Review Category : Finance

Slowly but surely, the global economy has now fully recovered from the financial crisis in the latter part of the previous decade. There are now, incredible investment opportunities for anyone whos savvy to make a healthy profit from all kinds of business ventures. No more so, than perhaps the oldest money-making strategy technique, property investment. The benefits of doing this in a large city are almost countless, as the environment is characterised by constant growth, ebbs, and flows of the economy and the socio economical needs of the populace. It’s a great place to diversify your portfolio, and if youre willing to do so, you can have your finger in many pies at once. The best options for investing in large cities lay in the commercial and residential real estate market. However, in the modern world of fast-flowing commerce, the trend to buy seemed all but fizzled out, so you must innovate to generate.

 

Consumer trends

 

Look for cities that have consistently shown themselves to attract a wide variety of people, but all on the same socioeconomic journey. Young professionals and retirees are the very motivated to find the best property for long-term inhabitants. Millennials want to get on the housing ladder and have increasingly found themselves to be left behind by governmental policies. However, these young families and career-minded individuals have found innovative ways to live in properties that would otherwise be out of their price range but choosing to rent, rather than to buy outright and seek ownership.

 

However, retirees who have saved for a lifetime, also want to buy their dream homes and finally get to relax after a long life of work. They are in the process of looking to move up the ladder as well. They may have been living in an average-sized home, but now want to buy homes will large garden spaces and possess the square-foot capacity for a guest house so they can accommodate for guests and family. These home styles are found around the outskirts of large cities as affluent home buyers want to find peace of mind in the countryside but have been city-slickers all their lives; so theyre not willing to make a clean break from the city itself.

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Why the north?

 

Property investment is set to be a very lucrative strategy to make consistent returns, more so in cities situated in the north of England. Times are changing, and finally, the politicians have realised that the north is no longer purely an industrial complex, but a thriving part of Great Britain where innovation and job creation is at an all-time high. HS2 plans seem to be going ahead, and this will only cement the narrative that the north is finally going to be linked to the south with jobs and wealth flowing upward.

 

Professionals in Birmingham

 

Travel a little further south, and youll find the second largest city in the UK, Birmingham. There are so many investment properties and many categories to choose from. The city has the biggest population outside of the capital and attracts young professionals from both the south and the north, meshing cultures together and the promise of good paying jobs. The location of the city being in the Midlands makes it very accessible and all other cities in every direction, evenly spaced with regards to travel time to reach them. The high-speed rail program is due to be finished by 2026, and the Birmingham New Street train station is already receiving 150,000 commuters every day, this is surely set to increase. From London, directly to the heart of Birmingham is where this line will run, so the cities are set to begin sharing talent like never before, making it full prime real estate opportunities.

 

Retirement opportunities in Leeds

 

Leeds property prices have gone up by 6% and the average price for a home has also gone up. But as aforementioned, the young professionals are earning more money than previous generations, but dont want to buy. Leeds is, therefore, an even bigger attraction to investors as the plan is to build more and more apartments and high-rise buildings that could supply plentiful housing in the form of luxury studio property. The city is also in among the fourth most heavily populated urbanised area, with many bungalows, and terrace houses linking neighborhoods and families together. Cheaper than the Midlands and most definitely the south, Leeds is a great place for pensioners to buy large properties for their retirement years, for a very good price.

 

The north of England is but a mirage of its former self, and this is because the shift from mechanical engineering and natural resources jobs have given way in number, to young professionals working in the technology industry and e-commerce sector. Now is the best time is invest in properties as large scale population movements are taking place.

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If youre thinking about investing in property, you might have a slightly skewed perspective. Speak to people who have already invested in property and generally, theyll tell you how much money theyve made and how easy it was. They wont tell you about the struggles they faced, and they will probably fail to mention that it took longer than expected. Surviving your first property investment isnt easy, and if youre not careful it can leave your bank balance dry and you emotionally drained.

That said, there are steps you can take to avoid the issues and make sure your first property investment is a brilliant success.

 

 

Speak To A Broker

One of the first mistakes you can make investing in property is buying the wrong place. Basically, you need to make sure you avoid buying a property that doesnt have the potential to be profitable in a future sale or through letting. Properties like this have major issues that will require expensive repairs.

You can avoid this completely by making sure you use the service of a broker. A property broker will only recommend buildings, houses, and flats that have most potential. Just like a stock broker, theyll recommend these investments to you so you can decide whether they are worth your time and your money.

 

Budget Wisely

There is no getting around the cost of a property investment, and were not just talking about the initial cost of purchasing the property. If you are preparing the property for let, you will need money available for renovations and perhaps even furnishings. Of course, there are always ways to cut the costs and still guarantee that you have a brilliant place where people will want to live. Companies such as Flambard Williams have some fantastic buy to let tips that could really help you here. Although one option would be to buy an entire block of apartments and then furnish it with furniture bought in bulk. By doing this, you can save a lot of money from one purchase.

 

Dont Grow Too Fast

You might be eager to grow your property investments, and this is understandable. Particularly, if one seems to be going quite well. For instance, you might have bought one flat, let it and decided to invest in another. However, this could be a mistake because when you do this, the costs can quickly grow out of control, rather than the profits. Instead, you should focus purely on your first investment and wait at least a year before taking another risk.

 

Remember The Hidden Costs

Finally, there are a number of costs that come with investing in property that might not be apparent at first. For instance, if you are buying an apartment you might need to pay money to the owner of the building for maintenance. In cases like this, the easiest way to handle it is to take that into account when choosing how much to charge in rent. The trick is to plan your budget so you are always in the green and constantly think in terms of the worst case scenario. Do this, and you will survive your first property investment.

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Moving house can be stressful for a whole myriad of reasons. You never feel certain that the whole things going to work out the way you want it to until youre actually in your new home – and aside from all the logistical issues of packing up all your stuff and getting your kids acclimatised to a whole new space, there are also a lot of financial issues that you need to think hard about before you move. Here are some simple tips to help you manage your money while youre moving house.

 

Make A Budget

First of all, ensure that you make a budget. This will help you to become much more certain about exactly how much money you have and how much you can spend. Figuring out exactly how much you have to pay in taxes before you actually have to do so, will help you figure out whether you can easily afford a moving company or whether you should pay your friends and family in love and pizza to help you out instead. Being aware of your financial situation is the first step of learning to harness it and work with it.

 

Talk To The Professionals

Secondly, dont be afraid to talk to the professionals. If you have never bought a house before by yourself, or if youve split from a partner who always helped out with the financial side of things, or even if your money situation has recently changed, you might be feeling a lot of uncertainties. Remember thats okay – no one is sure of everything in their lives. But you shouldnt try to battle through alone as you might end up making mistakes and getting into a bit of a mess. Talk to a broker like Enness Private who will help you to figure out what exactly youre doing.

 

Get Prioritising

Thirdly, if youre looking around at your brand new home and trying to figure out what comes next, its time to start prioritising. Sure, you might want a shiny new waterfall shower but that doesnt mean that you shouldnt prioritise an extension that will mean that your kids get to have separate bedrooms. Before you think about what you want, think about what your new house needs. From there, you can make decisions that will benefit every member of your family.

 

Consider Your Other Costs

Finally, make sure that youve considered the costs of moving that you havent quite thought about before. For instance, packing materials can be pricey, and so can hiring a moving van. Cleaning services can cost a lot of money and you may not get all of your deposit back if youve been renting. You may have to pay for childcare or to put your pets in kennels safely so that you can move house without unsettling and disturbing them, and if you work freelance or you have to take unpaid days off to move then youll be losing out on money. Make sure that you consider all the costs of moving to work out your budget.

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For most people that have just purchase a property the issue of home decor and design is very important. As it is unlikely that you will buy a place that is already decorated perfectly to your taste. So it is usually the first job on the list to get the interior sorted. However, this can sometimes be more difficult that it originally appears. Read on to find out what you can do to make sure you avoid as many problems as possible.

Check what’s there

The first thing that you need to do is check what state the house is in. This is especially important for those that have bought at auction. As they may not have had a chance to look around the house property before purchase so there could be some nasty surprises in store.

Keep an eye out for mould, unsafe flooring and cracks in the walls. As these could all signal greater problem that needs to be sorted before you can get on with renovating the rest of the property.

Where possible it makes financial sense to use items that are already in the house. So consider whether doors and cupboards can be painted instead of being replaced.

Also remember that while it is nice to be able to do some structural work on the inside as it can increase the value of your property. It will also increase the cost of the work that is being done. Therefore consider it carefully before you stark knocking through any walls!

Create a plan of what you want

The next step, once you have assessed what is there is to create a plan of what you want. In fact, you may have several plans. The first may show any building work that needs doing such as fitting a new kitchen. Then you may want to create some mood boards for the decorative aspect of the rooms that you will overhaul as well.

This is a worthwhile activity because seeing how all your fabrics and colours work together can save you a lot of money in the long run. Especially you decide that they don’t match as well as you’d hoped.

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Secure funding

One you have fulfilled the first two stages, then it’s time to secure some funding for your project. The assessments and plan that you made should give you a good idea of the costs involved.

If you’re lucky, you have some money left over from the purchase price of the property. But if that sum will not cover all of your planned renovations, consider the option of homeowner personal loans as well. A loan like this can provide you with enough money to get the finish on your property that you are looking for sorted, even before you have to move in.

 

Get Quotes

Once you know that you have the right level of funding to proceed with your renovations you can contact contractors to get quotes. It is always better to speak to at least three contractors and to compare the prices that they give you. Look out for ones that includes labor and materials in the total cost and can do the work on a convenient time scale.

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Renovating a home to let can be difficult. No, scratch that, it is difficult. It takes time, money and effort, and all of this comes with an additional helping of stress. It’s worth it, in the end, to have a home that you can let out or sell on for a good price. But while you’re among it, the strain can have very noticeable effects on you and those close to you.

Among those effects is the impact it has on your decision making. This is a time when every decision you make has an impact not only on your end result, but also your bank balance. And whether you’re letting it to tenants or end up moving in yourself, you need to make sure that those decisions are the right ones. After all, one way or another you’ll be living with, or in, the consequences.

What is vital above all else is that, sleep-deprived and desperate to finish as you may be, you make a decision for the right reasons. Although saving money is always an attractive prospect, sometimes lower prices are bargains. Sometimes, they are false economies. Dont pick something thats worth less if it will hurt your rental income.

In The Bathroom – Pick The Right Flooring

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The bathroom, the smallest room in most houses, is an area where you don’t need to spend a lot of money. Weirdly, this makes some people feel like it’s an area where they can make cuts. The logic goes that you’re not spending much there anyway, so a little cut won’t be missed. Well, maybe not – so long as it is a little one.

For example, don’t invest in cheaper flooring for the bathroom to cut some money from the budget. Cheap flooring has a habit of showing its lack of quality very soon after installation. In a room that is going to be wet for a lot of the time, this will look awful after not too long at all. If someone is renting this place for six months, will you just have to redo it when they move out?

In The Bedroom – Protect The Key Pieces

There are many spots in a bedroom where a little bit of a saving can be made. If you’re handy with a sewing machine, you can potentially run up your own curtains and save some cash that way. Going with less vaunted suppliers for bedroom furniture can help too. Even high-end vendors tend to sell flat-pack these days, so is it worth splashing out? Maybe, maybe not.

Make sure that areas like the bed itself are taken care of, though. It’s not much extra expense to go with bed linen from Richard Haworth or a similar supplier, and the bed will look and feel so much better for it.

In The Kitchen – Don’t Overdo The Appliances

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If there is one room in the house where even penny-pinchers are prone to profligacy, it’s the kitchen. You need to bear in mind that just because there is scope for an appliance, and it’s a nice one, it doesn’t mean you have to have it. Have all the usual – cooker, washer, etc. – and then maybe one “Wow” addition such as a great coffee machine. Otherwise, they become too much expense for a lot of clutter and not much function. And if youre renting the place out, the tenant will add most of what they want anyway.

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As with any venture involving property, being a landlord can be tricky business. Now, more people are renting due to the difficulty of getting in the housing market. But that doesnt mean its easy to make a profit when letting out a home. So sometimes you need to take that extra step and make a little more investment to make sure your to-let project gets you the money it should.

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The where of it all

If you havent bought a property to let it, yet, then hold off on that thought. One of the ways you can make sure youre dealing with a steady income stream is by letting out a home to the right market. You might want to let to families, which means choosing a property in a nice residential neighbourhood. Similarly, there are some locations that are good for the steady stream of student and postgraduate tenants you can expect.

Curb appeal matters

Never let anyone tell you that a great garden is for selling a home only. If your property is in an upscale area, then people will most definitely pay extra for a garden that has had some work put into it. Remember that a lot of your tenants might otherwise be buying a home if they could. If youre willing to offer them what they want from a home, youll find they can be willing to pay more to live there.

More rooms, more money

The more usable space that you can offer your tenants, the better. Many will rush to convert spare rooms and attics to bedrooms. But dont ignore just how important the number of bathrooms can be to some tenants. Bathroom renovations might seem like a lot to handle. However, you can cut down on the cost and effort involved with services like PRS bathroom pods. When youre renovation, consider the materials that you use for those renovations, as well. It can be a good idea to choose those that are easier to maintain and clean. That way youre less likely to be facing hefty cleaning fees.

The longer they stay, the better

Vacancies are bad, we all know that. You dont want your property sitting around empty for long. While its a good idea to keep the one-year contracts, try looking for people who want to stay in a property for longer. Screen your tenants for duration, not just how likely they are to take care of the property.

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Consider offering more services

You never know what kind of tenants youre going to get. Some will be more than happy to pay extra for services. For example, they may be willing to pay for the kind of services a contractor would offer. Landscaping, cleaning and the like. Its your property, so they know youll want to keep it in good condition. This way, you can get more profitable from being hands on with a few properties instead of managing a larger amount. If you take care of cleaning on an ongoing contractual basis, you can avoid disputes at the end of their term, too.

There are plenty of ways to ensure your property stays profitable. From choosing the better property to taking on more responsibility. The more work youre willing to put in, the better.

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The property market in London is notorious for its high prices and popular areas. Identifying a new area could be compared to tapping into a gold reserve. Many people are no longer bothered about postcodes in the way that they used to be and so they are happy to look at other areas. So where should buyers invest?

Bayswater/Queensway

This is the final area around Hyde Park as prices here have never been the same as those in areas such as Knightsbridge or Mayfair. However, more investors are purchasing here because there are older properties such as terraced houses and old hotels that could be converted into desirable properties.

Dalston/Kingsland

In the past year, house prices in this area have increased by 31%. The area is located close to the North London Line which is undergoing improvement while other healthy price rises have been seen at other London Overground Stations.

Whitechapel

The price of property in the area is expected to increase by 25% by the time Crossrail is completed in 2018 but developers have only now decided to consider its potential. This is one of the most interesting markets being developed in London.

Peckham

Peckham has grown in popularity as the area has been undergoing improvements. It is located close to the city and in the last five years, prices have doubled.

Holborn/Aldwych

The area has seen trendy apartments spring up in recent years while its impeccable residential streets have a real appeal but prices here are lower than other areas of the city. A profit can be achieved in the long term.

Clerkenwell

The area has undergone some serious changes in recent years and this is likely to lead to price rises that are on par with the prices in Soho. The area will benefit from the Crossrail project and a new development on the Old Street roundabout will also add to the area.

Nine Elms, Battersea

Experts believe that this area has a lot to look forward to in the future due to the regeneration of Battersea Power Station and the relocation of the US Embassy. The plans to extend the Northern Line will make the area more accessible and so this is an area that could be worth investing in.

Streatham

This is the perfect area for those investors looking for something priced lower than the more established areas. Prices have increased by 20% in the last year and the new Streatham Park has drawn attention to the area along with good transport links.

Stoke Newington

Many young professionals have moved to the area and this has means that it is making a name for itself. It is a multicultural area that is being redeveloped offering excellent gains over the long term.

Southwark

New developments on the south side of the River Thames are now paving the way for other developments and the potential they have. New apartments being built in the area are certainly working wonders for its popularity.

Bow

The area is steeped in history but it is now attracting the city types who cannot afford to purchase property in Canary Wharf. It is the ideal alternative.

West Drayton

This is another area that will benefit from the Crossrail project. Investors have already started purchasing property in the area as they believe that they are likely to see a good return on their investment once the Crossrail project completes.

Brixton/kennington

London property hotspots are now reaching wider than ever before. Young people want to live in the area because it is up and coming and has a lot to offer. Lower prices and regeneration are helping investors to benefit from purchasing property in this area.

Earls Court

Regeneration in the area, notably the Earls Court Exhibition Centre and Seagrave Road are likely to turn the area into a real hotspot. Urban villages and a new school will see house prices rise.wc102

Wapping

Prices in the area have increased by 24% over the last year. The area has a huge amount of history mixed with modern warehouse conversions that are fast becoming extremely popular.

 

Victoria

Victoria has long been hiding in the shadow of Belgravia but its fortunes could soon be set to change. Regeneration of the Coach station and Victoria Street along with modern buildings replacing tired and worn properties will certainly help to enhance confidence in the area.
Tottenham Court Road

This has always been an area that has not had a huge amount of attraction but perceptions are changing. Redevelopments of existing buildings into classy residential units as well as the tube station will make accessing the city centre a lot quicker enhancing its potential.

 
Honor Oak

Improvements to Honor Oak have really made the difference while links to the city centre are being improved through the Thameslink project. Victorian terraces with huge potential and competitive prices are making this an area to consider.

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Mayfair

Mayfair is known to be one of the more expensive areas of London but there is a reason why it is included in this list. It was once home to mainly offices but the residential market is being developed and so it is growing to the point where it will offer great returns in the long-term.
Elephant and Castle

Once an area that was not pleasing to look at, a significant regeneration project has turned this into a desirable area. Property prices are reasonable and new retail space will give the area a new dimension. It is in travel zone one, which is an advantage while it is not a million miles away from other desirable areas.

For more information about property investment in London, please contact Hopwood House

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In the aftermath of last month’s referendum result, British property buyers have behaved much as expected and slowed their purchasing activity considerably. However, the market has not suffered as much as many experts feared, thanks to an influx of international buyers helping to make up the shortfall.

London, in particular, has seen an influx of foreign interest in the wake of the Brexit vote. Demand for properties in the capital is coming from investors of many nationalities, including those from the Middle East, China, Spain and Italy. In the first few days after the referendum result was announced, UK agents reportedly took large numbers of calls from individuals and institutions based overseas, reportedly including one bank from the Middle East that wished to obtain a list of available properties for clients who were expected to begin buying at the end of Ramadan.

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UK buyers have become reluctant to purchase new properties in the aftermath of the referendum thanks largely to a climate of uncertainty. In the short term, the economy certainly suffered a shock as a result of the vote in favour of leaving the EU, which was something of a surprise result. In the longer term, nobody is really sure what the consequences of Brexit will be for the property market, and until an exit deal begins to take shape it is difficult to make predictions. Some high-profile buyers specifically included exit clauses in the event of a Brexit vote ahead of the referendum, and it is reported that such clauses have been exercised in order to allow buyers to pull out of deals already underway.

However, most experts believe that property investment in the UK is still a sound choice for weathering any storms that may come, and for international investors the aftermath of the Brexit vote may seem like an opportunity to gain exposure to the market. Likely the main factor at play is the effect that the leave vote had on the pound. Once the referendum results were unveiled, the pound rapidly tumbled to its lowest value for three decades, and for international investors this means a much more favourable exchange rate when buying sterling properties.

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For a Eurozone buyer purchasing an average-priced London property, the shift in exchange rates means an effective discount of 50,000 or 42,000. With the average London house price in euros hitting a record high as recently as November 2015, this sudden and pronounced discount looks all the more attractive to many investors from euro markets and beyond. Add the fact that stability within the Eurozone is somewhat uncertain at present, and it is quite understandable that some of the area’s investors are deciding that the UK’s risk profile does not outweigh the bargain prices.

 

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When the global downturn hit in 2008, London property weathered the storm extremely well and this was down in no small part to foreign investment shoring up the market. The influx of foreign interest after the Brexit vote is being tentatively taken as a sign that a similar trend may be set to take place in the coming years as the UK’s termination of EU membership is realised.

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London’s property market has been attracting investors for years. It has proven to be a profitable investment, generating large quantities of returns – but, according to the UBS, this tendency might change soon.

Is London’s Property Market Approaching A Correction?

London and Southeast, in particular, are commonly the most popular areas for those looking to invest in property in the United Kingdom – and for good reason. The region has displayed an excellent performance for a long time, and several investors made significant profits specialising in property around the M25.

The foreseeable future appears promising for the capital in the eyes of most. There is an enormous demand, and not nearly enough supply – that is why the city is a fair market favourite for those investing in property. However, experts claim that London’s property market is extremely overvalued. According to UBS, a renowned global financial services company, London is the most overrated city in the entire world as of 2015.

Although it may sound scary, the claim does make sense. If it’s true, London might indeed be approaching a correction, and huge losses might be looming for investors.

When Will The Bubble Burst, If There Is One?

Of course, no one so far could provide hard evidence that a change is approaching. The UK Housing Observatory of Lancaster University, for instance, claims the M25’s property market is not in a bubble at the moment at all.

Once again, it appears the increasing property demand in London will bring only good times to the capital’s investors – but since some have been warning that it’s a good idea to diversify, it may be best to start looking into other options.

Great Alternatives To The Capital And The Southeast

Those who wish to follow this advice and spread their investment further than Britain’s southeast corner might be wondering what other good locations to invest in are. There are various options for established and would-be investors – a lot more than there used to be, say, in the last decade. Currently, the North seems to be the best choice.

Liverpool

The city of Liverpool has been rising for a while now, and its future looks bright. Significant developments are approaching, and the considerable amounts invested in many key areas have been making the city grow as a whole.

A large number of multinational companies are currently housed in Liverpool, and its urban population of over 1.3 million seems like it’ll only grow over time.

Leeds

Commonly regarded as the second largest financial district in the UK, Leeds has been attracting attention from investors. Many young professionals have been settling there, and the city’s growing population suggests it’s a good place to invest.

 

Manchester

As with London, there’s an extraordinarily high demand in Manchester, with yields averaging at close to eight per cent. Greater Manchester has been a focus point for investors for a few years now.

Newcastle

Another popular area for property investors, there are many business opportunities in this area, and the popularity of Newcastle University only helps to increase the demand.

Conclusion

London’s property market is still healthy for now, but since the future is unclear, it might be a good idea to invest in other suitable locations. Of course, there’s an important question investors should ask themselves for now – if there is a bubble in London, and if it bursts, will other cities follow it?

Author Bio
Hopwood House are property investment experts, with a wide range of property investments throughout all major towns and cities in the UK.

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If you own buy to let property you probably have some notion of the legislation surrounding your role as a landlord. Especially if you are an accidental landlord – coming by property you want to let out to tenants almost by chance – your knowledge of all the relevant legislation might be still more sketchy.

This might not be surprising, since there is quite a lot of it, determining a number of facets regarding the way you let your property. It might be useful, therefore, to review the principal characteristics of the relationship between landlords and legislation.

 

Health and safety

  • in common law, landlords have a general duty of care for ensuring the health and safety of their tenants, visitors to the premises and members of the public – a liability which may be indemnified by landlord insurance;
  • there is also a steadily expanding raft of statutory legislation;
  • much of that legislation is administered by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and a summary of the main areas of concern for keeping your tenants safe and their accommodation healthy to live in is published on the main government website;

 

Gas safety

  • the foremost concern for health and safety of tenants is that involving any gas supply and the use of gas appliances in the let premises;
  • your obligations as the landlord are set out in the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998, which explain your duty to ensure that gas flues, fittings and appliances are safe;
  • that safety regime requires you to arrange for an annual inspection of the gas installation by a registered Gas Safe engineer;
  • your record of the engineer’s inspection must be kept for a minimum of two years and a copy of it must be given to any existing tenant or to any new tenants moving in within 28 days of their doing so;
  • this is your duty as a landlord and you cannot delegate the carrying out of such annual checks to your tenants;
  • with effect from the 1st of October 2015, you were also required to fit a carbon monoxide detector in any room in which solid fuel is burned and install a smoke alarm on every floor of the let premises;
  • the HSE takes a sufficiently robust approach to any infringement of these regulations – meaning that you might face a hefty fine or, indeed, imprisonment;

 

Electrical safety

  • although there is no formal requirement for annual safety checks of the electrical supply and any appliances you provide, you are nevertheless still responsible for ensuring that these are safe and pose no danger to your tenants;

 

  • clearly, one of the best ways of your demonstrating that all reasonable steps have been taken is to arrange a periodic inspection by a qualified expert;

 

Fire regulations

  • it has already been mentioned that you must now fit a smoke alarm on every floor of the building, but there are further fire safety precautions too;
  • these include your compliance with national and local fire regulations, the provision of unobstructed access to fire escapes at all times, the use of fire retardant furnishings and furniture, and, in the case of Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO), ready access to fire extinguishers;

 

Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES)

  • with effect from April 2016, landlords must upgrade the energy efficiency of properties graded in bands F and G of the Energy Performance Certificate before the accommodation may be let to tenants;
  • from this same date, tenants may also ask landlords to improve the energy efficiency of the rented accommodation;

 

Tenancy Deposit Protection scheme

  • any deposit taken by a landlord – as security against damage and breakages, for example – must be placed for safe keeping with an independent, government-approved tenancy deposit protection agency;
  • in the event of any dispute between landlord and tenant about the amount of deposit to be returned at the end of a tenancy, the deposit protection scheme also offers a free arbitration service;

 

Right to Rent

  • a scheme is currently being trialled amongst landlords in the West Midlands under which they have a responsibility for checking the immigration status of any tenant – and his household – intending to occupy the let premises;
  • depending on the results of the trial, the scheme is expected to be rolled out across the rest of the country during 2016;

 

Further developments

  • other legal developments include the coming into effect of the Deregulation Act 2015, which extends tenants’ right to freedom from eviction in certain circumstances; and
  • the phasing in of the controversial buy to let tax from 2017 to 2020, which effectively removes landlords’ current entitlement to tax relief on interest on their mortgages.

 

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A mortgage loan is a loan secured by a mortgage in real property. The term “MORTGAGE” refers to the legal security. However, these two terms are commonly used interchangeably today to refer to mortgage loan. So generally, a mortgage loan refers to the loan that is secured by residential property. As compared to other forms of borrowing, a mortgage loan is lower in price. This is because the property’s value reduces the risk for the lender.

Mortgage loan processing is a series of steps completed in a period of six weeks to maximum of ten weeks. The procedure is very intricate for all the parties involved. The processor of the mortgage loan oversees all the processes while the borrower adheres to the lender’s instructions.

If you want to get a house loan for buying or building a house, then you should know how to go about it. Though the steps set by most lenders are generally the same, you still need to check with your lender and see if they have unique standards. Generally, there are four steps involved in the process and they are explained below.

Mortgage Application

This is the very first step in mortgage loan processing. Once you have located a suitable lender, you need to fill out a loan application form with them. The good news is that you can now apply for it online which is the fastest and more convenient option for mortgage application.

Make sure to fill all the required information as honestly as possible. When you’re done filling up, submit it to the mortgage processor. The processor will then immediately contact you to instruct you of all the necessary documents you need to deliver. These documents may include income tax returns if you are self-employed, recent bank statement, W-2 forms and pay stub. Usually, the paper work is sent by mail which may cause delay to the Mortgage loan processing.

Verification of the Document Information

This is the point where the actual processing will begin. Once that all the necessary documents have reached the processor, all the information you have stated in there will then be verified critically to ensure they are genuine. What verifiers usually do to verify your information is call your landlord, bank, employer or other entities that are featured in your documents. If you have fulfilled all the requirements, you will pass the pre-approval step. The Mortgage loan processing overseer will then send all your files to the lender. At this step, the title report and the appraisal processing will begin. It generally takes 14 days for the lender to validate your documents. But it will be executed faster via their automated system if your house loan is eligible.

Underwriting the Loan

The approval process happens in this stage. Here, the underwriters once again validate your documents. Sometimes they will also need to request for your credit report. This is also the stage where appraisals and title search reports are done. It is the underwriter who has the maximum power whether to approve or reject a borrower’s application. When a file is approved, it is returned to the loan processor together with a pre-closing statement. And if it is rejected, it will be returned to the mortgage loan processing department together with a statement of denial. The loan officer and processor review all the denied files once again. They will see if they can still help the owner. Nowadays, automated underwriting is in vogue. Such requires less time and less paperwork. It is the computer that disqualifies or approves a file. The underwriter’s only job at this point is to manually check the document if there are possible problems.

The Closing Stage

The loan execution will be sent to the closing stage if the mortgage loan processing and the underwriting department are both happy with your file. The closing stage will be initiated with all the conditions that are stipulated by the underwriter. In just a short period of time, you will get a loan commitment from your lender to set the date for the loan closing. To make this decision, you may need to consult with a property seller. And before it closes, you need to compare the charges stated in the Good Faith Estimate statement and Settlement Statement.

Bonus Tip – Getting Mortgage Cover

If you are looking to borrow loan for your home, also consider buying mortgage insurance which will make sure that your home stays with your family after your death. Mortgage insurance provider will pay your mortgage in such circumstances.  Check out Pinnacle life website for more details.

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Mortgage insurance is one of the few types of insurance policies that provides absolutely no benefit to the person paying for the policy. Then why would anyone in their right mind even consider purchasing mortgage insurance? The truth is sometimes, they do not have a choice.

Mortgage insurance policies were created solely with protecting mortgage lenders in mind by protecting them from losing money when a home buyer defaults on a home loan or mortgage. If the home buyer stops paying on their mortgage because of loss of employment, death or some other unforeseen circumstance, mortgage insurance ensures that the lender will still be paid in full for the balance owed on the property. The premiums are paid by the borrower and the lender is listed as the beneficiary on the policy.

The good news is that mortgage insurance is not always required when purchasing a home. There is an exception to this rule and that exception is when the down payment on the home is 20% or more of the sale price. If the down payment is less than 20% – you will have to have mortgage insurance. However, you don’t have to shop around for your own policy, which is good. The lending company will usually find an insurance company for you, which isn’t good because you can’t compare premiums and ensure you are getting the best rate.

Even if it turns out you do have to have mortgage insurance, you may not have to keep it for the entire length of your mortgage. Mortgage insurance is a must for the first year of your loan, regardless who your lender is. If you have an FHA loan, you are required to keep your mortgage insurance for a full five years. Aside from these two stipulations, the length of time mortgage insurance is required will depend on how your contract is worded.

However, many lenders allow you to submit a request in writing to drop mortgage insurance once you have paid the balance to below eighty percent of the home’s sale price or appraised value. There is no guarantee the request will be granted, but more often than not, they are. This is why it’s imperative to know exactly what your contract says and to keep tabs on your mortgage balance so that you can address dropping the mortgage insurance at the first opportunity.

Even though mortgage insurance may seem like an unnecessary evil, the truth is it does actually benefit first time home buyers in a roundabout way. If home loan lenders had no protection against defaults, they would be forced to raise their percentage rates and their qualifying criteria, which would put owning a home out of the grasp of many would-be home owners. Instead, with the assurance that their investments will be protected, home lenders can be a little more forgiving when it comes to percentage rates, eligibility requirements and other qualifying factors that come into play when financing a home.

5 Fast Facts About MGIC | Infographic - An Infographic from MGIC Connects

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We know the difficulties attached to being a landlord. The idea of it seems simple but the process can prove daunting at times, especially in the capital.

Don’t fret too much though, we’ve compiled some effective tips that you can refer back to time and time again.

 

Plan ahead

It’s never a bad idea to plan ahead with insurance. You will thank yourself later on if you stumble across a hurdle, whether it’s damaged property or a tenant refusing to pay, you’ll be glad you’ve covered it beforehand. UKinsuranceNET can help you out with these issues and will ensure that you receive your rent with help from a court of law.

Know what to offer

To get the most out of being a landlord, you should actively research and listen to what potential tenants are looking for. You’ll benefit in the long-run if you take the time to have a look at what different groups of people are after. For example, the expectations of students are evidently rising. The 2015 report ‘What Students Seek’ revealed that 61% of students require their room to have a double bed, while 59% set their sights on having a communal living area. If you take this on board as a landlord, you’ll see the benefits that stem from directly appealing to potential tenants.

Know your tenants

Once you’ve sorted out knowing who you’re appealing to, it’s important to ensure that you’re choosing your tenants well. If you’re uncertain about whether a potential tenant fits your contract, check their background or ask their past landlord about their experience. Meeting someone in person can often reveal a lot, yet people may lie about details such as pets, so it is worth going the extra mile and checking before you agree to anything.

Build a relationship

It may be difficult at times but building and maintaining a positive relationship with your tenants can mean less problems and quick solutions. If you make a consistent effort to listen and show that you are willing to help in some way, even if you can’t always solve the issue, maintaining a strong level of communication should make the experience run far more smoothly.

 

So, so get planning with our tips and you’ll be well on your way to getting the most out of being a landlord in London. However, if you’re finding something challenging along the way, don’t worry about asking for help. Look no further than The National Landlords Association for some support and advice!

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When the time comes to retire, it can be tempting to downsize your home to something smaller. As the family have now all grown and flown the nest, you likely have more space than you know what to do with. Then there’s the cost saving benefits to consider. However, before you make a decision, it helps to know all of the pros and cons of downsizing at retirement. This will help you to make the best choice to suit your needs.

Understanding the pros

There are many potential benefits that come with downsizing, with the most obvious one being the money you will save. A smaller home means you will use less energy, helping to lower your utility bills. You will also likely have a good amount of money left over after selling your family home. This enables you to live a more comfortable lifestyle.

Smaller homes are also easier to get around. You need to consider safety aspects of getting older. It is no secret that as you age you become frailer. A trip or fall can cause a lot of damage. So if you were to downsize to a bungalow for example, the lack of stairs would make the home a safer place to live out your retirement.

Downsizing can also offer social benefits. For example, you could choose to move into a small communal area. Designed especially for older residents, these communities offer low cost housing with the chance to make lots of new friends. Retirement can be lonely; particularly if you have lost your spouse or someone close to you. Therefore moving into a like-minded community will help to ease that loneliness. This option also comes with safety and cost saving benefits. There are usually wardens who check on residents and houses have panic buttons in case you need help. All maintenance is taken care of so that’s an extra expense you won’t need to worry about.

Understanding the cons

While downsizing can bring many benefits, it doesn’t come without its potential problems. It isn’t always a more cost effective option. For example, if you have paid off, or almost paid off, your mortgage, if you need to take out another mortgage on your new home, you wouldn’t have as much financial freedom. You need to work out exactly what the costs will be before you make up your mind. Take into account the fees that come with moving. Also account for any new furniture you might need. Downsizing can be more expensive than you think so it pays to be fully prepared and have a set budget in mind.

While retirement is all about change, sometimes moving to a smaller place can cause you to become really homesick. Your family home may be too large now, but it is where you have built a lot of your memories. Feeling homesick is common, though it is something that subsides in time.

Another downside if you enjoy gardening is that smaller homes come with smaller gardens. Some have no garden at all. This is something you need to really think about when looking for suitable properties.

There is also the possibility that you won’t like your new neighbours. Leaving your old friends and neighbours behind can be traumatic and it’s a lucky dip as to the type of neighbours you end up with.

So as you can see, downsizing comes with both pros and cons. You need to weigh everything up in order to determine whether it is the right option for you. Never rush into making a decision. The key to getting it right is to research and plan ahead. You might even benefit from seeking professional financial advice.

 

Bee Moved is a Brighton based removals and storage company which offers its service to both domestic and commercial customers.

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f you’re thinking about letting out a property, you need to make sure that you protect yourself in any way you can. Being a landlord is risky business. It’s not as easy as you might imagine at first. In fact, it can be a minefield. If you get something wrong along the way, you can end up losing time and money. Before you start looking for tenants, here are six things that you need to know.

 

  1. You need at least two references from each tenant

When you let a house out to someone, you need to know who they are. You should insist on at least two references from people who know them. These references could come from their employer or their old landlord. You should be quite rigid when it comes to this aspect of negotiations. Once you have the referees’ names, make sure that you give them a quick courtesy call.

 

  1. Landlord insurance is a must

You need to make sure that you get landlord insurance as soon as you decide to let out a property. You will need to have the cash to cover any accidental damage or problems with your tenants. There are many in-depth landlord insurance policies out there, and so you need to find the one that suits your needs. Spend some time shopping around until you find a deal that suits you. You ought to check to see what the policy covers before you agree to its terms.

 

  1. Some tenants will cause you trouble

There will be certain tenants out there who will cause you no end of problems. No matter how good people sound on paper, you just don’t know how they will act until they move into your property. You should prepare yourself for every eventuality. That means that you need to make sure that you are ready to cope with any issues that they might have. Remember, as long as everything is legal and above board, you should have no issues.

 

  1. You should avoid tenants with pets

Sometimes, you will come across potential tenants who have pets. You might find the idea of letting them stay tempting, but you should think twice. If you worry about damage to your property, pets are the worst possible option for you. Animals, such as cats, rabbits and dogs, tend to bite into material and things. If you have a furnished apartment to let, you will find that a cat will ruin any sofa you buy. It’s not worth it.

 

  1. Tenancy agreements should be solid

When you create a tenancy agreement, you have to make sure that it’s secure. You should get a legal expert to help you with this step of the process. You need to ensure that everything is clear for both you and your tenants. If there is anything that you want to suggest, let the legal expert know about it. That way, you get total control over the agreement, and so you get to decide what happens.

 

  1. You always need a security deposit

Sometimes, tenants will damage your property. That is part and parcel of being a landlord. What you need to do is make sure that you have the funds for those repairs. Before someone moves in, you should make sure that you get a security deposit from them. If you’re buying a home to let it out, a deposit will be important. That way, if something does go wrong, you have financial security. Most landlords insist on a security deposit.

 

You can make a load of money if you are a landlord, and so it is well worth it. If you want to create a second income stream for yourself, you should consider this idea. But, remember, if you want things to work out, you have to be careful and follow this advice.

 

Photo: Linus Bohman

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HSBC bank has recently rejected a couple in their 40s for a mortgage, on the grounds that the husband would be too old by the time the term was complete.

Despite the financial ombudsman upholding their complaint, and the bank being forced to pay compensation to the couple, as anybody who has gone through the process will tell you, applying for a mortgage is one of the most stressful financial experiences you are likely to experience.

As well as seeking professional advice from an independent financial adviser, there a number of steps you can take to try and increase your chance of being accepted for a mortgage.

Check your Credit History

There are 3 credit reference agencies than can provide you with a copy of your credit report:

You have a legal right to check your credit score, though the reference agencies will charge you. You may be able to get a free trial from one or more of the agencies in order to check, though if you wish to review your credit report in the future you will have to pay to sign up.

It is worth checking all three agencies as they will each hold different information.

Register to Vote

Lenders need to be able to confirm where you live before they can accept you for a mortgage.

The easiest way to do this is by registering on the electoral register. It’s a quick process, and as long as you’ve got your National Insurance number to hand it shouldn’t take more than 5 minutes.

You’ll also have to be registered to vote in this year’s General Election, so head over to www.aboutmyvote.co.uk and get registered before starting the mortgage application process.

Alleviate some of your spending

Lenders will not just look at your regular in and out-goings (rent, bills etc.), they’ll want to know everything that you spend, from what you spend on groceries and fuel, to how much of your cash goes on clothing or socialising.

They’ll also know whether you occasionally dip into the red, so if you’re one for drifting into your overdraft at the end of each month, it’s worth postponing your application for around 6 months until you’re on top of this.

Unfortunately, some mortgages will be rejected (though only around 1 in 4, according to the Intermediary Mortgage Lenders Association), so it’s worth being prepared for what to do if this does happen.

Don’t Panic

First of all it isn’t worth getting panicked or upset over a rejected mortgage application, even though after saving up the deposit and finding the right property it can feel like a crushing defeat.

There could be any number of reasons why your application was declined: most of the time it’s due to the specific lender you applied with not being happy about specific details. Every lender has a different policy, so just because you’ve been declined a mortgage from one, doesn’t mean you will be rejected by all.

Check your Credit History

If you didn’t do this before your first application, now is definitely the time to do it. It could be something as simple as an anomaly in your past residence history, or something more series such as a fraud case alerted on your account.

Take a look, and then take steps to improve your rating or fix any other errors you see on there before your next application.

Talk to a mortgage broker

A mortgage broker (whether fee-free or working on commission) will be able to look at your financial and personal circumstances and cross reference them across a number of mortgage lenders. They also have expertise in matching you with the lender most likely to accept your application.

Some brokers will even specialise in certain circumstances, such as finding mortgages for those who are self-employed or for those with poor credit history.

Seek independent financial advice

If you’re struggling to be accepted, it may be worth seeking an independent financial adviser who can help you with your finances in the future.

There could be any number of reasons for being declined an application, but a financial adviser will be able to take all of your circumstances into consideration and figure out the best course of action for you moving forward.

Ryan Smith is part of the content development team at Local Financial Advice, connecting people with independent financial advisors in their local area, to help them achieve their financial goals.

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The UK housing market could be heavily affected should Labour win the election as they plan to reduce the number of homes supplied whilst also making it difficult for overseas investors to invest in London. 66% of landlords will leave the private rented sector should labour win and introduce a rent control policy which puts a cap on the amount of affordable rental properties.

 

Social sector rents rose by 25% between 2008 and 2009, and 2012 and 2013 and private sector rents increased by 6.5%. There is a belief that should the rental controls be introduced tenants will be given less of a choice which means there will be a reduction in supply but also the opportunity for dubious landlords to enter the market.

There have also been rumours of a return of the 50p tax rate which means that London could no longer compete with the big cities around the world. This means that wealthy individuals interested in UK property investment will decide that they want to live somewhere else in Europe.

 

A mansion tax could also be introduced which could cripple the London property market as there are around 97,000 properties valued at more than £2 million. This tax on assets will really rock many areas in London and it will result in pushing many people away form the capital as they will look to invest elsewhere, this will effectively result in house prices in London decreasing as buyers and sellers negotiate. It will be the straw that breaks the camels back, especially when the overhaul of stamp duty is taken into consideration for this small percentage of property owners.

 

There is belief that the imbalance in supply and demand is causing prices in mainstream housing to increase but overseas buyers are not increasing. However, there has been no collaboration between Labour or Conservative governments and housebuilder since 1986, to put in place a plan to increase the number of properties available.

A housing study carried by Labour comes with a ‘Use it or Lose it’ warning that promotes and encourages the redevelopment of buildings that are derelict or landholdings that have been granted planning permission to build new homes but the land owner has still not implemented the project.

Labour has proposed to charge fees or even push through compulsory purchase orders from developers or landowners that labour believe to be landbanking but this is not the correct way to deal with this issue. It is often the case where sites have been granted planning permission but under Section 106 the planning requirements can make it difficult for the developer or even funders to back new development. This could mean that derelict buildings and sites are dealt with by the local authorities. This could result in a speed up in the process rather than the original proposals causing problems and essentially stalling the process.

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Birmingham is becoming the next area to be targeted by overseas investors because of bargain prices and also because the price of property in London is spiralling out of control.

When it comes to property investment, Birmingham has shot up 14 places in the rankings of the top European cities as seen in a report that has been released by the Urban Land Institute and PwC.

As prices increase in the capital, investors are now starting to move away and look at alternative places to invest and this has resulted in London moving down five places. Those investors from North America and Asia who have sovereign wealth funds and pension funds are now moving into markets that have less competition. The likes of Madrid, Amsterdam, Athens and Lisbon are all experiencing a growth in interest as confidence increases and investors are willing to risk investing in these global real estate markets.

In the UK, cities such as Birmingham are now appealing to investors as they find that property prices in London are growing at an incredible rate. There is lots of competition with high prices and low yields which no longer makes it a credible investment and this is resulting in investors spreading their wings and looking elsewhere.

Birmingham is also climbing the table when it comes to attracting business men and women as there have been over 19,000 businesses created in the city over the last year, falling behind London only. The city will receive a real boost in 2026 when the HS2 arrives and by 2037 the expected gains sit around £3.1 billion.

However, London is still very much in the driving seat when it comes to the economy as it still outperforms every other UK Region. London has continued to grow quicker than any other region and its productivity was 33% higher on average than the rest of the UK last year.

Throughout the rest of the UK the economy grew by 13.4% on average and in comparison, London’s economy grew by 20%. Per head, London has the highest gross disposable income which is around £21,446 whilst the average for the rest of the UK is £16,791.

Regardless of the suspicions and fears in the economy, the property investment market is still resilient and there is hope that more money and debt will move into this market throughout this year, however, they foresee that a shortage of property could be problematic.

The real estate market is full of capital that comes from all over the world and this could give investors a slight problem during 2015. This is down to the fact the prices are going to continue to rise as a result of a shortage of property.

Investors will still look to invest regardless of the economic uncertainties throughout Europe, but they will look at the markets in secondary cities and at properties that they may not have thought of before and this gives them a great prospect of tapping into a market that could provide great yields but it will come with a challenge.

Despite a drop in the ranking, London is still regarded as the place that many investors look at first but the office sector and retail in the West End were slammed for being priced way too high. According to property experts The Overseas Investor, offices saw yields of 4.25% at the end of 2014 and this figures stood at 4.75% at the end of 2013.

 

 

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When it comes to protecting your property, you’ll need insurance whether it’s a flat or a house. There are some important distinctions between the two, though, so here we’ll take you through what you’ll need to know when you insure your London flat. Unfortunately, the most expensive UK locations for insuring your home are all in the capital. The general rule of thumb is that the closer to the centre you get, the higher your premiums.

 

Buildings Insurance

When you buy a home, you most likely own it freehold. This means you’ll need buildings insurance to cover you against any damage to the property such as major structural damage, from a disaster like flooding or a landslide. If you buy a flat, though, you will most likely own it leasehold, and that means you don’t need buildings insurance. More information on the two terms can be found here.

 

For your leasehold flat – what is also known as a long tenancy as you have purchased the property for an extended period of time, usually 99 or 125 years – it’s the landlord who should be paying for the buildings insurance. This is because when you purchase a leasehold property, what you actually pay for is everything within the four walls of the flat. So this would include everything from the floorboards and plaster on the walls all the way up to the ceiling, but it doesn’t include the structure that surrounds the property. This is owned by what is known as the freeholder, who is also the landlord, and they are responsible for the maintenance and any necessary repairs.


Contents Insurance

Contents insurance, on the other hand, is a much simpler concept. It isn’t mandatory, but regardless of whether you own the property freehold or leasehold – or even if you’re renting – you will want to insure the possessions in your home. Terms and conditions can vary, but usually your insurance will cover damage against natural disasters like floods and storms, damages caused from a fire, and vandalism or malicious damage. If you feel like there’s one missing there – theft – that’s because there can be a grey area here, especially if you decide to flat share.

 

Contents insurance will mostly likely not cover theft unless there is ‘proven forced or violent entry’. This is so insurance companies don’t have to pay up when you fall out with your flatmate and they take a kitchen appliance with them when they leave. Look at the terms and conditions each supplier offers, as they will all slightly differ, but, generally speaking, they will try and limit the amount of small claims they have to deal with. Take a look at UKInsurancenet’s website for more information.

 

When you’re looking to get your first step on the property ladder, a flat can be a great option, especially in a big city like London. Space comes at a premium, so the lower prices that a similar sized house would demand make it more affordable to younger buyers. If property prices keep rising like they have been over the last several years, you’ll be able to make a profit if you decide to sell when you need something bigger. Consider our tips on home improvements if you decide to make the move.

 

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If you’re a businessperson then you’re probably more accustomed to getting out into the big wide world and selling your brand than allocating office space and picking out professional interior decor. But finding the right office and making your own mark on it is an essential part of any business’s growth and development, so it’s crucial that you put some time into getting it right. Here are the things you should be considering if you’re getting ready to do this.

 

Finding the Office

 

You need to find the right location so you can come to work and do your job while remaining close to your clients and customers, depending on who your business is for. Some people will go for cheap space out of town that meets their requirements, whereas others will be looking for serviced offices like those on offer from London Executive Offices. Then when you’re found the space for you, it’s time to start furnishing the office. Look for the basic minimum furniture and equipment you’ll need to run the show, and plan your office layout to maximise efficiency. If you’re expecting visitors to come to your office then consider whether you’ll need a meetings room available, or whether you want to impress them with glamorous surroundings. Communication is essential too so ensure you have enough phone lines and extensions.

 

Equipping the Space

 

Then you need to start finding the right supplies to be able to make your office fit for purpose. A computer system will eventually pay for itself. If you need a photocopier then find out that suits the copying workload for which you are likely to require it. If however you decide to lease equipment like this then be sure to check the maintenance charges carefully so you aren’t burdened with extra charges over time. You may also find you can save time and money by investing in postal equipment like a franking machine. If you use stamps then you should keep them indexed in a book to which you can readily turn.

 

A scanner meanwhile is great to have for all kinds of essential documents and pictures that you may need to digitise. But when looking for any office equipment it’s always worth considering whether you’d be better off by using an outside supplier, given that in some cases you will find business centres can provide it to you albeit for a higher rental fee. There is no simple one-size-fits-all way to kit out your office and make it ready for action, as every business has its own unique set of needs. But with enough time and attention you’ll be able to make a space that’s right for you.

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