Assessing UK property demand. The difference between profitable and unprofitable?

At a time when we have somewhat subdued house prices but strong rental demand, how can you assess sustained UK property demand?

Average UK house prices fell by 0.2% in the 12 months to February 2024, while private rents increased by around 9.2%, reaching a record high (ONS). (12 months to March). What does this picture tell us?

House buying transactions increased by 1.2% between January and February. With a mixed picture of price dynamics across the country:

  • house prices in England decreased by 1.1%. London experienced the lowest annual inflation, with prices dropping by 4.8%.
  • Wales saw a decline of 1.2%
  • Scotland experienced a rise of 5.6%
  • Northern Ireland, house prices increased by 1.4%.

Rental dynamics as an indicator of UK property demand

Assessing UK property demand - terraced house

Scotland saw the biggest increase in rents at 10.5% (which has ‘rent caps’ in some locations).

England and Wales experienced rises of 9.1% and 9% respectively. London had the largest jump in rents, rising by 11.2%.

Signs are that rental inflation is easing, as tenants struggle with affordability.

Why are we seeing this mixed sales and rent demand picture?

Economists have put the rental price increases down to an imbalance between supply and demand.

On the demand side – the number of people looking to rent has gone up. Many aspirational home buyers are not in a position to move forwards in the current climate of mortgage rates.

On top of that, record levels of net migration have compounded the issue.

At the same time, on the supply side some landlords have exited the market. Or been reluctant to invest in more properties, given higher borrowing costs and the higher burden of regulations.

So that is demand and supply, but what about profitability and cashflow? These are critical to the sustainability of any property business.

How to harness UK property demand to generate profit and cashflow?

It is important to answer a market need with the appropriate product. One that has relevance now and in the foreseeable future.

A key part of the equation is to consider the supply demand balance in an area and then to qualify what type of demand e.g. family homes, space for contract workers.

Housing supply, which is affected by a myriad of factors ranging from; ease of planning consent, general levels of bureaucracy, existing housing stock, to the cost of building and more.

Whereas property demand is influenced by the number and type of buyers and renters now, as well as in the future.

There are sectors which have big headline yields, but may take significant time and effort to make it work well e.g. HMOs (Houses in Multiple Occupancy).

Yet many types of rentals in the Private sector are becoming increasingly regulated in the UK. So it is even more important to continue to ensure that your investments are profitable and cash flow well.

What do we tend to look for as an indicator of UK property demand?

Infrastructure improvements or regeneration, act as a driver of demand in the locality.  New facilities such as roads, high-speed railways, the addition of significant leisure facilities, or new special economic zones that attract multi-national businesses, are all good for the local property market.

A property’s location within a city, its proximity to road and rail networks and the quality of schools and major employers are important. So you might want to consider there is usually a price premium attached to a property within 5-10 minutes of a tube or train station.

A special one-off event can give a fillip to the market. It could be hosting the Olympic or Commonwealth Games, or a football tournament which can provide a short-term boost. But it is important to assess whether that will translate into a lasting legacy and create strong UK property demand?

Inward investment by businesses provides a demand impetus to the area and its micro- economy. As businesses invest locally, or grow, they attract workers to the area, seeking homes. Their success brings affluence, creating not only potential home buyers for when an investor comes to sell (part of the exit strategy) but also increases demand, which in turn can drive up property prices.

Adjacent markets may deliver healthier yields than the main centre. Take the traditional markets of the capital city, London and other main city centres like Birmingham are attractive investments, but entry level pricing is not always that accessible.

By looking slightly further afield you can get more for your money. For example Teddington might be a relatively more affordability riverside spot in south-west London, particularly for families, than more vaunted places like Richmond or more central London areas.

Beyond these drivers you also need to take into account:

  • the differential between asking and actual sold prices and rentals (although the latter is more difficult to assess at scale)
  • Stock turnover (demand) and look longer term to consider whether the area is becoming saturated with a particular asset type e.g. PBSA (Purpose Built Student Accommodation) or HMOs

And ultimately ensuring you have the right product or strategy for that area.

At the end of the day property investing is marketing.

It is about understanding and assessing demand from customers (renters) and delivering the right product and service to them (house type and configuration) at the right price i.e. rental amount to ensure your business is profitable

My business Property Venture® is an award-winning, Boutique property consultancy focusing on helping time-strapped professionals and expats invest in property, so you can carry on your day job while building your wealth. I am a landlord, ‘prudent’ property investor and developer. I help others to invest ‘prudently’ either with a bespoke Property Finding service or in a supportive mentoring capacity. If you’d like help or to find out more do message me info@property-venture.com. Or connect with me here

What’s up with Landlords? Is there ‘good-news’?

I get asked if it is a good time to invest in UK property right now? Or whether the onslaught against Landlords is worth the effort to get involved?

So here’s my perspective.

Landlords let’s look at the fundamentals of supply and demand

Roughly one fifth of households – 4.6 million houses – are in the Private Rented Sector. The Social Housing Sector caters for slightly less people at 4 million households. This figure includes Housing Associations and Local Authority housing. (English Housing Survey 2022-23).

An additional 1m rental homes are needed in the UK by 2031 to meet the growing demand according to Savills. This breaks down into 166,667 of rental homes each year.

Yet the country fails to build the annual target of 300k homes, of all tenure types, rental as well as for sale. There could be a possibility of turbo-charging supply of these rental homes, if the government could pull the levers of a mass supply in a short space of time. But the majority of current rentals are in the Private Rented Sector (PRS). The nature of the PRS is quite fragmented with lots of individual landlords who usually own less than 4 rental properties.

The bigger portfolio Landlords are in the Build-to-Rent sector, where homes are designed and built specifically for rental purposes. This sector accounts for 92,140 homes across the UK. This sector only makes up 2% of all rental properties.

There are still more Landlords selling than buying as the graph shows. The landlord exodus is likely to be for many reasons, including the Regulatory and Tax burden. In addition many PRS Landlords are more mature and likely to be exiting as part of retirement plans too.

Where are rental rates heading for landlords?

This demand: supply imbalance has pushed up rental prices. Strong demand and restricted supply has resulted in rents increasing 9.7 percent on average to £1,201 per month as the average national rent in 2023 (Zoopla).

Right Move estimates 41% more tenants are looking to move than in 2019, yet the supply of homes to rent has fallen by 35%.

Rents are likely to keep increasing, given supply is not catching up quickly enough and inflation is still present. However as inflation and Bank Base rates stabilise and fall, this will keep rental increase more in check. There is a rental threshold which becomes unaffordable for many potential renters. At which point they may seek alternative ways of living, with as a house share – HMO or moving to a completely different area.

Indeed Rightmove’s Rental Trends Tracker for Q4 2023 shows tenants are reaching an affordability ceiling. Nearly a quarter of properties needed a reduction in the asking rent. This is similar to a trend seen with Spareroom. Rent increases are now slowing down.

Is it worth you becoming a Landlord with all the landlord-bashing?

Is the current taxation burden since 2017, increasing regulation and negative messaging by politicians, pressure groups and the media putting you off?

My question to you is, what are your strengths and what do you enjoy doing?

Does becoming a good, compliant, landlord and providing a decent home for others align with your values and give a sense of pride?

If so you are likely to be doing the right thing for you and your customers.

At some stage the ill-informed politicians will realise that landlords in the Private Rented Sector are needed in order to prevent further homelessness.

The Build-to-Rent sector (bigger Corporates like L&G) was once seen as a threat by some PRS Landlords but this sector creates rental homes in bigger blocks. These are not necessarily always in central urban locations where people might want to live. Smaller PRS Landlords offer a different type home, often character properties, in different types of locations.

There is pending legislation – the Renters Reform Bill – which will restrict Landlords further in the way they deal with tenants. But for me that means I continue to be stringent in my tenant vetting process up front, as I have always done.

In Conclusion

Given the market conditions, with a more positive outlook for inflation and interest rates along with the imbalance of supply and demand, the prospects for Landlords are positive. The representative body, the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA) is currently playing a positive role  communicating the importance of the sector to government

My business Property Venture® is an award-winning, Boutique property consultancy focusing on helping time-strapped professionals and expats invest in property, so you can carry on your day job while building your wealth. I am a landlord, ‘prudent’ property investor and developer. I help others to invest ‘prudently’ either with a bespoke Property Finding service or in a supportive mentoring capacity. If you’d like help or to find out more do message me info@property-venture.com. Or connect with me here

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Ready to crack property investing in Europe? 8 differences to watch out for

We recently sold our Krakow buy-to-let apartment to a local First Time Buyer 16 years after we bought it. UK-based buyers can think property investing abroad is the same as it is in the UK. So I thought I would highlight some of the differences in the buying processes.

To start with most Continental European countries have a Notarised buying process vs a solicitor-led one.

What is the Notary buying process?

A Notary is a qualified and registered Legal representative with special powers conferred by Government to collect taxes that are due at the point of selling or buying a property. A Notary works impartially and independently of their client (the buyer). They check the authenticity of documents to be signed and the identity of the buyers and seller in order to maintain the integrity of the buying process..

Property Investing with a Notary

In England and Wales a Solicitor is retained by their client to represent them and their interests solely, so as there is no conflict of interest.

It is desirable to go in person to conclude paperwork in front of a Notary. It is possible to use a Power of Attorney (POA) but it can often be a lengthy process to get a document Apostilled (official government certification to make a document acceptable in another country’s legal jurisdiction) and sent, almost as much as going in person.

Visiting in person means you can sort out bank account issues as well. Or set things up to make it easier to close a Bank account remotely.

If the property purchase is being made with a mortgage, then as a seller you don’t tend to get the money on the day of signing over your property. The buyer may need to go to the Bank with the Notarised document to prove the transaction before a bank will release the mortgage monies to the vendor.

It’s this part of the Notarised property investing process which feels uncomfortable, when you are used to working with Solicitors. With Solicitors Contracts are Exchanged by them and the transaction only completed once the monies are in the Solicitor’s Client Account and verified on the vendor’s behalf.

Supply chain differences

Usually it is a legal requirement to have a SWORN translator (officially recognised) present. This is to ensure that you are fully informed and can make an appropriate property investing decision.

Estate Agents are licensed in a number of countries and carry out parts of the conveyancing process a Solicitor would do in the UK. So often Solicitors aren’t involved in the buying process.

Things that might be frowned on in the UK as potentially impairing impartiality, may be part of the norm. For example the same Estate Agent may collect a fee from both the buyer and the seller. There may be 2 separate members of staff involved within the same Estate Agent.

Resale properties may have an associated transfer tax with the purchase rather than a SDLT (Stamp Duty land Tax). Although VAT tends to be charged on new builds in the same way as in the UK.

Cultural differences in property investing

There is less of a culture of surveying or getting independent valuations, separate to a Bank-generated one.

Buy-to-let mortgages don’t really exist outside of the UK, so property investing is not quite so easy.

There may be less market transparency. Other countries do not tend to have the Land Registry database as visible as in the UK. Or the same plethora of stats available at your finger tips to make an assessment of the housing market.

What are your experiences of dealing with a different property investment process?

I am a landlord, ‘prudent’ property investor and developer. I help others to invest ‘prudently’ either with a bespoke Property Finding service or in a supportive mentoring capacity. If you’d like help or to find out more do message me info@property-venture.com. Or connect with me here

My business Property Venture® is an award-winning, Boutique property consultancy focusing on helping time-strapped professionals and expats invest in property, so you can carry on your day job while building your wealth.

How can you Private Sector landlords thrive beyond 2023?

Many Landlords and investors in the Private Rented Sector have grown weary of the incessant negative press and being scapegoated for soaring rents.

Yes it is incredibly difficult to navigate the housing market as a renter. And yes there are some unscrupulous Landlords who ignore legalities and housing regulation in pursuit of profit. Some of whom usually end up as part of a TV programme. But that is not representative of the whole PRS sector.

Michael Gove talks about landlords at NRLA Conference

For more people to be able to easily find a decent home, more needs to be done to supply decent housing. The endless Merry-go-Round of criticism of those who already supply decent homes is not a solution. Landlords find it increasingly challenging to supply homes in the climate of increased taxation, increased regulation (over 400 rules and regulations), high operational and finance costs.

Landlords with higher loan to value mortgages (50%+) make up 30% of the sector. These landlords are under the most pressure by rising interest costs. If more PRS Landlords tire of the situation and are driven out of the market, the less stock there is for housing those people who are not in a position to buy their own home. The more homelessness will be experienced in the UK.

What is the State of play for landlords in the PRS?

11.6m people live in homes supplied by the Private Rented Sector, this has doubled in 20 years.

Never has the PRS been so important in supplying homes. Yet the PRS stopped growing in 2016. There have been steady disposals of rented homes since. (Zoopla)

No one else is picking up the slack, certainly not the Government and the Build-to-Rent sector only represents 2-3% of housing stock. Housing delivery is falling.

All at a time when we are reaching the limits of rental affordability – rents have increased by 10.5% in the last year (Savills) and represent the highest proportion of income for decades.

Rental demand is up 51% compared with the 5-year average, yet rental stock is down 30% vs the 5-year average (Zoopla Sep ‘23)

Is the Government finally understanding the Private Rented Sector-PRS?

Having attending a recent National and Residential Landlord Association (NRLA) conference where Michael Gove appeared – albeit via video link. The audience of 800 property people, the majority of whom were landlords, got to pose topical questions.

Ben Beadle, CE of the NRLA has done a great job of lobbying on behalf of landlords, particularly around the Renters Reform Bill which plans to abolish Section 21, the main efficient and speedy way to reclaim a home. Michael Gove is beginning to appreciate the consequences of landlord-bashing.

What were the property insights to help landlords survive and thrive?

Under labour there is unlikely to be substantial change to PRS Regulation and Legislation. Much of the work to date e.g. Renters Reform Bill has been done with Cross-Party support and as such, the outcome will be more enduring. Although Labour might push for longer fixed tenancies above what is currently proposed. Clive Betts Labour MP for Sheffield SE spoke on behalf of the DLUHC Select Committee (Department for Levelling Up Housing & Communities) on housing reforms. Although it is worth highlighting 85% of tenancies are terminated by tenants. Only 6% of landlords use section 21 and only a very small % of tenants are served a notice to terminate without good reason.

It is doubtful that Rent Controls will be introduced in spite of some Labour members calling for them. The evidence at the conference overwhelmingly showed that Rent Controls don’t work. Or in fact they exacerbate rent increases. Scotland was cited as one example. Edinburgh specifically is a place where rents have increased higher than other parts of the UK.

What 3 key things ought landlords do?

1         You still need to formulate plans to nudge up the energy-efficiency of our homes.

The push for Energy Efficiency hasn’t gone away. Even though Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has slowed the impetus until post-election. Whether the current Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) is used as a means of measure into the future remains to be seen.

2         You need to put your best foot forwards by prudently managing your rental homes, especially by ensuring rents keep up with inflation.

ONS Data show that rents do not keep up with ‘average’ 3% inflation. By not regularly reviewing rental levels you can leave yourself exposed. Then you may be obliged to increase rents dramatically in one go, to keep up and protect profitability to survive. We will soon reach an unaffordable level, as rents now represent the highest proportion of income for about two decades. So acting in a measured way on an ongoing basis is more constructive.

3          Having great processes and systems in place will help ensure longevity beyond Renters Reform. This will ensure that not only can you be implicitly confident you have taken the best measures for your tenants, but that you can explicitly show to a court you have done so too.

How are you weathering the current climate?

I am a landlord, ‘prudent’ property investor and developer. I help others to invest ‘prudently’ either with a bespoke Property Finding service or in a supportive mentoring capacity. If you’d like help or to find out more do message me info@property-venture.com. Or connect with me here

My business Property Venture® is an award-winning, Boutique property consultancy focusing on helping time-strapped professionals and expats who don’t have the local presence, or capacity, to acquire the ‘right’ properties for them.

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How to Choose Online Agent or Bricks-and-Mortar? Good or Bad?

I have recently used online Agent Open Rent to find a new tenant for one of our Surrey homes. It is the first time for me, as I usually use an Agent for tenant-find and then self-manage.

I think I am a decent judge of character, but I was apprehensive about conducting viewings. I also wasn’t sure how much of my time it would suck up. And whether I would find the same calibre of tenant that an agent had produced in the past.

Using online Agent for Surrey home

What I was in no doubt about was the saving I was going to make.

And avoiding the angst of constantly overseeing what an agent was doing to ensure that the administration, paperwork and required legal notices were being served appropriately. For which we as landlords are accountable.

If an online agent or ‘traditional’ agent makes a mistake the heavy hand of the Law ultimately hits landlords, even when an Agent has made the mistake. Some landlords perceive they have outsourced accountability for legal requirements, as well as the hassle, when they hand over their property to an agent. But the buck stops with the landlord.

Am I slating traditional Bricks-and-Mortar Agents?

Don’t get me wrong there are great Agents out there. In fact I used a new Agent recently on another home and was impressed with their service. It was their expertise that got my home tenanted swiftly and above the market price I had estimated. So Agents provide valuable intelligence on market rates and the way the lettings market is moving, as well as judgement calls on which tenants are appropriate.

However the agent I had used on this latest house, I have been with for over a decade. They have gone through 2 take-overs / mergers and become much bigger than the original company I started out with.

On the one hand new systems had been brought in which are much-needed in today’s audit-trail of accountability requirements. But merging systems doesn’t always work that well. And the separation of the different functions into individual departments and split geographies meant there were a number of handovers, between staff in lettings, management, administration. There was always a ‘weak link’ which inevitably caused a problem. I felt I needed to stay on the case and progress chase. To plug that weak-link gap and that sucked up energy needlessly.

And then there is the Tenant Fees Act. Don’t get me wrong, I think it is good that tenants don’t get hit with lots of surprise costs when they least expect, or can possibly afford it. However it means that Agents can hit Landlords with these costs instead.

Landlord Surrey home rental

Agents can use an enticing % rate for tenant find fee only to impose lots of extra charges. Fees like; contract set up, contract renewal, deposit protection or handling disputes, introductions to services e.g. Gas Safe contractors, document preparation. Or indeed charge the tenant find fee on an annual recurring basis, which soon mounts up.

I also tend to read the small print of Terms of Business. I don’t like the idea that by signing you may be obliged to agree to being introduced to the ‘partner’ services like tax.

What are the advantages of a landlord using an Online Agent?

I reckoned I could be saving about £2,500 by using a landlord online Agent like Open Rent in year 1 and more if the Agent’s model meant charging recurring introductory fees each consecutive year.

This Surrey home is Victorian and needs lots of maintenance. I had not been able to do certain things to the property I had wanted to because Agent fees impacted income in year 1 significantly.

By using an online Agent and making these savings it meant I could invest more into the property. This in turn makes it more appealing and rentable.

Analysis of the Online Agent Stats

Out of 40 enquiries 8 viewings were arranged, with one no-show. Of the 7 viewings there were 6 sets of interested tenants and one we proceeded with.

We also managed to get more rent. Yes the rental market is very buoyant currently. But the money we invested back into the home also made a difference.

Using an online, landlord-dedicated, platform is certainly a great alternative to using traditional bricks-and-mortar agents. If an Agent’s fees are getting out-of-kilter with the service they provide, consider it. However, for distance or remote property investors sometimes a local Agent may well be the optimum choice.

I am a landlord, ‘prudent’ property investor and developer. I help others to invest ‘prudently’ either with a bespoke Property Finding service or in a supportive mentoring capacity. If you’d like help or to find out more do message me info@property-venture.com. Or connect with me here

My business Property Venture® is an award-winning, Boutique property consultancy focusing on helping time-strapped professionals and expats who don’t have the local presence, or capacity, to acquire the ‘right’ properties for them.

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How Important Prudent Property Title Management?

Late last year I wrote a blog post on how to stop your house being stolen or your Property Title re-registered

What five things can you do to stop your house being stolen?

This was prompted following some alarming media coverage about two men who had their houses stolen. Here is the link to the original post with more detail

Property Title - explained by Louise Reynolds

I am writing about this again because I had a personal experience. Not quite so dramatic, but I mention it at the end of this Blog post.

There are 2 facts that these two original stories have in common.

Both properties were not occupied by the owners. One was empty, the other was meant to have been let out.

It appears that both thefts took place using fake Identity.

And as an additional aside, the Police did not want to get involved, saying it was a ‘civil’ not criminal matter.

What are the 5 things you can do to prevent house theft?

Not only do you need to be aware of the danger of Identity theft, but also the way in which house-theft can take place. There are some simple and straightforward preventative steps you can take. These protect your property and de-risk the situation for you.

  1. Ensure Land Registry has the latest up-to-date address for you.
  2. Register for the Property Alerts. These are sent to the owner if there is any activity on the property Title. They do work and are free
  3. Put a restriction on the Title to help prevent a fraudulent sale. This is less straight forward but you can do it yourself without using a lawyer. Completing the RX1 form is where to start, but it will take time to choose which restriction. And therefore which additional form applies to your particular situation This is not part of the standard conveyancing process in England and Wales. So if you want your solicitor to do this you will have to specifically request it.
  4. Having a mortgage on the house provides an additional layer of security because your lender will take a charge on the property.
  5. Do strong tenant checks and choose a good Letting or Managing Agent.

My Personal Property Title experience Update

I recently received a Land Registry Alert. An unknown Legal Firm lodged an application to record a ‘Depositary First Lease’ against the Title of our Home.

This was alarming as it could have meant any number of things. Originally it was difficult to get through to Land Registry to query this. The first emailed response wasn’t helpful. A case of ‘Computer say no’

Contacting the original Legal Firm didn’t help. They work based on Postcodes and because our Home is not on their system as a paying ‘client’ there was no motivation for them to help.

Land Registry and Property Titles

I eventually got through to a more helpful Land Registry call handler, who departed from his strict job description. He did a bit of digging. He found that it appeared the legal firm had made an error in the Title number. It had intended it for a property in Sheffield. They had tried the same Title Deposition twice!

I am shocked at the number of careless mistakes that Legal Firms make. To them they are minor errors, but to home owners they can cause much distress and inconvenience. The offending Legal firm couldn’t even follow through properly, which would have disclosed it was their mistake after all!

It goes to show it is best to keep on top of your ‘Title’. Because even if Land Registry activity is not as pernicious as house theft, it could cause a problem if you are in a hurry to sell.

I am a landlord, ‘prudent’ property investor and developer. I help others to invest ‘prudently’ either with a bespoke Property Finding service or in a supportive mentoring capacity. If you’d like help or to find out more do message me info@property-venture.com.

My business Property Venture® is an award-winning, Boutique property consultancy focusing on helping time-strapped professionals and expats who don’t have the local presence, or capacity, to acquire the ‘right’ properties for them.

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International Women’s Day: Women in property

On International Women’s Day 2023 I want to celebrate all the supportive women in property. Especially those who are a regular part of my life.

Many of them who have helped me on my stressful development journey these last 18 months.

Without the kind of support I have had from these lovely ladies and more, it would have been a far more difficult and lonelier place to be. There are many more who don’t feature in this collage.

That isn’t to say men haven’t been supportive too. But today I just want to celebrate these great women in property who have all made it to my site and shared their ideas, expertise and feedback. It’s been immensely valuable.

I have now got Building Control sign-off, achieved my targeted Energy Performance Certificate rating of ‘C’. And the first tenant viewing resulted in the property being snapped up at asking price.

So Thank you!

It really helps to work with the right professionals, from Architects to Accountants to fellow developers and investors. Being able to share progress updates and stories is away of sharing Good Business and property practice.

If you would like to connect and stay in contact then join me here

On Linked In

Or here on Facebook

Or over on Instagram

#propertysistersuk #internationalwomensday #iwd #iwd2023

I am a landlord, ‘prudent’ property investor and developer. I help others to invest ‘prudently’ either with a bespoke Property Finding service or in a supportive mentoring capacity. If you’d like help or to find out more do message me info@property-venture.com.

My business Property Venture® is an award-winning, Boutique property consultancy focusing on helping time-strapped professionals and expats who don’t have the local presence, or capacity, to acquire the ‘right’ properties for them.

Investor landlords: want to increase property value through energy efficiency?

I’ve got energy efficiency and performance on my mind. I have just received welcome news that we achieved the targeted ‘C’ for our EPC – Energy Performance Certificate on our Surrey Victorian development project

How have we boosted the Energy efficiency for a Victorian house?

Well we didn’t do anything whizzy. Just good old-fashioned insulation and quality building.

Now you might be thinking that isn’t so impressive. However let me give the context. The main house is a Victorian semi-detached house. We retrofitted the existing main house as well as extending it.

Victorian Energy Efficiency Retrofit

Catering for the long term Energy-performance now – in preparation for 2030 – helps with the profitability of buy-to-let investments. By holding long term we minimise churn rate expenses -that is the sale and purchase costs when regularly buying and selling.

Oh and the bonus is we increased the floor space by 43%! From 72 sqm to 103 sqm. That brought a smile to my face. I had done a rough-and-ready calculation and thought it would be 93 sqm. So I was delighted.

It’s all in the U-Value. That is thermal transmittance and how effective a material is at insulation. The lower the value, the more efficient the material.

For our specification we had the standard new build insulation which complied with and exceeded Building Regulations.

And for the retrofit of the original Victorian part of the house:

Ground floor – 150mm PIR board (Polyurethane Insulation) between floor joists U-Value 0.15 (W/m2.k)

First floor 100mm acoustic rock wool insulation between joists

Existing solid single skin brick wall – 62.5 mm PIR board and 50 mm gap U-value 0.28

Loft 100mm PIR board packed between the roof rafters and a further 100mm on top of the ceiling joists. U-value 0.12

And as I’ve discovered, it’s all very well having a great specification, and a sexy-looking Schedule of Works. But if it isn’t followed through on site to check that that is indeed what the builders have done, then the EPC might as well go out of the window.

You can check a property’s EPC rating here

I help time-strapped professionals and Expats invest in UK property. So if you need some support then message me info@property-venture.com or get in contact +44 (0) 1932 849 536

My business focuses on helping time-strapped professionals and expats who don’t have the local presence, or capacity, to acquire the ‘right’ properties for them. Property Venture® is an award-winning, Boutique property consultancy that specialises in bespoke sourcing. We focus on de-risking investing for clients.

Disclaimer: Property Venture® is not a legal adviser. The information has been outlined in layman’s terms to guide and inform. It is not offered as advice. Intending purchasers should not rely on information given as statement of fact but must satisfy themselves by inspection or otherwise as to its accuracy.

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House theft? Six things to avoid your house being stolen

There has been some alarming media coverage recently about house theft, two men who had their houses stolen in the last two years.

It’s shocking to think that this can be done.

Radio 4s Winifred Robinson’s ‘You and Yours’ Consumer protection programmes on 27.10.22 and 2.11.22 covered this.

House Theft is House Fraud

The first house owner – Mike

Reverend Mike Hall lives and works in North Wales but owns/owned a house in Luton which was unoccupied. His house was broken into and the locks changed. The house was then sold to new owners who paid £135,000 for the house, half its actual value in 2021.

Even when the police got involved they initially treated it as a civil, not criminal matter. It was the new owners who appeared on the Title at Land Registry so Mike could not have his property back. The new owners, a family, had bought in ‘Good Faith’.

Mike used form AP1 at Land Registry along with evidence to apply to get his house back. This is ongoing over 12 months later.

The second house owner and renovator – Angus

Angus bought his dilapidated Victorian property in Southampton at Auction for £180,000 in 2018. It took him 18 months to renovate it from its dilapidated state to a home. He got a job in Cornwall so decided to rent it. He advertised through a well-known Estate Agent for a ‘tenant’ called ‘Steven Jones’. ‘Steven’ paid the rent, bills and Council Tax.

‘Steven’ took out a tenancy with a fake ID. ‘Steven Jones’ then posed as an Estate Agent to sell the property for about £190,000. Angus believes the true value was around £240,000 -£250,000. He only discovered the situation when Southampton Council contacted him to say someone else was living at the property. Angus subsequently discovered he no longer appeared as the owner on the Title at Land Registry.

Unfortunately Angus is now without a home and living with his parents. The local MP Caroline Nokes has taken up the case to try to sharpen up Land Registry processes.

Identity Theft used to steal houses

It appears that both thefts took place using fake identities. The fraudsters applied for, and got, a genuine duplicate driver’s licence but changed the picture. Using this they then got utility bills for the property and used those to set up Bank Accounts in the name of the original owner. They may have used the same solicitor, then bought gold with the proceeds and vanished.

Let’s get House theft in context

To put this in context the Land Registry says that of the 5 million transactions 2021, 63 were fraudulent or appeared to be. They are governed by the Land Registration Act 2002 and so they have to be sure of someone’s identity which makes it challenging to reverse these situations and even more important to protect yourself.

What can you do to prevent house theft?

Not only do you need to be aware of the danger of Identity theft, but also the way in which house-theft can take place. There are some simple and straightforward preventative steps you can take to protect your property and de-risk the situation.

Land Registry checks for your house

1. Ensure Land Registry has the latest up-to-date address for you. You are allowed up to 3 and  one can be an email address. So if you move, make sure you notify Land Registry

2. Register for the Property Alerts – these will contact owner if there is any activity on the Title of that property. I do this and have in fact actually scared myself. I leapt into action when I got one of these email alerts, only to realise there was activity owing to a mortgage registration. So they do work and are free

3. Put a restriction on the Title to help prevent a fraudulent sale. This is less straight forward but you can do it yourself without a lawyer. Completing the RX1 form is where to start but it will take time to choose which restriction and therefore which additional form applies to your particular situation. This is not part of the standard conveyancing process in England and Wales so if you want your solicitor to do this you need to request it. If you don’t live in the property then it is a RQ form you need.

Additional prudent measures to protect you house

4. Having a mortgage on the house provides an additional layer of security. Your lender takes a charge on the property and so would be notified of activity on the Title. There may be circumstances when keeping a small mortgage on a property could be beneficial for you.

5. You ought to conduct strong tenant checks or at least work with a good, Letting or Managing Agent with a strong reputation will help.

6. Guard and protect your ‘Identity’ as much as possible

If you want help on your property investment journey then get in contact +44 (0) 1932 849 536 or e-mail info@property-venture.com

My business focuses on helping time-strapped professionals and expats who don’t have the local presence, or capacity, to acquire the ‘right’ properties for them. Property Venture® is an award-winning, Boutique property consultancy that specialises in bespoke sourcing and de-risking investing for clients.

Inspired by You and Yours BBC Radio 4 programme 27.10.22 and 2.11.22

Disclaimer: Property Venture® is not a legal adviser. The information has been outlined in layman’s terms to guide and inform. It is not offered as advice. Intending purchasers should not rely on information given as statement of fact but must satisfy themselves by inspection or otherwise as to its accuracy. With regard to in-country legislation, then you must take appropriate legal advice during your purchase process, at which time your solicitor or adviser will discuss with you up-to-date legislation and costs. 

Neither Property Venture® nor any of its Directors, employees or representatives will be liable for damages arising out of or in connection with the use of any information provided or any action taken in reliance on any information appearing on this website.

Don’t Panic! It’s UK Property investing – but not as we know it!

How on earth do you make sense of the market currently….? The UK property investing climate is causing panic. We’ve experienced material shortages and regular, almost weekly, price increases. Then the energy crisis fuelled inflation. Followed by the UK government announcing swingeing, unfunded, tax cuts that sent the financial markets into a tail spin, increasing the cost of borrowing even further.

Starting your UK property investing journey?

If you are just embarking on a refurbishment or development, then stress-testing at much higher finance rates around 6% might be sensible. And working through various financial and exit scenarios.

Midway in a UK property refurbishment project?

Louise Reynolds on Surrey Residential site_UK property investing

If you are part way through a refurbishment project that’s more tricky. It may be a question of being more flexible than ever before.

Can you:

·        borrow less and keep your LTV lower, thereby reducing your debt level?

·        Consider a number of different sources of finance, or a blend of finance, thereby spreading the risk?

I don’t think panicking is helpful and rushing into locking into inappropriate products. Evidently you might be rushing to get a low rate locked in, that is different. Seize the moment. The market is in a state of flux, but interest rates may settle as lenders calm their nerves and can see a clearer picture emerging.

Managing UK property investing risk

This is a time to mitigate risk and take the medium to long term perspective. We may no longer live in the ultra-low interest rate era and may have to readjust to ongoing higher Bank of England interest rates. Perhaps at the 3% mark and the commensurately higher mortgage rates.

At times like these we might need to consider the total lifetime return on property investments, Return on Capital Invested (ROCI) over a period of time, not just yield or cash flow but capital growth as well.

This might include future-proofing your property as well. For example making it more energy-efficient, so that if the rental rules change your asset is more valuable as it already complies with newer more stringent Energy Performance criteria.

UK Property Investing – Market Context

There is still a supply: demand imbalance in the UK property market which isn’t going away anytime soon. So there are market fundamentals that still make UK property investing attractive.

How are you making sense of things and what measures are you taking?

I help busy UK-based professionals and expats navigate the property market challenges. Property Venture® is an award-winning, Boutique property consultancy that finds the right investment properties for clients. If you want help on your property investment journey then get in contact +44 (0) 1932 849 536 or e-mail info@property-venture.com

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