Either way, keeping the lines of communication open is the key to a successful outcome
5. Don’t underestimate the importance of your agent’s office. This is the place that surveyors come to get access to conduct the survey. It is also the place where keys can be held, ready to be handed over to the buyer as soon as completion takes place. Having someone on hand who knows the sale inside out, definitely helps to keep things on track.
Spring is seen as the prime time to sell your home. But is accepted wisdom always right? The Christmas break is a time when many people make big decisions, including whether their current home is still the right place to live. With less properties on the market, the New Year can be a good time to market your home if you follow some basic rules.
Properties in more isolated locations can appear to be even more remote during the winter when the roads can be muddy, slippery or covered in snow. However, Cambridge City properties and houses in more central village locations have always sold well in Janaury and February.
Keep photos up to date. Nothing suggests a stale property more than tinsel on the tree or snow on the ground when it is a beautiful Spring day in February.
Try and keep viewings to the day time. And open curtains and clean windows to let in the light. Making your home appear as light and bright as possible is crucial on shorter, darker days.
Make viewers feel welcome. Light the fire or turn up the central heating and maybe even offer a cup of tea to potential buyers.
Tidy the garden. Sweep up those leaves and cut the lawn if possible. You may have been leaving these jobs until Spring but you are trying to show off the full potential of your home.
Published: 07/11/2016 Last Updated: 07/11/2016 11:33:05 Author: Nick Redmayne Tags: RAH News
Sitting in Cambridge it is easy to think that the housing market is immune from the ups and downs of the wider UK economy. Prices for prime city properties are holding up well. Even with less buyers around since Brexit, the lack of supply means there is still competition for the best houses. The best locations will always sell well.
Overall however, it feels like the Cambridge property market is in a state of flux. So, if you want to sell and you aren’t living in a stunning Georgian house overlooking Jesus Green or Midsummer Common, how can you maximise your chances of finding a buyer?
Well the simple truth at the moment is that the right valuation will make or break your sale. Under-pricing your home risks leaving money on the table while over-pricing means you may wind up sitting on the market for weeks until you have no choice but to lower the price to gain more attention.
After a home sits on the market for an extended period, many people will think that it hasn’t sold because something is wrong with it. Buyers will assume that an old listing does not live up to its online promise or has had a problem with a survey. Don’t let your home become stale because it’s overpriced
So, what are the secrets to pricing property so that it sells?
Firstly, you need to understand your competition. How many similar houses are on the market in your neighbourhood at the moment? If there are several properties on the market, you will need to price aggressively in order to get buyers to choose yours. If there are no other similar houses locally, you may be able to go for a more ambitious asking price.
Then you need to be completely honest about the condition of your home. You cannot make a true comparison with other properties through rose-tinted glasses. Evaluate your home the way a picky buyer would and realign your expectations to match. If there are some quick cosmetic fixes that will improve the first impression of your home, such as tidying the front garden, decluttering and the odd lick of paint, now is the time to get on with them.
If you think that people will fall in love with your home and offer you more than it’s worth – think again. Today’s buyers have so much pricing information at their fingertips. Rightmove and Zoopla give them actual sold prices, together with photographs and floorplans. They know exactly what has sold in your area and for how much. Buyers may not even view if they think the asking price is too high. They take away the message that if you are oblivious to the state of the current market, you are probably not very serious about selling. Either that or they simply wait until the guide price is reduced.
An experienced, independent agent will market properties at the right price. At Redmayne Arnold & Harris we have 25 years of local market knowledge and the history of what has sold in specific roads. Also, we have the latest information about the competition. The sales data on the online portals is typically three months out of date as they rely on completion data coming through from the Land Registry. We know what’s coming onto the market, how many viewings are actually taking place and what sales have just been agreed? We can advise on presenting your home in the best way and about setting your asking price so that your home stands out online.
You might have just found the perfect new home and are keen to get your house on the market as soon as possible but pausing for a moment can reap big dividends. Making initial impression count can make all the difference when it comes to getting offers. Having a ‘they can take us as they find us’ attitude rarely results in you achieving your price expectations.
We’d never dream of selling a car without washing and polishing before uploading photos to the internet, so why wouldn’t you do the same with your biggest asset. So here are my top tips for the things you must check before you allow potential buyers to come round.
1. Walk up to your front door imagining you are a buyer. The entrance is the keystone of your kerb appeal. If the front door needs a lick of paint, choose a tasteful colour. Check that your path is clear and move the bins away from the front of the property. Make sure the outside lights work and think about some architectural plants in pots either side of the doorstep
2. Make your entrance hall a welcoming space. Nothing ruins the first impression more than a crowded hallway where you have to fight your way past coats, shoe racks and piles of post. Clean any windows in your front door, re-paint in a light neutral colour if necessary, put in a higher wattage bulb in your hall light and put any bulky furniture into storage
3. De – clutter. A buyer needs to be able to see the potential of every room. You might be moving because you have outgrown the space but you don’t viewers to be left with that impression. Pack up the clutter, remove large pieces of furniture and if necessary rent some storage space for the duration of the viewings.
4. If the sun isn’t streaming through the windows, the right lighting can make all the difference. Poor lighting can make your home feel dark and drab so install brighter modern lights to make your home seem sunny, cheerful and up to date.
5. Think like a buyer. Now is the time to look at your home with fresh eyes. Check for peeling paint in the bathrooms, polish those light switches and tighten the screws to fix those rattling door knobs. You don’t need to overhaul the bathrooms and kitchen if you are selling (leave that for the new people) but you do need to show your house has been looked after and is loved. Buyers tend to over-estimate the cost of repairs so fix the kitchen drawer, replace the broken front light and oil the front gate.
6. Your garden is one of the most important spaces at the property. Pruning, trimming and landscaping will make sure your garden presents a positive first impression. And now is not the time to argue with the local council about who mows the verge outside your house. Swallow your pride and do it yourself (at least while viewings are taking place).
7. And keep on top of the cleaning! While some potential buyers can ignore last night’s take-away on the worktop or the washing up in the sink, most cannot and will imagine themselves living in “your” space, as you present it. If your home looks (and smells) clean, viewers will be far more likely to see the potential
Not all properties have a perfect view from the street. Various things can be in the way that block the view of the home. Things like landscaping and fencing can make it difficult for buyers to see the front of the property. Pole aerial photography allows us to put our camera higher up in the sky, getting those hard to see angles and avoiding obstructions that might be right in front of a ground level camera.
And when you really need to get a feel for how a house sits in its surroundings it may be time to turn to the UAV or drone. The shot above, a new house in Barton Road, was taken using a drone. It was the perfect way to show the unique lakeside location.
1. The right valuation makes or breaks a sale. Experience allows us to market properties at the right price, based on 25 years of local market knowledge and the history of what has sold in specific roads. Under-pricing your home risks leaving money on the table while over-pricing means you may wind up sitting on the market for weeks until you have no choice but to lower the price to gain more attention
2. Good marketing sells. You are competing with other properties for the same buyer so yours needs to grab the attention. Property marketing is about more than an online listing. You need to stand out from the crowd. High quality photos, an engaging description and clear floor plans present your home to its full potential
3. 80% of people buy a property within a five miles of their current address so local knowledge and connections are king. Unlike online agents who operate central call centres we know Cambridge like the back of our hand. We speak to our database of registered buyers and anyone who has viewed similar properties to yours, recommending your property at every opportunity. Following up every viewing allows us to give you valuable feedback
4. Expertise in negotiation can make a huge difference to the sale price. We have negotiated hundreds of home sales, we know all the tactics, the warning signs of a nervous buyer or someone who is not committed to the purchase. We know when it is the right time to push and the right time to hold back. On average we achieve 102% of the original asking price
5. If you agree a sale, national statistics indicate that there is a one in three chance of it falling through before completion. We have a success rate of 88%. Long-established relationships with solicitors, surveyors and lenders mean we are best-placed to ensure that everyone involved in a sale is kept informed and deals stays on track to the end. We can identify any potential problems early and we have the experience to deal with them quickly and efficiently.