Piggybank News

September 25, 2014

Should you be joining a Property Redress scheme?

Most Landlords and Letting Agents will be aware that the government has made it compulsory for all Property Agents to join an authorised redress scheme by 1st October 2014.  There have been quite a few articles flying around explaining this obligation and the potential safety net it will offer to Landlords. Property Purchasers, Vendors and Tenants.  The aim is that anyone who feels they are not being treated fairly will have somewhere to go to voice their concerns, with a chance of compensation.

However, what may not have been quite so obvious is the breadth of the government’s definitions of Letting/Property Management/Estate Agent in this regard.  It’s a serious concern because those that don’t sign up risk being fined up to £5,000, via their local council trading standards office.

Essentially any person or business which accepts money in the course of their business for letting, managing or selling property is covered by this act.  So, for example, if you manage a property for a friend and take even “mates rates” fees then you are affected, there are in fact very few exclusions.  (If you would like a full list of definitions then click this link to the Property Redress Scheme website.)

There are 3 schemes currently approved – The Property Redress Scheme, the Property Ombudsman and Ombudsman Services Property.  Of these the Property Redress Scheme is perhaps the most flexible as, alongside Property/ Management/Lettings and Estate Agents, they are also open for other professionals working in the property industry including cleaners, gardeners and inventory clerks.

j0283695Piggy says “Private Landlords, Sourcing Agents and Property Managers are strongly advised to establish the status of their business in relation to this legislation and register with one of the approved schemes before the deadline of 1st October 2014 if required”.

 

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February 18, 2013

Riding the Property Cycle – the secret to making money in property investment

We are all familiar with seasonal cycles. From a very young age we learn that night follows day, spring follows winter,  harvest follows planting and so on… before the whole cycle starts over.  This very basic understanding of how cycles work can help with your investment decisions. You need to know when to plant the seeds (i.e. invest your money) at the right time so that it will grow and you can gather a rich harvest.

This may sound a bit simplistic but you really don’t need to be an expert stock broker to understand how the property investment cycle works. It is easy to look for clues that will tell you when a market has hit or passed the bottom in terms of prices. This is the point where a property market is beginning to grow and therefore where you should invest to get the best long-term return. Look at the signals all around you and this will help guide your investment decisions.

What makes property investment so interesting is that not all countries are at the same stage in their cycle.  In the EU most are heading into winter and prices are tumbling or at best remain static because few people are buying.  According to property investment company Colordarcy the 5 worst performing  investment areas of 2012 are all EU countries – Ireland, Portugal, Greece, Slovenia and the Netherlands. On the other hand if we travel to the United States, all indications are that after a long winter they are now in the spring (or at a stage where the market is growing). Property in Miami for instance has increased in value by 20% over 2012.

So what of the UK market?

The Nationwide House Price Index has recorded only slight variations in house prices since the start of 2011.  They showed a slight dip in prices overall in 2012 but in the final quarter of the year prices were actually up 0.5%.  The most significant changes have been the continuing increase in the north/south divide and the relative depression of the Irish, Welsh and Scottish housing markets.   This would seem to indicate (in England at least) a market resting at the lowest point of its cycle, poised for Spring growth. When combined with predictions that Bank of England base rates are unlikely to rise until 2017, strong rental demand and rent levels generally on the increase; it would seem that 2013 is a good time for  investors with a medium to long term view to investigate the UK  Buy to Let market.

Full Nationwide report can be downloaded here – House Prices Q4_2012

February 4, 2013

5 Top Tips for a good start to 2013

Christmas and the New Year are now firmly behind us and hopefully you have also by now managed to get over the post holiday build up  of “stuff” that we always seem to be afflicted with.  Here’s a list of five ways to finish your New Year tidy up and prepare for a productively busy 2013.

1. Clean Out Your Email

If you are a hoarder, it’s time to clean out that inbox and start fresh. File away or archive emails that are important. Only leave emails in your inbox that require specific action. You may be surprised at what you find. There may even be opportunities you missed earlier in the year. Delete everything else. Be efficient and brutal about clearing out the tasks. If you didn’t look at it for more than three months, and you still can’t deal with the issue, then it’s probably not that important. If you are left with more than 35 emails in your inbox then it’s probably time to consider a personal assistant.

2. Sort Through Your Facebook Friends

Hint: If you don’t know who they are and how you met them then they aren’t really friends. One of the reasons you can’t keep up with the news-feed is that too many people are posting things you don’t care about. It was fun at first to connect with everyone. Now it’s just noise. Make Facebook a useful personal tool again by reducing your friend list to people who are truly important in your life. Leave the biz networking to LinkedIn and the news-sharing to Twitter. Then you can keep up and enjoy the personal sharing on Facebook. Yes, of course, someone may be upset that they were un-friended. But heck, they didn’t consider your feelings of annoyance every time they asked you to join Farmville.

3. Sort Out Your LinkedIn

Go through your list, look at the profiles and identify 10 specific people who can actually help you with your desired objectives. Send each of them a  New Year greeting and begin a conversation. Sort through your Groups and eliminate the ones that no longer support your interests. Reduce all your group digest mailings to once a week to unclutter your daily email.

4. Clean Your Desk

Even people who happily tolerate clutter will benefit from a freshly cleaned workspace. Every time I sort through the stacks on my desk I find papers/coupons/receipts that have long been dealt with or expired. Move as much paperwork to electronic filing as possible.  Electronic banking, faxes, and signatures can make paper almost disappear from your filing system if carefully planned and if you stop printing every important email. You’ll clear your view, your mind, and might even save a tree or two.

5. Set Your Top 5 Priorities for Q1

Start the year with clear purpose. Take a few hours to identify the five priorities that will advance your journey this year. Write out your top five initiatives for the next three months and post them on the wall by your desk. Take a picture and make it the home screen on your smart phone. Post them on your mirror and by your computer monitor.  You’ll be pleasantly surprised how quickly these items will get accomplished. As Napoleon Hill said, ” What the mind of man can see and believe, it can achieve.”

 

January 28, 2013

Landlords liable for tenants water bills!

As a result of recent changes to the law, under Part 2, s45 (1-3) of the Flood and Water Management Act 2010 that came into force in October 2012, landlords failing to notify the water company of a tenant’s details will become jointly and severally liable with their tenant for overdue water charges. Invariably, the easier option for the water companies, therefore, will be to pursue the landlord for the debt, rather than trying to trace and recover from the tenant.

Landlords should always therefore make a point of informing, in writing (and in view of this measure perhaps by recorded delivery) all the utilities suppliers of the tenants’ full details when a new tenancy starts. Likewise, when a tenancy ends, the landlord should again inform the utilities companies, providing a forwarding address for the tenants whenever possible.

In Milton Keynes, our water supplier is Anglian Water, who provide a handy online form, as well as a telephone number, for landlords to inform them of changes to a tenancy.

However, we have recently been alerted by an MKPLA Member that Anglian Water’s online form does not provide an appropriate receipt for the information provided. Their automated reply email simply confirms that a change of address has been supplied, but does not confirm that any tenant details have been provided. This may also be an issue that is not limited to Anglian Water.

December 19, 2012

A Politically Correct Christmas Message :)

Filed under: Business Advice,Business Utilities,Domestic Utilities,Hot tips,Property — nspresources @ 9:05 am
Tags:

A very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you All!

December 10, 2012

Top Tips to reduce your Christmas Shopping bill

Filed under: Hot tips — nspresources @ 12:48 pm
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Research for the charity Family Action says most UK families will spend between £530 and £682 on gifts, decorations, food and drink at Christmas. But in a time of austerity is the pressure to spend big at Christmas something we can ill afford?

xmas pigBelow are Piggy’s tips to help reduce your grocery spend but still have a very Merry Christmas feast!

1) It is claimed that a quarter of all food bought from UK supermarkets is thrown away.  Planning meals in advance and buying only what is needed for them is a very effective way to reduce waste.

2) Make sure you are aware of ‘2 for 1’ and similar offers on goods you use frequently.

3) Use a service such as my supermarket to find out which shop is the cheapest for the goods you usually buy but remember that a saving in the cost of goods may be lost in additional travel costs.

4) Avoid impulse buying! Don’t go food shopping on an empty stomach you are much more likely to buy more than you really need.

5) Buying on the Internet may be a good idea, especially if your normal ‘weekly shop’ involves driving and if you tend to buy on impulse.

 

November 21, 2012

Add value to your property with an extension

Following the recent announcement of a 2yr relaxation to planning laws Nationwide issued a special report detailing the increase in value to houses following different types of improvement.

Commenting on the Special Report, Robert Gardner, Nationwide’s Chief Economist, said “With housing market demand still very weak, increasing numbers of homeowners may opt to improve rather than move. Our research assesses the factors that affect the value of homes, and the potential to add value.”

Nationwide’s House Price Index Special Report looked at the value of improvements made to an average three-bedroom house. Nationwide found:

  • Creating an extra bathroom could add 6% to the value
  • Adding another double bedroom can push up the value by 12%1
  • Building an extension or loft-conversion to create a double bedroom and en-suite bathroom could add 23%2 to the value
  • Increasing floor space by 10% can add 5% to the average value (more…)

October 3, 2012

Lloyds TSB Commercial – Economic presentation

For those of you that didn’t manage to attend theMilton Keynes Property Forum 2012 on 28 September 2012 arranged by Lloyds TSB Commercial, I would like to circulate the economic presentation given by David Page, Lloyds TSB’s Senior Chief Senior Economist.  Interesting reading!


 

July 24, 2012

3 Top Tips for Negotiation

These  tips were initially written for Property Investors but they are just as true for other business negotiations.

1. Set your rules.

Many people likely have a set of rules or values that they just won’t compromise. If you find negotiations breaking your rules and going against your values, it may not be worth negotiating.

2. Ask.

Don’t be afraid to aim high but do not make any ultimatums.  If you don’t ask, the answer is always no.

3. Be willing to compromise.

Expect to make compromises and plan what terms you are willing to compromise on. Even if the first offer is better than you’d hoped for, do not take it. Take time to “think about it” or make a minor change back.  If you accept the first offer they might not feel good about the deal they made with you.  Everyone wants to negotiate and feel they got a good deal.

With thanks to:
“Top 10 Negotiation Techniques for Buyers and Sellers: Tips for Negotiating Real Estate”, By Wendy Patton

April 10, 2012

What your mobile says about you…

Long gone are the days of having a mobile phone simply to make calls. Most new generation mobiles now allow users to browse the internet, send and receive email, and even bank online. As a result, more personal data than ever is stored on our phones and this is making life much simpler for identity thieves.

Around 125,000 mobiles are left in London taxis alone each year and hundreds of thousands more are stolen. This is in addition to legitimate markets for second hand mobiles, such as eBay and mobile ‘recycling’ schemes that offer to pay cash (often to charitable causes) for unwanted handsets.

Unfortunately wiping the memory of your phone completely is difficult, but there are some basic steps you can take. (more…)

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