Getting ready to rent; top tips for the first time landlord

Jonathan Morgan (Picture: Barnaby Aldrick)

Whilst a well-managed property investment is in our view an essential element in a balanced long term investment plan, it can take a little planning to get there.

  • If you are buying in another city, ensure that you observe the first rule of property- view before you buy.            However appealing the marketing, make sure that you at least visit the site and check the credentials as            they have been put before you. Double check the ‘5 minute walk to the railway station’, the ‘host of bars            and restaurants on the doorstep’ and the ‘easy access to major road links’.
  • If you are preparing to rent out your own home, make sure that you remove any valuable items or anything        of sentimental value. It is a simple fact that even the most diligent and pleasant of tenants can unwittingly          damage or ruin fine items.
  • make sure that you have appropriate insurance and that it is noted on the policy that you are renting the            property out.
  • take out specialist contents insurance which includes accidental damage.
  • if you are renting out your own home, make sure that you inform your lender.
  • choose a reputable agent with a high street presence and membership of ARLA.
  • ensure that you follow the agent’s advice in terms of whether to let furnished or unfurnished and, if it is to          be furnished, make sure that you install neutral, sturdy items which will stand the test of time.

Bank of England given powers to control buy-to-let mortgages

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The Bank of England is taking an ever more robust approach to the buy to let sector and has been given new powers by the Government to control buy to let loan to values. A prudent approach to lending is essential in ensuring that new loans are sustainable over time and through changing market conditions, but it is hard to understand just why the Government is so intent on creating more and more barriers to entry to the private buy-to-let market place. Clearly, they have invested heavily in the institutional PRS sector and have sponsored this asset class from inception right through its market entry- perhaps the Government believes that they can meet housing need and achieve better quality and regulation by driving more and more supply through this channel.

The reality is of course, that this sector, in its purest form, will not satisfy demand where it is most acute, in the mid-markets. The PRS handbook which was published by the government, promoted a set of guidelines for delivery which included recommended floor plans which are now appearing in numerous schemes in almost identical form across the country. The standard 2 bed PRS  ‘horseshoe’ configuration, for example, has two bedrooms with direct access from the living room. There is little diversity in delivery and a real focus on core city centres where premium rents will be a prerequisite of the success of any PRS fund, as will a very tight handle on gross to net costs, which are yet to be proven.

It remains to be seen what impact this latest layer of regulation will have on activity in the buy to let sector, following hard on the heels of the stamp duty premium and changes to wear and tear allowances and mortgage interest relief.

It is a grave error in our view to try and regulate the sector to this degree- individual investors are the lifeblood of the private rented sector and sweeping regulatory changes of this nature are excessive and unfair.

Brand New Leeds City Centre Apartments Are Huge Success

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Work is complete at Leeds city centre’s latest ‘build to rent’ apartment scheme and the fully furnished, brand new apartments are all now fully occupied after being reserved in a matter of weeks.

The development is located in an enviable position on New Briggate and consists of 13, one and two bedroom, apartments over five floors.

Each home is finished to an exceptional standard and includes air conditioning, which is a first for Leeds city centre, as well as high quality furnishings and a stunning range of kitchens and bathrooms.

These apartments have been extremely popular with discerning tenants looking for a standout home.  Each property has been carefully designed and thoughtfully furnished so tenants just needed their clothes and personal belongings, to move straight in.

The development’s location has been another major selling point.  The apartments occupy the upper floors above North Bar, next to the city’s Grand Theatre, with both Briggate and Victoria Gate just around the corner, meaning the development has some of the UK’s best shops, bars and restaurants on its doorstep.

As a result we were inundated with enquiries as soon as we started marketing these apartments and it’s fantastic to see them already fully occupied, in such a short space of time.

 

 

Lifetime Achievement Award For Jonathan Morgan

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Morgans enjoyed a special night at this year’s Residential Property Awards when Jonathan Morgan was presented with the event’s prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award.

The awards are a sensational celebration of Yorkshire’s property talent and were hosted by TV presenter Jonnie Irwin from Escape To The Country and A Place In The Sun.  The event also raises tens of thousands of pounds every year for children’s charity Variety.

The judges highlighted the role Jonathan has played in making city living a vibrant and exciting reality, as well as applauding his work in attracting inward investment, and described him as a great ambassador for the city.

Well-known Leeds professionals who endorsed Jonathan’s award included Richard Lewis from Town Centre Securities, Jon Kenny from CEG and Martin Patterson from St George’s Crypt, which is in the frontline of support for homeless, disadvantaged and vulnerable people in Leeds.

Richard Lewis said: “I first met Jonathan 20 years ago and he had a bonkers idea about converting space above shops into flats. Fortunately I listened, and the rest as they say his history.  I’ve had a long relationship with him, I’ve loved working with him, he is a true pioneer.”

Jon Kenny added: “He’s Leeds through and through.  He’s been involved in the market for many years, stood up for it when it’s been down, and promoted it heavily when it’s been up.  There’s not a thing he doesn’t know about the Leeds residential scene.”

Martin Patterson said: “He is keen to make sure Leeds becomes a better city for everybody in the community.  He’s achieved an enormous amount for St George’s Crypt.  Over £500,000 has been raised during 10 years through the amazing Crypt Factor event.  Additionally he has secured major opportunities for us in networking.  Without his work, our work would be so much more difficult.”

The money raised at the Yorkshire Residential Property Awards funds Variety’s work with disabled, disadvantaged and deserving children in Yorkshire.  It’s spent on a wide range of initiatives including Sunshine coaches, which are used by schools and organisations for children with special needs.  It also supports one-off appeals for help and specialist wheelchairs which can cost up to £20,000.

Homes To Rent In Leeds’s Secret Garden

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Home hunters are being given the chance to move into a luxury property with grounds once visited by J R R Tolkien. Hollies Park Court is a four-apartment building next to The Hollies, a Victorian villa located within Meanwood Park, near Weetwood.

The house’s gardens are known for their botanical significance, and are home to oak woods, waterfalls, rhodedendrons and azaleas set on a hillside. The building was gifted to the city of Leeds in 1921 by George Brown in memory of his son, Harold, who was killed in action in World War One.

The house became a sanatorium for children with tuberculosis and the grounds were opened to the public. Lord of the Rings author Tolkien was known to have wandered around the attractive woodland dell. The modern property on Weetwood Lane includes two large apartments which have recently gone onto the lettings market. The two-bedroom ground floor flat is available for £1,200 per month, while the top floor flat, which has a luxury fitted kitchen, is priced at £1,500 per month.

Both have been recently refurbished, have secure parking and scenic views over the park with a great specification and layout. They will no doubt appeal to people who want to be close to the city, but are attracted to the natural environment of the park setting.

An architectural competition with a difference – The Carbuncle Cup

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How uplifting recently to read about the losers and the losers in the Building Design Magazine Carbuncle Cup – there can be no winners in a competition whose very purpose is to bring to the attention of the public the worst buildings of the year. You might be tempted to think that a competition founded on just how bad a building might be would fail to engage but thinly veiled contempt can be equally as enthralling as gushing admiration.

 

Romping home in first place was Lincoln Plaza in Docklands, described as “yet another shameful indictment of bad planning as well as bad architecture”. Of an extension to Poole Methodist Church, a nominee said; “The building screams of the same bland, belligerent mediocrity that is the insidious moniker of ostensibly polite and ubiquitous background architecture everywhere and of new offices, One Smithfield, in Stoke on Trent… An aesthetic mutation between the nostalgic 1980s brain games of Connect 4 and Blockbusters might not seem like a natural breeding ground for architectural malevolence but this building proves what happens when colour goes rogue.’’

 

The judging panel, responding to a wave of public nominations, apparently see the awards as a counter to much heralded Stirling Prize, and clearly delight in what they see as architectural faux pas. No building is safe from the threat of the Carbuncle Cup it seems.

 

St Peter’s Apartments Gain Praise From Buyers

St Peters Hall Leeds

The remaining apartments at an exclusive development of historic buildings in the grounds of Leeds Minster have been released for sale following the resounding success of the first phase.

The majority of the eight remaining individual one bedroom apartments at St Peter’s House & Hall have a parking space, and the location on The Calls in Leeds City Centre has really appealed to buyers.

The first apartments to go on sale at St Peter’s Hall offered a rare opportunity for people to buy a new home in one of Leeds’ most popular residential areas, and as a result sold quickly, attracting plenty of interest from both investors and owner occupiers.

The sensitive restoration of the attractive heritage buildings means that no two apartments are the same, and they all benefit from a host of period features. The second phase of the development – St Peter’s House – which sits alongside the Hall, has a mix of North facing apartments which enjoy stunning views of Leeds Minster, whilst those to the South side of the building overlook The Calls. The one bedroom homes start from £140,000.

The Calls is just a ten minute walk from the railway station, and there are a host of quality restaurants, bars, shops and theatres on the doorstep.

The luxury specification, contemporary kitchens and bathrooms and character features really set the tone for this high-quality, sensitively restored, beautiful red-bricked building.  We are confident the last few homes will really appeal to buyers wanting to live in one of the best City Centre locations in Leeds.

Work on St Peter’s Hall is now complete and work on St Peter’s House is due for completion towards the end of the year.

City Residents Spend Less Than 30% Of Their Income On Rent

AffordabilityResearch from our tenants reveals that the vast majority of people renting apartments in Leeds city centre spend less than 30 per cent of their gross salary on rent.

We analysed data from hundreds of new tenants since the start of the year to determine how much rent people pay as a proportion of their income.

The data reveals that 38 per cent of new tenants are spending between 21 and 30 per cent of their pre-tax salary on rent and 31 per cent spend between 11 and 20 per cent.  Just 16 per cent have committed to rents that amount to between 31 and 40 per cent of their wage.

In stark contrast, figures from The House of Commons Library, which provides impartial information and research services, revealed that in London, private-sector rental costs have rocketed from 49 per cent of average pre-tax income to 62 per cent since 2010.

As part of our credit checking process, we always make sure that tenants can comfortably afford the rental prices they are committing to, which reduces the risk of them running into financial difficulties.

It’s encouraging to see that rental prices are affordable for the vast majority of tenants who rent apartments in Leeds city centre, which is in stark contrast to many other parts of the country.  This is despite the fact that tenant demand continues to outstrip supply with our occupancy levels averaging over 99.5% per cent over the last two years.

Even with rents being realistic, landlords investing in buy to let apartments can still expect to achieve gross rental yields of more around 6 or 7% in Leeds city centre.  These attractive yields combined with the latest cut in interest rates and the ongoing improvements across so many parts of the city, are resulting a surge in investor activity which we can only see increasing over time.

Brexit and the Housing Market

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Clearly, much of what has been written post-referendum is pure conjecture and the reality is that no-one, including the most talented of economists, or gifted of speculators, actually knows what impact our exit from the EU may have.  This is true of our prospects economically, politically and in the housing market where we at Morgans are entirely vested.

Our view is that the referendum was one in a long series of what might be called significant events; the list includes the dramatic stock market crashes of Black Monday in 1987, 911 and the financial crisis of 2007. Immediately following each of these events, we were told that the world had changed and that things would never be the same. A meeting of economists in December 1987 concluded that ‘’the next few years could be the most troubled since the 1930’s’’. As it happened, the economy was barely affected and went on to grow through 1988 with the stock market recovering to its pre-crash level by early 1989. Who would have believed that Iran and the USA were exchanging missile attacks in the gulf as a pre-curser to the 1987 crash?

The world financial markets have been shaken so hard over the last 25 years that it is hard to believe that they have survived, and yet they have.

Much has been said of the potential impact of Brexit on the housing market, a full two years before Brexit is actually implemented and irrespective of the fact we are yet to invoke Article 50, which will trigger the beginning of this course of events. The government is carefully picking its way through a minefield of potential scenarios and, no doubt, assembling a team of trade negotiators, suitable in quantum and skill so as to be able to competently face-off with the 6,000 plus such negotiators currently employed by the EU.

In the meantime, it has been and remains business as usual in Leeds city centre and the North Leeds rentals market. Leeds is a city in growth, economically and physically and is, we believe, very well placed to withstand the impact of external forces. Job creation is high, a wide variety of skills are within reach, our economy is diverse across sectors as disparate as manufacturing and legal and professional services and the housing market is accessible to most. Whilst the London market is unaffordable to most and due a correction, the same should not be said of Leeds. A recent search on Rightmove of all Leeds postcodes showed that there were over 120 three bedroomed properties available for sale at under £120,000.

The fundamentals haven’t changed; we have too many people chasing not enough properties and until such time as this changes significantly, for example, by a dramatic upturn in the supply of new properties, the supply and demand characteristics of the housing market are unlikely to alter.

 

 

 

Fantastic Five Bolster Sales Division

Morgans new appointments summer 2016

Five new staff have been appointed at Morgans, bolstering its sales division.

Mark Nowoslawski, Ben Murphy and Victoria Hague join as sales negotiators and Amy Wright and Trina Higgins as sales coordinators.

Emma Eastwood, who has worked for the property company for 17 years, has been promoted to rentals and sales manager. She previously managed the rentals team, but will now also be responsible for the sales team, who are all based at the firm’s Dock Street office.  Morgans now employs a team of 44 people.

As the residential property market continues to gain momentum, we have enjoyed our best quarter for 10 years in terms of apartment sales, so it’s important that we attract talented new team members to the division.

Morgans manages the largest rentals portfolio of apartments in the City which range in price from £500 to over £2,500 per calendar month. The firm also has a dedicated corporate arm, dealing with businesses relocating staff to Leeds, and a highly experienced sales division which is currently marketing a range of city centre homes suitable for owner occupiers, corporate organisations and investors that range in price from £95,000 to over £700,000.

Business at the firm’s City and North Leeds offices is up by around 10% in comparison to the first quarter last year.