Why Cheaper Is Rarely Better When Choosing A Lettings Agent

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If you eat out on a shoestring, you’d expect to find bog-standard food instead of a fine dining experience. Similarly, the rental market can leave you cold and hungry for a better service if you take on a cheap lettings agent.

Around the UK, landlords are spoilt for choice in bargain agencies. All of them are priced as such for a reason – they take the good taste out of your relationship, and do an ‘okay’ job when five-star services could be on the table.

Don’t believe us? Here’s why your yield could suffer from a cheap and decidedly not cheerful lettings agent…

 

Close contact is a hardship

No-one should have to struggle for me-time when they’ve paid for ongoing advice. But by slashing their price tag, a lettings service has no reason to provide a sincere level of attention when you need it.

They know that you’ve come to them based on physical currency; therefore, they’ll assume you won’t go anywhere else, because their rates are still the lowest around. Battling through other callers on the phone could be a nightmare, as will arranging a catch-up to see how they’re bettering your portfolio.

 

There’s a distinct lack of local expertise

Often, the most ‘reasonable’ lettings agents are nationwide, with offices smattered over all sorts of towns, cities and rural areas. Their expanded presence has, in many ways, accounted for cheap rates i.e. the cookie-cutter approach has worked for them up to this point, and they see no merit in changing it.

Yet any landlord worth their weight in brick and mortar must realise that regional specificities are key. Agencies should be able to wax lyrical on what makes a neighbourhood special for every viewing. That might take in information about schools, shops, transport networks, and how reasonable the advertised price is, by comparison to other rental homes nearby.

 

You’ll risk a slow or untrustworthy performance

As we’ve said, budget estate agencies don’t see much cause for going above what you expect. Yet beyond that, they can court shady tactics, designed to make up for the fact that you likely won’t be over the moon with what they deliver. A common issue, for instance, is the upfront payment – a great service should only charge you on a ‘no let no fee’ policy, reflective of their proven track record.

So you could be paying for meagre results, or none at all, just because the initial price was lower than expected. Unfortunately, poor service might cross over into the nitty gritty of their agreement, such as contractor repairs (forcing long delays in sending someone out to the property) and background checks for tenants (they may just approve without looking, to up their rental numbers).

At the end of the day, it comes down to a question: do you want to use foresight or knee-jerk instinct when choosing a lettings organisation? The cheaper they are in the here and now, the less they’ll do for you when it really counts.

 

As chartered surveyors, our lettings agents give you confidence when renting out properties in Manchester. Call our friendly team today, and let’s talk about your portfolio in the North West…

 

Top Tips For A Gorgeous, Low Maintenance Garden

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Nature is in high demand these days. Far from staring out at regiments of brick or concrete, tenants yearn for an open, green space at their property, even if it’s modest. As a landlord, you must never undervalue the hook of a garden, and what it can mean for people who love a tranquil spell in the sun.

It does, admittedly, take a measure of care to ensure the garden – however large or small – remains an enticing offer. To boost the appeal of your outdoor space, and reduce maintenance work, here are a few tricks for keeping it spruce and shapely…

 

Choose your plants wisely

Garden upkeep never ends – this much is true, but certain features can drain your time more than you may realise. Fast-growing plants, for instance, will throw the orderly character of your turf off-course, as they need to be trimmed every handful of weeks and can surprise you with changing, seasonal behaviour.

Nip the problem in the bud, so to speak, by planting flowers with less intense growing cycles. Quartz Rose, Thyme and Verbena are just some that develop steadily over the year (for hedges, we suggest yew or holly bush). Aim for ground cover plants, which stick close to the soil, limiting the intrusion of weeds. To make watering easier, put them in grouped containers at the flanks of the garden path, or just beyond the front door.

 

Invest in outdoor edging

Few things are more unsightly than a garden with different textures – grass, decking, flower beds, gravel – spreading over into one another. To guard against this, implement some edging materials where you want to form a distinction. They’re designed to keep turf in their own spot, or to neaten your pebble and paving lines.

Doing so means tenants won’t have to trim stray shoots from the boundaries of your arrangement. Stone wave edging is popular, especially when paired with a pond or a bird bath. Wooden ‘fixing pegs’, as they’re known, are a rustic choice that wall off your most delicate saplings. The latter also create height distinctions, literally raising the profile of any eye-catching shrubbery.

 

Make good use of mulch

Mulch is a wonder cure for backbreaking garden tasks. Think of it as a warm, invigorating blanket that protects and feeds your soil. It’ll aid plants when the winter frost arrives, saving you the trouble of buying and tending to a whole new batch. As it degrades, the ground will absorb its nutritional components, protecting the lawn from disease.

You can buy pre-prepared mulch, or use your own – the clippings from a mower (combined with any leave you manage to rake together) form a ready-made pile, which you can spread around key sections. The drainage attributes of your soil will increase too, as the grass won’t become waterlogged.

 

All of these solutions can help you create a gorgeous, low maintenance garden that your tenants will love. However, it’s only reasonable to admit that you – or any other landlord – may be struggling with property management as a whole. Contact Summermere to see how we can lend a hand to the appeal, maintenance and promotion of your portfolio in the North West.

How To Prepare Your Rental Property For Viewings

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Advertising has its limits. No matter how well your property is presented online, it has to suffer the biggest test of all: the viewing. Prospective tenants will be dying to see the space for themselves, weighing up the reality of an interior before they sign any kind of agreement…

What does this mean for landlords? Inevitably, it demands a little care and attention, as the property has to look and feel like a home. But this doesn’t require a huge investment of time and money – here are some tips to help you prepare for a successful viewing:

Make the entrance inviting

No-one likes to gawp over an ad online, only to arrive at a battered, flaking door and a grubby set of windows. As first impressions go, the entrance to the building will absorb a lot of those associations for what lies inside. Clean up the doorstep, give the entrance itself a lick of fresh paint, and (perhaps) stick two potted plants at either side for a naturally warm greeting.

Then, in the hallway, get rid of any clutter/old mail that’s clogging it up. A welcome mat can’t hurt, and shows you care about keeping the carpet free of dirt. Open all nearby windows a fraction to clear any stale air, whilst parting the curtain or blinds so light can filter through to the rooms.

Don’t block your best features

Are you in possession of a fireplace, or a bare-bricked interior wall? Great – don’t hide it! These sorts of unique, stately complements can sway a tenant towards the dotted line faster than they may realise. Whatever strange, impressive, or downright one-of-a-kind features you have, it’s best to draw attention to them.

You can, for instance, angle the furniture so it’s pointing subtly towards the fireplace area. Pillars and alcoves should be free of any items, either leaning on them or stuck to the surface (i.e. wall posters), to make them seem like a blank visual canvas.

Any wall art, trinkets and decorations that come with the property should be in a neat, appropriate display. Appliances, like washing machines and dryers, also shouldn’t be masked by anything, lest someone overlooks them.

Clean, clean, clean…

It’s a common sense concern, but dirt, dust and grime can accumulate practically anywhere in the property. Aside from those typical areas – bathroom tiles, living room rugs and doorway frames, to name a few – you must tackle the rest of the house’s hygienic sore spots.

By this, we’re referring to the inner condition of your oven, fridge and freezer, if you include them with the rental agreement. It’s well worth having a professional clean between lettings if your property is already vacant. Not only will it attract tenants, it will also set the benchmark for their own cleaning standards when looking after your property.

Now that you know what to ready yourself for, why not further the appeal of your portfolio with Summermere at the helm? Our letting agents can promote your investments in the local area, and handle the paperwork, character references and introductions that follow a rental enquiry. Call us today for more information…

Landlords: Are You Aware Of Your Obligations?

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The rental market continues to absorb more demand across the country, and new landlords are springing up everywhere, realising the value of a buy to let investment. Some, however, are unprepared for what the role entails. It isn’t as simple as handing someone the keys, stepping back, and watching the cash roll in…

Like any business, buy-to-let properties carry obligations with them. Such laws are designed to protect you (and your tenants) from any issues. So we’d like to clear the mist from your eyes, and show you what they are:

Electrical and gas safety

To keep the home warm and safe, you’ll need to get a Gas Safety Certificate for the boiler, vents and pipework. In terms of electrics, your appliances should have a CE industry badge, and you legally have to get a full house inspection every five years if more than one person lives there. It’s advisable to hire an electrician anyway, once a year, to check the switchboard is in good shape.

Checking the ‘right to rent’

You can face fines for granting rent to someone who doesn’t have permission to live in the country. Background checks must be done; UK nationals are fine, as are tenants who’ve received asylum or the ‘right to abode’ (e.g. a foreign spouse). Time-limited rent rights are permissible as long as you conduct further checks. But don’t worry, a service like ours will take care of this for you.

Functioning fire alarms

There should be a smoke detector on every floor of the house or flat, including hallways and stairwells. Alongside them, a fire extinguisher is mandatory for HMOs (Homes with Multiple Occupants). It’s also important to ensure that entrances/exits aren’t blocked, so people can escape if a fire breaks out. Finally, every piece of furniture – except mattresses and bed bases – must be fire-safe: you can find the label on any reputable product.

A legionella assessment

Ever heard of Legionnaire’s Disease? It’s similar to pneumonia, caused by a water system that’s hit a 20C-45C range, which encourages bacteria to spread and multiply. People can ingest these organisms in their drinking water, or inhale them through re-circulated moisture droplets. Hire an accredited body for a legionella assessment to ensure you don’t have any stagnant water in your system.

Deposit protection

Lastly, it’s vital to register your tenant’s deposit with a recognised scheme. Should a dispute occur, there has to be a third party involved, refereeing what damage claims are applicable. Full details of the DPS should be sent to the tenant – both in written and email form – as soon as they pay you the holding sum. Again, we can take this burden off your shoulders.

There’s a lot to think about when renting out a property, but with a property management service like Summermere, you can ensure you’re staying compliant. Our lettings agents, property managers and associated contractors are always just a phone call away. See our FAQs for more information, and call us on 0161 798 6633 for a chat about your portfolio.

5 Easy Ways To Spruce Up Your Property

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The clocks have moved forwards, and everyone is heading out to stock up on dusters, mops, and scouring pads. The first signs of spring cleaning season are officially upon us, and if you’re a landlord, there’s no better time than now to dress up your properties for the summer.

But this doesn’t have to be a costly procedure. There are all kinds of different ways to freshen your houses and apartments for affordable fees and minimal effort this spring… Here are 5 easy ways to spruce up your property:

1. Go green

There are few better ways to enhance the look of a house during spring than with a bit of natural greenery. Hanging up outdoor plants can give gardens an added twinkle, and taking out the hedge trimmers will ensure backyards look tidy when the sun is shining down.

Bring botanicals inside for viewings too, and remember to rotate the flowers when they’re beginning to fade. Never underestimate the ability of plant life to brighten a room.

2. A lick of paint

Decorating can be expensive, but it doesn’t have to be this way. Avoid a brush with the bank this spring by picking up a regular brush instead. Adding a new lick of paint to your properties is a cheap fix that requires nothing more than a bit of elbow grease.

The front entrance and doorstep is a good place to start (first impressions count, remember) and make sure to perform a thorough job on the walls without forgetting the windows sills and skirting boards.

3. Lighten up

Invite the light into your properties by dusting down the windows, attaching some brand new blinds, or installing a fresh set of colourful curtains.

Screw in some new lightbulbs too, and consider covering any naked bulbs with lampshades. Different tenants have different tastes – but all of them want their property to be well-lit.

4. Clear out clutter

It’s surprisingly inexpensive to create a clean and tidy property with neat and orderly arrangements. All you need is some basic housework equipment and a willingness to get right into the corners for a real deep clean.

Have a good rummage round each of your properties and throw out anything that doesn’t have any use or value. By strapping on your sorting hat, you can transform their appearance and keep them looking spick and span for viewings.

5. The finishing touches

If your furnishings still have all the sofa threads intact, there’s really no need to hire the removal men and take a trip to the nearest furniture shop just yet. Instead, add a few finishing touches to make rooms appear sunnier during the spring season. Vibrant pillows and throws work a dream, as do colourful rugs.

A few little gestures can go a long way to bringing the best tenants in through the door. Looking for a letting agent who can help you market your properties? Summermere are the answer. We’ve been helping landlords in the North West maximise returns on their properties for years. Give us a call on 0161 798 6633 – we’ll be delighted to hear from you.

Why Are Buy-To-Let Properties In Prestwich So Popular?

 

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Copyright: David Dixon http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/1796058

The rental market is undergoing radical transformation in the north of England. As students, professionals and young families decide that the overcrowded, expensive south isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, other areas are rising to prominence. Greater Manchester is one of them, meaning the region has some of the healthiest buy-to-let rates in the country.

Properties in Prestwich are high on the list of lucrative rental yields. They’re hitting a 7.7% return on a one-bedroom premises; much more than the national average. But why are buy-to-let properties in Prestwich so sought-after? Let’s take a look…

A growing, green community

Like Didsbury and Chorlton on the opposite face of the city, Prestwich is abundant with green spaces and communal areas. It straddles Heaton Park, a huge expanse of fields and woodland, which makes for an incredible day trip in the heat of the summer.

There’s an annual literary festival to look forward to, adding to Prestwich’s market stalls and heritage events. St. Mary’s park offers another attraction, featuring outdoor ping pong and basketball and tennis courts. There are many spots to relax in on a lazy day, or to pass the time with friends on weekends.

Excellent transport links

The A56 cuts right through Prestwich, crossing over the M60 motorway. These roads carry a glut of commuters from across the UK, drawing jobs and innovation to the town as a result. Prestwich is not a bustling, hemmed-in locale, but it is very close to a lot of north western cities – an hour’s drive, give or take, between Liverpool and Sheffield. That means properties can attract a wider pool of potential residents throughout the region.

However, for those who do live and work in Prestwich itself, Manchester is a short tram ride away for a change of pace. Their social life can open up enormously with the amount of clubs, exhibitions and gigs running non-stop in the Capital Of The North. Prestwich therefore symbolises the best of both worlds: relaxed or frenetic, depending on the individual.

Outstanding amenities

Briefly, we’d like to touch on the restaurants and drinking establishments that are energising the buy-to-let market in Prestwich, as their doorstep allure can’t be ignored.

There’s a wealth of options for wine, real ale and delectable cocktail tasting. On the gastronomic front, Prestwich boasts a fine menu of curries, Turkish kebab grills, and stone-baked pizzas. These are all big, shining ticks in the box of many a prospective tenant, seeing as a great evening can arise from any corner, just a few minutes down the road.

Landlords should capitalise on the Prestwich rental property boom while they still can. This well-kept secret is going to spread soon enough; Summermere can launch your investments onto the local market, and strengthen the pull of whatever you’re offering. Advertise your buy-to-let property in Prestwich today, and benefit from the experience and local knowledge of our Manchester lettings agents.

Climbing Kilimanjaro For Breast Cancer Care

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As some of you may know, our Director, Caroline, loves the great outdoors. When she’s not taking care of our clients and tenants here in Prestwich, she enjoys nothing more than driving to the Lake District and stretching her legs with her husband Robin and dog Nellie.

Next year, she’s taking her passion for walking to the next level, quite literally, as she embarks on a Kilimanjaro challenge with her good friend Sue Waxman. It’s all in the name of charity, and we hope you’ll support her cause….

Raising money for breast cancer care

 Despite huge leaps and bounds in medicine and genetics, breast cancer continues to affect the lives of thousands of people every year. Many of us know at least one person who has suffered from breast cancer; a number of Caroline’s closest friends have been diagnosed over the years.

While preventative surgery delivers amazing results in combating the disease, there’s still a lot of work and research to be done. That’s why Caroline has chosen to climb Kilimanjaro on behalf of Breast Cancer Care, a charity she holds very close to heart.

This UK support charity provides much needed care and guidance for anyone affected by breast cancer. They offer free confidential advice, practical information and emotional support, to help people find a way to live with, through and beyond breast cancer.

 Training for the trek

 Caroline and Sue will set off on their 11-day trek up Kilimanjaro on the 28th June 2018. In the meantime, training is already well underway here in the UK. Over the past year, Caroline has walked an impressive 149 of the 215 Wainwright walks with Robin and Nellie, and plans to complete the final 66 before her trip to Tanzania.

Her fitness regime also includes weight training sessions and weekly ‘Luvcycle’ classes, which combine arm weights and cycling, mad music and a great atmosphere at a local gym called The Hub in Radcliffe.

Support has been overwhelming so far; she has already raised over three quarters of her initial fundraising target of £3,000. However, every little helps in the quest to combat cancer, and Caroline will be doing everything she can to raise funds and awareness over the coming year.

Donating is easy: Caroline has set up a JustGiving page that allows you to send a donation in minutes. It goes directly to the charity, so you don’t have to wait until June 2018 for your funds to start making a difference…

Want to know more about Caroline and Sue’s Kilimanjaro challenge? Pop into Summermere for a catch up or contact us – we’d love to update you on the fundraising efforts!

What To Consider When Choosing Your Letting Agent

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The rental market is continuing to enjoy great success in the UK. As home ownership has become a more tenuous prospect for millennials and urban workers, landlords are spoilt for choice when it comes to finding tenants. However, this boom in the marketplace has been reflected by a surge in letting agents, all vying for your cash and claiming they know how to manage your portfolio best.

So, what should you look for when sniffing out the right lettings partner? Some factors should take priority in the search, which is why we’re clarifying a few key considerations:

Chartered surveyor status 

Many landlords are unaware of what a chartered surveyor does, never mind how they can be endemic to your peace of mind. Letting agents with RICS (Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors) approval are part of a select group of qualified chartered surveyors, trained to protect your property and audited to ensure your funds are safe.

This is a blessing, because such experts can guide your pricing and help you get the best out of your investment. As one of the few letting agencies in Greater Manchester with RICS status, Summermere offers support with the state of your portfolio, seeing what deficiencies must be addressed and how much, honestly, your residency is worth.

Good local knowledge

Letting agencies come in multiple shapes and sizes. On one hand you have the large, nationwide branches that spread themselves thinly over a huge range of territories. Most can’t seriously claim to understand a particular area well, as their catch-all model is rolled out to disparate locations, prizing uniformity over a tailored property service.

Local agencies, meanwhile, operate within a single area – either a town or region. They’ve likely been working from the ground up in these areas since their inception, which means they have an intimate grasp of how the market fluctuates. In real terms, this means they can advise you on what demographics you should be targeting, what amenities are expected, and the rental price you’re likely to secure in the area.

An extensive service

Some letting agents do no more than display your ad on their website, with a pinch of physical marketing to complement it. The next stage up is a tenant handling provision, whereby the agency will show people around the property, review contracts, and perform background checks before pen is put to paper.

The third level, however, encompasses both of these roles, as well as property management, which will save you massive amounts of hassle should anything need repairing or resolving. Everything is catered for, from finding local contractors in the event of a plumbing issue to inspecting your property on a regular basis. Essentially, these services bear the brunt of your responsibilities for as long as you want them to.

Looking for a letting specialist that ticks all the boxes? Contact Summermere to see what makes us a trusted choice for properties in Prestwich; really, there’s no merit in settling for second best, when the market is this lucrative…

How To Prevent Burst Pipes In Cold Weather

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Landlords have to keep their eye roaming over the smallest facets of their property, lest an issue swells into something that’ll eat up time and cash. Since we’re still huddling against the bite of winter, you must be mindful of what havoc the cold can wreak on your pipework and drainage facilities.

Burst pipes are costly to repair, and can inflict serious water damage on carpets, walls and basic housing foundations. Here are some tips for ensuring there’s never a crack in your piping system as the freezing temperatures continue…

Employ pipe insulators

As cold air moves over your pipes, it’ll make them brittle, prone to cracks from the water exerting pressure inside. Special insulators can fit around them like a protective glove, slowing the freezing process down to a crawl. Although such a measure won’t completely prevent any damage, it’s a necessary investment that’ll cut the rate of mishaps down by a large margin.

Disconnect water hoses

Hoses allow stored water to build up and freeze, which’ll cross back through the spigot into your main piping network. Ask tenants to unscrew the hose from the wall before a cold spell hits. It’s best to leave it detached for the entirety of January, February and March until spring finally gets in gear.

Install a temperature recirculation valve

With a thermal convection, non-electric recirculation valve, your property can pass hot water through a piping network when it falls below a set temperature. This can prove invaluable if tenants go away for the weekend, giving you peace of mind that every pipe in the house will have continuous, circulated heat to prevent bursts and leaks.

Drain down the heating system

For empty periods, such as vacancies between lettings, it’s just as important to protect your property from the cold weather. Failing to do so could invalidate your insurance in the event of an emergency, which is why we recommend landlords drain their heating systems for prolonged stretches where their property remains vacant.

Seal air leaks around the pipes

In basements, crawl spaces and attic rooms, icy air can seep through without you quite realising it. If this kind of environment is housing your piping, then make sure to plug up any leaks or gaps in the surrounding structure. Not doing so allows that carefully-heated interior to lose its protective qualities. Caulk sealant will do just fine as a countermeasure.

These are just a few suggestions to help you maintain a robust set of pipes during winter. Yet you are never entirely safe from something going wrong, particularly if you have a large property portfolio. Partnering with Summermere gives you access to expert advice and support, all year round. Together, we’ll secure properties that are at risk from the colder climate, ensuring you and your tenants are protected.

Interested? Call us today, and we’ll be more than happy to discuss how we can help.

 

 

 

New Year’s Resolutions Every Landlord Should Set

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We’ve awoken to the dawn of 2017, and what a sight it is! A new year brings new possibilities for your property portfolio and financial freedom. It also tends to put everything in perspective – what you’re good at, what needs improving, and how your landlord skills can be refined to their ultimate potential.

On all of those counts, the Summermere team has some top tips for your success this year. Try these resolutions on for size if you’re scrambling for a plan:

Tighten up your terms

Being a landlord, like any other business venture, rewards close financial oversight. You should expect due rent to come in on time – that’s the best way to meet your own payment obligations, and to keep your books in order as the year motors on.

Without antagonising future residents, let them know, no ifs or buts, that you require the entire rent on a certain date every month, and that they have to agree to this on paper. Our contracts are carefully drawn up with an arrears system that ensures you are never left out of pocket.

Value your investments

With your financial security wrapped up, you can accurately plan your investments for the year ahead. Money and time are finite resources, so it’s vital to consider the value of each investment.

This doesn’t mean scrimping on the basics; in fact, a quick fix now can cost you in the long run. Instead, channel your resources into the purchases and services that will benefit your property and tenants. Quality furnishings, for example, could justify higher rental prices, or attract good tenants to stick around for longer.

Maximise your marketing

The rental business is booming, but every landlord has stiff competition. Tenants want a great location, generous amenities, agreeable pricing and a friendly welcome into their new abode. Translating all of this into a property ad can take some doing, as well as the subsequent push for getting dozens of prospects to see it.

This is an area (of many, we might add) that Summermere can lift the pressure from. Our vibrant, warm marketing approach is ideal for giving your property the edge it deserves, with a large database of eager tenants to garner interest from.

Don’t sweat the small stuff

Maintaining rental properties can be a headache. We’re no strangers to the constraints a landlord is faced with: purchasing furniture, repairing appliances and dealing with tenants are just some of the challenges you face.

This is the reason why we recommend a complete, outsourced property management service. Your team will be worth its weight in gold when it comes to taking the load off your shoulders, delivering fast, cost-effective and lasting solutions.

Stay in the loop

Bringing on a property management company does offer peace of mind, but only if you’re able to stay in close communication. A good lettings agent should take the initiative, walking you through every decision and giving you regular updates. Refrain from falling out of the loop, and your collaborative force will be strong and secure.

These are just some of the resolutions every landlord should consider, but there are several more, which you may not have thought of as the day-to-day demands of your role persist. However, we’re here to provide relief for you. Contact Summermere for a comprehensive, personalised service to kickstart 2017…