Published: 26/03/2017 Last Updated: 27/06/2017
As I sit and write this I have had to close the curtain to block the bright sunshine streaming in through my sittingroom window. What a welcome problem to have at last.
International News Article 50 is being invoked as this newsletter goes out. On this many hopes and reputations rest. I won't comment on it because it is the beginning of a very big next chapter.
National News This month has seen Philip Hammond's first budget as Chancellor (hopefully not his last!). The reports on this largely centered around the issue of National Insurance for the self-employed, and then the subsequent U-turn. Luckily for landlords grown weary that any utterance from a chancellor will cost them money, there was no new bad news. We had all hoped he may reverse the extra stamp duty for investment properties introduced by George Osborne last year but this was not to be. We'll take no news as good news, however.
On the home front This month we have started to work with a property finding and management company based south of the river. They are called My London Management (http://mylondonmanagement.com) and were recommended to us by one of our existing landlords. Our landlord (based in Singapore) provided the following testimonial:
"In 2013 we wanted to invest in a London property. We contacted Russell, talked together with him on Skype, then put together a wish list of what we most desired in a property. Over two days Russell took us to see a selection of suitable investments in zones 1 and 2. From Earls Court in the west to Borough in the south and Whitechapel in the east. Some were already on the market, some were about to be listed. At the time properties were selling quite quickly, often at over asking price. Two properties made our shortlist and within a day we discovered our first choice was going to sealed bids. Nervous about how much to pay, Russell guided us and we secured the property at just £2,000 more than the next nearest bid. Russell stayed in regular touch with the selling agent throughout the buying process. Though the seller’s purchase fell through we were able to continue with the purchase by offering to rent the property to the seller post completion. This was a win win solution because while we earned some money towards refurbishing the flat, the seller became a cash buyer and was quickly able to complete on an alternative property.
Today’s market is slower, but no easier if one is selling and also buying. Some prices are dropping, but in London it seems there are always keen buyers for the best stock. Russell's advice is always straightforward, honest and realistic. He knows the London market and I’m sure it his fairness and openness that has earned him credibility with the many London estate agents he deals with on behalf of his clients."
If any of you are interested at looking at opportunities around London please let us know and we will introduce you to Russell. His business partner, Charles, runs the property management side of the business which covers south London, so between our two businesses we should be able to manage properties in most areas of London.
Services to tenants As mentioned in a few previous newsletters, we are keen to offer services to our tenants to improve the experience they have with us as agents, to break down the 'them and us' feeling and hopefully ensure smoother, longer term tenancies for you.
This is moving ahead albeit slowly. I am very keen not to damage what I feel is a useful and well-meaning initiative by perhaps not explaining it to the tenants correctly who then may feel this is cynical attempt by an agent to generate more fees and also worry that their personal details are being distributed without their permission and therefore illegally.
What we are doing currently is working with a financial comparison website which can tell you, when you move into a property, what the best deals for your utilities are at the moment (they seem to change almost daily). We intend to send this to tenants just before they move in to the property so they can use this information to get the best deal. We will then begin to mention this to existing tenants as and when the renew contracts at your properties.
If all this gets a favourable response, we would like to extend it to other products such as insurance. What we hope is that if this gains some traction, as well as being able to find the best deals on the market for tenants, we can begin to act as a community of tenants (and landlords, if you are interested) to see if we can get even better deals through the power of numbers. This may be somewhat far off but I thought it would be useful to explain what we are aiming at.