How to… build a good relationship with an estate agent

For anyone selling a property, efforts to find and build a good relationship with an estate agent holds the key to long term success. Statistics from the property-listings website, Rightmove, indicate that an outstanding estate agent will get 136% more leads over twice as quickly as an average agent. They are also far more likely to sell houses, with over 90% of an outstanding agent’s stock being sold. So, the essential question for anyone selling a property is how do you find an outstanding estate agent, and how do you keep hold of them?

The first decision that a landlord must make is whether to go with a large estate agent chain or a small, local service. Both have different merits. With a large firm you are guaranteed to receive a lot of exposure. Large firms such as Foxtons or Savills have enormous resources, allowing them to attract a higher amount of traffic. That name recognition may also attract a higher quality buyer, particularly from overseas. However, there is the risk that, as with any large firm, a landlord could feel lost amongst other clients. Therefore, a smaller estate agent may offer a more personalised experience and might be a better choice. Though smaller firms do not have the same resources, they are likely to have significant knowledge of the local area and will be able to provide a more tailored service to you.

Moreover, the right estate agent will depend to a large extent on the type of property you are looking to sell. An affordable property would be unsuitable for a high-end estate agent and vice versa. When choosing the right agent, it is important to ensure that you understand the types of properties they sell. If you are looking to sell multiple houses, it is also advisable to have more than one estate agent so as to avoid this issue.

Regardless of the type of estate agent, building a good relationship requires a good deal of professionalism. It might sound obvious to point out, but landlords must treat their relationship like a business. This means organising weekly calls, emailing regularly and responding quickly, and keeping them up-to-date of any planned works you intend to do or any other key announcements you might have. This way, agents are able to work with you as partners.

Part of maintaining professionalism is ensuring that you make contact with the agent early in the week. Most estate agents will hold a weekly meeting on a Monday morning to discuss the weekend’s viewings and formulate plans for the week. As a landlord, it is important to ensure that you are constantly involved in those plans. Therefore, make contact with estate agents on Monday afternoon to discuss their plans for the week and how your properties will fit into them.

At the heart of any successful relationship is a deep level of trust. Naturally this will take time to develop. However, small gestures can go a long way to building up trust. Regular calls and visits will do this along with providing estate agents with information and resources that help them do their job. If you are able to be transparent about the properties you are looking to sell, an estate agent will form a better relationship with you and do more to sell your properties.

Written by Israel Moskovitz,

“How to… build a good relationship with an estate agent” first appeared on my Medium profile.

How to… find a property manager

Good property managers offer landlords a win-win: not only do they reduce the number of hours that a landlord needs to spend looking after his or her property, they can also be a cheaper option in the long run. A property manager’s expertise can help simplify the traditional headaches for landlords: working with tenants, ensuring rent or service charges are paid on time and keeping up with necessary maintenance work. These are all reasons why it is essential you should find a property manager well versed in the renting sector.

When looking for a new property manager, always ensure that you begin sourcing candidates from a regulatory body or a recommendation from another landlord. However, property managers are not all the same and different companies will offer different levels of service. Therefore, it is essential that landlords hire property managers who offer them the correct services for their needs. In particularly, it is crucial that a landlord understands details like whether a property manager solely deals with long-term lettings, or whether they offer short-term letting services too.

Any good property manager should know their local area. Make sure that you ask any potential property manager about the history of the area that your property is in. This will give you a better understanding of their ability to deal with commons issues. It is always worth thinking about what questions a would-be tenant would ask and putting those to any potential property manager.

The managing agent is the main point of contact for tenants and therefore it is important that more than just being competent in legal and financial matters, the way in which an agent conducts themselves reflects upon the landlord. Telephone manner and email correspondence are a key method in which agents and tenants interact, therefore be sure to get a full scope of their manner as it could often reflect badly upon the landlord. Responsiveness and speed are often as important as the ensuing actions.

It is also important to understand the breakdown of costs to ensure you maximise the service you receive. Property managers will charge between 7% to 10% of the rent. However, always consider whether the smallest percentage is the best in the long term; property managers might also ask for additional fees. Furthermore, with the introduction of the Tenant Fees Act, landlords are limited in the scope of charges they can make to tenants and therefore managing agents may look to recoup these costs from the landlord. For example, many good property managers will ensure that they pay regular visits to the tenant to ensure that the property is in good stead. Make sure that you are not caught out by this being a paid extra outside of the standard service.

Likewise, make sure that you know how property managers intend to deal with repair and maintenance work. Often, managers will want to manage maintenance decisions up to a certain cost. Ensure that you are happy with this threshold before committing to a property manager.

Finding a good property manager can make a landlord’s life easier whilst significantly reducing the cost of renting out a property. It is always sensible to make the investment in a good property manager — it will be in your interest in the long term.

Written by Israel Moskovitz, first appeared on my Medium profile.

How… to build a property portfolio

Building a property portfolio is a way of forming a secure investment that provides long term returns. However, to do it well requires investing both time and money wisely. Having been involved in the industry for over 30 years, I have learned valuable lessons for anyone looking to build their own property portfolio.

Before you can begin to build an effective property portfolio, you must first establish the purpose of your investment. Setting clear goals for yourself before you begin you commit to property investment is essential. Most people will look to build a property portfolio for one of two reasons: to see their capital appreciate over time or to derive a sustained income through collecting rent by becoming a landlord. Ideally, investors will look to benefit from a mixture of the two. Whatever your motivation, make sure you always keep sight of your end goal — this will help maintain perspective and ensure you are making calculated decisions. You must also establish the types of property you invest in, residential, retail, restaurants, warehouse and storage, or office spaces. Here you must play to your strengths and ensure you fully understand the market you intend to focus on and the external factors that could impact your investment.

Having done the groundwork, it’s time to work out whether or not you are practically ready to make an investment. Although many websites claim that property investment is easy, do not be fooled: building up a property portfolio is a big commitment, the property market can vary and will inevitably have its ups and downs. It is essential that any would-be investor is realistic. Don’t invest if you don’t have the funds (as a rule of thumb, below £100k in equity or liquid funds will probably not be enough) and don’t try and grow ambitiously if you cannot guarantee the cashflow. Property in its very nature is a long-term investment and therefore you should not risk capital that you may come to rely upon in the short term.

If you’re are satisfied that you are in a strong enough financial position to make an investment, then next question is where to invest. This is the million-dollar question and largely depends on circumstances. Maintaining a property and managing tenants is a full-time responsibility. Understanding the area and having relationships with local suppliers and service providers is essential. You may wish to employ a property manager to reduce your burden, however this will impact your potential returns.

However, with house prices currently falling at their fastest rate in London in 10 years, now is a great time to buy in the capital with low prices and while the rental demand remains high. London is notorious for high property prices, so you are likely to soon see returns on your investment.

Growing long-term, you must remain cautious when acquiring additional properties. You must be aware of the difference between short-term volatility and long-term growth. Most importantly, you must keep a firm grip on your debt position. Avoiding cross-collateralisation is essential in ensuring that any potential issues with one property doesn’t compound across the rest of your portfolio.

Making investments at the right time is crucial. If the price looks right and you’re confident that you have the ability to fund and manage the property, my advice would always be to invest. However, remember why you set out to build a portfolio in the first place. Whether that is to become a high-flying landlord or just to have a retirement nest egg, keeping sight of the purpose of your portfolio is crucial in staying grounded and making sensible investments.

Written by Israel Moskovitz, first appeared on my Medium profile.

How to… invest in your first property

Property investment takes time, effort and a good deal of resilience. From my experience, I have learnt that good judgement must be honed and developed, and any would-be investor is bound to make mistakes. This is particularly true when investing in your first property. There are, however, several things that investors can do to avoid common mistakes as you invest in your first property.

Bad investment decisions often occur because the requisite research has not been conducted. Any first-time buyer should do their research beforehand to understand the buildings location and potential.

Read the property pages, go on house viewings in different areas and look at different property types to compare what you get for your money. Building an understanding of the types of property available and the typical residents will give you a better chance of succeeding when targeting your first investment.

First-time buyers in London, for instance, should always look to cast their net outside expensive central areas. This might mean looking at properties in commuter belts, or places that are likely to expand quickly. Understanding transport link expansions is an incredibly useful way of working out whether an investment will appreciate over time. Properties along the proposed new Crossrail line in London, for instance, are likely to see a good appreciation of value over time.

First-time buyers can be caught out by experience. One of the best ways to protect against this is seeking the advice. This is particularly true when it comes to money. Always get the advice of a professional accountant before making an investment to ensure that you are not caught out by cash flow problems.

Any would-be buyer should also ensure that costs are kept to a minimum. Starting small, investing in an affordable property or looking to buy with a partner are all great ways of doing this. But investors should be confident any investment relationship is a strong and long-lasting with appropriate contractual guarantees that avoids any ambiguity in the partnership should problems occur down the line.

Finally, investing in a first property should be, first and foremost, a business decision. Make sure you have done the maths before you invest. Buying your first property should be a rewarding experience. However, this emotional instinct can sometimes cloud investors’ judgements. Therefore, a buyer should always look to invest smartly in a property that is likely to attract strong and reliable tenants while also delivering a good long-term return on investment.

Written by Israel Moskovitz, first appeared on my Medium profile.