Buyer demand remains high across the housing market

Many sectors have suffered dramatically during the past 12 months, but one that continues to bounce back stronger than before is the housing market. Recent figures by Rightmove’s monthly House Price Index show that, even during a pandemic, new records have been set within the industry, with the average price of property jumping up by 1.8% (£5,767). With the market continuing to experience extremely high buyer demand and an appetite for larger homes, one thing is true — confidence in the market continues to be at an all-time high.

It is no surprise, really. With people having spent more time in their homes in the last year than ever before, we’re experiencing a growing trend of people looking for more space and better surroundings, leading to frequent moving becoming the norm. This need for ‘better’ has seen a boom across the industry, so much so that the prices of homes in the north of the country have seen double-digit increases, with prices up by 11.1% in North West and 10.5% in Yorkshire. This section of the country has had the greatest potential for growth for many years now, and the change in buyer’s needs (more working from home, less commuting), means a spotlight has been shone on this part of the market.

Many will look at the extension of the stamp duty holiday, paired with the continued low costs of borrowing as the real savior for keeping confidence in the housing market. In some ways, they may be right, but it is clear that confidence has been there long before this. With Nationwide reporting that three-quarters of the homeowners they surveyed at the end of last month saying they would have moved even if the stamp duty hadn’t been extended, we have to appreciate that the market is already in an extremely buoyant place.

On that same thread, 25% of homeowners surveyed by Nationwide said that they were either in the process of moving or considering a move as a result of the pandemic, the expectation is that the industry will continue to accelerate in the coming months. If the month-on-month house prices remain flat, it is thought we might even see its annual rate of growth reach double digits — a continued welcome boost to our economy.”

‘Buyer demand remains high across the housing market’ first appeared on my Medium profile.

Statement on Cladding Fire Safety Bill

The House of Lords’ decision to reject the Government’s cladding bill yesterday should remind the Government that its responsibilities to leaseholders and tenants goes further than simply removing unsafe cladding. Proper plans must also be put in place to rectify the costs of additional safety procedures such as waking watches, which have been mandated by the Government. The additional costs incurred by various parties, including that of fire safety surveys, should be seen as part of the overall cost of the cladding crisis. It is important that these wider issues are resolved in order to avoid ambiguity.

Written by Israel Moskovitz,

“Response to the Government cladding announcement” first appeared on my Medium profile.

Statement on Government’s Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme

We welcome the announcement of the Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme. We will be looking at accessing this fund to roll out charge points across our portfolio where possible, in conjunction with our managing agents. By being able to provide charging points in our buildings, we will make it easier for our tenants to embrace the electric vehicle revolution and in doing so help the country reach our Net Zero Carbon targets.

Written by Israel Moskovitz,

“Statement on Government’s Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme” first appeared on my Medium profile.

Response to the Government cladding announcement

The Government has faced huge amounts of pressure from across the property sector to resolve this issue. Is it right that the fund to remove unsafe cladding is increased, which will finally end the months of confusion and anxiety for many thousands of people. However, the funding must go further; the Government’s decision to exclude thousands of leaseholders from access to this relief will take some people back to square one.

“There must be a clear pathway forward. Although the loan scheme is a welcome effort to accelerate the work to remove the cladding, it must come with more clarity about the costs to leaseholders and how it will affect their future. It is also essential that the Government sets out a clear response to managing fire safety costs in order to ensure the cladding crisis is resolved once and for all.

Written by Israel Moskovitz,

“Response to the Government cladding announcement” first appeared on my Medium profile.

Improving the energy efficiency of your building

Reducing the energy consumption of your building should be a high priority for any landlord or freeholder. As well as lowering running costs, conserving energy will make it easier to comply with tightening environmental regulations, give you sustainable credentials and ultimately impact the property’s long term value. There are multiple ways in which you can improve the energy efficiency of your building, from the development process to bolt on changes.

If you are investing in a new-build property, there are three main things to consider: the bioclimatic architecture, insulation and ventilation.

Bioclimatic architecture adapts the building’s design to the natural conditions of the environment in order to reach thermal comfort. The location, orientation, shape, size and interior design of a building all must be considered in order to best protect the building from its local environment. For example, the shape and orientation of a building will determine the quantity of sunlight and wind it is exposed to.

Energy efficient buildings will all have high performing building envelopes. This includes thorough insulation, premium glazing and windows, and air-sealed construction. Thermal insulation is a low-cost proven solution that begins saving energy and money as soon as it is installed. Ground decks, roofs, lofts, walls and facades must all be well insulated for maximum efficiency. Air leakages result in heat loss, meaning that your heating system may be working in overdrive to meet temperature demand. An airtight building is essential to conserve energy.

For both new builds and renovations, making improvements to the building envelop will ultimately bring returns for the landlord.

High performance insulation goes hand in hand with a suitable ventilation system. Ventilation will not only provide fresh air, it will also direct CO2 and moisture outside of the build and save energy by recovering heat.

For landlords wanting to improve the energy efficiency of their buildings, replacing doors and windows can be a great investment.

There are multiple upgrades within your existing buildings that you can make. Installing energy saving LED light bulbs could help you reduce your energy use by 75% compared to incandescent lighting. Installing daylight controllers which only switch on when natural light is insufficient, or infrared sensors which switch off lights in infrequently used spaces such as corridors and stairwells would also make a difference.

There is a host of “green” gadgets on the market from smart thermostats and smart wall socket plugs to solar-powered outdoor lighting. Upgrading to certified energy efficient appliances such as refrigerators, dishwashers and washing machines is an investment that will offer significant savings in operation.

For individual properties there are numerous measures like solar panels and ground source heat pumps that can provide alternative renewable sources of hot water that reduces the overall burden on the grid. Landlords must carefully consider the cost/benefit returns from these investments and investigate sources of funding such as the Government’s Renewable Heat Incentive scheme.

Growing environmental awareness, tightening energy regulations and increasing energy prices, mean that going forward, reducing your building’s energy consumption will be essential to comply with regulation, attract tenants and increase your profit margins.

Written by Israel Moskovitz,

“Improving the energy efficiency of your building” first appeared on my Medium profile.

How property managers should adapt to PropTech

PropTech will affect how we live, work and build. It already is. New software, apps and hardware solutions are overcoming problems and increasing efficiency in the property occupation, development, investment and management sectors.

PropTech will affect everything from construction management, to rent collection processes, to how employees physically interact within office buildings. As a society we have become accustomed to dynamic technologies in the services that we use every day, so clients have rightly come to expect the same level of delivery and innovation from their real estate providers.

The adoption of PropTech to date has been slow and steady. However, it is pretty clear that all sectors of the real estate industry are being threatened by the rise of PropTech. For example, OpenDoor, Trulia or Purplebricks are changing the real estate and rental marketplace; Habiteo is disrupting real estate development; and Oracle or Redsky are changing construction management. Whatever the sector in this profession, there are dozens of startups looking to make processes quicker, more efficient or automatic.

However, over the past few weeks with the COVID-19 pandemic, companies have had to face the reality of conducting business without physical interaction, a situation that is uniquely geared towards PropTech solutions.

Most startups fall into one of two main categories. There are those that offer support for real estate professionals, providing tools to streamline processes, for data collection, time management productivity, or to attract business. For example, AskPorter automates tasks for agents, property managers and landlords like arranging a contractor or chasing rent. Others include Goodlord, Rentify, Propoly or HomeRenter.

However, there are also PropTech startups like Hipla or Homie that are proposing to eliminate and replace real estate professionals, ‘cutting out the middle man’.

As property professionals, how should we respond to these developments?

Primarily, we must realise that change is real and inevitable and will happen with or without real estate professionals. Moreover, in this current climate, these changes may need to happen sooner to ensure a company can continue to conduct its business. We must embrace it and keep working with our clients — current and future. Technological disruption holds great potential to deliver return on investment in the form of client satisfaction, staff retention or simply higher revenues and profits.

Keeping up to date with industry news is important. The more informed you are, the better your ability to anticipate changes in the market and meet the needs of your clients. Remain open-minded and conscious of the changing consumption patterns in the wake of COVID-19.

New PropTech startups have the ability to bring innovation into each step of the process and radically rethink existing systems. They might address one highly specific aspect of the industry such as construction management and coordination between the many actors in the business, or they might take on the entire business model, such as is the case with rental property management.

To ensure that traditional property firms remains competitive, it is essential to continue to innovate and be open to new inventions. Improving your efficiency or client satisfaction for example should be a continuous and evolving process. Invest in new technology and equipment. Experiment with different software, test new tactics and find out what is successful. Client feedback is hugely beneficial. The best way to improve client satisfaction is by serving your clients’ needs.

Key to surviving the disruption of PropTech is identifying your added value. Why do your clients need you? Why do they continue to use your service? What is unique about the service you provide? Once you have the answers, deliver on them consistently so that your clients won’t want to go elsewhere.

Ultimately, as a real estate professional with a portfolio of clients, you are in the best position to know and anticipate their needs. While we must keep up to date with innovation in our sector, technology is only a means to an end. PropTech startups will not succeed if they don’t fulfill clients’ needs. It’s up to you to determine how your clients’ specific needs can best be addressed.

Written by Israel Moskovitz,

“How property managers should adapt to PropTech” first appeared on my Medium profile.

What makes a luxury Property?

Luxury property is, of course, subjective. One person’s idea of domestic opulence will not appeal someone else. However, there are particular features that all high-end property managers should consider in order to add some luxury to their properties.

A luxury property will ultimately be defined by its quality. Luxury property managers should therefore look to build relationships with high quality developers. Working closely with premium developers gives managers piece of mind that the properties they offer tenants will be of the highest quality, made with superior, long-lasting building materials and appliances, and finished with an elegant touch.

Luxury properties also put a premium on space and location. Developers and landlords should consider how space can best be used in a property, with many residents favouring open-plan living areas. The location of a luxury building is also key. No matter the country or city, luxury homes are the ones with the most coveted locations. With a growth towards wellness, luxury property developers are increasingly prioritising green spaces and access to wellness facilities: spas, gyms, meditation rooms and sports activities.

Luxury properties usually come with certain added features that are not found in traditional houses. These add on features can range from saunas, spas and swimming pools, to cinemas, game rooms or guesthouses. A modern luxury home will also be fitted with cutting-edge smart tech features such as motion sensor lighting, thermostats that adjust automatically and remotely, and curtains that open and close at sunrise or sunset.

While luxury is rooted in the architecture and design process, there are certain things you can do to existing properties to make them more luxurious. Interior design plays an important role. Accessories, fabrics, artwork and lighting are all things to consider. If the property is not as large as you’d expect a luxury home to be, there are certain things you can compromise on. While your property may not have a lavish dressing room or exercise room, a spacious kitchen and living space is timeless. Upgrading to luxury appliances and new smart tech devices will also instantly elevate the space.

Of course, a luxury home will also have plenty of things that can attract unwanted attention. Therefore, home security systems that utilise IoT to provide a 24/7 security are increasingly essential in luxury properties. Comprehensive alarm, locks and camera systems supported by a professional response offer resident their peace of mind.

This 24/7 service can also be supplemented with a permanent concierge service. Combining this routine daily convenience with additional exclusive benefits within the local community help foster the exclusivity of the property.

While there are no established rules to luxury properties, certain features are timeless. Understanding what high-end tenants look for will help landlords boost their luxury offerings.

Written by Israel Moskovitz,

“What makes a luxury building?” first appeared on my Medium profile.

How to improve the energy efficiency of your building

Reducing the energy consumption of your building should be a high priority for any landlord or freeholder. As well as lowering running costs, conserving energy will make it easier to comply with tightening environmental regulations, give you sustainable credentials and ultimately impact the property’s long term value. There are multiple ways in which you can improve the energy efficiency of your building, from the development process to bolt on changes.

If you are investing in a new-build property, there are three main things to consider: the bioclimatic architecture, insulation and ventilation.

Bioclimatic architecture adapts the building’s design to the natural conditions of the environment in order to reach thermal comfort. The location, orientation, shape, size and interior design of a building all must be considered in order to best protect the building from its local environment. For example, the shape and orientation of a building will determine the quantity of sunlight and wind it is exposed to.

Energy efficient buildings will all have high performing building envelopes. This includes thorough insulation, premium glazing and windows, and air-sealed construction. Thermal insulation is a low-cost proven solution that begins saving energy and money as soon as it is installed. Ground decks, roofs, lofts, walls and facades must all be well insulated for maximum efficiency. Air leakages result in heat loss, meaning that your heating system may be working in overdrive to meet temperature demand. An airtight building is essential to conserve energy.

For both new builds and renovations, making improvements to the building envelop will ultimately bring returns for the landlord.

High performance insulation goes hand in hand with a suitable ventilation system. Ventilation will not only provide fresh air, it will also direct CO2 and moisture outside of the build and save energy by recovering heat.

For landlords wanting to improve the energy efficiency of their buildings, replacing doors and windows can be a great investment.

There are multiple upgrades within your existing buildings that you can make. Installing energy saving LED light bulbs could help you reduce your energy use by 75% compared to incandescent lighting. Installing daylight controllers which only switch on when natural light is insufficient, or infrared sensors which switch off lights in infrequently used spaces such as corridors and stairwells would also make a difference.

There is a host of “green” gadgets on the market from smart thermostats and smart wall socket plugs to solar-powered outdoor lighting. Upgrading to certified energy efficient appliances such as refrigerators, dishwashers and washing machines is an investment that will offer significant savings in operation.

For individual properties there are numerous measures like solar panels and ground source heat pumps that can provide alternative renewable sources of hot water that reduces the overall burden on the grid. Landlords must carefully consider the cost/benefit returns from these investments and investigate sources of funding such as the Government’s Renewable Heat Incentive scheme.

Growing environmental awareness, tightening energy regulations and increasing energy prices, mean that going forward, reducing your building’s energy consumption will be essential to comply with regulation, attract tenants and increase your profit margins.

Written by Israel Moskovitz,

“Improving the energy efficiency of your building” 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.