When showing people around properties we quite often hear the comment: ‘If only I could pick up this house and put it in another spot.’

Location is not the be-all and end-all of choosing a house to buy. There are other obvious considerations such as quality and condition, outside space, the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, room sizes and layout for instance. For many buyers there is a fine balance between the practicalities of accommodation and the property’s situation. One often can’t have the best of both, however, so a choice has to be made.

A good location can sell a property on its own. Wonderful views, peaceful surroundings and useful amenities will always attract strong interest. In a buoyant market these properties will fly and even in more challenging times they will be resilient to downward pressure. A property on a main road, however, will suffer disproportionately in a poorer market, even if it is, itself, a cracker. This doesn’t mean that it won’t sell, but the price really does have to reflect the situation.

The other thing to bear in mind about location is that you can generally improve a property, but not its surroundings. A house set in a compromised situation will always have that situation (save for regeneration or bypass). A house needing attention, but in a great spot, however, has the potential to be a great house remaining in a great spot. Of course our surroundings are often at risk, but in this part of the world, where Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty dominate and sustainable development is a must, we are pretty protected.
So what is the ideal location? Everyone has different priorities, but looking at our register of eager applicants the following ‘would likes’ come out on top:

Family: Edge of, or close to a village with a pub and preferably a shop, open countryside to the rear, a feeling of space, easy for local schools and good communications.

Retired/Semi-retired: A village with amenities and a good community or a small town, walkable to shops but away from the traffic.
Equestrian: Rural or village edge with good riding out from the property and close to a wide road with decent access.

It would be nice to think that we could all have our ideal location, but sadly it doesn’t work like that. Availability is what drives the market place and thankfully some of us aren’t that concerned as long as a lot of the practical boxes are ticked.

Over the months we have seen an increasing demand for rental properties, which is good news for landlords and an opportunity for investment. Here, therefore, are some tips for anyone thinking of buying to let or renting out their property:

Research other rental properties

Look into which rental properties are most in demand in the local area and compare rental levels. Be wary of any factor such as further development that may affect the property in the future as this will also impact on the yield.

Create a good standard in your rental property

Make sure the property is of a good standard in terms of the décor, the condition of the furnishings and the workings. You will also need to ensure you comply with all health and safety requirements for gas, electricity and furniture and furnishings.

Budget for void periods in your buy to let

Landlords should generally budget for 8 weeks per year to cover periods between rental agreements. If your void periods are less, of course, the extra return is a bonus.

Reference your tenants thoroughly

Don’t take tenants at face value. Make sure you have sufficient information about your prospective tenant to ensure that you can fully assess the risk. Check their employment status as well as their renting history and any references provided. Carry out credit checks and be wary of anyone holding back on such information.

Inform your property insurers and lenders

You will need to have specialist buildings and contents insurance covering the items you own in the property and don’t just assume that your current insurer covers lettings. Always inform them as well as your lender if you have a mortgage. Also, consider insuring against the tenant defaulting. This normally covers both rent and legal expenses.

Prepare an Inventory of your property

A full, detailed inventory of the property is essential, including a schedule of condition. If you don’t do this, the tenant has carte blanche to create mess and damage without recourse. A professionally prepared inventory is always wise as this will be comprehensive.

Don’t be complacent

A happy tenant is valuable and they won’t be happy if they don’t receive good management. As a landlord, you, or your managing agent are responsible for ensuring that the tenants not only respect the property, but stay there for as long as possible, so look after them.

Rental property deposit protection

Be aware of the mandatory legislation regarding Tenancy Deposit Protection. For more information, visit the DirectGov website www.directgov.uk.

Use a responsible letting agent

If you are going to use an agent for part or all of the service, it’s crucial that you look for a local agent who abides by a code of practice and, importantly, is subject to a redress scheme. This will ensure you receive strong, professional and independent advice .

There is far more to say than will fit on this page, but if any questions arise from this blog, do call Lynne here at the office for further help.

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