116 posts categorized "Investment property"

August 04, 2010

Complimentary tickets to the Property Investor Show 2010 @investor_show #propshow

Property Tribes forum and, Social Media Graffiti, are delighted to announce that we have partnered with The Property Investor Show 2010 to help create awareness of the show within the on-line investor/Landlord and property services communities.


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The Property Investor Show & OPP Live returns to ExCeL London, 14-16 October 2010 featuring a combination of regular and new exhibitors - and 3 separate seminar/conference programmes. It is also set to feature a live property auction on Friday, 15th October! 

Vanessa and I will be speaking about holiday lets and using social media for your property business during the seminar programme. 

We will also be hosting the "Property Tribes Landlord Panel" on the Friday, which will take the form of an open forum/debate for Landlords to discuss issues of the moment. This will be broadcast on the social web via Twitter. 

Any property tribes member booking a stand at the event will be eligible for the special offer of a FREE show guide advertisement. Please email: enquiries@propertyinvestor.co.uk for prices. Please quote "Property Tribes"

Tickets for the event are free and you can register for your e-tickets >>> here. 

Further details for the show can be found >>> here. 

The Property Investor Show is engaging with the investor community on Property Tribes forum, asking for feedback, suggestions for speakers etc. You can join the conversation and have your say >>> here. 

Along with our speaker appearances, we will also have a stand at the show. We hope that many property friends will drop by and say "hello" and also support the Landlords Forum. 

You can also follow show up-dates on Twitter @investor_show - with the #propshow hashtag.

Foursquare here.

Facebook "flash" forum here.

This is THE must attend property event of the year where the property tribes gather. It's a great place for business, networking, and education, so we hope to see you there!  

N

December 06, 2009

How to avoid the voids! Useful tips to avoid Landlords' worst nightmare ... !


I thought Landlords and property investors might be interested to know that we are working with Upad.co.uk on a social media campaign called Avoid the Voids.  Upad would like to been seen to be leading the way in supporting Landlords in getting their properties rented fast via maximum exposure with minimum hassle and expense!

Generally speaking, the "void" period is a Landlord's worst nightmare, so it makes sense to find ways to avoid it at all costs, especially in the challenging and highly competitive market conditions we are all experiencing.

This aligns with the core message of Upad: to avoid voids by exposing your property for rent to the largest possible marketplace to maximise exposure.



Upad.co.uk is the largest online lettings agent, helping landlords let out residential property both quickly and easily.  Upad.co.uk allows you to list your property across more than 100 online lettings agencies, property websites and portals, connecting you with the perfect tenant for your UK property to let.

Upad also wants to offer the definitive guide of strategies to avoid the void and advice on how to make your property stand out from the crowd to ensure that you avoid the void at all costs.  We are currently working on this as an e-book and it will be free to all subscribers.

You can follow our information stream on Twitter @avoidthevoids for hints, tips, and Landlord intelligence to help you stay ahead of the competition.

You will notice that the Twitter avatar has "Let by Upad" on it, meaning that every tweet that Upad sends out will reinforce this message!




Here are my Top Ten tips to avoid the void:

1.  Handle repairs professionally and quickly - happy tenants stay!  (Thanks to @juicyproperty for this tip).

2.  Ensure your property is "staged" for marketing photographs and ensure that these photograph are of  a high quality. Tenants "buy" from the photos far more than the marketing spiel, so ensure that the house is immaculately clean, the lights are on, there are some thoughtful finishing touches.

3.  Ensure that the property is immaculately clean and maintained.  The heating should be on for viewings.  Use "plug in" air fresheners or spray Fabreze to get rid of any nasty niffs as smells are very off putting!

4.  Ensure "kerb appeal" from the outside, with a well kept garden and house name/no., with outside security light.  We passed a property today where the Landlord hadn't bothered to put a house number on the door, and the developer's sign for the Plot Number was the only identification.  There was also a large pile of old carpet in the front garden.  This does not give the appearance of a "home" that the owner cares about.  Tenants want to feel "safe and secure" in their new home, so ensure this is addressed by simple security measures.

5.  In areas of over-supply of rental stock, ensure your property stands out from the crowd. Give it a unique selling point. The days of identi-kit, "me too", magnolia boxes are over.  Add a few upgrades and finishing touches to ensure your property is elevated above its competitors.  Think about the target market for your property, and try to put yourself in their shoes.  Young professionals/students/families?  What little touches can you add to the property that will appeal to that target?  An example of this is a friend of ours who has a lot of student lets.  He fits all his houses with jacuzzi baths and students always pick his houses for obvious reasons!  Look to see where you can create "lifestyle" touches i.e. garden furniture for the garden, plasma screen TV, etc.

6.  Offer incentives to get prospective tenants to commit. This could be anything from a crate of beer in the fridge, to six months free broadband, to six months gym membership included. (The Gym offers membership for £14.99 per month and is 24 hours per day. New gyms being added all the time. Have a look at http://www.thegymgroup.com/ for details).

7.  Keep an open and friendly dialogue with your tenants yourself (or through an approved agent) to ensure the continued enjoyment of their stay at your property. Treat even small problems or niggles seriously so that they feel valued as a tenant.  If the tenant hands in their notice, find out the reason why, and see if there is anything you can do to persuade them to stay.

8.  It is our advice not to rock the boat with an increase in rent at the moment. Tenants are worried about the economic down-turn and fearful about losing their jobs, so an increase in the rent might be enough to tip them over the edge to hand in their notice.

9.  In the current market conditions, be price sensitive with your rents. Remember: it is better to have 80% of something, rather than 100% of nothing! Even one month's void will eat into your profit, so endeavour to let your property out as quickly as possible, even if that means taking a hit on the rent.  You can offer an "introductory" special offer rent to be reviewed after six months.

You need to consider the cost of holding out for the right price. As an example, suppose you're renting a property and asking £700 per month. Within a short time of advertising the property you get an offer for £650. You reject this offer because you believe your property is smarter than other rental properties available at £650. However, suppose it takes an extra 2 months to get the rent you want of £700.

Have you achieved a good bargain?  Your initial though may be "yes" because you've achieved £700. But infact over a 12 month period if you had let at £650 per month your income would be £7,800.  If you held out for an extra 2 months until you got a rent of £700, your income over the same period would only be £7,000.

Your aim both in selecting the right property and in determining the acceptable rent should be to get the property let as quickly as possible.  (Thanks to @marywaring for this one!).

10.  However, it's not good enough having a great property to rent if no-one knows that it's there, and there is no better way of making your property as visible as possible with the minimum of effort as by using the internet.

Websites such as Rightmove and FindaProperty get the widest coverage, so it is crucial to get listed on as many of these as possible, including free listing sites like Gumtree and ToRent.  This said, it can be time-consuming and costly getting your property onto all of them, so find a company that can do this for you. Upad, for example, for a one-off fee of £59.00, automatically lists any property uploaded onto its site onto over 100 portals sites, including the aforementioned sites.  This way, most of the work is taken out of your hands while the internet is still working hard to find your tenant.

What do you do to avoid the void?

What else do Landlord's fear most?

Share your tips and stories here and we will credit you/your business in the Upad guide!

December 01, 2009

$$$$ for nothing and your bankruptcy for free ....

This post is prompted by a heated discussion that occured on Singing Pig recently. Rich Greenland posed the question "Where are all the good deal sourcers?" and it generated a very healthy discussion which threw up this comment:

"The biggest problem with the property market, and why it is so attractive to people, is the barriers to entry are relatively small. i.e. with a small amount of start up capital you can begin finding properties, then sourcing, selling etc. This has resulted in a whole host of people being involved in the property market, some of which are ethical and responsible, some of which see it as the quickest way of getting rich in anyway possible".

But which property "industry" or "market" was being referred to here?  You see, my wife Vanessa and I are in the property industry as a full time professional investor/Landlords and it bears no relation to the above.

Let's be clear.  The property industry referred to here is the "property marketeers" industry i.e. other people offering "get rich quick" schemes, NMD deals, armchair investment schemes, and teaching others how to get wealthy, rarely actually doing it themselves.  As noted, there are low/no barriers to entry. I recently came across someone who was a student on one of these courses six months ago. The person in question has not managed to buy any property themselves, but they are now offering mentoring!  If the "system" worked, surely they would be busy buying property?

To clarify something: there was a window of opportunity up to April 2008 to structure legitimate/transparent "no money down"  deals.  I took advantage myself!  However, that window of opportunity was slammed shut when Mortgage Express withdrew the same day bridging/remortgage product.

Unfortunately, many property sourcing companies are living in 2007 and still telling people you can structure deals in this "no deposit required" format. An example is Gekko. In reality, they were unable to pull off any such NMD deals and the whole thing unravelled very quickly when they sold new build properties via a third party without doing enough due diligence. In their case, the reservation fees should have been refunded, but the money had already been spent, as is the case with Passive Investments.

I am not suggesting that there are companies offering to teach a "get rich quick" business model for selling deals. What I am alluding to is those people who go on "get rich quick" training seminars end up finding that they can't actually implement the strategies they were taught, and bring any deals to fruition using these methods, so they then end up selling the dream on to someone else. It's actually a bit like an MLM scheme if you think about it, because many of them get affiliate commissions for referring unsuspecting newbies into the scheme that they got sucked into themselves!!

If you really had a deal that was No Money Down, and £20K cash-back, why would you sell it for a few £K intro fee. Wouldn't you keep it for yourself?  If you really have what amounts to the six numbers to the lottery, why would you sell them for a few thousand pounds intro fee?  If you think about it, it just doesn't add up.

If it sounds too good to be true, it is, every time. Without fail.

Whilst I am all for education as you can never learn less, many of these courses teach the theory not the practical.  Without wishing to squash anyone's dreams of a better financial future, there must also be room for a reality check.

In the property industry I am in, the real world, not marketing/sales hype and dreams of get rich quick, there are HUGE barriers to entry, namely a 25% deposit, stamp duty, legal fees, services charges, management fees, all sorts of legislation to comply with, money for repairs, furniture, blinds, maintenance - the list goes on. Not only that, you need a minimum salary of £25K, a squeaky clean credit rating, three year's audited accounts (if you are self-employed) to even get on the short list for lending/finance.

It is often mentioned that it is investors who demand low/no deposits. Of course they do! But that does not make it legitimate, nor does it make for a long term sustainable business to supply a demand that is based on unsustainable practices. Also, just because you do not know of anyone who has been prosecuted for fraud does not mean it is not happening. It is. From buy to let to mortgage fraud. And this, Mortgage fraud in the headlines , which was posted by a broker which lists a number of cases.

But we can all agree that it is going to take a lot more effort to find clients with big deposits, than it is to offer "money for nothing and your properties for free" to quote one of the greatest exponents of armchair investing, Andy Shaw whose company "Passive Investments" recently went bust taking millions of pounds of clients money with it. I must say it certainly worked for Andy Shaw, but not for his unfortunate clients! ;).

So which property industry are you in? The "head in the clouds" one, or the real world?!

To conclude, myself and Vanessa are in the business of providing a great service to our valued clients (tenants).

Join the discussion on this topic at the Property Tribes forum >>>> here.  We now have over 600 members and growing daily.  It's a great place to hang out, network, share knowledge and opinion, and keep up to date with the latest property news and views for anyone who is serious about property investment and Landlord-ship.

October 12, 2009

Top 10 reasons to buy houses rather than flats ... every time ....

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Picture:  one of our four bedroom houses in Basingstoke, Hants. 

From our experience of purchasing both houses and flats over the past five and a half years, we have come to the conclusion that we will not buy another flat outside of London again - London being its own unique micro-market where flats can work well.  We thought we would share with you our reasons for this:

1. Houses are freehold, flats are generally leasehold.

2. Cash flow is better off a house than a flat, as flats/apartments have service charges that bite into cash flow.

3. You can extend a house, put on a conservatory, do a loft conversion, convert a garage into an extra room etc. You can not do any of that with a flat! All these things ADD VALUE.

4. Houses have gardens/useable outside space and storage. Flats are restricted on both fronts.

5. There is an over-supply of flats, and less and less houses being built, meaning that houses will be at a premium in the future.

6. With more and more people working from home (a growing and long lasting trend), space is going to be an important consideration and houses can offer a home office in the garden or over a detached garage.

7. Flats are supported by the amateur investor market and first time buyers - meaning that they are very volatile with both rental and selling prices extremely fragile. Houses are supported by more sophisticated investors and family buyers, meaning that they have more stability in the market place.

8. Houses can be let in single occupancy or multi-let formats, giving you more flexibility and less chance of voids.

9. Houses open up your tenant market to families, house sharers, and therefore have wider appeal. Families do not tend to rent flats!  My experience is that there is a greater turnover of tenants in flats.  In houses, tenants tend to put down roots, and stay longer.

10. Mortgage products are more favourable for houses than flats on the LTV front, meaning lenders see houses as lower risk. That should tell you something!

If you would like to join a lively discussion on this subject, please visit our Property Tribes forum and join the discussion >>>>> here.

August 20, 2009

Smoke signals ...



To celebrate the news that the Alexa statistics report that the Property Tribes forum has grown 180% in the last three months, we're introducing some exciting new initiatives and benefits for tribal members:

Special offer from Upad for tribal members:



We are delighted to report that the Property Tribes forum is now sponsored by the U.K.'s premier rental marketplace, http://www.upad.co.uk/. Upad are offering tribal members a special offer of buy one listing, get one listing free. (Go to the Property Tribes home page and click on the banner to take advantage of this). Your Upad listing will be distributed to over 100 portals for a one off cost of £59.00 until the property is let. The great news is that upad covers room lets as well as houses and flats, so do take advantage of this special offer. The upad site is a great resource for both Landlords and tenants, so do take a few moments to visit and see what it has to offer.

The sponsorship of the Property Tribes forum will allow us to invest in and improve the forum and develop it into an even better resource for members, so please do support upad if you have a house or flat to let out!

You can also follow upad on Twitter @jamesatupad

Tribal Gathering on the horizon!

Our next tribal gathering (networking event) has been scheduled for Sunday 20th of September in Guildford. Please make a note in your diaries now not to miss the fastest expanding property networking event in the South East!

Entry is £10.00 and you can register and pay here.

On Property Tribes, we have a discussion on how to create the ultimate networking event. Please have your say here as to what you think makes for the ultimate networking experience.

Property Tribes is now on Facebook!



We have now started our own group on Facebook to increase the tribe's visibility. You can join us here.

In the Spotlight

We are currently in the process of introducing some new initiatives to make Property Tribes the most valuable property resource on the web.

One of these includes "In the Spotlight", where we interview key/active members of the community so that you can get to know them better.

The purpose of this is to raise awareness of what tribal members do, so that you know who to go to if you need a particular product, service, or some advice. We hope that one of the benefits of membership of the tribe is increased business transactions between the members.

Our first Spotlight feature is dedicated to our good friend and mortgage broker, Wasim Ahmed. You can read all about his personal property journey and strategy here.

If you would like to be featured in the Property Tribes Spotlight, please do get in touch. However, please note that this feature is only for active contributors to the community, not passive viewers.

It's one of the ways we are going to "give something back" to the members who contribute the most to the forum.

Coming soon in the Spotlight: Roberta Ward, Brian Heath, John Corey, Sally Asling .....

VideoBlog: Why we started Property Tribes



If you would like to know more about why we started the Property Tribes forum, and the benefits of membership, please view our latest video blog.

Property Tribes Twitter League



If you want to find all the most influential people in U.K. property, look no further than the Property Tribes Twitter League! John Corey is out there in the No. 1 position with over 11,000 followers!

Coming soon: "Tribal Elders" programme


We are shortly going to be introducing a subscription programme for those of you who want to lead the property community and signal your commitment to property and networking by becoming a Tribal Elder.

For an annual subscription of £60, you will access the following benefits:

* FREE entry to all our networking events for the duration of one year, plus bring a guest FREE. (Value £240).
* An exclusive Tribal Elders gathering after our networking event for deeper networking and relationship building.
* Enhanced visibility for you and your business on the forum and at our events.
* 20% discount voucher off any of Nick's training events.
* A free copy of our new e-book "Social Media : Why you have to be there".

If you have any suggestions as to what other benefits you would like to see, please let us know.

Regards
N

   socialmediagraffiti.com
 



July 24, 2009

Is there any such thing as an "armchair investor" and if there was, would you want to be one .... ?

I am just wondering what the Tribes' thoughts are on the term "armchair investor".

I must admit, I find it very perplexing.

I strongly believe that the best person to look after my money and my financial future is the person I see in the mirror, not a third party with a sales agenda.

I cannot understand the concept of sitting back and letting someone else take all the responsibility for my money, my investment decisions, and my financial future - no matter how trustworthy that person might seem.

I actually want to roll up my sleeves and get my hands dirty. I want to strive to understand my investments from every angle. I want to take responsibility for how my money is spent. I want to be on the "factory floor" dealing with the everyday running of the business so that I can grow my skills and knowledge.

If I invest my time and diligence in my property business, then there is hopefully far less chance of it going wrong than just taking someone else's word for it.

Maybe armchair investors sitting back in their armchairs calling themselves "investors" are really "armchair speculators on a third party's ability to make the right buying decisions for them".

Property is not a case of "one size fits all". If you don't want to roll your sleeves up and get your hands dirty, then maybe you shouldn't get involved at all ... ?

If you think of yourself as an "armchair investor", maybe that allows you to feel very disconnected from your property business? If you are not in the thick of it, then there's a strong possibility it will go off the rails.

Passive Investments, Grant Bovey's Imagine Homes, and Instant Access Properties are three high profile companies who have proved that the "armchair investor" concept is a recipe for disaster.

Yes, I can understand that if you are cash rich but time poor you might like a bit of help and support. That is understandable. However, to absolve yourself of all responsibility and "just sign papers", which I have heard someone say recently, is a complete anathema to me personally.

What do others think?

Join the discussion at Property Tribes - click here -

prop tribes

N

July 04, 2009

How Twitter led me to be talking property with DJ Danny Rampling ...

One tweet was all it took ...

Yesterday, we had a fantastic meeting with DJ Danny Rampling (@dannyrampling) and his business partner Simon Hinton (@simonhinton) at their fantastic eco development in St. Leonards - click here to see the development site -



Vanessa and I have been researching eco homes as a possible investment strategy. We came across Danny and Simon on Twitter and have had several meetings with them. The upshot is that Danny has now commissioned me to work with him developing his on line social media strategy for both his DJ brand and his eco property brand! Plus, we are working with Danny and Simon on Phoenix Trinity developers brand to help launch their development via social media activities.

Just sharing this, because it all came about through Twitter! It never ceases to amaze us how much cross-over their seems to be between the property world and social media engagement, and for that matter any business ...

Moreover what randomness can lead to ... !


Has Twitter had this effect on you?

N

June 23, 2009

Top 10 FATAL mistakes made by novice property investors ...


1. Not having a reason for doing this. Over my five years of speaking at property events and presenting at workshops and seminars, I have come across hundreds of people, who, when asked why they want to get involved in property say "I wanna be rich". That, in my opinion, is not a clear enough reason. There must be some specific goal that you want to aim for, an outcome, a purpose that will drive you to achieve success. "Being rich" is too flaky, too undefined, to wide a goal to aim for. Think carefully about why you want to get involved in property - to fund your child's education, to prop up a pension, to allow you to follow your dream, whatever that may be. Without a clearly defined goal, your efforts will be unfocussed and you will not be committed to moving forwards step by step.

2. Thinking one size fits all. Property investment is highly personal to you, your financial situation, your attitude to risk, how much time you have to devote to it, how much support you have from your family etc. The type of properties that suit my investment strategy to reach my goals, may not be right for you. You must acquire properties that are suited to your personal strategy and will take you one step closer to the goal that you have clearly defined in your own mind. This is why property clubs, passive investment programmes etc are flawed from the outset, because property is never one size fits all.

3. Not doing enough due diligence or research. Before investing in any property purchase, you MUST do full due diligence and research. We come from the school of find the demand, then create the supply. Unfortunately, most novice investors create the supply, and then wonder where the demand is coming from. In other words, it's no good buying a property, no matter how good the deal might appear, if no one wants to rent it! You must fully research an area in terms of rental demand, amount of stock on the market, etc. Understand who your prospective tenant is and then find properties that will meet their criteria.

4. Taking someone else's word for it. It is your money, so satisfy yourself of the veracity of any deal you are considering or the integrity of the company you are thinking of doing business with. Do not take anyone's word for anything. DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH EVERY TIME, WITHOUT FAIL.
Never pay large fees upfront for anything. You should only pay for results achieved, not promises.

5. Focussing too much on the deal. Time and time again, I see novice investors focussing on the deal. They are intent on getting it no money down, with a rental guarantee etc. The focus should be on pre-acquisition (due diligence) and post-acquisition (ownership and management). You may be in a business relationship with a property for 25 years. The acquisition stage is a blink of an eye in that context. There's no point in acquiring a property, even NMD, if no one wants to rent it!

6. Becoming a seminar junkie and addicted to gurus. Whilst Nick and I are all for education, there are many people out there who "follow" the wrong people, and end up paying for more and more seminars because they haven't registered that the information they have already been given has not enabled them to produce any results. They then pay to go on another seminar with the same guru, to get the missing piece of the puzzle, but that is never revealed. These people become trapped into paying more and more for information, while they should be going out and putting the original information into action to see if they can achieve any results. There are many sharks in property who make a lot of money from telling others how to make money. Be sure to follow someone who talks the talk and walks the walk. Too many newbies do not recognise that they are being "sold to" and end up spending money unnecessarily. Do not fall for marketing hype, spin, and promises of get rich quick. If you adopt that attitude of wanting something for no effort, you will fail, EVERY time.

7. Lack of massive and sustained action. To be successful in any walk of life, you must be committed, and engage in massive and sustained action every day. Many people make excuses to themselves why they will do this next week, next month, after Christmas, etc. The net result of that is that there is no result.

8. Not treating your property portfolio as a business. Cash flow is the life blood of any business, and property is no different. If you do not focus on cash flow and manage it appropriately, your business will fail. Property is no different. Too many people focus on the acquisition, with no thought of the cash flow prospects etc. A property portfolio based on capital growth/equity release is a VERY HIGH RISK strategy, and one to be avoided by novice investors or those of limited financial means.

9. Lack of education and networking and lack of commitment to learning. When working in isloation, it is easy to make mistakes and lose direction and momentum. There is so much free information available on the web, that there is no excuse for not learning something new every day. Forums such as this allow you to expand your contacts and knowledge and learn from others who are more experienced than you.

10. Thinking that property is a race or a competition. It's not. It's about you taking responsibility for your financial future and doing what is right for YOU and on one else. Take your time to build your team, research deals that work for you, and triple check your research. Never be pressurised into anything in property. There is ALWAYS time to take a step back and reflect on what you are about to do to check that it is right for you.

If you would like to join an active and supportive community of like-minded property professionals, please join our Property Tribes forum.

If you are experiencing any difficulties or problems with your property investments, please post them on the forum and myself and other members of the community, will be only too happy to share our thoughts and help you resolve them.
N



June 17, 2009

The 7 Deadly Sins of Property Investment


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1. Arrogance/not sharing information:
Thinking you know it all. The day that happens is the day you will fail! When getting involved in property, you should acknowledge that you are committing to life-long learning. As we like to say, you can never learn less and you can never know it all! Be generous with sharing your knowledge with others. A measure of a person is what he will do for someone who can do absolutely nothing for him! It costs nothing to light someone else's candle from your flame of knowledge.

2. Treating tenants like a rent payment instead of a person: Tenants are our "clients". By paying their rent on time, and treating our properties with respect, they are allowing us to have a business and create wealth over the long term. As a landlord, you are a "service provider", and to be successful you must provide a high standard of service and accommodation. Tenants increasingly have a choice and they know it, so treat them with respect. You will only be a successful LL if your properties are fully occupied with happy tenants. Sounds obvious, but too many amateur LL just focus on rent payments, not the fact that they have to provide a service to the person paying the rent.

3. Not keeping up to date with government legislation: As a LL, you are bound to comply with certain legislation to ensure the health and safety of your tenants. These include Gas Sure certificates, EPC's, HMO licencing (where appropriate), operational smoke alarms, correct insurances, etc. By not keeping up to date with these, you are not only putting your tenant at risk, you are putting your business at risk.

4. Ostrich syndrome: Not changing with the times. Business is changing at a faster pace than ever before in history. We are in the era now of the linked economy. This has huge implications on your property business. To bury your head in the sand, and not recognise these changes, and try and change with them, may lead to the demise of your property business. Networking events and forums like Property Tribes are great places to keep your knowledge up to speed and help you move with the times.

5. Not having systems in place to manage your business: LL's should have systems in place to keep track of each individual property in terms of mortgage product, cash flow, keeping tax records, etc. Failure to do this, will lead to problems down the line.

6. Absolving all responsibility to a third party: Whether it be to pay for a portfolio building service, hand over your properties to a letting agent, or pay for property deals, you MUST take responsibility overall for your decisions. Third parties generally do not care about your business or your money as much as you do. If you cannot be bothered to take responsibility, then don't expect others to. There is no such thing as an "armchair investor". It's your business, so take care of it, or face the consequences. "Get rich quick" mentality is one of the deadiest sins in property!

7. Not taking consistent and massive action: The only way to be successful in any business, is to take consistent and massive action. Many people pay to go on seminars and courses, and then never put the knowledge into practice. Other people start out with the intentions to build a portfolio or property business, and then give up at the first hurdle. The only way to success is by setting big, fat, hairy goals, keeping them in sight, and taking steps towards them every day.

Join the 7 Deadly Sins discussion on Property Tribes here.

Tribal Meeting ...  Network for success!

The countdown is on!  Our next tribal gathering is scheduled for Sunday 21st June. The venue is the Holiday Inn, Egerton Road, Guildford.  The meeting runs from 10.30 to 14.30.  Admission costs £10.00 payable on the door to help towards the larger room we now have to hire.  Parking is ample and free.

This month, we will be talking about how to use Twitter in your business, and also discussing issues facing us all in the challenging market conditions.

Register here ...

property tribes  

For those of you who wish to get more information on Social Media/The Web and how to use it, please join with Nick on his NEW SITE - Social Media Graffiti

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February 28, 2009

Last Landlord Standing ...

Here at 4 Walls, we have always been of the opinion that, as professional Landlords, we should offer a superior product and a superior service. As a Landlord, you are a "service provider" and therefore your success will be determined by the level of service you offer your clients. This has never been more true than in the challenging and competitive market conditions we are currently all experiencing.

Clients (tenants) have a great deal of choice, and they KNOW it.

last man standing

We believe it will be the professional Landlords who survive and prosper in these challenging times.

Here are some of our tips to be a winner in the lettings game:

In areas of over-supply of rental stock, ensure your property stands out from the crowd. Give it a unique selling point. The days of identi-kit, "me too", magnolia boxes are over. Add a few upgrades and finishing touches to ensure your property is elevated above its competitors. An example of this is a friend of ours who has a lot of student lets. He fits all his houses with jacuzzi baths and students always pick his houses for obvious reasons! Look to see where you can create "lifestyle" touches i.e. garden furniture for the garden, plasma screen TV, etc.

Ensure "kerb appeal" from the outside, with a well kept garden and house name/no., with outside security light. We passed a property today where the Landlord hadn't bothered to put a house number on the door, and the developer's sign for the Plot Number was the only identification. There was also a large pile of old carpet in the front garden. This does not give the appearance of a "home" that the owner cares about.

Ensure your property is "staged" for marketing photographs and ensure that these are of high quality. Tenants "buy" from the photos far more than the marketing spiel, so ensure that the house is immaculately clean, the lights are on, there are some thoughtful finishing touches.

Make your property work on a practical level by putting in some finishing touches like mirrors, hooks on the back of doors, some nice handwash next to the basins, shelves, and storage solutions.

Ensure that the property is immaculately clean and maintained.

Offer incentives to get prospective tenants to commit. This could be anything from a crate of beer in the fridge, to six months free broadband, to six months gym membership included. (The Gym offers membership for £14.99 per month and is 24 hours per day. New gyms being added all the time. Have a look at www.thegymgroup.com for details).

It's worth paying a bit extra for decent mattresses. If your tenants can't get a good night's sleep, they will soon leave. Ensure that blinds/curtains block out all the light so tenants working on shifts can sleep during the day.

The days of "that I'll do 'em" are well and truly over. Treat a tenant like that, and you will turn your tenants over a lot faster and suffer more voids as a result.

If a maintenance problem arises, sort it within 24 hours. Use local trusted workmen or post your job on www.myhammer.co.uk to get a keen quote.

Keep an open and friendly dialogue with your tenants yourself (or through an approved agent) to ensure the continued enjoyment of their stay at your property. Treat even small problems or niggles seriously so that they feel valued as a tenant.

Tenants are increasingly worried that the Landlord may be planning on selling the property as soon as the market recovers, and they will then lose their home. Reassure your tenants that you are in this for the long-term and that the property will be available as long as they want it.

It is our advice not to rock the boat with an increase in rent at the moment. Tenants are worried about the economic down-turn and fearful about losing their jobs, so an increase in the rent might be enough to tip them over the edge to hand in their notice. This could lead to a void period, which should be avoided at all costs.

See where you can add value and give value at ever opportunity. A recent example from our portfolio: a tenant reported that the fridge had stopped working and that they had lost all their week's food supply. We got the fridge fixed straight away, but we also sent the tenant some vouchers towards replacing the lost food. This again makes the tenant feel valued.

Security is increasingly important to tenants. You should ensure that there is a security light outside and you could also consider a burglar alarm.

Budget for a face-lift for your property approx. every five years to keep it up to standard. Tenants respect a pleasant environment and are more likely to keep up standards if high standards have been set from the start of the tenancy.

In the current market conditions, be price sensitive with your rents. Remember: it is better to have 80% of something, rather than 100% of nothing! Even one month's void will eat into your profit, so endeavour to let your property out as quickly as possible, even if that means taking a hit on the rent.
You can offer an "introductory" special offer rent to be reviewed after six months.

Worth noting: With the new survery from the Halifax reporting massive outward migration from city centres, houses in the suburbs are less likely to suffer from over-saturation, and can be let on a single occupancy or multi-let basis.

Please add your tips below so that we can build up a wiki on how to be a professional and successful Landlord. It might sound obvious, but you will only be successful if tenants want to rent from you, and want to stay in your properties as long as possible!.

Those that treat tenants with respect and give value and add value at every turn will be the last Landlord standing!

You can read our Investor Blueprint here.


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