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LettingFocus

Unbiased buy to let, property investment and letting coaching, mentoring, advice and seminars for landlords from top selling property author and media commentator.

Tips for Getting Good Tradesmen and Repairing Appliances at Christmas by LettingFocus.com

Following my appearance on BBC2’s “Working Lunch” programme, here are our tips for a hassle free Christmas.

If you need something repairing, whether it is a white good like a washing machine or a semi-fixed installation like a boiler, first check if it is covered by the warranty or guarantee period first - and also what the extent of cover is.
For example, is the machine only covered for parts or is it covered for both parts and labour. Is it covered under any extended warranty you have taken out?
Check if you have a service contract with British Gas or another provider such as your home insurer? Some of these contracts offer a service line that is open on Christmas Day – though you may have to wait a little longer than usual for someone to actually come out to you during the festive period.
As I said on the programme, I would always advise people to have white goods fixed by a tradeseman supplied by the manufacturer of the machine. They will know what they are doing, be familiar with the machine and if they don't fix it right you can always go back to the manufacturer and complain to their Service Help Desk. You cannot do that with a man you plucked frrom the Yellow Pages or the Internet.

Preventative Steps

But even before you get to Christmas get things checked out well in advance because if you are not covered by a guarantee or warranty it will probably cost more to get stuff fixed at Christmas (and even if you have a warranty it will take longer too.)
So, if the boiler is making a wheezing noise or the washing machine is clanking, have it checked out now.
Check gutters to ensure they are clear of leaves and other debris and have your roof checked for missing slates.
Make sure you know where the water stop valve is (and that you can turn it off) – this is useful in the event of a flood.
Make sure you know where the fuse box is and that you know how to turn off the gas.
Keep a note of the number 0800 111 999 – you should call this if you smell a gas escape.
Ask friends for names and phone numbers of good plumbers, heating engineers and other tradespeople.
Have some portable electric fan heaters you can use to keep warm if the heating conks out and no one can come out and fix it promptly.

Getting the Work Done

Only use properly qualified tradesmen who are member of a national body of association. Check what membership of the body gives you and check they really are members by asking for ID
For example, all gas engineers should be listed on http://www.gassaferegister.co.uk/ (the new name for Corgi)
Decent plumbers and some heating engineers should be in http://www.ciphe.org.uk/ (which also has a list of plumber and heating engineers who are available over the Christmas period) or the Association of Plumbing and Heating Engineers.
Some white good suppliers are closed for only one day at Christmas.

Agree Fees

Assuming you are not covered under a warranty, agree a call out fee. Check if it includes VAT or not. Never agree to “payment by the hour.”
The call out fee is your payment to the contractor to diagnose the fault. As it is Christmas, you may have to agree to pay a higher call out fee than at other times of year. Don’t be surprised about this – after all how would you feel if your boss insisted you come into the office.
Once the problem is diagnosed, decide if it is worth getting it fixed anyway.
You need to decide if it may be better just getting a new machine in - (make sure you have checked out prices of new models in advance from local suppliers as well as the Internet) - this is especially true if the machine is old anyway.

Fixed Price Quotes
Get fixed-price quotes in writing (not an estimate) showing how long the job will take to complete.
If a contractor says you need to replace an expensive machine like a boiler, get a second opinion first, if you can. We have heard of lots of big firm service engineers saying boilers cannot be repaired when they can be. Often it is just a question of someone having the right part!
If you are getting something fixed, only pay when the job is complete and materials and debris cleared away.
If it is a big job ask for references from others or from sites like RatedPeople.com.
Always check installer ID and finally pay on time, so they come quickly next time and you are front of the queue when the next big freeze comes or your white goods break down.

ABOUT US

At LettingFocus.com we are experts on landlord issues.
Hello, I’m David Lawrenson.
I have been a landlord and property investor myself for over 25 years and am author of “Successful Property Letting” – which has been the UK’s top selling property and buy to let book for the last 3 years.

We help landlords and property investors make money in property by coaching them in ways that work, which are ethical and which involve minimal risk to the investor.

At LettingFocus we pride ourselves on giving independent unbiased buy to let advice for property buyers and landlords both on a one to one mentoring and coaching basis as well as through occasional group seminars.

Property syndicates and property advice in the UK is still largely unregulated and what counts as “advice” is too often more about making the promoter money than giving useful information to the investor.

With no link to property firms, developers or bridging loan providers, at LettingFocus, we can advise you on where and what type of property to buy for investment, when to buy and how to buy property at a low price. We also show you how to manage tenants properly and in ways that take up as little of your time as possible.

We also do consultancy and write for companies such as banks, local authorities, property websites and social housing providers – helping them with their landlord facing or buy to let product strategies.

AT OUR WEBSITE LETTINGFOCUS.COM:


THE HOME PAGE OF OUR MAIN SITE click here: LettingFocus Home Page
THE HOME PAGE OF THIS BLOG click here: Blog
ONE TO ONE PRIVATE CONSULTANCY click here: Property Mentoring
NEXT SEMINAR AND NETWORKING EVENT for Landlords and Property Investors:
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We have OFFERS on a range of services and products for landlords too; click here including landlords insurance, tenant referencing, tenancy agreements and more: Services and Products for Landlords
For general info on our SEMINARS AND CONSULTING click here: Property Seminars, Networking Evenings and Consulting

TO READ CLIENT TESTIMONIALS – both commercial and private click here: Testimonials
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Copyright of Blog: David Lawrenson 2009. This blog is updated roughly once a week usually on a Monday or Tuesday.

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Letting Agent Fees – What’s a Fair Fee to Find a Tenant by Letting Focus

Since my last two blog posts, many people have asked me what is a fair fee to pay a letting agent for finding a tenant.
My answer is
1) It depends where in the country you are (London agents always charge higher fees as a % of the rent)
2) How good a negotiator you are.
3) How easy the agent thinks it will be to let your property
Read the Contract
Do you like reading contracts?
No?
Well, sorry, but it’s time to get “down and dirty” with a letting agent’s contract.
Write this in bold letters, WHEN I USE A LETTING AGENCY I WILL READ THEIR CONTRACT VERY CAREFULLY.
Why?
Well, you have to in read it order to understand the limits of what they will do and won’t do for you.
Most will not evict a tenant who does not pay the rent, for example - at least not in their standard fee.
So why do contracts matter so much?
Well, if I had a fiver for every time a newbie landlord said to me “Wait a minute, the agent has just sent me another bill for a thousand pounds for a tenant who moved in 6 months ago” I would have about £500. The reason is, “renewal fees or repeat letting fees.”
As we have seen from the recent OFT case involving Foxtons, letting agents - especially those in London – just love renewal fees because if the tenant agrees to stay on after the end of 6 months; the agent gets to bag another fee for doing not very much.
If you have signed a contract agreeing to this, you are a bit stuck unless the existence of the renewal fee was hidden in the small print.
And if that was the case, then see my last post for more on what to do.

What’s Included and What isn’t Within the Letting Fee
Also, check out what’s included in the letting agent’s fees – for example, some agencies offer a free inventory as part of their service whilst most others charge extra for this.
If inventory is included, then great, but always request a copy of an old inventory to check quality and detail which varies greatly.
Also, ask if they make extra charges for checking references, doing check-ins on move-in day, signing tenancy agreements or notifying utility providers and the council tax people.
Ask if the agent uses an up to date credit referencing system to check out tenant’s ability to pay the rent and does it check for County Court Judgments too. What does it say about the referencing system they use on the internet?
Assess if the agent understands the importance of having proper references and an inventory done.
The former will reduce the chances of ending up with a tenant from hell – one who won’t pay rent and who could take months to evict - and the latter will ensure that if the property is returned in a mess or with things damaged beyond normal wear and tear, you’ll be entitled to keep some or all the deposit to pay for it.
If the agent does not understand this, go elsewhere, because this is basic stuff.

Letting Fees - What I Pay
For Tenant Find Only services - where the agent find and “reference checks” a tenant, sends the reference report to me for my OK, collects a holding deposit, does the move in, collects the balance of the tenancy deposit and first months rent and signs the tenancy agreements - I have never paid more than 4 weeks rent, even in London.
And no, I won’t pay the agent any other extension or renewal fees (as all my tenants will move onto a periodic tenancy at the end of the initial term.)
I have a phone and I know good plumbers, heating engineers and plumbers so I can easily manage all my properties myself too - so no need to pay a letting agent a management fee. I just pay them to find a tenant and that’s it.
Some landlords who used letting agents before may wonder about doing it themselves. We can help you with this. Just ask about my one to one property advice service and my property seminars or join my newsletter by emailing me at [email protected]
Plus at our Property Affiliate page we have set up links to lots of good long established merchants who can find tenants for you by putting your property online, checking tenant references, arranging the best buy to let mortgage, finding good landlords insurance and a lot of other landlord services too. Click on our Landlords Resources page for more information and great deals from our merchant partners.
We are having a couple of well earned weeks off. We will post again on 12th August!
ABOUT LETTINGFOCUS.COM and DAVID LAWRENSON
I’m David Lawrenson of LettingFocus.com - the landlord experts. I’m the author of “Successful Property Letting” which for the last 3 years has been the UK’s top selling property book - buy Property Investment Book.
What’s unique about LettingFocus is that I offer independent unbiased advice on buying property as an investment because unlike most people in the buy to let and property “advice” business I am not linked to a property company, developer, agent or bridging loan financier.
I can tell you where to buy (which areas) and what type of property to buy and I can answer all your questions on letting property too because I have been a landlord and property investor for over 25 years.
AFFILIATE PRODUCTS
Find out about all the GREAT DEALS we have arranged at our Property Affiliate page. More will be added over the next month.
Copyright of Blog: David Lawrenson 2009. This blog is updated roughly once a week.
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Local Housing Allowances and Housing Benefit and its Impact on Landlords by David Lawrenson of LettingFocus.com

I recently had an interesting email discourse with a tenant who was very upset that many landlords insist on guarantors and two months rent before they will take people on Local Housing Allowance, the new name for Housing Benefit.
I replied that I had some sympathy and that personally I would accept someone on benefits but in the absence of any evidence of employment income and a guarantor I would want to see very strong proof from a former landlord that rent had been paid on time.
I pointed out that the reason why landlords are nervous about people on benefit and who have no guarantor is because many have had a negative experience in the past.
In the past the govt could pay allowances (or housing benefit as it then was) direct to landlords. Now, in their wisdom, they have decided to pay this direct to the tenant (in most cases)
And that’s made landlords nervous because whilst there are many good people in receipt of housing benefits, there are unfortunately some who receive the local housing allowance and go and spend it on things other than paying the rent – like the bookies.
In the worst case they could stay for months until evicted leaving the landlord with a big bill, which of course he has no way of recovering because the defaulting tenant will usually have no assets.

LACK OF HOUSING PROVISION IS NOT LANDLORDS FAULT
I suggested the tenant’s issue should surely be with past governments who have failed to make adequate housing provision at the lower end of the market. They are the ones who sold off the council houses for goodness sake!
And the current govt too are hardly at fault, because they changed the rules on local housing allowance – i.e. they stopped paying it direct to landlords and then expected landlords to take on the increased risk of tenant default at no cost.
Some landlords had told the government what they thought of that by exiting this end of the market or demanding guarantors.
Sadly, it was the honest tenants who didn’t chuck their local housing allowance away on booze and the bookies who were now suffering as a result of this shift in govt policy.

NOT ALL BAD FOR LANDLORDS
But it’s not all bad for landlords.
If the tenant doesn’t pay over his LHA for two months, the landlord can still apply to have it paid direct. And for some vulnerable tenants with social problems it’s still possible to have the money paid direct to the landlord from the off.
In some areas the LHA rates are actually pretty generous.
One of the landlords I’m in touch with in Rochdale says it is far too generous compared to local rent levels - and as such hardly encourages people to come off benefits and get back into work.

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ABOUT LETTINGFOCUS.COM and DAVID LAWRENSON
I’m David Lawrenson of LettingFocus.com - the property letting experts. Read Articles for Landlords.
I’m the author of “Successful Property Letting” which for the last 3 years has been the UK’s top selling property book - buy Landlords Book.
The new edition is for accidental and experienced landlords and is fully up to date with all the recent changes to tenancy deposit schemes, HMOs, licensing, capital gains taxes and it has new sections on sale and rent back.
I’m an expert property writer and property speaker - and I run the well known landlords blog that you are reading now.
I contribute to newspapers and a host of property websites, write a number of columns in the press and I provide general property letting advice and consulting to anyone looking to buy property for themselves or to let out. I can help private individuals with any aspect of buying property or buy to let.
What’s unique about lettingfocus.com is that we are independent property investment advisors because unlike most people in the buy to let and property “advice” business we are not linked to a property company, developer, agent or bridging loan financier and do not receive commissions from these sources.
We simply give one to one unbiased advice and are often asked to evaluate other property investments.
Find out about some great deals we have arranged at our Landlords Resources page.
Copyright: David Lawrenson 2009. This blog is updated roughly once a week.
WANT TO BE KEPT UPDATED WITH OUR LATEST BLOGS?
It’s easy.
If you are on the home page of our blog, go to the bottom of any post, and click on “LINK TO THIS POST” to bring up the page for a specific post, then hit END …and on the right you’ll see “Site feed.”
If you are already on a specific post page, just hit END and you will see the site feed.
You then just copy the link that comes up into your News Reader or News Aggregator. Even a non techie like me managed to do all this.
Please note if you have a website & are thinking of reproducing material here - that’s fine but we DO require the full links shown in each blog to be included, including also the links in this section. The full article including all links must be available to ALL VIEWERS of your site and not restricted to members

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SUCCESSFUL PROPERTY LETTING - HOW TO MAKE MONEY IN BUY TO LET from DAVID LAWRENSON

Sadly, I’m afraid there is still no sign of my book becoming widely available in WH Smiths or many other parts of the high street any time soon (or what is left of the high street after the credit crunch.)
So, yes, I know it’s daft, but until my publishers rectify the situation, if you want the UK’s top selling property and landlords book you are still best off getting it on line at Amazon, Play.com or some other on line retailer.
And it's cheaper on line than going into a shop, which given that you are reading this online, I guess you probably know anyway.
And you can of course buy it here (plus any other DVD's CDs or books you fancy) at our site which links straight through to Amazon and their ludicrously low prices. Just click Buy Successful Property Letting - How to Make Money in Buy to Let.
Meanwhile, I feel there is another property book in me. And yes, I’m open to offers.
Also, we are also keen to develop LettingFocus.com as a business proposition.
Don’t worry we are not planning to “sell out”, but, hey, we have got to pay the bills too - and this site and this blog does now get a lot of traffic.
So, if you are good marketer, who understands the net and its potential - and critically if you have good financial backing and experience - we would be pleased to hear from you.

PROPERTY MARKET HAS AN ICY BUT EXCITING FEEL TO IT
Predictably enough the big freeze has bought the usual travel chaos to London.
In SE London, where I live, I have seen hardly any gritting lorries or snowploughs despite lots of advanced warnings from the meteorologists.
And at the school my kid attends, one of the teachers was – with some glee – attaching a note announcing that school was closed. Can’t the teachers walk to the school?
And, yes, as I write this, I find the school is shut for a second day despite the fact that all the public transport is finally running.
Just as well then that the private bakeries and dairies and some small shops somehow fought through the massive (joke!) 5 inches of snow to bring bread and milk to the capital.
All good fun!
But these freezing conditions bring out the Viking hunter in me and so this week is special because it is the first time in 5 and a half years that I have set out to buy another property in the capital.
For the last five to six years prices in London have been way too daft but I have just had an offer accepted and here we go.
It feels risky. It feels dangerous. It feels like mortgage fees are toally exorbitant. And they are.
But I think the price I have negotiated looks good and is fair to the vendor.
Let’s see how it pans out.
A word of warning though.
If you are looking to get a bargain you should ignore prices on websites like Rightmove. Too many properties are sitting on sites like Rightmove which have been on the market for ages. They are overpriced and provide no guide at all to current prices.
To find a bargain stay close to your local estate agent and tell him you are ready to move fast if the right deals come up. Give him your mobile number and keep in touch with him often as you won’t be the only person out bargain hunting.
Then when you get the call from him, go and do a viewing and say Yes or No quickly and don’t mess him about.
ABOUT LETTINGFOCUS.COM and DAVID LAWRENSON
I’m David Lawrenson of LettingFocus.com - the landlord and property letting advice experts. Read More Articles on Property by David Lawrenson.
I’m the author of “Successful Property Letting” which for the last 3 years has been the UK’s top selling property book - Buy Successful Property Letting - How to Make Money in Buy to Let.
The new edition is fully up to date with all the recent changes to tenancy deposit schemes, HMOs, licensing, capital gains taxes and it has new sections on sale and rent back.
I’m an expert freelance property writer and property speaker - and I run the well known property letting and investment blog that you are reading now.
I contribute to newspapers and a host of property websites, write a number of columns in the press and I provide general property letting advice for a consulatancy fee to anyone looking to buy property for themselves or to let out. I can help private individuals with any aspect of buying property or buy to let.
What’s unique about lettingfocus.com is that we are independent property investment advisors because unlike most people in the buy to let and property “advice” business we are not linked to a property company, developer, agent or bridging loan financier and do not receive commissions from these sources.
We simply give one to one unbiased advice and are often asked to evaluate other property investments.
In my corporate consulting role I also advise banks, building societies, housing associations and web portals with their buy to let and property products and services.
You can read more of my blog & find details of my networking, advice and property training programme at my website.Copyright: David Lawrenson 2009. This blog is updated once a week.
WANT TO BE KEPT UPDATED WITH OUR LATEST BLOGS?
It’s easy.
If you are on the home page of our blog, go to the bottom of any post, and click on “LINK TO THIS POST” to bring up the page for a specific post, then hit END …and on the right you’ll see “Site feed.”
If you are already on a specific post page, just hit END and you will see the site feed.
You then just copy the link that comes up into your News Reader or News Aggregator. Even a non techie like me managed to do all this.
Please note if you have a website & are thinking of reproducing material here - that’s fine but we DO require the full links shown in each blog to be included, including also the links in this section. The full article including all links must be available to ALL VIEWERS of your site and not restricted to members.
ABOUT LETTINGFOCUS.COM and DAVID LAWRENSON
Please Contact Us button at our main site http://www.lettingfocus.com/ if you have any queries about this.

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Adam, Sir Fred and Andy’s Daft Plans to Turn Base Assets into Gold by David Lawrenson of LettingFocus.com

Have you ever seen the great Blackadder skit from Blackadder Two where Lord Blackadder is in a scrape and owes a stack of cash to the evil Bishop of Bath and Wells failing which he gets a red hot poker in the er, fundament.
Trouble is he has spent his cash on women & song. He’s also been forced to finance the Queen’s latest war against the Spanish.
So he needs cash fast.
So his sidekick, the incredibly dumb, naïve and daft upper class twit Lord Percy comes up with the immortal line “Fear not my Lord, because this very night I will find a way to turn base metal into gold”
This prompts Blackadder to caustically observe, “So, the fact that alchemy has eluded the greatest minds of all time doesn’t put you off does it, Percy.”
Undeterred, off goes Percy and next day excitedly rushes in to tell Blackadder that he had indeed, done it. ……Except, of course, he hasn’t
What he has discovered is a way to turn some old rubbish into what Blackadder describes as a “lump of green.”
This made me think of the day the former hapless bosses of 3 of Britain’s big banks – Andy Hornby, Fred Godwin and Adam Applegarth – must have met some corporate nonk from the capital markets division who had a similarly daft scheme to buy crap assets based on the US mortgage market, finance them “off balance sheet” and create financial “gold”
Except, what they had actually created was a modern day “lump of green”
What Blackadder said to Lord Percy on discovering his lump of green still stands today and can be applied to these bank bosses. He said, “You know what, Percy? You are a complete and utter prat.”
And on the subject of the banks, I see data from Moneyfacts now shows that the average residential tracker mortgage rate is now 6.27 per cent – this is higher than a year ago, despite all the base rate cuts we have seen.
Which goes to show how banks have found plenty of excuses not to pass on the benefit of lower borrowing costs to homebuyers.
I think we have had enough of this nonsense from the banks and I would like to see some more criticism of this in the press.
CURRYS WINS MY POOR SERVICE AWARD
I seem to be replacing a lot of white goods for my tenants right now so I have been out shopping on the net.
I have to say I did not think there could be a worse white goods provider than Whirlpool, but then I hadn’t tried Currys.
Until now, that is.
At Currys, products listed as available on their site, often aren’t.
They wont let you pre-order something that is not is stock – so they actively turning away business. And to top it all they can’t even take a note of your phone number to call you back when the product is back in stock.
No wonder their shares have crashed from 150p to about 25p in the last two years –which wouldn’t bother me except for the fact that my partner has a load of shares in parent group DSGI.
After a complaint letter to their top wonks (don’t bother with the customer service department) they sent me a voucher for £50.
But for now I’m sticking to my local independent shop for my new cooker. Which makes me feel good because I prefer not to give money to “the man” anyway.
Please add a comment to let us know of your worst customer service experiences from a big name company.
Finally, there is clearly a lot of interest in property scams right now. Just yesterday I met a TV Co Exec producer about doing a TV programme or series for a main terrestial channel. I’ll keep you posted.
Look out for my blog later this week on the Rugg report!
ABOUT LETTINGFOCUS.COM and DAVID LAWRENSON
I’m David Lawrenson of LettingFocus.com - the landlord experts.
I’m the author of “Successful Property Letting” which for the last 3 years has been the UK’s top selling property title - Buy Successful Property Letting - How to Make Money in Buy to Let.
The new edition is fully up to date with all the recent changes to tenancy deposit schemes, HMOs, licensing, capital gains taxes and it has new sections on sale and rent back.
I’m an expert freelance property journalist, property speaker and a well known buy to let blogger
I contribute to newspapers and a host of property websites, write a number of columns in the press and I provide general property education, training & advice for anyone looking to buy property for themselves or to let out.
In my work as a consultant I help private individuals with any aspect of buying property or buy to let. What’s unique about lettingfocus.com is that we are independent property mentors because unlike most people in the buy to let and property “advice” business we are not linked to a property company, developer, agent or bridging loan financier and do not receive commissions from any of these sources.
We simply give one to one unbiased advice and are often asked to evaluate other property investments.
In my corporate consulting role, I also advise banks, building societies, housing associations and web portals with their buy to let and property products and services.
You can read more of my blog & find details of my networking, advice and property training programme at my website.Copyright: David Lawrenson 2008. This blog is updated once a week.
WANT TO BE KEPT UPDATED WITH OUR LATEST BLOGS?
It’s easy.
Go to the bottom of this post, and click on “Link to this post”
Our home blog page should then open & you should then see my smiling face at the top. Then page all the way down and on the bottom right it will say “Site feed” - click there and away you go.
You then just copy the link that comes up into your News Reader or News Aggregator. Even a non techie like me managed to do all this.
Please note if you have a website & are thinking of reproducing material here - that’s fine but we DO require the full links shown in each blog to be included including also the links in the section “ABOUT LETTINGFOCUS.COM and DAVID LAWRENSON”
Please Contact Us button at our main site http://www.lettingfocus.com/ if you have any queries about this.

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Is Buy to Let Bust? Podcast at Motely Fool from Letting Focus

You might like to listen to my podcast at Motely Fool.... Just click here and follow the links..
http://www.fool.co.uk/money-talk/property-home/2008/10/16/is-buy-to-let-bust.aspx
As I said in last weeks post, the guys at Fool.co.uk gave me a hard time. Donna, their Deputy Editor, was in the role of buy to let sceptic while David Kuo was playing the "good cop."
Read last week's post for my comments on the podcast and make your own mind up.
David Lawrenson
http://www.lettingfocus.com/

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Credit Crunch Bites - It's a mad world in buy to let says Lawrenson of Letting Focus

A contact of mine in the north recently became aware of someone who had bought 7 off plan apartments (1/2/3 bed) in a block of 30ish apartments about 10mins Manchester Centre which completed 6 months back for a total of just over £1 million as his first property investment.
No money down, naturally and allegedly 15% gifted deposits from the developer.
The developer promised to pay interest payments for 6 months max, or until they were let, but he cannot now be contacted.
The interest only monthly mortgage payments come to £6000 per month but only three have been let - at much less than what was promised and they are bringing in £1485 per month in total leaving a shortfall of £4515 per month. Ouch!
You have to ask who on earth would lend this man this money on the figures involved - they do not add up whichever way you look at it। It is madness!
More craziness from our financial services friends। When I called in at my local Nationwide -who took over Portman – they said “Sorry, computer says no -we don’t do buy to let mortgages anywhere in the Nationwide group.” Funny that, just the other day I got a call from the Mortgage Works (part of Nationwide) themselves – they are still very much into buy to let. Someone should tell the berks at the branches.

Hapless Housing Association
Also, this week, the hopeless London housing association to whom I let one of my properties on a private lease scheme called me. Their in house boiler people said I would need a new boiler -and it was going to cost me £2600. I got my own man in to fix it – cost £60, which just proves the value of getting a second opinion.
Finally, it continues to look very grim in the financial markets and I feel sure that this must surely spill over into even further tightening on mortgages. Property prices will continue to drift off this year and in a slow market that means there are bargains to be had - though many vendors will no doubt refuse to accept the new reality for a while yet.
I notice that Mortgage Express have raised their margin over bank base rate by another 0.8% above what was available last year.
They appear to have been caught out more than most because they have raised a lot of capital on the money markets using these awful debt instruments.
So, I’ll leave them well alone for now. There should be better deals around. I suggest you go to a good broker who knows which lenders who are less exposed to Le Crunch and who still have decent mortgage rates.
If you need more advice on property investing or buy to let property in general please ask me.
I’m David Lawrenson from property investment advisors http://www.lettingfocus.com/
I’m the author of the buy to let book “Successful Property Letting - How to Make Money in Buy to Let” the UK’s top selling property title.
Buy the new edition here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Successful-Property-Letting-Right-Plus/dp/0716030195/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1203933977&sr=1-1
It is fully up to date with all the recent changes to tenancy deposit schemes, HMOs, licensing, capital gains taxes and it has new sections on buying below market value. I’m an expert on property investing for profit and a well known property freelance writer and I contribute to newspapers and a host of property websites, write a property investment blog, a number of columns in the press and run a landlords advice service.
I also work as a consultant helping banks, building societies, housing associations and web portals with their buy to let and property products and services.You can read more of my property investment blog and details of my networking, advice, buy to let networking programme at my website http://www.lettingfocus.com/My next London property investors networking meeting is on March 12th. Click here for details: Property Investment AdviceWhat’s unique about lettingfocus.com is that we offer independent property mentoring because unlike most people in the buy to let and property “advice” business we are not linked to a property company, developer, agent or bridging loan financier and do not receive commissions from any of these sources.If a property investment is lousy – We’ll tell you straight and we will tell you all about buy to let and property investment - the good and the bad and we won’t make silly promises that you’ll become a millionaire overnight.Copyright: David Lawrenson 2008. This blog is updated at least twice a week. Permission must be sought before using the material in the blog.

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Rental rates continue to go up as predicted at Letting Focus.com last year

Rental rates continue to go up as predicted at lettingfocus.com last year
As we predicted last year we are now seeing a strong rise in the number of people looking to rent property after they have been priced out of the property market or because they are running scared of all the talk of a big fall in house values.
High mortgage costs have forced more people to turn to the rental market, according to the annual UK housing review by the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) and the Building Societies Association (BSA).
In fact, renters now pay about a third less than the mortgage repayments on the same property – making renting very attractive.
At the same time, the lender Paragon Mortgages latest monthly study shows that rents in the buy-to-let sector are rising at their fastest rate on record owing to strong demand.
In fact rents increased 19 per cent in 2007, and 8 per cent in the last quarter of 2007 alone according to Paragon.
I predict this very fast rental growth for properties that are not oversupplied to continue this year.

ABOUT LETTINGFOCUS.COM and DAVID LAWRENSON
We are LettingFocus.com - the property experts.
I’m, David Lawrenson, the author of “Successful Property Letting” which for the last 3 years has been the UK’s top selling property book.
What’s unique about LettingFocus is that I offer independent unbiased
property seminars covering property investment and letting because unlike most people in the buy to let and property “advice” business I am not linked to a property company, developer, agent or bridging loan financier.
I can tell you where to buy (which areas), what type of property to buy, when to buy, how to buy property at a low price, how to make sure you get tenants who are going to pay the rent and how to manage a rental property to make £s at my one to one consulting service.
I can also comment on “No Money Down” Schemes and “Buying Below Market Value” methods too.

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Mortgage companies now charging interest in advance says Letting Focus

Is there no end to the mortgage lenders desperate attempts to squeeze money out of borrowers to make up for ever lower headline mortgage rates?
In previous blogs you will know how I have commented on how so called “arrangement fees” have gone ever higher.
They are now so ridiculous that the lenders have now dropped the term “arrangement” when referring to these fees - possibly for fear of being done by the trade descriptions people.
I have also shown in past blogs how you can save money on mortgage lenders’ rip off valuation fee by going straight to a surveyor for a valuation or survey and also, how, by making a simple call to your lender you should be able to reclaim previously unfairly high arrangement fees.
But still the lenders come up with ever more smart ways of making money.
I have just realised that my lender now deducts interest in advance, rather than in arrears. They put this sneaky change in around June 2005.
How much extra did that clever idea make for them I wonder? Quite a lot, I suggest.

ABOUT DAVID LAWRENSON and LETTINGFOCUS

LettingFocus.com are the experts on landlord issues and I’m David Lawrenson, the author of “Successful Property Letting” – which has been the UK’s top selling property and buy to let book for the last 3 years.
We help landlords and property investors make money in property by coaching them in ways that work, that are ethical and which involve minimal risk.
I have been a landlord and property investor myself for over 25 years.

At LettingFocus we offer independent unbiased buy to let advice for property buyers and landlords both on a one to one mentoring and coaching basis as well as through occasional group seminars.

Property syndicates and property advice in the UK is still largely unregulated and “advice” is more often more about making the promoter money than giving useful information
With no link to property firms, developers or bridging loan providers, at LettingFocus, we aim to give unbiased independent advice on where and what type of property to buy for investment, when to buy and how to buy property at a low price.
We also show you how to manage tenants properly and in ways that take up as little of your time as possible.

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