Brentwood in Essex lies close to the M25, some 20 miles east-north-east of London’s Charing Cross. The thriving town saw a 10% jump in population between the 2001 and 2011 censuses, taking its total number of residents up to 52,586.
Brentwood presents a uniquely appealing opportunity for property investors. The town is a success in its own right. It also offers an ideal location for those looking to work in London but live further out, thanks to the newly operating Crossrail service between Brentwood and a range of central London stations.
In a nod to its rural past, Brentwood still has plenty of green spaces and parkland, as well as a good selection of schools and local amenities. It has all the attractions needed for contemporary family life. Plentiful local employment opportunities have resulted in the town enjoying an unemployment rate that is much lower than the national average – 1.9% compared to the UK average of 4.5%.
Brentwood’s economic success means that is has no areas that are considered deprived. The town also enjoys a crime rate that is lower than the average, along with a higher than average rate of adult wellbeing. Essex Insight also reports that Brentwood has the highest proportion of jobs to population of anywhere in the county.
Already an attractive place to live in its own right, Brentwood also benefits from the newly launched Elizabeth line trains that are reducing journey times into central London as part of the £14.8 billion Crossrail infrastructure project. By cutting rail travel times into the capital significantly from June 2017, Crossrail has suddenly opened Brentwood up to a vast swathe of renters who previously viewed the town as just a little too far outside of London.
The initial announcement of Crossrail led to an influx of house buyers in Brentwood. It’s opening is now doing the same for renters, making the town an exciting prospect for buy-to-let property investors. Prices in Brentwood have risen by 31.5% in the past five years, in reflection of the town’s potential. The average apartment there sells for £287,677 according to Zoopla data from August 2017, while the average asking rent is £1,197 per month.
When it comes to Brentwood, everything stacks up. The town offers a safe, family-orientated place to live with decent education and employment options, all within easy reach of the plentiful employment opportunities of central London. It’s growing population is putting pressure on housing, making it the ideal suburban location in which to invest in residential property.
Foreign exchange rates play an important role in many people’s decision to buy a property abroad. Not only do buyers need to keep an eye on currency fluctuations in order the accurately gauge the cost of their property, but they also need to think about the method that they are going to use to make the deposit and the balance payments.
A proactive approach to foreign exchange is always best – don’t leave it until the last minute and then have to make a rushed decision! When it comes to currency fluctuations, try to think ahead. Are there any political events on the horizon that could cause your currency to strengthen or weaken significantly? Are you poised to take advantage of such events? Do they pose a particular risk? Thinking these things through can help you to plan the timing of your purchase in order to benefit from fluctuations in the value of your currency.
Planning ahead for the way you convert your currency is equally important. Many of those who haven’t previously transferred large sums of money overseas choose to use their bank, as the ‘easy’ option. However, this can be a costly approach depending on your bank’s charges and the exchange rate that it provides.
Using a foreign exchange company can provide you with significant savings. Here at Surrenden Invest we recommend our trusted partner, Monex Europe. Monex Europe is able to use its purchasing power to achieve competitive foreign exchange pricing from more than 30 counterparties. That means we know our clients can benefit from getting a good deal. Typically, clients using Monex Europe instead of their banks to convert their currency make an average saving of 2.5%.
Another of Monex Europe’s features that our clients seem to particularly appreciate are its domestic and international economic reports. The company undertakes forecasting and analysis in order to capitalise on currency movements throughout the day. Buying at the right time is crucial when it comes to getting the best rate. Many of our clients find that the detailed analysis they receive from Monex Europe helps them to make better decisions about when to purchase their desired currency.
As we are always keen to ensure our clients get a great deal, we also love that Monex Europe’s service is free to use – a great bonus when you consider that the company is consistently ranked as a top 10 global currency forecaster by Bloomberg.
Foreign exchange can seem daunting at first, due to the potential costliness of making the wrong decision. If you’ve not purchased property abroad before, or you’ve done so but only relied on your bank for currency exchange, it’s definitely worth speaking to an FX expert before you make any hasty decisions.
London’s Crossrail areas have long been excited about the new service’s potential to drive up house prices by providing enhance transport connections. Between Crossrail’s announcement and 2015, areas near Crossrail stations enjoyed a 31% uplift in house prices. Now, Woolwich has been identified as the area to come out on top as a result of Crossrail.
Nestled in the Royal Borough of Greenwich in south-east London, Woolwich has enjoyed significant investment in the form of urban renewal projects in recent years, having been identified in the London Plan as one of the capital’s opportunity areas. It is on track to progress from being one of Greater London’s ‘major centres’ to a ‘metropolitan centre’ over the coming decades, with Crossrail playing a significant role in that development.
According to JLL, Woolwich can look forward to house price growth of 39% between 2016 and 2020. That positions it at the very top of JLL’s list of House Price Growth Winners. In the year to August 2016 alone, average asking prices in Woolwich increased by 18%. With Woolwich Crossrail station due to open in December 2018 and urban regeneration continuing apace, prices are expected to continue rising steadily over the coming months and years.
Even aside from Crossrail, demand for homes is rising steeply across the UK and thus impacting on property prices. According to the latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) population data, the UK’s population is larger than it has ever been, at 65.6 million. The ONS projects that that figure will rise to more than 74 million by 2039, with an extra 8.4 million people creating unprecedented levels of demand for housing. And where demand goes up, prices follow!
With urban regeneration a key priority for the area and work underway to prepare Woolwich for Crossrail’s arrival late next year, the area is also attracting significant interest from property investors keen to take advantage of its potential for capital growth and solid rental yields. As Woolwich’s fortunes continue to rise, this trend is expected to continue.
New builds are an increasingly attractive option for those who are looking to relocate or invest in their first property. To help you prepare for this important purchase, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide to the terminology that you’re likely to come across when buying a new build home.
Often used as a more formal alternative to ‘seller’ to describe the individual who has put the property up for sale.
A legal document that will set out the main terms of agreement between the vendor and the purchaser. It will typically contain details such as the names and addresses of each party, and the price of the transaction. Both the vendor and the purchaser will be required to sign their own copy of the contract ready for exchange.
This refers to a new build property that has not been built yet.
An abbreviation used to describe an Independent Financial Advisor.
This refers to an independent professional body (or bodies) who are tasked with investigating grievances on behalf of customers. They may take on cases involving estate agents, solicitors or insurance companies.
This is a payment that is made at the point that the property is taken off the market. It will then be deducted from the exchange balance.
This is the part of the purchase price – the lump sum – that is paid by the buyer on exchange of contracts.
Memorandum of Sale/Sales Letters
Sometimes referred to as a Notification of Sale, this is a document which records the transaction between the buyer and the vendor. It will contain information on the price of the property, the personal details of both parties, and contact details for their separate lawyers. It may also specify any special conditions of sale which have been negotiated – for example, some buyers or vendors may request that they are ready to exchange by a certain date). The Memorandum of Sale is not a legally-binding agreement.
This refers to the process whereby checks will be carried out on local council records to obtain information on any relevant planning applications and restrictions that may affect the property.
Subject to Contract
This term is often used to suggest that the property is in the process of being sold, but agreements are not yet legally binding.
Exchange of Contracts
This refers to the point at which copies of signed contracts from both parties are swapped by solicitors. The buyer’s deposit will also be handed over. Once the vendor and the buyer have exchanged, the contract is binding by law and neither of these individuals can back out of the agreement without facing financial consequences.
On this day, the legal transaction will be finalised and all documents and funds will have been distributed. Normally, the vendor’s solicitor will ask the estate agent to release the keys to the buyer at this time, too. In the case of new builds, ‘short stop’ and ‘long stop’ dates may also be specified; the developer will expect to have finished all building works by the short stop date, but MUST have completed the build by the long stop date.
Requisition on Title
This refers to any enquiry that relates to the completion agreements.
This refers to the government department which records ownership of the land and any conditions pertaining to it.
This is an initial inspection of the property that is carried out by a professional, qualified surveyor. Depending on the type and condition of the property, the buyer may instruct the surveyor to carry out either:
A valuation report – this is mainly completed for the benefit of the mortgage company.
A Homebuyers’ report – this provides the buyer with important information on the overall condition of the property.
A full structural survey – this is a more in-depth report that examines structural detail and provides more comprehensive recommendations.
Property Information Form/Fixtures, Fittings and Contents Form
Both forms need to be completed by the seller to determine what will be left behind in the property at the point of sale. They will also include details on guarantees.
This is typically made up of a Property Information Form and a Fixtures, Fittings and Contents Form, along with the title deeds and a copy of the draft contract.
This involves the developer touching up paintwork, adjusting appliances and making good any other minor issues within the property prior to the buyer entering the property.
Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)
This important document will contain comprehensive information on energy use and performance at the property, along with its estimated carbon dioxide emissions and fuel costs.
A formal written offer made by a bank or building society to lend an approved amount to purchase a property.
Mortgage Redemption Figure
The amount required to repay the outstanding capital/interest of a mortgage.
Your monthly repayment includes part interest and part capital repayment. So long as you meet all of the payments required by the lender on time, your mortgage will gradually reduce until it is repaid in full.
Ownership and Charges
Legal documents that prove ownership of land/buildings and the terms on which they are owned.
Transfer of Title
This is the document that effectively passes ownership of the property from the vendor to the buyer.
Stamp Duty or LBTT (Scotland)
This tax, which is paid by the buyer, is calculated by analysing the percentage rate that is applicable to each portion of the property’s sale price.
This will grant the buyer with ownership of the property itself, but not the land it is built on. If a property is leasehold, the owner will normally need to pay ground rent to whoever owns the freehold. Please note that leasehold terms are offered on terms of between 125-999 years.
The annual fee which the leaseholder will pay to the freeholder.
A charge paid towards a freehold or leasehold property. It normally applies to apartments/flats.
This is a charge which is made the upkeep of the overall site.
Traditionally, tenants start to think about renewing their agreement around three months before it is due to expire. This always used to provide the tenant with plenty of time to find alternative accommodation if their landlord wanted to increase their rent. However, the due to the current market, which has a surplus of rental properties, some tenants are now planning their exit up to 12 months in advance. If you have long-term tenants who appear to be satisfied with their living arrangements, do not get complacent – they may be on the lookout for their next great home.
Most tenants move to get better value, and this is especially true when they have been living in the same place for around three to five years. Many will closely follow the rate of rental inflation, and keep an eye on prices. In the least competitive areas, for every tenant looking for a new apartment or house, there are 10 to 15 suitable properties on the market. The combination of increasingly savvy tenants and a more competitive market makes it challenging for landlord agents to keep their best customers. Here are some tips to help you ensure that your tenants renew their contract with you.
Never Neglect Your Tenants
Throughout the tenancy, be sure to reply to every concern. Most tenants leave a property because simple maintenance issues are not resolved by their landlord or agent. If they always wait four weeks to get a tap fixed, or a boiler repaired, they will soon start to look for a modern property with new fixtures and fittings. This is why a good property manager is essential for busy landlords – they’ll be able to deal with these day-to-day queries much faster.
Be Ready to Negotiate on Price
If a tenant asks for a lower rent before renewal time, think carefully before rejecting it. The chances are they have either seen something better for the same price, or something similar for less. People only move if they have good reason to, and it’s usually either down to money or the quality of the accommodation. Dropping the rent for 12 months is less costly than risking a void period.
Keep a Close Eye on the Local Market
Monitor all new properties coming to the market and consider how your tenants will view them. Invest in your property every couple of years to match current trends – be sure to update fixtures and fittings, replace flooring and ensure everything is maintained to a high standard. Because tenants rarely have permission to change anything within an apartment, many resort to moving to a new build when their accommodation gets a little tired, rather than approaching the landlord and asking them to update the property.
Trust Professional Guidance and Discuss Feedback
Market conditions can change rapidly, so always trust the advice given by your agency. Sometimes an agent will tell you to drop your rental price to attract new tenants. As mentioned already, in some areas there are more properties on the market than tenants, so competition amongst property investors is high. Agents and landlords should discuss market conditions on a regular basis to ensure there are no surprises.
Constant Property Research
Before making any decisions, carry out extensive research so that you are fully aware of market conditions. Property investors hire agents for their knowledge of market conditions, as well as their marketing expertise. Ultimately, the key to retaining the best tenants is to ensure that the property is always offered at a fair price for its age and condition. If you decide not to update it every few years, be prepared to freeze or even drop your price if you wish to avoid that dreaded void period.
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