Landlords: What should you expect from your letting agent?

With literally tens of thousands of letting agents to choose from nationally, and a high street (and virtual high street) full of local options, how do you begin to choose who to entrust with your investment property and what should you expect from your letting agent?

We’ve compiled a checklist of four key things to look out for when choosing a letting agent. If the answer’s no to any of the below, you might want to reconsider who you currently let with.

 

  1. Has the letting agent got a shop front?

Your experience as a landlord will be partly determined by how well your agent manages the relationship with your tenant – so the credibility and stature of the agent you choose is important.

We believe that you should work with a business that has a physical presence, ideally pavement fronting. Tenants will take confidence from the fact that they are able to walk into the agency should they have an issue to report or if they are not getting an appropriate response.

2. Do they have experience and track record?

In busy times in the property market, agents will pop up all the time, tempted by a booming market and the promise of easy fees. Don’t take a risk on a start-up agent unless the principals have years of industry experience with other agencies. You need to be able to get the very best local market knowledge and the certainty that the relevant legislation will be observed.

3. Have they got happy clients?

Unless your agent is able to show you testimonials from clients whom they have acted for over a number of years, you are taking a risk. Landlords are incredibly loyal to their agents, due mainly to the perception that there is a massive risk in changing agents. However, it is not necessarily the case that long-standing clients are happy with the service they are getting, it’s just fear of change / lack of time and knowledge that prevents them swapping agents. Ask to see written testimonials.

4. Are they on top of recent laws and managing properties well?

Agents are now under all sorts of legal and financial obligations (quite right, too), and as they will be acting on your behalf, you need to be certain that they are both aware of and adhering to the latest legislation.

At the same time, they need to be able to demonstrate that they have systems and procedures in place which will ensure that your property is well looked after, properly maintained, rented at the right price and empty as little as possible.

 

For more advice and information, visit www.cityliving.co.uk.

By George, What A Great Team

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When we talk about City Living in Leeds, most of the focus is on the stunning range of apartments available and market trends, but it’s important to remember that there are also a number of people living rough in the City who need our help.

I have been involved with the well-established Leeds charity St George’s Crypt for over 10 years, the charity is based within the thriving church of St George’s in Leeds and has been at the frontline of support for homeless, disadvantaged and vulnerable people in Leeds and its surrounding areas since 1930.

This month myself, and a number of others who want to make a difference, have come together to launch a new property development company with a board of directors that is made up of some of the city’s leading property and construction experts.

St George’s Crypt Development Company will provide homes and community facilities for homeless and disadvantaged people throughout Leeds.  The company’s directors include Mark Henderson from Brewster Bye Architects, renowned quantity surveyor and project manager Richard Cavadino, Joel Owen from The Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Maggie Gjessing, Executive Regeneration Manager at Leeds City Council and Reverend Jonathan Clark from St George’s Church.

Our first site that St George’s Crypt Development Company plans to develop is located next to Saint Hilda’s Church in Cross Green. It will offer 20 homes as well as a range of community facilities.  Our company is also hoping to redevelop and expand a hostel on Regent Terrace in Headingley that currently offers accommodation for 10 men who are dependent on alcohol.

We hope to build on the great work that The Crypt already does in supporting the homeless in Leeds and the objective of St George’s Supported Living is to provide safe, managed homes for clients of The Crypt as they leave their addictions behind and work towards independence.

The sites in Cross Green and Headingley both offer great potential and we’re already considering several other sites across the city. It’s therefore a really exciting time for the charity and for all of us who are involved. The new company will help St George’s Crypt to provide inspirational environments for those in need who are wanting to make positive changes in their lives, which is incredibly rewarding for everyone involved. Visit www.stgeorgescrypt.org.uk/charity/ for how to get involved.

Leeds City Centre Apartment Prices Hit The High Note

Research by Morgans shows that Leeds city centre’s apartment values have recovered to the pre-crisis peak they hit in 2008.  However, the gap between prices in core areas, compared to those in fringe schemes, is now wider than ever.

Values per square foot can now differ by as much as 50 per cent when comparing apartments in premium developments in very central locations with properties located less than a mile away on the outskirts of the city centre.

Buyers will pay a significant premium for a high quality, well-designed apartment in a very central location and this applies to both new-build and resale properties.  Values of these types of apartments have generally held up much better than lower quality apartments following the downturn.

We are selling high quality properties, in core locations, for the same prices that we achieved at the peak of the market in 2008, with interest coming from both investors and owner-occupiers.

There is also a lot of potential for further price growth because Leeds is still behind the likes of Harrogate and York in terms of residential values, which is distorted when you consider and compare the economic profiles of the three.

A major lack of development in recent years has resulted in a shortage of supply, but there is now a raft of new developments on the horizon, which is also welcome news.  Forward thinking developers recognise the importance of quality so there’s some real thought going into the latest generation of schemes which is good for both the market and Leeds as a whole.

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Saxton Hasn’t Let The Grass Grow Under Its Feet

It’s hard to believe almost four years have passed since work completed at Saxton.  Today the development still stands out from the crowd and both homebuyers and investors once again have the opportunity to buy an apartment that is unlike anything else in Leeds city centre.

The development, by renowned regeneration company Urban Splash, sits within an established community in a leafy area in the East Bank area of Leeds and is just a short walk from The Calls, Leeds Dock and the city centre.

Saxton consists of two buildings that were completely refurbished to create 410 apartments surrounded by six acres of land complete with a one-acre private park, sun terrace, residents’ gym with classes, on-site caretaker and advanced recycling provision.  There’s also lift access to all floors, a video entry system, intruder alarms, energy efficient heating system and there are even allotments and sheds available by separate negotiation.

The whole development is finished to an exceptional standard and every apartment offers extremely generous living space and floor to ceiling windows providing lots of natural light and far-reaching views.

Morgans has been closely involved with Saxton from the outset, successfully managing and letting apartments within the development from day one.  We have now just been appointed to sell a portfolio of apartments in the scheme that offer both owner-occupiers and investors a fantastic opportunity.

The properties we are marketing start at £105,000 for a one-bedroom apartment through to £140,000 for a two-bedroom home with parking.  For investors there are several years worth of rental history available and some apartments are available with both the tenant and furnishings in place.

When you consider the size of the living spaces and the overall quality of the development, these apartments offer some of the most attractively priced apartments available anywhere in the City.

Further details are available by calling 0113 3980098 or emailing sales@cityliving.co.uk

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Crypt Factor Is Biggest Yet

 

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This year’s Crypt Factor, which is an annual singing competition that brings together leading companies from the region’s property industry to raise money for two great charities, was the biggest ever!

This year’s event broke every record in its nine year history and saw 10 budding singers and groups swap their day jobs in property for a night on the stage, and perform in front of a huge audience of approximately 700 people at Elland Road.

In total, the event raised more than £64,000 for two charities- LionHeart and St George’s Crypt and it’s a great delight that Morgans is a headline sponsor and organiser alongside Bond Dickinson, Bruntwood and Town Centre Securities Plc.

LionHeart offers all types of help and support to the property industry’s RICS members and their families who face problems in their lives that are often completely unexpected.

St George’s Crypt is a fantastic local charity based within the thriving church of St George’s in Leeds and has been at the frontline of support for homeless, disadvantaged and vulnerable people in Leeds and its surrounding areas since 1930.

The charity has previously spent the money we raise on all types of initiatives including its hugely successful ‘Growing Rooms’ programme, which houses and supports people as they break alcohol and drug related addictions.  The money has also gone towards helping people to improve their self-confidence, make positive decisions and ultimately move back into society and gain employment.

St George’s Crypt costs £1.5-million to run each year and relies heavily on donations to operate and offer vital services that benefit about 200 people every day.  You can find out more about the great work of this longstanding local charity by visiting www.stgeorgescrypt.org.uk

Property Industry Will Raise The Roof At Crypt Factor 2015

 

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March is always a great month for the region’s property industry because, as spring approaches, it’s not just the birds in the trees that are singing!

Every year, around this time, all the leading companies from the region’s property industry come together to raise tens of thousands of pounds for two very deserving charities, at the annual singing competition known as The Crypt Factor.

Now in its ninth year, the event takes place on 19th March 2015 and will see 10 budding singers and groups swap their day jobs in property for a night on the stage, as they perform in front of an audience of approximately 700 people – which is no mean feat!

This year’s event is already on target to raise well over £50,000 for charities LionHeart and St George’s Crypt and it’s a huge honour that Morgans is a headline sponsor and organiser alongside Bond Dickinson, Bruntwood and Town Centre Securities Plc.

The level of support we receive grows every year and this time we have been inundated with singers from a wide range of leading companies in the property industry and tables are selling extremely well, which will make Crypt Factor 2015 a superb event.

The charities we support both do fantastic jobs under difficult circumstances.  LionHeart offers all types of help and support to RICS members and their families who face problems in their lives that are often completely unexpected.  St George’s Crypt is a charity based within the thriving church of St George’s in Leeds and has been at the frontline of support for homeless, disadvantaged and vulnerable people in Leeds and its surrounding areas since 1930.

You can find out more about The Crypt Factor and offer your support by following us on Twitter @CryptFactor.

Special Penthouse Pushes The Right Buttons

 

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Anyone looking for a truly spectacular home in the city centre should look no further than a stunning new penthouse that has hit the market following a complete refurbishment and re-design bya prominent London-based interiors specialist.

The penthouse at Simpsons Fold on Dock Street, covers 2,200 square feet over two floors and includesa dual aspect living room, four spacious bedrooms, two terraces, three bathrooms and two parking spaces.  It’s on the market for £795,000.

The interior has been designed by well-known interior design specialist Helen Hughes and standout features include a completely bespoke contemporary dark oak and quartz stone kitchen with integrated appliances that are cleverly hidden away by full-height doors, a feature staircase, high quality bathrooms anda mix of dark hard wood and solid bamboo flooring.

Simpsons Fold is a sympathetically converted, Grade II listed former mill, consisting of 47 apartments and five commercial units on the ground floor. It’s a really popular development, close to the river with fantastic views and plenty of amenities on its doorstep. The living space in the penthouse is unrivalled – there is nothing else on the market of this size or standard at the moment.  It provides the very best of city living, with a superb design style that would suit anyone looking for a truly unique space, of exceptional quality, in the heart of Leeds.

It offers plenty of character features and full length floor to ceiling windows that light both floors and two paved terrace areas that provide first rate views.  There’s also a concierge on-site and secure underground parking for two cars. It takes less than 10 minutes to walk to the train station and we are expecting plenty of interest from buyers searching for a very special city home.

A Big Year For The Property Market

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As we head into the New Year, all the signs suggest that 2015 will be another great year for both Leeds and its property market.

There’s no doubt that as Leeds continues to enjoy a fast improving city centre living environment and a truly dynamic economy, the city apartment market will continue to flourish and the steady capital growth that apartment values enjoyed in 2014 will continue in 2015.

However, the rentals market will still dominate market activity.  We manage the city’s largest residential rental portfolio and continue to experience soaring numbers of potential tenants and a shortage of high quality apartments across the city centre with occupancy rates at more than 99%.  Apartments that are available are generally not on the market for long and anyone looking to rent has to move quickly to secure a property when they find one they like.

Unfortunately, the supply problem isn’t going to get fixed in 2015 – or even in 2016.  Leeds is the only major city in the UK without a significant city centre residential scheme currently on site and yet it has such a strong economy.

We also expect the sales market to continue improving in 2015.  Investor activity will increase as rents outstrip capital growth and last year we saw growing numbers of owner-occupiers and first time buyers snapping up apartments as the availability of mortgage finance improves.  The British have always been a nation of homeowners and although the rentals market is fierce, the majority of people who are renting aspire to buy their own home.

There is likely to be some disruption to the market around election time which will provide the usual distraction and will inevitably lead to some reticence around decision making.  The spectre of an interest rate rise will undoubtedly provide an excuse for the waverers, but then again, so will the snow – we do not expect a rate rise until late in the year. The snow will come first!

Students Learn To Love Living In The City

75 Otley RoadLeeds has always been a popular student city, with approximately 65,000 university students at its universities, and for the last 20 years or so, many have made Headingley their home.

Indeed when you ask anyone in Leeds about Headingley, 99% of them will say ‘cricket and students because students have been at the heart of life in Headingley for such a long time. Things are changing!

Increasingly, students now want to live as close as possible to the city centre.  And, if they can’t afford or don’t want to live right in the city centre, many are opting to live closer to the campus, in Hyde Park or Woodhouse, which means these suburbs are very much on the up.

There are differing opinions as to what has caused this sea-change and academics struggle to understand the precise factors at play.  It seems the growth of campus living is a major factor which serves not only to provide homes for thousands of first years – and increasingly returning students too – but also creates a much more vibrant lifestyle hub, which students want to be close to.  Just as the tidal wave of student demand has pushed all the way out to West Park over the last 20 years, it is now receding at a similar pace.

Developers are creating homes that specifically appeal to the next generation of students and a number of purpose built developments have established enclaves, particularly around Burley Road, the University Campus and Woodhouse and this clustering draws students further towards the city.

The numbers of young professionals and families choosing to rent in Headingley has in turn increased significantly with the majority of clients at our North Leeds office now consisting of couples and professionals who are renting homes for between £500 and £850 per month.

There will always be a core of students who want to live in Headingley and that’s great. It is a vibrant and friendly place where families, young professionals and students can live happily side by side, as they do in many other areas.