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Birmingham Property Market 2017

The Changing Birmingham Property Market in 2017 2> By | News | No Comments

The Changing Birmingham Property Market in 2017

By Surrenden Invest | May 11, 2017
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Birmingham has changed more in the past 30 years than just about any other city in the UK, and regeneration and development is showing no signs of slowing down. New areas of the city are being opened up, leading to positive changes across the region.

Commercial Developments

Birmingham’s central business district and core office market have received significant investment over the last 5 years. Modern office space is attracting new businesses to the city, including some of the UK’s biggest financial institutions, such as HSBC and Deutsche Bank. Demand is growing in Birmingham, and combined with the increase in high-quality office space, we can expect to see rents increase to £35 per sq ft by the end of next year, which is excellent news for Birmingham property investors.

TMT Growth in the City

Birmingham is seeing highest demand from Technology, Media and Telecoms (TMT), which now represents around 20% of all new property deals. We are also expecting to see growth from the Fin Tech, Media and Biomedical sectors, and this will lead to a rise in professional and financial services.

Investment

Although the Brexit referendum has slowed business slightly, demand was already running at unprecedented levels and the occupier market continues to hold steady. Yields for prime office space should stay at around 5.25%. Birmingham continues to attract significant overseas investment, which is generating increased demand.

Residential Investments

Birmingham is attracting buyers from London who tend to have higher expectations. As a result, developers are building higher quality apartments and taking more care to create more desirable environments around developments. Birmingham’s build-to-rent sector is expected to supply 55 new units every year in the city centre by 2020, placing Birmingham as the country’s leading Build-to-Rent investment zone.
Birmingham’s demographics are also changing, with a growing younger population, attracted by the affordable housing market and improved career opportunities. There are around 1900 international businesses in Birmingham, and the city boasts the largest professional service sector outside of London.

Prime Value Set To Rise To £500 Per Foot by 2020

Birmingham’s commercial and residential hotspots are being supported by infrastructure improvements and city centre regeneration, which is making the city more appealing to businesses and families alike. We predict that rising demand will push prices to £500 per square foot in prime city locations, making Birmingham ripe for investment.

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Birminghams New Property Hotspots

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Birmingham's New Property Hotspots

By Surrenden Invest | April 21, 2017
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Birmingham is undergoing a wave of residential and commercial development that is taking the city to new heights and providing residents and businesses with a wealth of new opportunities and talent. Here are the hottest developments in Birmingham this year.

Westside

Westside was originally one of the most important suppliers of commercial rent in central Birmingham and the redevelopment of Brindleyplace during the 1990s helped to fuel this. However, over the following decade, Snowhill, on the opposite side of the city, started to grow in importance, and there was a rivalry between these two opposing locations.
More recently, major developments at Arena Central and Paradise have, combined with Birmingham’s new library and Baskerville House, connected the Westside to the Birmingham’s centre to create a larger and more dynamic central business district. The area has seen commercial giants such as HSBC, Network Rail and PWC create new hubs in the area.
Westside’s infrastructure continues to improve with new vistas forming, which were previously blocked by the old library. Now New Street and local amenities are far more accessible, providing a more attractive urban landscape for residents and workers alike.

Snowhill District

On the opposite side of the tracks is the Snowhill District, which is growing as a major business district, with the arrival of KPMG, AECOM, Amey, Gowling WLG and EY.
The Snowhill Masterplan is taking shape and new developments include 3 Snowhill, Post and Mail, and Birmingham’s skyscraper zone. Snow Hill has improved rail services to London Marylebone, and a new tram line provides fast commuting to and from Wolverhampton to the north, and New Street to the south.
Also in development in the Eastern Metro extension that will link to Curzon Street station, the terminus of the HS2 high-speed line to London. The latest plans will see newly created pedestrian access across the area, making the urban environment far more attractive.

Colmore Row

Colmore Row is the traditional core of Birmingham’s professional district. For many years Colmore Row’s development stagnated due to a lack of new sites. However, there have been several new development opportunities of late that have improved the quality of rental accommodation available, which has helped boost occupier expectations and rental levels across the area.
The most exciting developments include IM Property’s 55 Colmore Row, Rockspring/Sterling’s 103 Colmore Row and Ardstone’s 1 Newhall Street, which provide quality properties that link to the Westside and Snowhill business areas.
This whole area has experienced gentrification with the opening of many restaurants, bars and cafes, as well as a revamped Grant Hotel, which has turned the whole area vibrant and happening area.

Jewellery Quarter

The Jewellery Quarter provides some of the best residential properties, with converted factories and traditional townhouses, along with more convention new builds.
This area has its own business hub, which is dominated by start-ups, making it one of the most desirable areas to live, making it Birmingham’s Shoreditch. New metro connections to New Street Station have helped to further bolster its appeal, and the new Eastern Metro extension, due for completion in 2026, will provide a fast link to Curzon Street and the HS2 terminus. The Jewellery Quarter is also within a 15 minute walk of Snow Hill station, which will further be improved with new pedestrian routes.

Gun Quarter

On the edge of Jewellery Quarter and Snow Hill is Gun Quarter, just a short walk from the CBD. Although central, this area has some discounted properties providing some excellent investment opportunities. Gun Quarter will also benefit greatly from the Snowhill Masterplan and become a key residential area in the city, making it ripe for property investors.
As well as excellent rail connections, tramlines and pedestrian access across the city, these areas also benefit from easy access to the motorway network, via that A38. Looking further ahead, we can see that Birmingham will start to rival London and the Northern Powerhouse as a key area for growth and development for the next generation.

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Give your Buy-To-Let a spring clean

By Surrenden Invest | March 31, 2017
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Spring has finally arrived in the UK and we have seen temperatures rise dramatically in the last week, and this, coupled with the start of British Summer Time, means longer, warmer days. Now is the perfect time for property landlords and tenants to carry out a thorough spring clean to ensure that your residential investment retains its value. To ensure your property is in the best condition, read our guide to spring cleaning your buy-to-let property.

Spring Cleaning Advice For Landlords

As a landlord, you cannot enter a home without the tenant’s permission to check internal health, but you can work on the exterior.
The first task is to check any timber on the property for damage and decay. Get woodwork repaired and treated, and consider a fresh coat of paint. Paint protects woodwork, reducing the need for future repairs.
As the weather warms, pests start to emerge from hibernation and breed. Check for pest entry points – slipped tiles, and rips and tears in the felt, will let pests in. Look out for crumbling brickwork and holes in the walls, as well as air bricks and plumbing access to the property – all these points can let pests in.
Gutters and downpipes should be cleared of leaves and other debris, and if there is a soakaway, make sure this is working well. Some tenancy agreements make this a task for the tenant.
Inside jobs, which need to be arranged with your tenant, include checking the boiler and heating system, servicing the air conditioning, and checking for signs of damp or mould. If you have an agent, they should be carry out these checks on your behalf.

Spring Cleaning Advice for Tenants

Spring is the time to tackle the garden. The grass will need its first cut of the year, and early weeds will start to appear. If you have patio or garden furniture, give it a good clean with warm, soapy water. Wood should be re-sealed.
Inside, you should give the property a deep clean – empty and clean cupboards, hire a carpet cleaner to wash the carpets, and dust all those hard-to-reach areas. Also, check paintwork, fixtures and fittings, and report any problems to your landlord or agent. Ensure that windows open and close properly, that extractor fans are all operating normally, and give your oven a good clean too.
A good spring clean can freshen up a property, making a more pleasant and desirable home for tenants, which means they are more likely to stay – also, new tenants will pay more for a well-kept home.

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The Croydon Property Market Is On The Up

By Surrenden Invest | March 31, 2017
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Croydon is emerging as one of South London’s most attractive areas for property investors. It is a London suburb with its own personality, where you’ll find trams, parks and some of the best shopping outlets in the region. Businesses are flocking to Croydon too – the town is on the up!

Croydon developed a reputation for 1960s concrete office buildings, which while derided for many years, are now celebrated, the National Trust describes Croydon calling them the “most important examples of the post-war ambition to build a new society”.
Croydon is one of the best towns for commuters, with excellent transport to the City, as well as links served by Thameslink, Southern, London Overground and the Gatwick Express. Bus routes also cover the whole of South London. £5.4 million is being spent on replacing Croydon’s bus station, which is due for completion this month.
The town is undergoing a new phase of development, with over £5 billion of investment being allocated from both the private and public sectors. Boris Johnson, when speaking as London’s mayor, said: “Croydon is poised to become the economic powerhouse of South London.”
House prices in Croydon are yet to catch up with the investment that has been put in, so it’s still a more affordable area of London, offering strong investment opportunities. Prices are rising fast, but Croydon is still the fifth cheapest London borough, and property investors are seeing returns of 13.8% – the best in London.
Its town centre has undergone extensive rejuvenation and the new Westfield shopping centre is bringing in the big retail stores that tenants want on their doorsteps. The “Westfield Effect” is well-known in property investor circles too – where Westfield goes, investors tend to follow.

Current Developments

The Ruskin Square £500 million mixed-use development has already started, and a £750 million education and cultural quarter is also being constructed. At One Lansdowne Road, plans include London’s highest restaurants along with new offices, leisure and apartments.

Jobs

Croydon is the biggest employer in the region, with 110,000 people working in 12,500 businesses, and has the fifth largest cluster of financial services. The emergence of Croydon Tech City is seeing Croydon as “the Silicon Valley of South London”.

Property

Croydon’s property is very popular among first time buyers, as many young families and professionals have been out-priced of neighbouring areas such as Bromley and Epsom.
Over the last five years, Croydon has seen property prices increase by 40%, with some highly-sought apartments increasing by 18.3% in 2016/2017.
Croydon is growing as an economic powerhouse and is providing attractive employment and leisure opportunities, which combined with fantastic transport links, makes it one of the most desirable towns in South London right now.

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Why The Housing White Paper Is Good News For Property Investors

By Surrenden Invest | February 20, 2017
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The “broken housing market” has been cited as the biggest obstacle to economic progress in the UK in a new Housing White Paper from the Department for Communities and Local Government. The current planning system is hindering growth – and change is needed.

To encourage sustainable growth of housing stock, local authorities must be given the resources required to improve the planning process. This year there will be a 20% increase in planning fees, and possibly a further 20% increase for high performing authorities. However, unless these additional funds are used to improve local authority planning services, the delivery of new homes and sustainable development will continue to be hindered by inefficient decision making processes.

The White Paper states that the Government will discuss options available for creating a more standardised approach for the assessment of new housing requirements. Also, Local Plans will be reviewed every five years to ensure that adequate housing is being developed.

The goal is to simplify the process for assessing housing needs across the country by standardising methods across all local authorities. There is also a need to assess housing land supply annually, and improve communication between authorities, developers and infrastructure providers to fully understand both what is needed and what can be achieved with the resources available.

The White Paper also highlights the need to maintain protection of the Green Belt, but to provide opportunities to amend Green Belt boundaries when all there are no options for further development within existing housing locations and brown field sites. The Secretary of State has already adopted this approach for the Birmingham Plan.

Finally, the White Paper proposes that in cases where Green Belt boundaries are modified for the purposes of housing development, there should be compensatory measures to balance this loss by improving access to green spaces and the countryside for the greater enjoyment of the wider public.

These changes will help boost housing stock by increasing the approval of new developments, which is great news for property investors.

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Developing a property lettings and management strategy

By Surrenden Invest | January 13, 2017
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Buying a property is just the first step in becoming a property investor. Property management can be very complex and time consuming, so hiring an agent to take care of day to day matters may be the best solution.

Take the hassle out of property management with an agent
After making your first property investment, you need to prepare the property for occupancy, and then find reliable tenants to pay your rent. Few investors appreciate how much work is involved to turn an investment into a profitable income. Fortunately, there are many good agents who specialise in property lettings, so for a modest fee you can pass the hard work on to somebody else.

Why use a lettings agent?
An agent can literally do everything for you, from picking up the keys from the property developer to arranging the sale of the property when you are reading to cash in on your residential property investment. Agents can find tenants, chase for late payments, and evict tenants if necessary. An agent will also ensure that the property is in sound condition, and arrange for repairs to be carried out when required.

When should you hire an agent?
You should get an agent in place as soon as you have purchased a property, and before you complete the transaction. Your agent will need to check the property and then start marketing it before you complete so that you can get tenants in as soon as you take ownership.

What does an agent do exactly?
An agent’s role covers three areas: pre-occupation, property management, and re-sales.

Pre-occupation tasks:
• Collecting keys and documents from the developer
• Property inspections, dealing with snagging issues, safety checks and utility meter readings
• Providing legal advice and dealing with compliance issues before letting
• Arranging furniture delivery
• Marketing the property, conducting viewings and negotiating price
• Performing background checks on tenants
• Writing up tenancy agreements
• Keeping an inventory of items
• Taking deposits and managing the owner’s UK Tenancy Deposit Protection Scheme account

Property management tasks:
• Collection of rent and payment to landlord
• Ensuring bills and service charges are paid
• Acting as customer service rep for tenants
• Inspecting the property at the end of a tenancy and agreeing deductions from deposit when required

Re-sales tasks:
• Marketing the property when a tenancy ends, or arranging the sale of the property

The importance of snagging
Snagging is a building term which simple means searching for any problems that need to be resolved before paying the final instalment to a builder. Typically, snagging will include decorating issues, plumbing, flooring, loose switches, quality of finish on tiling, and problems with kitchen units or appliances – although it covers everything. It is always easier to get a developer to fix problems before completing the purchase.

When does a property need furnishing?
Most people who rent do not own a great deal of furniture, so providing furniture helps to secure tenants quickly – you can always put the furniture into storage if a tenant does not require it. Furniture includes beds, wardrobes (although fitted is the best solution), armchairs and a dining table. Always ensure there is space for personal belongings and small items of furniture, as many tenants will have a few items of their own.

Future planning
International investors can currently find some fantastic deals in the UK thanks to the weak pound, but managing a property from overseas is a complex task. Speak to Surrenden Invest to discuss your needs today.

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UK Landlords Face Prison for Failing to Check Immigration Documents

By Surrenden Invest | December 15, 2016
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Last week, the Right To Rent legislation was updated and landlords now face much stricter penalties if they neglect to properly check a tenant’s residency status. Failure to carry out the required immigration checks could result in a prison sentence.

The Right To Rent rules were first delivered in February 2015, and required all landlords and letting agents to carry out immigration checks on prospective tenants before agreeing a tenancy. Initially, there was a fine of £3,000 for anybody who failed to do this.

This month, the rules were changed and significantly harsher penalties announced. In December 2015, the Home Office created four new criminal offences that extend the previous punishments for failing to manage illegal immigrants. Landlords can now be subject to a fine, a five year prison sentence, or both, if they are found to be persistently breaching the rules, or if they fail to evict illegal immigrants from a property. The criminal offences fall under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

The Home Office can now also force landlords to evict tenants if they are not allowed to rent a property in the UK. While the Home Office has emphasised that the penalties are for repeat offenders, any landlord could be prosecuted under the new rules.

Illegal immigrants have no rights to rent, and this could include people who have outstayed a visa or who arrived as an illegal immigrant.

What penalties do landlords face?
Landlords may be prosecuted if they are found to be allowing an adult to occupy a property as their main home, if the said adult does not have the right to reside in the UK. Therefore, landlords will now need to check the passports and visa papers of every person over the age of 18 years who wishes to stay in a property.

The new rules do not apply if a tenant was occupying a property before February 2016, but all new tenants must be fully checked. If the Home Office raises a concern, it is the landlord’s responsibility to evict an illegal immigrant, otherwise they will face prosecution.

Before these changes, landlords were not able to evict illegal immigrants, but they will now be able to do so, and in some cases, will be able to ask them to leave the property without a court order.

The Residential Landlords Association (RLA) says that landlords are normally required to do these checks, but it is possible to pass on the responsibility to a letting agent, as long as there is a written agreement. “This means that the agreement between the landlord and the agent must specifically refer to who is responsible for performing right to rent checks. If the agreement is silent on this, then the landlord will be responsible. Landlords and agents may wish to reconsider their current agreements as a result,” said a RLA spokesman.

David Cox, from the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA), says that these changes are only welcome if they are used to target landlords who deliberately harbour illegal immigrants in poor quality housing at inflated prices.

All buy-to-let investors need to be aware of these new rules, as without a written agreement in place with an agent to carry out these checks, landlords could face prosecution. Unscrupulous agents who cut corners to save some money could land their landlord clients in deep trouble.

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How To Limit Void Periods

By Surrenden Invest | December 7, 2016
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Lengthy void periods are every landlord’s greatest fear. Whenever a rental property is empty it is known in the property investment business as being a void, or vacant, period. This is not only bad for the landlord and agent, who will be receiving no income during this period, but it also puts the property itself at risk.

There are several actions you can take to reduce the risk of dealing with void periods. In some ways, these suggestions are very similar to those an estate agent would provide when selling a property.

Set a competitive price
Prices can fluctuate rapidly, and they do go down as well as up. If you are struggling to find a tenant it may be because your property is no longer competitively-priced. Analyse the market and adjust your price accordingly.

Property condition
An older property that has not been decorated for several years will struggle to attract tenants. Today’s tenants are much fussier than they were a decade or so ago, and expect properties to be freshly painted, have exceptionally clean carpets, immaculate bathrooms and well-fitted and well-equipped kitchens. Often an older property has to compete with new apartments that are fitted out with all the latest conveniences, so bear this in mind.

Get a Good Agent
A good agent will work hard to find a tenant. Choose an ARLA licensed agent who already rents similar properties to yours. Agents often get returning customers, and if their usual property is unavailable, yours may be placed next on the agent’s list.

Don’t take the lowest agent fee
It is not always wise to hire the cheapest agent. The highest fees do often signify better quality work. Ultimately, you need your property rented – 25% lower fees are not a good deal when the property is empty for three months a year.

Negotiate
Be open to accepting offers. If you receive a lower offer, negotiate the terms – perhaps you could consider a longer fixed-term tenancy? It is better to take a lower rate if you have a guaranteed income for the next 12 months.

Speak to your insurance company
Another change, due to come in soon, is more stringent tests for buy to let mortgages, which is likely to further reduce the number of people who will be able to invest in a rental property.

If it looks like your property will remain void for a while, ask your insurance company if they can reduce your premiums.

Finally, some agents offer vacant management services, so before agreeing terms with an agent, ask what happens if there is a void period. Will they continue to charge a monthly fee? How hard will they work to proactively find a new tenant? Will they carry out monthly visits to check that the property is safe and secure, pick up post and check meter readings?

The rental market is very competitive, and with high house prices and economic uncertainty, more people than ever before are renting accommodation in the UK. Be flexible and keep a close eye on the markets and stay in constant contact with your agent. Listen to their advice too and act on changing marketing conditions quickly to stay ahead of the competition.

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What The Autumn Statement Means for Property Investors

By Surrenden Invest | December 1, 2016
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The Chancellor delivered his Autumn Statement last week, and while Phillip Hammond painted a poor outlook for the UK’s work force, there was some positive news for the property market. Let’s take a look at the key points that affect us.

Letting Fees
The Chancellor announced a ban on letting agent fees, which have spiralled in recent years to put an unfair burden on tenants. Hammond said: “in the private rental market, letting agents are currently able to charge unregulated fees to tenants. We have seen these fees spiral, often to hundreds of pounds. This is wrong. Landlords appoint letting agents and landlords should meet their fees. So I can announce today that we will ban fees to tenants as soon as possible.”

Although many letting agents feel that this is unfair, it does seem that there is indeed a problem when the current system can see tenants charged up to £650 just for the privilege of signing a letting agreement.

The head of the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA) has warned that agents will simply increase their landlord charges, which may see a rise in rents to cover the costs.

However, improvements in regulation can benefit the buy-to-let market, as tenants will have greater confidence in the rental system. Agents that are charging reasonable rates should experience no negative effect following this change, and for landlords this has an additional advantage – agents will become more competitive and more customer focussed, which will further improve customer confidence.

Great customer confidence will see a rise in rental agreements, which means more competition and higher rents. It is likely that tenants will end up paying more, and more of it will be paid to landlords.

Better Land for Development
The Chancellor also announced that the government will invest in major infrastructure projects to help improve the quality of housing developments. Developers have complained that a lack of quality infrastructure in the form of roads and facilities makes selling new homes difficult.

There has been a rise in off-plan property investment, both from domestic and overseas investors, since the Brexit vote. This news will likely trigger new building projects.

A Brighter 2017
Although the Autumn Statement carried a fair amount of bad news, the Chancellor has decided that house building should play a major role in economic recovery. A change in the letting laws and a promise to improve the infrastructure surrounding housing developments is great news for the property market, and property investors, landlords, letting agents, and tenants, should all benefit from these changes.

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Winter Fire Safety Reminder for Landlords

By Surrenden Invest | November 17, 2016
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Winter is coming, and early forecasts predict that it will be a cold one. Now is the time for landlords with buy to let investments to carry out some fire safety checks.

As a landlord, you are legally required to ensure that electrical equipment and electric circuits are safe and in good working order. A majority of household fires are caused by electrical malfunction. To help landlords, we have put together a checklist of the Health and Safety responsibilities that you must adhere to.

Smoke Alarms
Smoke alarms must be installed on every floor in a home. Ideally they should be connected so that if one is triggered, all alarms sound. Test that all are in good working order and replace back-up batteries annually. In any room where there is a solid fuel appliance, such as a wood burning stove or open fire, there should be a carbon monoxide alarm.

Portable Appliance Tests (PAT)
You should have an annual PAT test carried out on all appliances that have a plug. Also check all electrical cables for wear and tear, and check that plug sockets are not loose.

Residual Current Device (RCD)
All modern consumer units (fusebox) have a Residual Current Device (RCD) fitted to prevent electric shocks. They also provide added protection if an appliance has an electrical fault by shutting off the power to help prevent electrical fires.

Electrical Installation Condition Report
You must have an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) completed every five years – this must be done by a registered electrician.

Chimneys Cleaned Annually
Chimneys should be cleaned annually, ideally just before winter, to ensure that nesting birds and leaf fall during the summer and autumn does not create a fire hazard in the stack.

Fire Extinguishers
Although you may not have them in your own home, in a rented property you must provide a fire extinguisher in all high risk areas, such as in the kitchen. These need to be tested regularly, and you must also have adequate fire safety signage in place. Consider providing a fire blanket for kitchens too.

It is important to remember that landlords who invest in property can be held liable for any injury or fatality that occurs within their property if there is evidence of negligence. If any surveys state that improvement work is needed, it is vital to have this work carried out immediately by qualified professionals.

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