Month: February 2014

To manage your property yourself or not

Research has been carried out into how much time a landlord can spend on their rental property throughout the year, meaning landlords are on call 24 hours, 7 days a week. One in five landlords in the UK has returned home early from a holiday to help their tenants with a problem and 8% of landlords have taken time off work and 16% have left a wedding or special event to help their tenants in an hour of need.

As the property market changes we are seeing more and more accidental landlords whether this is through inheritance or inability to sell their property. Research highlights only a quarter of these landlords had intended to purchase a buy to let in the future. Another statistic shows only a third of landlords use a letting agent which can mean there are a lot of landlord’s out there who didn’t choose to go down the rental route and don’t know the time involved in managing a tenanted property.

It is important as a tenant to understand who is managing your rental property and who to contact in case of emergency. If you ask tenants who live in a privately let property only 27% of these tenants say they know who to contact in their landlord’s absence. If you are with a private landlord they will often give you a family member’s contact number in case you cannot reach them or a tradesman who has a good relationship with the landlord. We would recommend you have a couple of points of contact in case the landlord is unreachable.

Buying property at auction

Property auctions are increasing in popularity, as home buyers and investors alike are keen to purchase the bargains that are often on offer. Properties sold at auction on a whole tend to be cheaper with deals being concluded quicker than standard sales, so it’s no wonder that many landlords are considering auctions as a welcome alternative to more traditional routes.

But what are the top tips to help you get the best deal at a property auction?

You would never buy a property from an estate agent without visiting it first; so make sure you stick to this rule when attending an auction. It is easy to get carried away with the excitement of the auction environment when looking though the catalogue, but it is important to view your selected properties.

Research the area you’re looking to invest in and consider your future tenants. Make sure that you consider the appearance of the property, if tenants are looking at three separate properties in the same area that are all charging similar rent, in most cases they are likely to go for the most attractive looking property.

Often auction properties require extensive repair so for peace of mind it is always pays to carry out a survey on the property as this will identify any potential damage or structural issues that could potentially cost thousands of pounds to put right.

If you are successful with your bid, in most cases you will be required to pay a 10 per cent deposit on the property immediately, and the remaining balance within 28 days. If you require a mortgages for you purchase ensure that your lender can provide the funds in the allocated time frame otherwise there is a good chance you will lose your deposit.

Don’t forget to budget for all of the other costs that can be involved when buying the property. This could include; legal fees, the cost of any renovation work, utility and council’s bills along with any void period you might have before a suitable tenant is found.

Test run
You’re bound to feel a bit nervous when you attend your first auction. A good idea is to attend a few sales beforehand so you feel fully comfortable with the process. Get there early and take a look at the ‘Addendum’, which includes any additional information about the property that may have an impact on your decision to bid on the property.

Set a limit and stick to it. If you didn’t get the property you wanted, don’t worry. Auctions are held relatively regularly, so there is always another opportunity to get another bargain. A good tip is to look out for unsold lots as this can be a good way to pick up a real bargain, as both the seller and the auctioneer will be generally keen to sell so may accept a lower price.

Nothing beats buying a property at auction, especially if you are getting it at an amazing price. But remember if something seems too good to be true it usually is! Trust your instinct and if you ever have any doubts then my advice would be not to make a bid.

Great North Park Research

GFW Research has today released a piece on Newcastle Great Park “Returns on Residential Investment in Great North Park” and is a detailed look at returns on capital values and potential rate of return on rental properties in this specific development in comparison to our region and the country. At a crucial time when property prices are increasing and supply is tight it is fascinating to look in depth and in isolation at a distinct targeted area within our region and how it has performed.

Download the GFW Research PDF

Fran Mulhall, Lettings Manager of GFW Letting comments. “The findings on the Great Park confirm a number of known trends, but also highlight the difference in return, based on property type within this development. 3 bed semi-detached and 4 bed townhouses have shown a negative return over a 10 year period (2003-2013) and 5 bed detached houses a -8% negative return. These disappointing figures will often be due to the premium purchasers may pay for brand new houses, but it also may confirm that within this development, property layout has not always suited the purchaser. Townhouses have often not suited families with the living accommodation spread over several floors, and 3 bedroom semi-detached properties have often been found to be too small for growing family needs.”

“However the growth of 17% and 16% on 3 bed detached and 4 bedroom semi detached is positive, especially as the regional average over the same period is 7.6%.”

“For any Landlord the key message from this research is the value of a good long staying tenant. It’s clear to see that void periods significantly reduce any return on investment. It is especially important to look after the tenant, though the supply of rental property is low and the demand high, professional tenants living in Great Park expect a high standard of accommodation and service from their Landlord or Managing Agent. To see a drop of 0.53% in return, just through a 3 month void, extra letting and redecorating costs is a clear signal that longer term lets provide better returns for the Landlord.”

Win two tickets to Gavin Webster and friends

It may be Monday but we think we have just the ticket to cheer you up! We have teamed up with Gosforth Bohemian FC to offer you the chance to WIN two tickets to its annual comedy evening at As You Like It.

Nothing beats a good laugh. And on 25th February, there’ll be laughter in abundance from top comedian Gavin Webster and friends at this special event, sponsored by Nigel Frank. All you have to do to be in with the chance to win is simply enter via the GFW Letting Facebook page

Doors open at 7pm and the comedy starts at 8pm. Visit the Bohemian FC website for more information about the event


One of the most common tenant complaints is that of mould growth in rented properties. Mould spots appearing on bathroom tile grout, ceilings and walls is all too common in the private rented sector and the Property Management team at GFW Letting are frequently asked by tenants to give advice on how to deal with this issue.

Condensation occurs when there is a build up of moisture in the air. When this moist air hits a cold surface, water vapour and droplets are produced. It is quite normal to have some moisture on your window when you wake up in the morning if it has been very cold outside. However, as a result of condensation build up, mould spots can form which is detrimental to health and property. The causes of condensation vary from property to property and can be associated with both the way the property has been built and the way in which the occupants live within the property. For example, activities that could contribute to the build up of condensation are washing clothes and drying them within the property, cooking or hot showers or baths without adequate ventilation. If the warm air cannot find a way to escape it will then settle on a cold surface and produce condensation.

The responsibility of ensuring that a rented property is not affected by condensation is shared between landlord and tenant. We would advise landlords to ensure that there are suitable provisions within their property to allow for ventilation. For example landlords would be sensible to ensure that there are working extractor fans in both the bathrooms and kitchens of their property. Landlords are also advised to ensure that, where possible, windows are fitted with trickle vents which can be opened to allow water vapour to escape. Landlords should also ensure that windows have a mechanism to be opened. It is often the case that in certain older properties window frames have been painted shut which does not allow the tenant an opportunity to open the window if need be.

Tenants are equally responsible within rented properties to ensure that homes are not damaged by condensation build up. Mould is both unhygienic and unsightly and letting agents need to be proactive in ensuring that their tenants are knowledgeable and adhering to their responsibilities. Even when landlords supply extractor fans, tenants need to ensure that they are used when showering and cooking. Windows need to be opened when necessary and tenants must refrain from closing trickle vents when at all possible. Simple activities such as putting lids on saucepans when cooking, keep a kitchen or bathroom extractor fan running for twenty minutes after showering, and closing the door where cooking or showering has taken place will all help to stop the moisture in the air circulating throughout the property.

The Property Management team at GFW Letting understand the maintenance issues that occur as a result of condensation and equally understand the simple ways in which the effects can be reduced. If you are a tenant or a landlord, make sure you understand your obligations and follow the simple steps above to avoid unnecessary maintenance issues and possible deposit disputes at the end of your tenancy.