FOUR-FIFTHS OF PROPERTIES ARE NOW SOLD BELOW ASKING PRICE1
If you’re thinking of selling your property this autumn, then it’s vital to get your house in tip-top condition and make sure you offer it for sale at the right price.
With more properties now coming to the market, buyers have more choice. This means that homeowners need to put in a bit more work to make their property stand out from the crowd.
PRICING IN A SLOWER MARKET
Over-pricing can lead to low levels of interest in your property, whereas offering your home for sale at a realistic figure is likely to entice more potential buyers, and can lead to an increase in the amount offered. If several people are interested, you may find that you get bids over your asking price.
START WITH THE BASICS
Many potential buyers tour the neighbourhood before arranging viewings, so kerb appeal is really important. If your front door is shabby and your front garden needs attention, you could find that your property doesn’t get on a buyer’s viewing list.
Before you get photographs taken for your sales material, it really pays to have a good declutter and a thorough clean. It’s particularly important that bathrooms and kitchens look pristine and tidy. Worktops, baths and taps that have seen better days can be very off-putting to potential buyers as they’ll be calculating how much it will cost to replace them.
Research amongst buyers shows that they prefer light rooms in neutral tones, so if you have small rooms that are painted in dark colours, consider getting them painted before you try and sell.
Growing families are often looking for outside space that children can play in. It’s worth spending time tidying flower beds, cutting lawns and putting children’s toys away so that your garden looks its best when you get your photographs taken.
GETTING THE PAPERWORK TOGETHER
Make sure that you have a file of important documents like window guarantees, certificates for gas and electrical work you’ve had done, any planning permission for extensions you’ve had built, council tax bills and other bills that show what the running costs of your home are. That way, you look organised to a potential buyer, and having this information to hand will enable your solicitor to leap into action if you get an offer.
1NAEA Propertymark, March 2018
WHY THE OVER-60s ARE OPTING TO SELL UP AND RENT
The Centre for Ageing Better reports that there are now 414,000 older people privately renting, up from 254,000 in 2007. It estimates that by 2040, a third of those over 60 could be living in private rented accommodation.
Renting in later life can have advantages. Selling a family home and renting can provide cash to supplement retirement income or pass on to other family members. A smaller rental property will have lower running costs, and as a tenant there’s no need to worry about maintenance bills. Home ownership can cause problems if you need to go into a care home, but if you’re renting you don’t need to worry about selling your property to cover the cost of fees.
Renting can provide a welcome degree of flexibility. Some canny retirees are even choosing to rent in the UK in summer, and then renting abroad during the winter, saving the hassle involved in owning a property abroad.
SUPPORTIVE RETIREMENT COMMUNITIES
For those in their 70s and 80s, losing a partner can lead to debilitating loneliness. Moving into a rental property in a retirement complex that provides on-site facilities such as restaurants and communal lounges, can provide much-needed companionship and practical support. Having resident staff provides the security of knowing that in an emergency there would be someone to call on.
So, if you’re thinking of renting, the advice is to consult a reputable lettings agent, work out what your bills will be, ensure your deposit is covered by an approved scheme, and check to make sure that gas and electric appliances are covered by appropriate checks and safety schemes. Don’t forget that whilst your landlord will be responsible for building insurance, you will need to insure your possessions.
THINGS TO CHECK WHEN BUYING A NEW HOME
It’s long been said that people buy a home with their hearts rather than their heads. It’s not unusual for people to fall in love with a property when they’ve spent no more than 20 minutes looking round it.
However, it always pays to take a long cool look at a property, and apply some basic sanity checks. Here are a few things you might want to think about, and some you may want to get a surveyor to check out, before you commit to buying it.
THINGS TO THINK ABOUT
What’s the area like? Can you walk to shops or do you need to drive? What local transport links are there? If you need to travel to work, a good service can make all the difference. Is parking adequate, is the road likely to be very noisy at certain times of the day? Which way does the property face? It can make the difference between having a home that’s light and bright, or one that in the winter can be frustratingly dark. Are the rooms big enough? Developers can often put small furniture in show homes to make the rooms look bigger. Think about storage space, and important things like the number and location of power sockets, are they sufficient for your needs?
GETTING A SURVEY DONE
A surveyor can report on important things that can be costly to put right, including structural problems, the state of the roof, signs of damp, condensation, and the quality of the window frames. You might also want to arrange to have the central heating system, pipework and radiators checked over, to ensure you don’t move in and find that you can’t heat the house and don’t have any hot water.
BUY-TO-LET – WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD?
Being a buy-to-let landlord is much tougher than it once was. Many landlords entered the market a few years ago, attracted by the low interest rates they were charged for borrowing money, and the tax relief that was available to them on their mortgage interest payments.
However, during George Osborne’s Chancellorship, changes in the tax rules were announced that reduced the mortgage interest tax relief available, and additional rates of Stamp Duty (and equivalent taxes in Wales and Scotland) were imposed on those buying second homes or buy-to-let properties. This means that landlords are set to find their income tax relief on mortgage interest restricted to 20% by 2020. Plus, the recent rise in interest rates has meant the cost of borrowing has gone up. More landlords are setting up as limited companies for tax reasons; 18% of private rentals in England are now owned by limited companies.
BUY-TO-LET ISN’T DEAD YET
Despite the tax changes and the potential for buy-to-let mortgage costs to rise, landlords are still entering the market. Renting remains buoyant; plenty of people prefer to rent or feel priced out of the property ownership market and need somewhere to live.
If you’re thinking of becoming a buy-to-let landlord, it makes sense to begin by working out how much it is likely to cost to buy a property, what your borrowing costs will be, and what expenses you’ll incur putting it on the rental market.
You’ll need to factor in all the associated costs, such as gas and electricity safety inspections, insurance, regular maintenance and any agent’s costs, if you intend to use a letting agent. Then you’ll need to work out how much rental income you’re likely to make, including any periods where the property might be empty, and you won’t be receiving rent. This calculation will help you assess whether this type of investment is worthwhile for you.
When looking for a property, one near good transport links and with easy access to local amenities is always likely to be attractive, so choosing the right area is important. It also pays to form a view of the type of tenant you expect to attract; that way you can opt for the right décor. If you’re aiming to attract students, clean and comfortable would work, but if you’re thinking of young professionals, something more modern and stylish might be more appropriate.