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Estate Agents & Letting Agents in Leeds

Here you will find the latest Hudson Moody Wass and property news.

ARLA announces new legal helpline

The Association of Residential Lettings Agents (ARLA) has announced the launch of a new legal helpline available to all members.

The helpline will be available to members five days a week, between the hours of 10am and 5pm. This comes as an additional benefit to members at no extra cost.

The helpline, which is provided by Dutton Gregory Solicitors, will be run by 11 legally trained staff, to help ARLA members with all landlord and tenant enquiries, as well as immigration and general business law.

Valerie Bannister, president of ARLA, said: “We are thrilled to be able to provide this extra benefit to members. Legal advice can be a costly burden to many letting agents, even when the query may be resolved with a small piece of advice. We hope this provides extra peace of mind for all our members that help is on hand when they need it.”

Attendees at the ARLA conference, where Alastair Campbell was the keynote speaker, also witnessed a lively debate on the private rented sector (PRS) and viewed exclusive video messages from housing minister Brandon Lewis, Liberal Democrat’s housing spokesman Stephen Williams, and shadow housing minister, Emma Reynolds on their views of how they think the private rented sector should develop over the next parliament.

“With the General Election only a few weeks away, the conference provided an essential platform for industry figures to engage in a thoughtful and constructive debate about the future of the private rented sector. We were delighted with the calibre of audience, speakers and guests which resulted in another highly successful conference,” said Bannister.


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Shawbrook enhances STL product range for heavy refurbishment

Shawbrook Bank’s commercial mortgages division has announced changes to its short-term loan (STL) product range, with the splitting of its heavy refurbishment product (STL6) into three separate products to give brokers a more clearly defined heavy refurbishment product offering.

In addition, the lender has made some pricing improvements to make the range even more competitive for brokers and their clients.

The bank’s current STL suite constitutes six products covering residential, mixed-use, commercial, residential light refurb, mixed-use light refurb and heavy refurb options. After extensive research and engagement with both its broker partners and internal teams, STL products for heavy refurb, (STL6) will now be allocated by property type:

· STL6 – for single residential properties sees a reduction in monthly rate from 0.89% to 0.79%
· STL7 – for HMOs and multiple units sees a reduction in monthly rate from 0.89% to 0.85%
· STL8 – for semi-commercial and commercial properties retains existing rate of 0.89%

Shawbrook has also increased its loan range, with loan sizes now available from £50,000 to £15m. The bank continues to offer a 0.25% discount on margin or arrangement fees for repeat clients and charges no exit fees.

Karen Bennett, sales and marketing director for commercial mortgages at Shawbrook Bank, said: “Shawbrook’s STL product range has been very well received by the market, and we’ve listened to our brokers, clients and teams to understand how we can refine it even further. By separating out the existing STL6 product, we are able to offer brokers more clarity on the product type and a favourable reduction in pricing. These changes reflect our appetite to lend on heavy refurbishment projects, as well as our ongoing dedication to improving our product line for our broker partners and their customers.”


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Rest of the country catching up with London on rent rises

The gap between the growth rate of the London and nationwide rental markets is starting to narrow, according to new findings from the HomeLet Rental Index. This comes after a period of rent price rises in the capital outstripping the rest of the UK by some distance. 
 
Whilst average rent prices in London have stayed still in the three months to February 2015, other areas of the country have mostly seen prices rising. The average rent in the UK is currently £899, compared to £889 at the end of January 2015, and £873 in December 2014.
 
Seven out of twelve regions in the UK have witnessed rent prices go up in the three months to February 2015, with the North East and South West of England leading the pack, seeing price growth of 3.1% and 2.5% respectively. 
 
Growth was also seen in East Anglia, the North West of England, Northern Ireland, the South East of England and Yorkshire & Humber. On the other hand, HomeLet’s figures showed that prices have not grown in Greater London and the West Midlands. They have also dropped in Wales, Scotland and the East Midlands. 
 
Looking at purely new tenancies starting in the month of February 2015, prices have risen since January 2015 in a number of regions. Northern Ireland rose by 7.2%, the North East of England rose by 6.2%, the South West of England by 4.5%, and East Anglia by 3.7%.
 
Conversely, rents agreed on new tenancies in London in February 2015 fell by 2.5% compared to the previous month, while Scotland, the East Midlands and Wales all saw prices agreed on new tenancies fall in February 2015 compared to January 2015.
 
“The rent price growth seen in London during much of 2014 now appears to be slowing,” Martin Totty, CEO of Barbon Insurance Group, parent company of HomeLet, said.
 
“However, a recent survey we conducted with London letting agents has shown that demand for private rental property remains high and still outstrips supply, with 80% of agents saying there are more tenants than properties available.”
 

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Void periods have dropped to a 13 year low, survey reveals

The average annual void period has fallen to its lowest level since 2002, according to the latest research from Paragon Mortgages.
 
Over the past 13 years the specialist buy-to-let mortgage lender has surveyed a panel of landlord customers. The average void period (the length of time between one lot of tenants moving out and a new lot of tenants moving in) reported in Q1 2015 – 2.4 weeks – was the lowest since the survey came into being.
 
The average void period in the last quarter of 2014 was 2.6 weeks. When comparing the first quarter of this year against the first quarter of 2014, the amount of time a landlord has experienced a void has dropped by 14% from 2.8 weeks.
 
Since 2013, landlords have been recording low or dwindling void periods, with only a small fluctuation in mid-2013 when the average moved up slightly to three weeks.
 
“Void periods have been consistently low for some time, which is not unexpected when you also look at what landlords are telling us about the level of demand from tenants,” John Heron, Managing Director at Paragon Mortgages, said. “In our survey for the first quarter of 2015, 42% of landlords said in their view tenant demand was either growing or booming and 54% felt demand was stable.”
 
The housing market, Heron added, is undergoing a shift, with more people choosing to live in the Private Rented Sector (PRS) thanks to high house prices and a shortage of available housing stock. 
 
“This is supported by the figures released this month by the English Housing Survey which show 4.4 million households are now privately rented, compared with 3.9 million households in the social rented sector,” Heron concluded. “This change in housing dynamics appears to be a continuing and long-term trend.”
 

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New BTL portal to launch this month

This month sees the launch of a new investment property portal named Buy2Let.com.
 
The portal, dedicated to the residential buy-to-let investment market, was founded by Martin Wilkinson, an experienced property consultant who has worked in China as well as the UK. 
 
The website claims it puts the property investment market on a par with other forms of investment, such as annuities, shares and bonds, by allowing users to compare buy-to-let annual yields favourably. 
 
This emphasis towards annual yield, or return on investment, hasn’t been successfully delivered before, according to the site’s founder, and he says it is an attractive feature for those looking to start or expand their property portfolio. 
 
Buy2Let.com allows both national and international investors to search for buy-to-let opportunities across the country by annual yield and compare returns on tenanted, vacant and HMO properties. 
 
“We know that investors are driven by two things – appetite for risk, and annual yield. We have made both of these key features of our portal, to make it easier for buy-to-let investors to see exactly what they are getting,” Wilkinson commented. 
 
“Working with estate agents, developers, and corporate landlords, we source and list only genuine buy-to-let investment properties, providing estate agents with a direct marketing outlet, and investors with a dedicated source of opportunities and analysis of the market.” 
 
“We developed Buy2Let.com to revolutionise both the way investors find and compare opportunities, and the way estate agents, developers and corporate landlords market their buy-to-let properties,” he added. 
 

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Crowdfunding platform seeks to transform residential property market

Property Partner, the residential property crowdfunding platform, has announced a £5.2m funding round to transform the way people invest in the residential property market. 
 
The London-based startup aims to enable people to invest as much or as little as they like in individual residential properties by “bringing innovation and simplicity to a previously hard-to-access marketplace”. 
 
The investment, headed by Index Ventures, will allow Property Partner to produce a ‘global stock exchange’ for residential property, enabling them to offer properties throughout the UK and beyond.
 
Index Ventures, who invest in FinTech pioneers such as TransferWise, Funding Circle and Wealthfront – will combine with Property Partner’s current partners. These include Seedcamp (backers of TransferWise), Ed Wray (co-founder of Betfair) and Octopus Ventures (backers of Zoopla).
 
Property Partner, which only launched in January 2015, at present lists properties in London and the South-East of England, properties that are chosen by Robert Weaver, Director of Property. Weaver is RBS’ former Global Director of Residential Investment and previously ran a £500m residential property fund.
 
As things stand, over 1,000 people have invested amounts ranging from £50 to £50,000 in homes through Property Partner’s crowdfunding platform, with the average size of investment increasing continually since its launch. 
 
Property Partner has already witnessed considerable activity on its unique ‘resale’ market, where investors can buy and sell shares in fully-funded properties.
 
Daniel Gandesha, Property Partner’s CEO, commented: “Index are a great investor to have on board, with really deep experience in both fintech and cross-border growth. I can’t imagine anyone better placed to help us deliver our long-term vision for Property Partner - as a global stock exchange for residential property.”
 
He added: “We are convinced that this model for property investing is a highly attractive alternative to buying properties directly. We also believe strongly in providing tenants with a more professional service, because tenants who are treated well and fairly are more likely to stay longer.”

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London tenancy deposits now double those in rest of the UK

Average tenancy deposits in the capital were more than twice as expensive as those in the rest of England and Wales during the last year, according to The Deposit Protection Service (DPS). 
 
The DPS calculates the national average tenancy deposit at £819.35 more than half of the average in the capital between March 2014 and February 2015 (£1,721.96).
 
Since 2007 by law all tenancy deposits must be protected in one of three custodial schemes, DPS, My|Deposits or The Tenancy Deposit Scheme. 
 

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Dion Dublin joins Homes Under the Hammer

In a surprise move that almost no-one saw coming, ex-Manchester United, Coventry and Aston Villa forward Dion Dublin has joined the presenting team of daytime TV staple Homes Under the Hammer.
 
The 45 year old always had a keen eye for goals when he played, but he is now set to focus on his other main passion in life – property. He has been named as the new presenting companion for regular hosts Martin Roberts and Lucy Alexander for the 19th series of the popular morning show.
 
Dublin, who was capped by England four times and once invented a musical instrument called a dube, has regularly bought, sold and invested in houses since he started out as a professional footballer. He now hopes to pass this knowledge onto the prospective buyers who appear on the programme.
 
“I am thrilled to be joining Martin and Lucy on Homes Under The Hammer,” Dublin said. “I have a passion for property and look forward to meeting people on the show who share that passion.”
 
The move got tongues wagging on social media, with many expressing their shock and bewilderment at the news. Dublin seems set to follow Gary Lineker, Ian Wright and Jimmy Hill in turning a successful football career into a successful one as a TV presenter. 
 

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Repairing toilets and damage are most common property investment concerns

Making repairs to toilets and the risk of tenants damaging properties are the biggest turn-offs for people thinking about becoming a landlord, a survey has found. 
 
Over 60% of the 2,000 Brits surveyed also said that void periods would be a major concern if they were to become a landlord. 
 
The research, commissioned by Emerging Property, found London and the West Midlands were the areas with the highest confidence in a booming property market. Meanwhile, the lowest levels of confidence were found in the North East and the East Midlands. 
 
What’s more, 36% of respondents agreed with the statement that ‘it is extremely risky being a buy-to-let landlord.’
 
The poll reported student property as the most popular investment choice, with one in eight respondents saying they would enter the student market due to high yields and incentives. 
 
Retirement property and holiday homes followed student property with 10% and 9% of the vote respectively. 
 
Commenting on the state of the student letting market, James Harrington of Emerging Property said: “In 2014, we witnessed record university intake levels in the UK, with numbers exceeding half a million for the first time. With existing supply gaps, this is resulting in high demand and positive rental growth, which ultimately leads to improved yields and enhanced security.”
 

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P2P lender announces strategic alliance with property portal

A peer-to-peer (P2P) lending mortgage lending platform has announced a strategic alliance with a property portal. 
 
LendInvest is partnering with Plentific and the lender’s co-founders, Christian Faes and Ian Thomas have invested in Plentific’s recent fundraising round. 
 
Plentific.com is a property platform that was founded by ex-investment bankers and property developers Cem Savas and Emre Kazan
 
The portal says it is working with hundreds of professionals to ‘aggressively build’ its offering to homebuyers, property investors and entrepreneurs.
 
Christian Faes commented: “We have seen a gap in the online property portal market in the UK for a long time, and Plentific are directly targeting this gap. Plentific brings together a much deeper level of information for property investors, than the other property listings sites. There is a natural overlap between LendInvest’s users (for both borrowers and investors) and Plentific’s users, and this strategic alliance is one that we’re very excited about.”
 
Cem Savas added:“This alliance makes a lot of sense for us and we look forward to rolling out a range of collaborations with LendInvest in the near future.”
 

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