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Tenants say broadband more important than heating

Whether for work, study or entertainment reasons, a reliable and affordable broadband connection is likely to be one of the first services that prospective tenants look for in a new home, as it is one thing most people simply cannot live without.

According to a new survey of 3,000 Brits, slow broadband speed at peak-times has been cited as the number one unexpected home-mover bugbear, with many respondents insisting that they would not have moved at all had they known the broadband would be inadequate.

The study suggests that sub-standard broadband connectivity can have an adverse impact on rental values as it can make it harder to attract, and indeed, retain tenants.

Almost half of renters – 48% – surveyed said that they would have avoided a property entirely if they had known that it had poor broadband speeds at peak-time.

For over a third – 36% – flaky mobile signal would have also been a deal breaker, followed by an unresponsive landlord (33%), noisy neighbours (32%) and loud road noise (26%).

When asked what information they would most like to know about a property, which is not readily available from an agent or the website, 34% of respondents to the poll said they wanted to know what broadband speeds they would receive at peak times, another key concern expressed by 28% was the responsiveness of the landlord.

The reliability of the mobile phone signal was important to 18% but not living next to noisy neighbours surprisingly came in at the bottom of the list with just 6% of Brits saying that it would be their top concern.

Steve Holford, chief customer officer at Hyperoptic, the full fibre provider, which commissioned the research, said: “We are hitting one of the busiest times of the year for moving home, but ironically for many the speed of the market won’t be matched by the speed at which they can connect to the Internet when they get into a new property.

“The average property broadband speed that is given from a property website is basically misleading since it does not factor in how much a Fibre-to-the-Cabinet broadband service can reduce at peak times.

“It is time that the property sector woke up to the fact that broadband is not just a standard property amenity – it has the power to turn off a prospective renter and buyer altogether. Brits want and deserve to know how their broadband will perform at the time they need it most.”

Separate research from Gocompare.com Broadband recently found that many Brits now consider internet connection to be more important than heating.

The study by the comparison site revealed that 76% of British adults view broadband as an essential utility, with around a third – 36% – saying they could not live without it.

The study also uncovered how broadband has become a deal breaker when it comes to property, with one in five saying they would not buy a house if it had a poor internet connection.

Younger adults aged 18-24 were most likely to forgo heating in favour of broadband, with 23% of people in this age group willing to go without heating for a week and 15% happy to be left in the cold for a month. However, it was the over 65s who valued the internet the most, with 81% saying they thought it was an essential utility.

Ben Wilson, from Gocompare.com Broadband, said: “These figures highlight just how important the internet has become in our daily lives, with the majority of people now considering it an essential utility, like energy or water.”

“The internet has quietly become a vital part in many people’s day-to-day lives and as such it’s now more important than ever to make sure you’re with the right provider at the right price,” he added.

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Housing shortage set to drive up rents

Rental prices look set to increase in the coming months on the back of a growing supply-demand imbalance, the latest Private Rented Sector (PRS) report from the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA) Propertymark suggests.

Fresh figures show that demand for rental accommodation rose by 31% between December and January 2017, while the number of available homes in the PRS increased by just 3%.

Letting agents report that a ‘seasonal lull’ was to blame for the shortage of rental accommodation available between December and January, although the report added that both demand and supply had increased sharply over the previous 12 months.

On an annual basis, the prospective number of tenants rose by 10% in January, with an average of 34 prospective renters registered at each ARLA approved letting agent, up from 31 in the same month last year.

Meanwhile, the volume of homes available on the market increased by 12% over the corresponding period, with an average of 193 per branch in January 2017, up from 173 a year earlier.

David Cox, chief executive at ARLA Propertymark, said: “As expected, the New Year brought with it a flurry of activity in the rental market. While supply of rental stock rose slightly, the number of prospective tenants increased by a much bigger margin.

“When supply and demand are out of kilter, as they have been for so long now, the market isn’t balanced and fair for tenants, and rent prices will just continue to rise.”

Almost a quarter – 23% – of agents surveyed witnessed rent hikes in January, but this was down from 30% in January 2016.

Cox warned that the government’s plans to implement an out-right ban on letting agent fees will make the situation worse for tenants.

He added: “The costs of the vital services letting agent fees cover will need to be recouped, and this will get passed on to renters in inflated rental prices.

“This, combined with new landlords’ tax, particularly the upcoming changes to mortgage interest release, means the rental market is far from reaching equilibrium.”

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Survey reveals tenants’ shocking lack of knowledge about renting

A survey of 1,000 tenants and landlords has provided evidence of what many agents already know – that the growing complexity of the private rental sector is proving challenging for many tenants and landlords alike to understand.

Just under half of tenants had never heard of ‘fake landlord’ scams, despite such practices being covered extensively by the media in the last 12 months.

In 2015, rental fraud cases reported to government body Action Fraud rose by 44 per cent on the previous year while the Local Government Association suggests this represents just five per cent of the true number of victims, because the vast majority of such cases go unreported. The government says fake landlord scams lead to £63m being lost by tenants each year.

The survey also uncovered a lack of awareness concerning government-backed initiatives such as mandatory membership by agents of one of three redress schemes as well as localised landlord licensing and accreditation schemes. Some 60 per cent of respondents were unaware of the existence of any of these schemes.

“While the vast majority of private rental sector landlords are providing safe and secure homes for renters across the country we are aware the criminal minority are out there. The Residential Landlords’ Association has always promoted tenant and landlord education to encourage a greater awareness of responsibilities among both landlords and tenants, which in turn improves standards in the sector” says Andrew Goodacre, RLA chief executive.

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A guide to getting your home ready for viewings

Viewings are incredibly important so we’ve put together this checklist to help you get your home ready before potential buyers walk through the door

A picture speaks a thousand words

The first thing that potential buyers see when they enquire about a particular property is the ‘property details’. This is a bespoke document, produced by us. It isn’t just a mundane list of power points, number of radiators and confirmation that you have dado rails; it’s a high-spec brochure designed to really sell your house. We take professional quality photographs, we’re honest and we’ll shout loudly about your home’s best bits.

A guide to getting your home ready for viewings

First impressions really do count

Stand outside your property and try to look at it with a fresh pair of eyes. Does it have ‘kerbside appeal’? Is the lawn mown? Are the flower beds neat? Is the front door grubby? Do the bins need emptying? If you have a communal entrance hall, does the carpet need a hoover? Are there piles of mail making the place look untidy? In the winter, make sure any paths or steps are clear of snow and ice. If you have a doorbell, make sure it works.

Let them see the light

If your viewing’s after dark, think about the lighting so your home looks warm and inviting. Make sure house numbers and names can be seen clearly so your potential buyer can find you. Keep the porch or hall light on. During day time, make sure curtains and blinds are left open to maximise natural light into your home.

Fatal distraction

Your cat or dog might be your best friend and your kids are your pride and joy, but do keep any pets or children quiet or out of the house when you have viewings if you can. Let your potential buyers see your property without any distractions. Turn your music off too.

Spit spot!

Full redecoration is unnecessary, but do give your home the once-over and do any little jobs that might be making the place look more shabby than shabby-chic! Repair any peeling wallpaper, touch up chipped or marked paintwork, dust the skirting boards, clean the kitchen cupboards, wash the floors, replace any light bulbs, thoroughly clean and tidy every room. And please, please, please… clean the windows!

Get a handy person in

If there are other things that are letting your property down (broken sash cords, missing doorknobs, broken tiles, dripping taps, cracked/ missing sockets), then get them sorted. It will be money very well spent.

Kitchens and bathrooms sell homes

This really is true so pay particular attention to these rooms. Put away as many of your items as possible so your potential buyers see clutter-free surfaces. Taps covered in limescale, a stained bath and grubby, cluttered worktops will not create a very good impression, so get your Marigolds on and clean, scrub and polish until these rooms look shiny and inviting!

De-clutter and recycle

Lots of storage space is always popular so do everything you can to maximise what you have. Sort out your attics and basements, make sure any cupboards are tidy and organised, recycle anything you no longer need or want (be honest) and generally have a good clear-out. It’ll be one less thing to do when you do move out.

Crowded house

Potential buyers always feel a bit like they’re intruding so minimise the amount of people in the house when you have viewings. If you are showing a potential buyer your home let them look around at their own pace and give them the option to explore on their own. They will have a great deal to think about and discuss and sometimes that’s easier if you’re not following them from room to room! Suggest that you leave them to it and offer to answer their questions once they’ve had a good look round.

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House prices continue to rise

With almost every pundit predicting house prices to moderate in 2017 – perhaps even fall – it comes as some surprise that annual vales in the year to the end of February actually rose according to new figures from the Nationwide.

The annual rate of growth was little changed in February at 4.5 per cent, slightly higher than the 4.3 per cent recorded in January. House prices increased by 0.6 per cent over the month, after taking account of seasonal factors.

The building society says recent data suggests that the UK economy has continued to perform relatively strongly, accelerating slightly in the final quarter of last year and expanding by 0.7 per cent quarter-on-quarter.

“The outlook is uncertain, but we, along with most other forecasters, expect the UK economy to slow through 2017 as heightened uncertainty weighs on business investment and hiring. Consumer spending, a key engine of growth in recent quarters, is also likely to be impacted by rising inflation in the months ahead as a result of the weaker pound” says Robert Gardner, the society’s chief economist.

“Nevertheless, in our view a small rise in house prices of around two per cent is more likely than a decline over the course of 2017, since low borrowing costs and the dearth of homes on the market will continue to support prices” he adds.

Market commentator Jeremy Leaf, a north London estate agent and a former RICS residential chairman, says: “Stability in the market is welcome at the moment with so much talk of rising and falling prices and seasonal changes. We’ve noticed an encouraging increase in first-time buyer demand for smaller properties, bearing in mind there seems to be a levelling of the playing field with investors and cash buyers.”

Posted on

House prices continue to rise

With almost every pundit predicting house prices to moderate in 2017 – perhaps even fall – it comes as some surprise that annual vales in the year to the end of February actually rose according to new figures from the Nationwide.

The annual rate of growth was little changed in February at 4.5 per cent, slightly higher than the 4.3 per cent recorded in January. House prices increased by 0.6 per cent over the month, after taking account of seasonal factors.

The building society says recent data suggests that the UK economy has continued to perform relatively strongly, accelerating slightly in the final quarter of last year and expanding by 0.7 per cent quarter-on-quarter.

“The outlook is uncertain, but we, along with most other forecasters, expect the UK economy to slow through 2017 as heightened uncertainty weighs on business investment and hiring. Consumer spending, a key engine of growth in recent quarters, is also likely to be impacted by rising inflation in the months ahead as a result of the weaker pound” says Robert Gardner, the society’s chief economist.

“Nevertheless, in our view a small rise in house prices of around two per cent is more likely than a decline over the course of 2017, since low borrowing costs and the dearth of homes on the market will continue to support prices” he adds.

Market commentator Jeremy Leaf, a north London estate agent and a former RICS residential chairman, says: “Stability in the market is welcome at the moment with so much talk of rising and falling prices and seasonal changes. We’ve noticed an encouraging increase in first-time buyer demand for smaller properties, bearing in mind there seems to be a levelling of the playing field with investors and cash buyers.”