Expat landlords- Factors to consider when moving abroad…..

When moving abroad, many expats prefer to keep ownership of their primary home in order to generate an income by renting out their UK home.

If you are moving abroad, or maybe you’re already a non-UK resident, and are considering renting out your home, there are a number of factors you need to take into consideration, both now and in the future.

Managing your property and tenants

When renting out your home, you have a choice about whether you manage the property yourself from abroad, rely on friends/family to manage the property or find a property management agency who can manage your property for you.

If you choose to manage your property yourself, while you can save considerable costs, it can be considerably stressful. Things which you’ll need to consider include finding/replacing your tenants, being able to manage any repairs, being mindful of your tax residence status by returning home to manage your property.

By choosing a friend or family member to help you rent out your home, you are placing the responsibility and stress across a relationship which can cause tension. They may not be capable of effectively managing your house, and this could lead to you having to manage the property anyway.

The final option is to find a managing agent who is skilled in managing the property. Typically the agency will charge a fee of between 5% and 6% of your rental income over the year in exchange for offering an intermediary service which ensures that the property is well maintained, there are tenants and also that rent is collected in a timely fashion.

·         Inform your mortgage company that you are moving abroad

·         Choose a reputable agent to manage your property

·         Choose a currency transfer specialist for the rental income

.         Consider taking out landlord insurance

·         Be aware of the tax issues

If you have questions with regards to have to rent your home when you live abroad, please contact Pelin Martin on 0208 994 73 27 or on pm@bluecrystallondon.co.uk – www.bluecrystallondon.co.uk

 

Renting out your home in the UK when you live abroad

Renting out your home in the UK is one of the most frequent choices when you move abroad.

It can:

  • provide you income,
  • make sure you have a base to return to
  • and make it easier to obtain further mortgages later on.

Renting out your home privately can be tempting but has some drawbacks

You might wish to cut out the middleman, find tenants and manage the maintenance and rent collection yourself – thus saving agency fees.
The drawback is that dealing with tenants and maintenance issues directly can be stressful and time-consuming. It’s an even bigger hassle if you happen to live in a different time zone.
In addition, when tenants move out, someone must carry out inventories, repairs are done and the return of the deposit negotiated.

Having to manage contractors from a distance is tricky. Furthermore, you couldn’t visit the property itself to check on the tenants and the property.
Most DIY landlords have to pay to use an agent or a website to find a tenant. You’d have to rely on good friends and family living near my property to always help you out with checking the property and organising maintenance.

What is vacant property management?

Renting out your home in the UK: the tax you have to pay

You need to pay tax on your rental income if you are renting out your home in the UK. You may also need to pay tax if you make a gain when you sell residential property in the UK.

If you live abroad for 6 months or more per year, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) classifies you as a ‘non-resident landlord, even if you’re a UK resident for tax purposes.

How to avoid tenancy void periods?

How to pay tax 

You can get your rent either:

  • in full and pay tax through Self-Assessment – if HMRC allows you to do this
  • with tax already deducted by your letting agent or tenant

If you get your rent in full

Long distance property rental

Or if you get your rent with tax deducted, your letting agent or tenant will:

  • deduct basic rate tax from your rent (after allowing for any expenses they’ve paid)
  • give you a certificate at the end of the tax year saying how much tax they’ve deducted
  • If you don’t have a letting agent and your tenant pays you more than £100 a week in rent, they’ll deduct the tax from their rent payments to you.

Read more: Tax implications- Residential property management London for expat landlords

What is West London Property Networking

Please contact Pelin Martin to book a 30-minute free property consultation on +0208 994 7327 – pm@bluecrystallondon.co.uk

10 things to keep in mind before buying property post Brexit

Purchasing a property after Brexit, how to choose the best property investments with the right team

 

1) Keep an eye out for big infrastructure projects

Even in a weak market, areas undergoing infrastructure investment will likely still see steady growth – both in yield and in capital appreciation. Look at areas being transformed along both the Night Tube and Crossrail line to identify long-term investment prospects. For example – Forest Gate, Farringdon and Whitechapel are areas geared up for regeneration and a rise in property prices thanks to Crossrail.
2) Look at the high street as an indicator of an area
The high street is a great indictor of the demographic of an area, and whether the area is in decline or has growth potential. Some of the factors you should consider include – have there been many changes recently? Are shops closing down with no sign of opening or are they closing with new names moving in? Is money being spent by the council to smarten it up?
3) Are there good schools in the area?
Another great barometer to judge prospects of an area is the schools in the vicinity. You may not be thinking of starting a family yet and if you’re an investor schools probably aren’t on your list, but London’s population is growing fast and good schools are becoming harder and harder to come by. Therefore, having one in your area is a big bonus. People both rent and buy in these catchments to get their children into a good school, getting you a good return on your investment.
4) A house should be a home
If buying a property to live in, remember it’s a home first and foremost – and an investment second. If you plan to live in it long-term then you should be shielded from bumps in the market. As the market in London has shown time and time again, it’s super resilient, so what may happen in the next two years could be insignificant to you if you are still there for 10.
5) Shop around for mortgage deals
To make a sound investment decision, you need a broker who has access to the entire market. Some brokers operate on a panel and hence may say they are getting you the best deal – but remember that is only the best deal from their panel. With lending criteria changing daily, it’s advisable to shop around. That rings true even for investors who have used the same lender or broker for years!
6) Choose a good solicitor
This may sound obvious but cheap solicitors will inevitably cost you more. This is probably one of the single biggest purchases of your life so paying for the right advice is crucial. With a market that’s changing daily, avoiding delays with the right legal aid could be the difference between concluding the transaction or not.
7) Choose the right estate agent
In a tough market it’s more important than ever to choose a local agent who knows their area inside out, and who will get you the best result both as a buyer or seller. An agent who just instructs and advertises your property and waits for the calls will struggle in tougher markets. A proactive agent who knows their buyers can match the right person to your home, and uses past experience to price your house right. With a ‘no-sale, no-fee’ policy, high street agents now have as much a vested interest in the transaction as both the seller and buyer.
8) Create a two-year plan and a five-year plan
Most investors would take a two-year fix on mortgages but with the lending criteria getting tighter for investors, some of the better deals in terms of loan to value can be found at a five-year fix. No one knows what will happen to the property market in the next two years, so plan for what will happen if circumstances go out of your control. For example – if you plan to exit or re-mortgage at that stage you also need to plan for what it will mean if you can’t do either of those.
9) Look for ways to add value to your property
From basic redecoration to new kitchens and even structural work such as loft extensions, adding value to your property will make your home a better investment. If you see your family growing or want a capital growth not market-dependant then you need to look at innovative ways to add value to your property.
10) Be clear on your requirements
We all want a sprawling staircase in the house and a swimming pool in the backyard, but you need to be realistic with your actual needs. The big ‘C’ (compromise!) is a word most try and avoid but is something we all need to make. The sooner you are able to accept you will need to make a compromise and understand what those compromises are the easier your search will be.

If you have any questions regarding buying a property post Brexit, please contact Pelin Martin on 0208 994 7327 – pm@bluecrystallondon.co.uk – www.bluecrystallondon.co.uk

5 Top tips for having happier tenants in 2017

So what are the top 5 tips of having happier tenants.

Be in contact more
Tenants are not always the most forthcoming of groups, so from time to time it can be a good idea for letting agents to tear down the barriers and get more insight information. Don’t just assume that because a tenant has not been in touch that they are happy and content. Some will leave things to simmer away for a while rather than report them, but it can be as easy as a simple phone call to check in and make sure to just let them know you care about their issues and to get problems solved quickly.

Communicate effectively

When someone does get in touch with you about a problem, strong communication is absolutely vital. Tenants often complain that when they make a report of an issue, they never hear back for days, or even weeks, and it can be frustrating. Make a commitment to changing this, and ensure that whenever a tenant gets in touch, you reply to them as soon as you can, even if it’s just to give them an update on progress and reassure them you are looking into things.

Future proof lettings

If you want a tenant to be a long-term fixture in your property, it can be a good idea to not just leave any changes you want to make until they move out. Ask the tenant for a chance to inspect the property, and assess whether furnishings and decor could do with a little modernising and sprucing up for the year ahead. The fact you pay attention and want to improve their surroundings can help put a smile on your tenant’s face early in the new year.

Be quick on the draw

Of course, most of the changes and work that will be carried out on any rental home will actually come after the tenant has requested it or reported a problem. Resolve this year that whenever such issues do arise, you make sure work is carried out as soon as possible. Tenants hate to have to wait, so having one or two contractors you know you can rely on to hand can make a big difference in getting stuff done quickly and keeping tenants happy.

Get tenants settled in

Increasingly, one of the biggest concerns of tenants is what they are going to be doing in the future, because they never know how long they are going to be living in one place. Where possible, it can be a good idea to tackle these worries, and offer tenants the chance to sign longer tenancy agreements. Not only does this give them the long-term security they are after, but it can also secure income for an extended period for the agent as well.

If you have any questions regarding how to have happier tennants, please contact Pelin Martin on 0208 994 7327 or on pm@bluecrystallondon.co.uk

Top 10 property investment tips

Having worked as property managers in London for so many years, we’ve collected in this post our top 10 property investment tips. We hope they can guide your choices to purchase the best investment property solution.

1. Choosing the right property at the right price

Investing in the property market is usually all about capital growth. So, choosing a property that is more likely to increase in value is the most important decision you will make. For this reason, buying at the right price is absolutely critical.

It is best to search for an opportunity to acquire an asset below its real market value if you are patient and knowledgeable. The key for you is to do your research, work out what everything is selling for in and around the area. Then, you’ll discover that soon you’ll become very good at working out what a property is worth. You’ll know a bargain when you see it. Never consider purchasing a property in an area that you are unfamiliar with. If you do find a property that you like and are unsure of its real value I would suggest contacting an independent surveyor and ask them to survey on the market value of the property. Always focus on making the right investment choice financially.

Ensuring that you have a steady rental income stream is also vital because this cash flow will make the property more affordable and provide a regular income from day one.

Different classes of residential property – flats, houses and land – can outperform each other over time. For example, vacant land will provide no rental income but may appreciate more quickly if purchased in an area with limited supply. Some areas offer higher rental yields, but it is important that you do your homework as often these properties provide lower capital increase on the properties.

It is also important that your property suits the demographics of tenants in the area. For example, if it is near a university more bedrooms will be in greater demand than a big backyard for kids to run around. A family home that is close to schools and parks on a quiet street will be more desirable than a property on a busy road.


2. Do your sums – Cash Flow is always king!

Investing in property is a proven path to long-term wealth. However, you should consider it a medium to longer term type of investment. So you’ll want to make sure that you can afford to maintain your mortgage repayments over the long term. You should be in a position to keep your investment property until you are good and ready. If you were to encounter some financial stress, this could force you to offload the property at the wrong time or for less value.

Once you own an investment property it can be quite inexpensive to keep it and service the loan. That’s because you earn rent and get a tax deduction on many of the expenses associated with owning the property. Remember that over time rents to tend to increase as does your own income – so expect things to get easier over time.

Here is an example of what it might cost you to own an investment property. We recommend that you look at cost of servicing the loan on an after-tax basis, this way you can put the cost in real terms for you.

Make yourself aware of taxes involved in property investing and add these into your calculations. Advice from your accountant is vital in this regard as these can change over time. Stamp Duty, second home tax and Capital Gains Tax need to be taken into account. Remember that interest rates can vary over time. Anyway, the good news for property investors is that in times of rising interest rates you can normally expect to be able to increase the rent.

 


3. Find a good property manager and let them do their job

A property manager is usually a professional in their field. Their job is to keep things in order for you and your tenant. They can help you with ongoing advice and help you manage your tenants. They can help you get the best possible value for your property. Also, a good property manager will let you know when you should review rents and when you shouldn’t.

The property manager should be able to give you advice on property law, your rights and responsibilities as a landlord – as well as those of the tenant. They’ll also take care of any maintenance issues. Anyway, you should approve all incurred costs (other than certain emergency repairs), in advance.

The property manager will also help you find the right tenant and make sure they pay their rent on time. It is important also that you don’t interfere too much with tenants. There are laws that give them rights, so always try to respect them. You should, however, make regular independent inspections of your property to make sure that the tenant is looking after your investment. Always go through your agent and give plenty of notice.

The good news is that the cost you pay to your managing agent is usually a percentage of the rent paid, is deducted from the rent and is tax deductible.


4. Understand the market and the dynamics where you are buying

Consider what other properties are available in the immediate area. Then, speak to as many locals and real estate agents as you can. They will let you know if they consider one side of a street superior to the other and why. Make sure you do the legwork and consult professionals you can trust. Accessing independent information from a source can give you information on average rents, property values, demographics and suburb reports.

It is also a good idea to find out what changes may be happening in the area. For example, a major construction next to your property could make it harder to find a tenant at the right price.


5. Pick the right type of mortgage to suit you

There are many options when it comes to financing your investment property. So, get sound advice in this area as it can make a big difference to your financial well-being. It is surprising how many people spend too much time researching mortgages in an attempt to save a few pounds a month. Instead, they do not spend enough time on researching their local property market where much bigger gains can be had.

Interest on an investment property loan is generally tax deductible, but some borrowing costs are not immediately deductible and knowing the difference can count. Structuring your loan correctly is critical and this should be done with the help of a trusted financial advisor.

Whether you choose a fixed rate mortgage or a variable rate mortgage will depend on your circumstances. However, consider both options carefully before you decide. Over time variable rates have proven to be cheaper. Yet, selecting a fixed rate loan at the right time can really pay off. Remember that rate usually rise in line with property prices, so increasing interest rates are not always bad news for property investors as they have more than likely had a win on the capital gains front.


6. Use the equity from another property

Leveraging equity in your home, or equity from another property investment, can be an effective way to buy an investment property. Equity is the amount of money in your home that you actually own. It can be calculated by working out the difference between what your property is worth and what you owe on the mortgage.


7. Negative gearing

Negative gearing can offer property investors certain tax benefits if the cost of the investments exceeds income it produces. You can deduct your borrowing and maintenance costs of the property from your total income. If you are actually making a loss on the property, the advantage is that the loss can be used to reduce the amount of the tax on your other earnings.


8. Check the age and condition of the property and facilities

Even with negative gearing, needing to replace the roof or hot water service in the first few months of ownership could make a significant difference to your profits and really damage your cash flow.

Therefore, it is advisable to engage a surveyor, gas engineer, an electrical engineer before you purchase (and then once a year) to conduct a thorough inspection of the property to find any potential problems.

Also, it is wise to use a qualified tradesperson who is licensed to carry out the work and who has adequate insurance to protect you against poor workmanship.

It’s not always a bad thing to buy a property that is not in peak condition. In fact, you get the opportunity to improve the value of the property by fixing the place up. This can increase your returns for both capital growth and rental income.


9. Make the property attractive to renters

Go for neutral tones and keep the kitchen and bathroom in good condition. You’ll find that you will attract better quality tenants if you have a well-presented property. In fact, the last thing you want is a bad tenant.

Another point that is subject to debate is whether you should buy a property that you’d be happy to live in yourself. Some people believe this will mean it is appreciated more and some people don’t care. However, think about differentiating between your own home and your investment to avoid becoming overly involved; remember it is the home of your tenant and not your own.

For me, it is important to remember the day will come when you’ll want to sell the property. If a home is appealing to not only property investors but also owner-occupiers, you’ll have a wider market for the property. This will maximise your selling price. I think that owner-occupiers are willing to pay a little more for the right property. In fact, this becomes a more emotional rather than a logical purchase.


10. Take a long-term view and manage your risks

Remember that property is a long-term investment and you should not rely on property prices rising straight away. The longer you can afford to commit to a property the better. Furthermore, as you build up equity, then you can consider purchasing a second investment property.

Finally, remain aware that unlike shares or managed funds, you can’t just sell part of your investment property if you need money. In short, be cautious, but consider that record migration levels and a rental property shortage are crucial factors favouring investing in property.

Read more: Where to invest in property: the best commuter areas of London

For more property investment tips and if you have any questions regarding how to invest in London, please contact Pelin Martin on 02089947327 or on pm@bluecrystallondon.co.uk

How to design your dream bathroom…..

Plan an Efficient Layout

Even the dreamiest bathroom has to deal with plumbing drains, water lines, and vent stacks. Bathroom floor plans generally fall into one-, two- or three-wet-wall layouts. A one-wall layout lines up the sink, toilet, and shower along one wall as in this bathroom. It’s the most cost-effective design, but it’s also the most limiting.

Layouts to Try

A two-wall layout gives you more flexibility. The sink and toilet can be plumbed on one wall and the tub and shower on the other. The three-wall layout is the most versatile and also the most complicated and expensive. Working with a certified bathroom designer or architect can help you avoid costly mistakes and make the best use of space.

Consider the Sink

Integral bathroom sinks (one piece with the vanity counter) and undermount bathroom sinks make it easy to wipe messes from the counter into the sink. Self-rimming bathroom sinks, on the other hand, are the most economical and the easiest to install, but the perimeter lip can collect grime.

Design a Bathroom Lighting Plan

The most critical area for bathroom lighting is the mirror. Ideally you should have wall-mount lights at each side of the mirror at about eye level, with a third light above the mirror. This arrangement illuminates your face from both sides and above, eliminating shadows.

General Lighting Tips

For general bathroom lighting, use ceiling-mounted fixtures or add style and mood with chandeliers or pendant lights. Enclosed showers and tubs usually require enclosed vapor-proof downlights. Accent lights can spotlight a collection or an architectural feature and contribute sparkle and mood.

Make a Statement with the Tub

Bathtubs are the natural focal point of a bathroom and have a powerful impact on the decorating style. Freestanding bathtubs may rest on claw-and-ball feet or a pedestal base or they may be streamlined and straight-sided like a piece of sculpture.

Further Bathtub Tips

A platform bathtub has an unfinished exterior and drops into a supporting boxlike structure. The top or decking is usually a waterproof material such as tile, marble, or limestone, and the sides may be paneled in wood or covered in tile or stone to match the decking. Whichever type you choose, you can opt for a soaking tub or a whirlpool tub to maximize your relaxation the bath.

Design a Spa Shower

Luxury showers replicate the spa-resort experience in a dream bathroom. Plan on a variety of spray heads. Ceiling-mounted rain shower showerheads soak you from above, while body sprays (vertical rows of showerheads) create a crisscross pattern for a water massage. Handheld showerheads allow you to direct the spray for washing your hair, rinsing off, or even cleaning out the shower stall. For a custom-made stall, choose your favorite waterproof material to cover walls, floors, and ceiling. Frameless glass doors showcase stunning tilework, like the marble shower shown here.

Express Your Style with Cabinets

The modest single-sink vanity cabinet has given way to a host of options, from double-sink vanities to custom storage hutches and wall-mounted cabinets. Bathroom cabinetry merges form and function and carries the style statement you want to make, whether it’s contemporary, traditional or vintage.

Cabinet Buying Tips

As with kitchen cabinets, you can purchase bathroom cabinets in stock units or with semicustom options, or you can have them custom-designed and built. Stock cabinets are typically least expensive and custom the most expensive, with price ranges for each depending on the material, construction, finish, and accessories.

Select Flooring

Bathroom floors need to be hardworking, impervious to water, and slip-resistant–but they also need to be attractive. The most luxurious choices are stone tiles and ceramic tiles, but highly polished stone is slippery when wet. Choose a honed flooring finish for better traction.

Easy to Care For Floors

Ceramic tiles rated impervious are the most waterproof and are ideal for bathroom use. Tiles designed for floors are extremely durable; they resist water, stains, and wear, and are easy to care for. Select tiles with a slip-resistant finish and seal all grout, because otherwise it’s difficult to clean.

Pamper Yourself with Amenities

To make your dream bathroom an in-home retreat, include features that take it from utilitarian to pampering.

• A gas-insert fireplace communicates that this is a place to linger.

• In-floor radiant heating takes the chill off of stone or tile floors.

• Television, sound systems, and a beverage center will make your master bathroom so comfortable, you may never want to leave.

Create Mood with Color

Color has the power to energize and to soothe, to wake you up and calm you down. Consider the mood you want to evoke before selecting your palette of materials. As you develop your bathroom color scheme, remember that color comes from more than wall paint and fabric. The hues in the cabinetry wood and in the stone or tile you choose for floors and walls play a major role in creating an overall color personality. Even the sink and tub contribute to the bathroom color scheme, whether they’re made of white porcelain, dyed concrete, or stone.

Add Softness with Window Treatments

Bathrooms are mostly hard surfaces, so dressing the windows with fabric allows an opportunity to add softness and absorb sound. The treatments also let you introduce color and pattern. Bathroom window treatments should resist moisture and humidity, and they usually need to provide privacy and light control. That’s why simple shades, blinds, and shutters are the most popular bathroom window treatments.

Window Treatment to Try

Valances, balloon shades, and modified Roman shades also work. Depending on the layout of your bathroom, even draperies can provide a frame for your windows. Consider using the new all-weather acrylic fabrics to make bathroom window treatments. Designed for outdoor use, they’re moisture and mildew-resistant and come in an expanding range of interior-quality patterns and colors.

If you have any questions regarding property refurbishments or property management, please contact Pelin Martin on 0208 994 7327 or pm@bluecrystallondon.co.uk – www.bluecrystallondon.co.uk

 

 

 

 

How to paint kitchen cabinets…..

You can make a huge difference to the look of your kitchen with some simple renovations to the cabinets. By repainting doors and updating the handles, you’ll refresh the heart of your home without the need for a full redesign.

You’ll Need

  • Screwdriver
  • Steel tape measure
  • Drop cloth, newspaper or old cloths
  • Respirator or dust mask
  • Safety goggles or glasses
  • Fine- and medium-grade sandpaper
  • Power sander or sanding block
  • Soft cloth
  • Paintbrush
  • Primer
  • Paint
  • New door handles, hardware and hinges

Getting Started

If you find it easier, use a screwdriver to remove your cabinet doors, drawer fronts, hinges and handles, and move them to your work space.

If you are replacing handles, take your old ones with you to the hardware store to ensure that you choose something with the same-size fittings. Remember to note how many you’ll need. Also, if any of the handles were held on by more than one screw, note the distance between the two screws, since you will need to find replacement handles with the same distance between them. Otherwise, be prepared to fill and drill new holes. It’s a good idea to buy one sample first to check the fit before investing in a full set.

What to Do

1. Lay down a drop cloth, newspaper or old cloths to protect your floor.

2. Put on your dust mask and protective goggles or glasses.

3. Using medium-grade sandpaper, sand down the front and edges of wooden, painted or varnished doors or drawer fronts with power sander or sanding block. No sanding or priming is needed for melamine doors, but you do need to use the right paint. Wipe off dust and give the doors a good clean.

4. Paint on a coat of primer, leave it to dry and apply another coat.

5. When dry, rub down surfaces with fine-grade sandpaper. Wipe off any dust.

6. Apply the first coat of paint and leave it to dry overnight. Repeat with another coat of paint for a more durable finish. Replace any old handles with new ones, if desired.

7. Replace doors and drawer fronts using a screwdriver to tighten the hinges.

How to Nail It

  • If you have a number of cabinet doors to remove, label them on the back so that you can easily find the right place for the right door when you have finished.
  • If your cabinet doors and drawer fronts do not completely cover the front of the cabinets, you can prepare and paint those surfaces in the same way. A good time to do this is while the cabinet doors are drying.
  • To save time, buy a combined undercoat and primer and eliminate one of the stages.

If you have any questions regarding renovating a property please contact Pelin Martin on 0208 994 7327 or pm@bluecrystallondon.co.uk – www.bluecrystallondon.co.uk

4 Things to Do Before Hiring a Contractor…..

Tackling a renovation can be daunting, but there’s one simple way to set yourself up for success: Surround yourself with the best experts out there, including a committed and talented contractor.

Here’s how to ensure you don’t get stuck with a contractor who will take advantage of you.

1. Evaluate the contractor’s credibility.

Look for professional affiliations and check references, Jonathan advises. A little research can go a long way.

2. Look at previous projects.

Ask to see photos or samples of past work. Don’t be shy or timid. You’re about to hand over thousands of pounds to this person, so make sure they’re worth the investment.

3. Put it in writing.

This includes quotes, the contract, payment terms and more. And if you don’t know the first thing about contracts, look at samples online. You can compare and contrast your contract with others, or use the samples to draft your own.

4. Make sure the contractor is licensed.

This simple step is an easy way to judge his or her skill set and credibility. However, Jonathan pointed out that this is not a foolproof way to make sure they will do quality work, so check references (see tip #1) before proceeding.