26 June 2015

Picket Twenty rental potential

The new development at Picket Twenty has been under development for a few years now and is growing steadily.  There are a variety of properties available from flats to 5 bedroom houses.  A smart community centre has been provided by Test Valley Borough Council and is run by a group of local volunteers for local events and can be hired for private use.  It’s a great facility, all of which helps to build a real community spirit for the area.  Picket Twenty also has a church backed primary school call Pilgrims Cross.
As with most new build properties they take a very small amount of time to let with close proximity to the A303 only adding to the attraction of the area.  A three bedroom townhouse can be bought for around £270,000 and achieve a rental income of around £1200pcm giving a yield of around 5.3% which is quite respectable for houses in the Andover area.
Two bedroom coach houses can be purchased for around £160,000 and will generally let for around the £850pcm mark achieving an even better yield of around 6.3% per year.
This development is proving more and more popular with tenants giving Landlord the peace of mind that void periods are likely to be minimal.

If you are considering purchase a buy-to-let property but just want to double check before taking the plunge feel free to pop in to our Bridge Street offices and we will be happy to advise you. For more information on Picket Twenty head over to Test Valley Borough Council's information page on the site. 

15 June 2015

How to be the perfect tenant

It’s a sad fact that tenant evictions have steadily risen over the last few years.  This is something that not only the tenant does not want, both the agent and the Landlord would prefer to avoid it too so here are a few tips in how to avoid it.

Be aware of your own and your Landlords’ rights under a tenancy agreement – before you sign a tenancy agreement check what type it is, how long it is for, is there a break clause etc.  If you have any questions, ask the agent or Landlord, be clear on what you are signing before you sign it.  This is a legal document and must be stuck to or you will be in breach which could jeopardise your tenancy.

Look after the property – Landlords can evict tenants if damage has been caused.  Accidents happen and everyone accepts this but try to put things right if an accident occurs.  We would always recommend that tenants take out insurance.  That way any damage caused could be covered and put right by the insurance thereby keeping you in the Landlords good books!

Avoid falling into arrears – This is the most common cause of evictions.  Before you commit to taking a property do your sums taking into allowance things like holidays.  If you do find you are struggling, talk to your Landlord or Agent.  Most good agents and Landlords will try and help if you talk to them.  If you ignore them you will leave them little option but eviction.

Don’t upset the neighbours! – The second most common cause of eviction is anti social behaviour.  If you think your neighbour may complain either justifiably or not, again, let your Landlord or Agent know.  Better still, try to avoid confrontation of any sort!

These points are all common sense but as with all relationships communication is key!  Talk to your agent or Landlord about any issues and they will be far more forthcoming than if you bury your head in the sand.

12 June 2015

Preparing your home for sale- Part 2

In our last blog we gave you a few hints and tips on how to make your property look ideal to viewers. Keep reading for some more great tips. 

Don’t expect others to see past the ‘foibles’ that you have lived with; the hole in the ceiling; the scuffed paint work on the door frames. Ask your friends to be honest about what they see that you no longer notice. Fix the problems, particularly the easy ones such as repainting.  Don’t mask serious problems. If the property has damp and it isn’t something you are willing to fix, get quotes for the work and leave them with your agent. Trying to disguise an issue will eventually come back to haunt you, when a survey brings it to light it will provide an opportunity to negotiate down the price.  Clean windows let in more light, as does removing any netting or blinds that you normally have up. Let viewers see your rooms with all the natural light you can get. It will always look better and the rooms will look bigger.  In the kitchen consider replacing the unit doors and handles if they are shabby but the unit carcasses are in good condition. They don’t need to be expensive, just look good.

“Show home” living

No nasty smells.
Always make sure the bin is empty. If you have pets move them outside for a viewing if possible and make sure their food & water trays are clean and washed with no litter trays in the house. You may not be able to smell anything, but non-pet owners will notice the odour.

Keep it tidy.
At some point in the sales process you will sigh and say “….but I have to live here”. True, but you’d rather be living somewhere else so it’s worth making the effort to keep the property permanently on show until you have a sale. A buyer might want to come round at short notice so always have the house ready to be viewed.

Details matter.
In the bathroom make sure the towels are neatly folded on the radiator, the shower screen is streak-free, the bath, hand basin and toilet are sparkling and a new bar of soap looks better than one which is melting away. If the bathroom is tiled, ensure both tiles and grout are clean.

Kitchen work tops
These benefit greatly from under-unit lighting - so if you have them, turn them on. Ensure all light bulbs work – especially in cupboards and under the stairs where prospective buyers might want to look. Open the windows in summer. In winter ensure the house is warm.

Potted plants or fresh flowers
These brighten up the room, but make sure their smell is not overpowering. The smell of furniture polish gives the impression the home is well cared for.

Leave a light on
This can create a relaxed atmosphere and brightens the room. Ask viewers to take off their shoes when looking around – it makes people realise that you care about your home, and gives the impression the property is well looked after. 

Cut back overgrown bushes and trees. Fill in old ponds or sand pits. These measures can add to the size of an existing garden and allow a better view. Look out of your windows front and back. What can you see? If it’s not pretty in the distance then create something nice to look at close by. Use brightly coloured plants in pots or tubs if you don’t have a garden to catch the eye.  Remove old sheds or greenhouses. Getting rid of these not only creates space, but also lets in light.  Ensure that the garden is tidy; the lawn should be free of leaves, paths swept, weeds removed, loose paving fixed and clean the garden furniture. Hanging baskets, planted tubs and window boxes make a house look cheerful and create a fresh smell. Even in winter a floral display makes a property look cared-for and desirable.  Look at the front of the property -perhaps the front door or garage door needs re-painting or a new one fitted? Make sure external paintwork, guttering and doors all look to be in good order.

This may all sound like a lot of effort but, believe me, it will pay dividends and should help to secure a buyer more quickly, thereby cutting down on the amount of viewings and giving you the chance to move on to the next one sooner!

11 June 2015

Preparing your home for sale- Part 1

Thinking of selling?  Here are a few hints and tips.

Since modern buyers can look up how much you paid for your property you will need to convince them that you have added value through improvements, or that prices generally have gone up. Don’t imagine that simply because you have done lots of work you will automatically get it back as added value. There is a “value ceiling” set by neighbourhood average property values and no matter how much you have spent improving your property it may not exceed this ceiling.  Work which adds space such as a loft conversion will almost certainly add value, but cosmetic work such as a new bathroom may not add value although it may make your property easier to sell.  An en-suite bathroom can add 5% to the property’s value but don’t do it at the expense of a double bedroom as this will devalue your property. The number and size of bedrooms is still the preferred indicator of property size and therefore of value for most people.

Maximise the space you have on show. No matter how big or small your property is it’s the available space that sells it.
You can maximise that feeling of space by showing more of it! Think about buyers being able to see under furniture, leaving space under beds, sofas on legs. And don’t use the space to store things – buyers will see it and think there is not enough space for their own stuff.  Store excess furniture, ornaments and general ‘stuff’ out of sight, preferably in a storage warehouse. The investment will pay off; buyers will see space and will not notice the odd missing chair or side table. You can make do with what is left whilst you are selling.  Don’t use the garage to store excess. Buyers will want to see the garage and won’t be fooled if they find it’s full.  Using the loft for storage is what people expect – but make sure that it is well organised, as a buyer wants to see that it is useful space which can be easily accessed.  Floors need to be clean and tidy to increase the sense of space. If you have a carpet, get it cleaned. If the flooring is badly scuffed or marked think about changing it.  All surfaces, shelves and tops of cupboards to be kept clear. If you can’t make room for items out of sight then think about putting more into storage. No-one will notice if the toaster is missing from the worktop but they will remember there was not a lot of kitchen worktop space.

Move furniture around so that when you enter the room you see more floor space. 
There is no harm in leaving out your Gucci bag so the buyer see’s the ‘sort of person’ that lives in a house like this one. If you have a home office make sure it is spotless, no bits of paper lying about and no dust on a printer that is rarely used.
Remove as much of the clutter as you can – don’t imagine that because you are selling a family home the next buyer wants to see a rooms full of children’s toys. This includes the paintings and drawings that are on display around your home, they appeal to you but may be getting in the way of a buyer seeing how they might organise and use the space.


Neutralise strong colours and decor. Orange kitchen walls may look lovely to you, but will put off more people than they attract. Magnolia might be dull, but it won’t offend anyone. The aim is to appeal to as many people as possible.  Store away quirky, personal items as they might be distracting. If you are a collector put away the collection. It is personal to you and not relevant to the buyer. Restrict the number of photos on display. A few will help to give a ‘lived’ in friendly feel, but too many will clutter up the rooms.