As I sit here in the early summer months – absolutely frozen to the bone . . . . The weather here has been astonishing. No set pattern at all for the last year or two. I was only bemoaning the cold wet spring just before going on a short break to Texax, where it unseasonably hot – all the time. None of this having the heating on one day and sweltering trying to find natural shade the next – Aircon essential 24/7 there. The house I stayed in was still relatively new – 5 years, and was the standard wooden framework and fibre board infill design they go in for. Any little niggles are seen to immediately – the fibreboard needs to be protected from critters, very aggressive squirrels, other pests and the weather. It is very hot most days and also very humid, so weatherboarding rots easily, as do all soffits and fascias. The windows have to have shade shutters on the inside so as to keep out most of the sun and heat. These are definitely a different set of property problems to those we have!
Our first home was the middle of a Victorian terrace built in 1888. At the time it must have been quiite fabulous to have – a lounge and separate reception room – known in those days quite possibly as front parlour and snug. Then out the back would have been a small sculler kitchen. There was a long narrow hallway going from back to front and up the stairs to the bedrooms – we had an upstairs bathroom then.
I remember that we were very inexperienced where any property matters were concered and did not realise the point about shared loft space for example. This came a rude awakening when a neighbour door doors down, decided to build up into their attic space – discovered infestation had eaten into much of the roofing supports. it affected all the houses in the terrace and we had to have remedial work carried out. If we had done regular maintenance this could have been sorted sooner.
There can be no doubt the most expensive thing that any person, couple, family will ever buy in their whole lifetime is their house. Property today is very expensive in many parts of the country – it is totally out of the question for many of these folk to contemplate buying – with so much needed in advance for buying, the chance to save this figure gets more and more difficult as the years race by.
When families decide they cannot move, upsize, whatever, the families stay put, saving thousands in fees and inconvenience. Sometimes however, without it being an older homeowner’s fault, they are suddenly unable to carry on caring for the home and over the years, it too deteriorates until it is a heap. The time to bring in the property problem solvers is possibly a little late then but if families used property problem solvers, life would be sweet.
When you live in an apartment there is usually some form of ground rent to pay to the landlord who owns the freehold – the land on which your apartment block is built. On top of this comes monthly service charge for a management or facilities company to look after the grounds, any external buildings such as garages or waste collection points. They are also contracted to maintain all the gardens and communal spaces. Usually the landlord/s will use one property company to deal with all the regular site maintenace and another group dedicated to the green spaces and gardens. With rental apartments it is critical that the facilities management team are completely honest, trusworthy, fully trained and experienced – they have to enter properties to fix all kinds of problems from misbehaving plumbing and central heating to windows or guttering that needs repairing. Getting the right team takes time and a lot of research!
Strange as it may seem, property is still one of the best forms of investment, despite the global problems we’ve endured this last year. It’s never going to offer quick returs. You can’t buy a place one month and make the killing next month by selling on without touching the ground. The stages of conveyancing involved with fees clocking up on each dictates holding on to the property. In the intervening period, if it’s not the principal residence, then regular maintenance carried out and a good rental agent keeping on top of tenants will ensure maximum rental income is possible. As with every investment venture, research is needed into best areas for buying into the rental sector. Also if a property needs updating and refub before releasing to let, keeping to a sensible budget but not skimping or cutting corners also attracts a better and generally longer term tenant. Ensuring it’s kept in tip top condition will definitely produce more than adequate rewards further down the line.
We definitely need more inspiration in the home decorating and interior design sector of advertising. With so many folk now at home, some genuinely working and others furloughed because they can’t, we need stimulus to get up off that sofa and really make a go of decorating to a high standard. Supermarket shelves are full currently with magazines aimed at the young would-be property developer. The sort that think they can buy a good house at auction and with a lock and a promise, turn it into a truly magnifient wonder home for twopence halfpeny. This will never be the case now as for many years, there’s been a very prominent programme based entirely on folk buying property at auction. As a result, being able to turn them around to become a good rental proposition or even better, a startling success if brought to the market for sale. It takes planning and a budgget. Plus endless paience and a good contractor to do the proper work!
If someone has some spare cash about, there’s little point in investing it in any bank based account. Investing in property has often been hailed as the best way forward. Obviously there have sometimes been as many bad times for that as there have been good, or so it seems. For the most part, property does give a good return but only if it’s bought at the right price and has the right ratio of money spent on doing it up along the way. Most areas will have a ceiling price and if someone’s buying to let it out for rent, then there’s most definitely a limited scope for ‘splashing the cash’. Unless the owner’s going to live in it for a few years, then spending a lot on high end refurbs in a run down working class terrace, that money will never be recouped. Better to make a tidy job of the renovation and stick to good quality budget refits which will impress and ensure a better quality tenant.
I’ve recently been in contact with some chaps who are busy building a fantastic holiday apartment in a tiny wee village in Cyprus. They’ve got a portfolio of seriously luxury end holiday rental homes. This latest is by far their most challenging a the terrain is seriusly rocky and there have been massive family arguments and fallings out. Over there land and property is left to the female side of the family – usually plots have been held in one family for centuries and this way ensures each generation has some scope for building if they so need. In the case of the 2 guys, the land was left to one of them by his father who had bought it as part of a syndicate . . . . . The scheme was granted all the permissions needed and so building commenced . . . . . without either owner being present. Bad move. Cypriot builders and developers are a very odd bunch! Communication is bad enough all year round but somewhat exscerbated when a steadying hand isn’t around.
You’d be amazed at the number of folk in one small housing development who manage to find something to do on their houses and gardens every hour of every day. . . . Where I live it’s quiet during the normal Monday to Friday week. The children are at school, most homes have both parents out working and so only a few of us home workers are around. Weekends of course are another matter completely – it can be bedlem at times! However this noise factor has been spread throughout the week lately – enforced quarantining. Power washing of the driveway and patio seems to be the major Monday task. Lawn mowing and scarifying on Wednesdays, as is now the clearing of the junk to the tip on Wed to Sundays. Lots of these executive detached houses are rented out permanently so management companies get their contractors to sort out problems inside but also deal with the gardens and landscaping. I’ve noted too that they get involved with maintaining the exterior of the properties by way of guttering and de-mossing of rooftops.
One of the key features of property maintenance plans is to ensure the unexpected doesn’t happen. Facilities management is a contractural arrangement with a company that literally does do all the supplies of hardware supplies; check, repairs or refit as necessary etc. for a monthly fee. This should involve ensuring all the legal aspects of the building are kept completely up to date. Knowing the lie of the land is sometimes overlooked when companies take on contracts. Are they aware of all the pipelines and utilities going in to the property; do they know whether the trees in the garden or just outside the wall/fence, are stable and who actually owns the land – the land boundary may not be as it first seems. This is very relevant if the tree falls or is blown over after hundreds of years of blissfull splendour. Ensuring the company holds really watertight personal and public liability insurance is critical – should that tree come down, injuring people and neigbouring properties. Knowing who owns trees, whether there are preservation orders on any and who to contact about them is a far more important matter than many contractors think.