The announcement of a Land Transaction Tax (LTT) holiday on 14th July by the Finance Minister, Rebecca Evans, means that you will pay no LTT on your next home purchase up to £250,000 if you complete between 27th July 2020 and 31st March 2021. For more expensive sales, the portion of the price above £250,000 will continue to be liable for LTT in line with existing rates. The LTT holiday means about 80% of house sales will be exempt from the tax.

The upfront costs of moving have proved themselves to be an obstacle to home-ownership, particularly for first-time buyers. While they’re trying to save up a deposit to buy a property, they’re also paying rent and watching house prices continue to rise, leaving many feeling stuck in a vicious circle. Even those staying longer at home and avoiding commercial rents have found the costs of deposits, fees and taxes to be quite a barrier to entering the property market.

As well as first-time buyers, LTT has become a greater concern for homeowners with many put off buying a more expensive home by the increased levels of LTT now payable. Instead of paying tax to move, a lot of people have chosen instead to stay put and  invest their money into their existing home by extending or renovating. As well as increasing the value of their property, they get to see, feel and live the benefits of their investment, rather than watch it disappear in LTT.

But now there is a window of opportunity to save on your next home purchase. Did you have some plans that you put on hold? Could now be the time to bring forward your move? Or should you simply take advantage of the opportunity that now presents itself?

Let’s look at a few scenarios to see whether a move is right for you.

FIRST TIME SELLERS

If this will be the first time you sell a property, then it’s likely your home is suitable for first time buyers. And you may have bought your first home as a springboard to get onto the property ladder, with a view to selling when the right moment came.

It’s also possible that your next home would usually attract a hefty sum in LTT, so you could benefit from additional demand for your existing property as well as a healthy saving on your next one.

Call us old-fashioned, but that sounds like a pretty good position you find yourself in. Is now the time to give yourself some extra space? Or for you and your partner to buy together for the first time? Maybe you’re thinking of starting a family. The savings on LTT could make now a good time to fulfil those plans.

EVOLVING HOUSEHOLDS

Home life changes in so many ways. Families get larger which means more bedrooms and living space; people start working from home and need a room for a study; sometimes it’s down to a vinyl collection or other hobby that needs a place of its own!

All these are tangible motives to move regardless of any financial incentives from the Government, so if that’s where you’re at, it seems you’re already at the right time to be thinking of selling.

Having a specific reason to move is a great way to make an unclouded decision without trying to strategize around picking the right moment, but now you get to make your move at a time of increased demand and to save on LTT at your next home.

DOWNSIZING

People downsize for many reasons, but the act of downsizing isn’t necessarily about money. It can also be an emotional experience, so it’s sensible to look at the full picture to avoid rushing into a move before you’re ready.

The main reason for downsizing is when a family’s children have left home, leaving parents with a bigger property than they need or can handle. But many people downsize to move to a more expensive area when location and lifestyle become more important than square footage or number of rooms.

If you’re downsizing to a remote cottage somewhere where prices are below or near the previous threshold for LTT, then the savings you’ll be making are either zero or negligible, so your plans don’t need to be run by the LTT holiday. Rather than getting caught up in the euphoria, simply ask yourself whether now is the time you’d like to make the change.

On the other hand, if the value of the property you’d like to buy would usually attract a large LTT charge, then maybe now is a good time to put your plans into action. The savings could give you a head start in the lifestyle you’re looking forward to.

EXITING THE MARKET

If you won’t be buying another property after you sell your existing one, the LTT holiday will make no financial difference to your move which means your plans don’t need to change from a monetary point of view.

However, the holiday was designed to inject the property market with a boost of confidence and activity as we come out of lockdown, and that increased level of interest from buyers has instantly translated into an extremely busy marketplace.

We’re not in the business of predicting what may or may not happen in the coming months, but there is definitely a moment happening right now. So our advice to you is to consider whether taking advantage of the current activity is something that will work for your life and plans.

BUYING A SECOND HOME

The LTT holiday is designed to help first time buyers get onto – and existing homeowners to move up – the property ladder, and does not apply to investment properties or second home purchases. These transactions also attract the Higher Residential Rates which are tiered from 3% to 15%, depending on the value of the sale, and which are still in place exactly as before.

Therefore it’s simply business as usual if you are looking for your next buy-to-let, a holiday investment, or a second home as there will be no financial changes to whatever plans you either have now, or had at the point of the Government’s announcement.

Hopefully exploring the different stages of home-ownership and how the LTT holiday could affect you has given you some clarity around moving home or purchasing another property.

Whether or not it’s the right thing for you to be considering right now, we’re here to help you make the best decision, so do get in touch if you’d like to talk about any aspect of selling your home or buying another property.

When it comes to marketing your property for sale, the figure you choose as your initial asking price will be a major factor in how many enquiries you get, the number of viewings, how fast you receive an offer, and possibly whether you sell at all.

Along with the photography, your asking price will determine how you appear in search results online, and how your property measures up against other available homes.

As your estate agent we are here to get you the highest sale price we can, but your eventual selling price and your initial asking price are not necessarily the same thing. Depending on the value of your property, you might set your asking price above, below or at the figure you aim to achieve, so this week’s article looks at five different factors involved in getting your asking price just right.

LOCATION

If ever there was a repeated mantra in property, it would be location location location – there’s even a television series with the name.

The location of a property is the one thing that can’t be changed. It can have a dramatic effect on value and demand, but there is more to location than simply a physical place: it’s what that place means, and to who.

For a family with children, being in the catchment area of their preferred school might be a high-priority, while anyone commuting would want to be near transport or road connections. For avid socialites, being no more than five minutes walk from local cafes, pubs and shops could be a non-negotiable.

But somebody working from home may have other items on their wishlist, like being further away from a town centre for a quieter environment, or perhaps a street with easier parking for visiting clients.

In every case on every property, it’s down to estate agents to look at every aspect of every location: not only where a property is, but also at the potential audience.

CONDITION

The structural and decorative condition of your property – along with how modernised it is – will obviously determine its value and eventual sale price, but they won’t necessarily affect the size of your audience, the level of interest you receive, or the saleability of your home.

There are many people who dream of moving into a fully modernised and perfectly decorated property where all they need to do is put down their furniture, hang up some pictures and go to sleep. It’s an alluring prospect and, when all of those elements are in the right place for the right person, the sale price will be the very best it can be.

But there are many people who dream of finding a real fixer-upper and applying their own tastes, ideas and requirements. Unmodernised homes are not only popular with buyers on a budget, but also with people who don’t want to pay for someone else’s tastes and can see the opportunity and potential beyond what is there today.

Even homes with structural problems will find a ready audience with developers and investors who are able to buy cash, rather than needing a mortgage.

If you’ve considered making improvements to your property to increase its sale price, it’s important to match your expenditure to your marketplace. The budget for a kitchen in a one bedroom flat would be less than for a large family house, where a higher level of quality and specification would be required. You want to avoid spending too much or too little for the best return on your investment, so please ask for our advice if you are unsure.

COMPARABLE HOMES

Using evidence of similar homes that have sold nearby is one of the most powerful ways to justify a price. It’s the clearest way we can show you that the price we are suggesting reflects the true value of your property, and it helps us when negotiating increased offers from buyers.

As the seller, you’ll want to be sure that your asking price is neither too low, nor too high. Being quoted a temptingly high figure and then sitting around on the market for months is nobody’s dream, so it’s worth checking that any prices you are given – even if they are pleasingly high – are an accurate reflection of prices being achieved. So feel free to challenge us and any other estate agent where you have doubts or concerns over the price you are quoted: we’re more than happy to discuss the reasons and thinking behind our advice.

It’s also worth noting that agreeing a price is only the first hurdle, because next will come the valuation. All mortgage lenders carry out their own valuations – and even cash purchasers usually send in a surveyor –  to make sure they are lending or investing their money wisely.

So while we are on your side to get you the best price, we need to be aware that our recommendations must stand up to the inspection from the valuer or surveyor who is acting for the lender or buyer.

SIZE AND LAYOUT

Lenders use the square footage of your property to inform their valuation and are mostly unconcerned about your home being decorated with the official colours of the year (even though your Farrow & Ball tones may well have been a factor in getting you so much interest).

Using square footage is a straightforward way to see if the price and size of a property fit within the local marketplace, or whether something is a long way off.

In some streets, homes that look similar from the outside may not be the same size inside. For instance, in a standard terraced house, a difference of just 1 foot in the length and width could mean 10-15% extra internal floor area, which may not be visible from the outside.

There’s also the question of how a layout functions for modern lifestyles. In the 1970s & 80s, knocking the front and back living rooms together to create a thru-lounge was very much the thing, but today’s desire for a central hub switches the opening up to the kitchen and dining room for a multi-functional family space where people can watch telly, cook, eat, do homework and chat.

So it’s not only about the number of rooms, but also about how they work. Removing a wall between a dark hallway and small dining room could transform light levels and create the space for a larger table; changing a small bedroom into a large bathroom could upgrade a property with a touch of luxury to find a different audience.

STRATEGY

This final component in getting your asking price right doesn’t really have anything to do with your property at all: where it is, what it is, how big it is, or how nice it is don’t really play a role in this vital part of the equation

Your pricing strategy is about something altogether different: it’s about using the way people search for their next home to your full advantage so you can achieve maximum interest from those who are most likely to buy your property.

Asking prices are a fine balancing act. As your agent we need to balance your comfort and trust with the best way to generate the correct interest, so an asking price is therefore a discussion between you and your agent to leave everyone confident in the course of action agreed.

We mentioned earlier that your asking price is not necessarily connected to your sale price: you might get a few percent less; you might exceed it; you might be exactly on the nose. The thing to remember is that your asking price is merely the strategy or number that optimises the way people react to your property 

Most people start their search for a new home online and the first calling point is generally a portal like Rightmove or Zoopla. The portals split property searches into price bands and it’s important to pay attention to these to avoid falling foul of them.

Before the Internet, prices ending in 995 and 950 were employed to make a property look cheaper – £249,950 instead of £250,000; £499,995 instead of £500,000 – but those strategies don’t necessarily work today because they could delete one half of your audience.

An asking price of £249,995 would reach people with a maximum budget of £250,000, but would exclude anyone looking between £250-£275,000, potentially losing you a wealthier buyer. And a property with an asking price of £499,995 would be invisible to anyone searching between £500-550,000.

This means that one of the best ways to use the property portals to your advantage is to find an asking price that straddles two price bands to potentially double your pool of potential buyers.

Hopefully this article has given you an insight into the factors we use when working out exactly the right asking price for you. It’s definitely not a one-size-fits-all process, so if you’d like to talk about a pricing strategy for your property – or any other aspect of selling your home – please send us a message or give us a call.

If lockdown has left us with anything, it’s an appreciation of being outside.  People are savouring the outdoors and noticing more of what’s around them, with gardens and balconies rising higher on the priority lists of buyers.

But first impressions are also key. Your photographs, a drive-by, a virtual viewing or a later in-person visit: how your home looks from the outside sets the mood for the next stage of someone’s interest.

So from your initial kerb-appeal to your garden or balcony, this week’s blog is all about getting the outside of your property working to your advantage from front to back, to get you sold this summer.

FACIAL CARE

Think of the face of your home as the face you show to Zoom meetings: you want it to make a good impression. Exterior work is generally seen as more of a chore than interior decorating – it’s less glamorous; it’s up against the elements; it could mean other unexpected repairs – so it’s best to put it to bed.

Front doors really are the entrance into someone’s dream, so take a look at yours to see if it needs a new coat of paint: current ‘timeless’ trends are British racing green, dark matt grey, and poppy red. Or, for timber doors where the wood is good, you could strip it down and treat it to a high quality matt varnish for some warm, scandi-style ‘hygge’.  As a finishing touch, clean up the door furniture: there’s little to beat the comforting clunk of a shiny polished knocker!

Check to see if your gutters need clearing of spring blossom (or autumnal leaves if you’ve not been up there in a while!) and that they’re in good condition. And how’s your paintwork and pointing? Check any fascia boards, soffits and window frames for obvious cracks and flakes, then sand, fill and paint. It’s also worth looking at your walls to see if any missing mortar or render needs replacing. Take the opportunity to remove any accumulated cobwebs.

Clean windows are a thing of beauty, so if you have a regular window cleaner now is the time to book them. If you’re doing the job yourself, make the lower windows your priority because that’s where most dirt forms, and where you’ll see the biggest difference inside. The ground floor is also closest to your viewers’ eyes and likely to get the most scrutiny.

A FRESH APPROACH

Even in the summer, dead leaves, blossom, flower petals, or just good old dust can build up in doorways, steps, pathways and drives. So do an initial big sweep to clear any backlog, then a swift weekly brush-up should keep things looking great.

If you have a pathway or drive with a hard surface that has discoloured, use a pressure-washer to bring back the original finish and get it looking as near to new again.

Weeds between paving stones should be removed, but an exception to perfection might be moss growing between pavers: this can actually look deliberate and beautiful, so use your judgment (or send us a picture) for whether it should stay or go.

And while you’re there, check for any loose paving, cobbles or bricks (or for holes if you have a concrete path).

A FLORAL FRONT

Even if you only have a doorstep onto the pavement, it can still look lovely. Pots, window boxes or hanging baskets can soften the threshold between the world and home, as well as creating a strong identity for your property. They also look great in photos, on video, or in person.

If you have a proper front garden, make sure it looks loved: grass cut; beds weeded; plants watered; clutter gone. There’s so much good information online, even for total novices, and, who knows, you could end up with a new hobby. And if there’s room for a bench or chair, it makes a fine welcoming statement.

For a communal staircase, a tub of flowers or a gorgeous and healthy house plant can turn a no-man’s land into an everyman’s entrance. Large contemporary leaves in a glamorous container are not only a good investment for viewings, they’re also something you can take with you if you grow attached during your time on the market.

GORGEOUS GARDENS

Having a place to sit, eat, chat or relax is perhaps the most important factor when setting your garden up to sell. Whether you’ve got a small patio, a family-sized lawn or something much larger, a table and chairs convey the image of spending quality time outside.

Make sure the furniture is an appropriate size for your space; a small patio needs only a bistro set, while a larger garden might very well take a grand eight-seater under a pergola. Do you have your eye on something now that you could take to your next home and that fits where you are now, or something your purchaser might want to buy from you?

Tidy is good, and so is making it easy.  Stow away any kids’ toys or garden tools in an outdoor storage box – wood or rattan can look great, particularly with a cushion on top to double as a bench –  or in the shed if you have one. Screwing some hooks inside the shed and hanging things from the walls keeps the floor and surfaces chaos-free.

For larger gardens, having a kid’s zone where toys can remain out, and an adult’s zone from where toys are banned, will show how your garden works for all ages all the time and without compromise.

You don’t have to plant up a Chelsea Gold Medal winning garden, but you can make a big difference by clearing any clutter and ensuring that no plants are obscuring your windows. And just like at the front of the house, make sure gutters are clear, paintwork fresh, windows clean and paved areas weed-free.

If you’re a green-fingered soul and your garden is planted and preened to perfection, you’ve got your gold star! If you’re a total novice, simply adding a few tubs of flowers, grouped in threes or fives around the seating area, will make a lovely photo and a fine place to sit. Herbs are also a quick win: they’re easy to grow, smell great, and do wonders for your cooking!

BEAUTIFUL BALCONIES

Balconies tend to end up in one of three states. If yours is already a charming suspended haven to enjoy, there’s nothing to read here. But if it’s completely empty, or it’s become a storage area because you’ve outgrown your home, there’s work to be done.

Your balcony is a valuable asset, and a buyer will definitely want to see that important piece of real estate underneath your forgotten overflow of stuff. So take this opportunity to sell, donate or bin whatever you’re not going to take with you, and to put into storage anything you can’t find a place for inside.

As for gardens, seating means savouring. Stools or small bistro sets are excellent for little balconies and you can also pop a plant on the table or for some greenery, without losing any floor space. For larger balconies, go for a bigger dining set, and maybe even an easy chair: the key is to show comfort without having to shuffle around the furniture. And again, could you find something to take with you to your next home, or that your buyer would want to purchase?

Planting tricks for small balconies include pots on top of the balcony wall or balustrade, and hanging baskets suspended from an outside wall, or from the underside of the balcony above: with more floor space comes the possibility of grouping larger pots and tubs. Whatever you have, think about the kinds of plants that will thrive: whether your balcony is sunny or shady,  there’s a plant that will love to live there.

That’s it for part two of our Selling in Summer blog. We hope you’re inspired with ideas and advice, but if you’d like to talk about any aspect of selling your property this summer, we’d love to hear from you.

You can get in touch on 02920 561111 or info@fortisproperties.co.uk.

Could 2020, despite everything, be the best ever summer for selling your home? June 21st, the official start of summer, is just a few weeks away and, with international holidays currently off the cards and social distancing likely to remain in force for some months to come, there are less of the distractions that usually affect the summer season.

With nowhere to go and so much time spent at home, people are taking a good look at where they live and scrutinising their surroundings. And despite virtual viewings being the introduction to a home for potential buyers, enquiry levels are up across the nation with visits to the portals hitting record numbers. Rightmove just recorded six million views in one day (the highest ever outside of the regular Christmas surge), so it’s clear that people are focussing their efforts on the things they can do, one of which is moving home.

Our selling in summer blog this year comes in two parts: today is all about getting your house in order and having the inside of your home ready for marketing in the sunny season; then for the next installment we’ll take it outside to concentrate on kerb appeal, gardens and plants.

So let’s explore how you can make the most of the property market’s strangest – and possibly most active – summer ever.

LET THE SUNSHINE IN

During the summer months and longer days, almost every viewing of your property will happen before sunset, which means that buyers will be looking closely at how naturally light your home is (compared to winter when it’s all about drawing the curtains and cranking up the cosy).

Sunshine on dirty windows looks horrendous, so your panes need to be cleaned and kept clean. If you’ve got a window cleaner, ask them to come every week until you’ve accepted an offer. If you’re doing it yourself, then vinegar, newspaper and elbow grease really do work, but, for a faster job that’s ecologically sound, you could try one of the new eco cleaners such as Ko. Spray on, leave for thirty seconds, then wipe clean with their special cloths. No rinsing and no fuss; just clean and smear-free glass.

Once you’ve done that, make sure you don’t spoil all your good work by obscuring too much of the windows with your curtains or blinds. If you’ve got big, heavy curtains, tie them back to expose as much of the glass as possible. Blinds can look lovely with sun’s rays filtering through the – dusted! – slats, so make sure they’re angled for optimal effect. Or simply open them fully for viewings to leave nothing to chance.

Finally, when someone’s first look at your home is via Skype or Whatsapp, you may find the sunshine outside sends even the most light-filled room into silhouette on a computer or smartphone. It may sound obvious, but make sure the bulbs work for the main lighting in each room to head off any difficulties a camera might have.

CURRENT COLOURS

This season the colour trend is for grounded and calm, with a classic touch. Over at Dulux, their colour of 2020 is Tranquil Dawn, a pale green-grey – almost neutral – with its own pairing palette of greys, hessians, and delicious ice cream pastels. These act as a contemporary background for either big colour pops or scandi-naturals, giving a sense of breezy longevity.

At Farrow and Ball, dark mysterious blues and stunning luxury neutrals are still in play, but they’ve added a Colours of Nature range, devised with the Natural History Museum, to add some vibrant rainforest greens and tropical plant oranges.

Having one wall in a strong colour is a fast and easy route to giving a shot of pizzazz to a room, especially if it frames a contrasting sofa, a beautiful piece of furniture, or some well-mounted artwork.

These are simple tricks to update any interior with an inviting and contemporary feel.

CUPBOARDS AND CLUTTER

Let’s explode a couple of myths about decluttering, as the term can often strike fear into the hearts of a home. What it doesn’t mean is emptying the contents of shelves and surfaces, then piling it all into your cupboards. Neither does it mean emptying your cupboards and stuffing everything into boxes in the loft. All that does is make work for later on.

But decluttering is also not about getting rid of everything you own and living a monkish life of extreme minimalism while you wait to find a buyer. It’s simply about keeping hold of the things you love and giving them space to shine and be enjoyed. Marie Kondo summed it up perfectly with her “spark joy” mantra.

When a potential buyer looks inside your kitchen units, or a built in wardrobe, or an understairs cupboard, what they need to see is a functioning storage space that’s coping well in its environment; not one that’s bursting at the seams.

So given that there’s always a ton of throwing away that happens during the packing, why not do that bit now so it’s out of the way early on and helps you in the sale of your home? Keep the things that give you joy, then sell, donate or bin the ones that don’t.

IN WITH THE NEW

If you’ve been holding off replacing any tired or worn out furniture or accessories until you move, ask yourself whether you could replace anything now to give your home a presentational lift.

At a basic level that could be towels and linens: if they’re past their best and heading for the heap, why not treat yourself early? New bedding, plump towels and plush bathrobes look really great, while stringy and faded fabrics look sad. So if they’re going to be seen by viewers, you may as well have ones that work in your favour.

When it comes to furniture, there’s more to consider. If you’ve been eyeing up a new couch, bed or table that has zero chance of fitting in where you are, then clearly you need to hold off. But if the thing you want would look great in your current home, then why not put it to extra use by helping you snare a buyer?

As well as improving your rooms for photographs, virtual viewings and later in-person visits, you’ll also get to enjoy your new furniture sooner and for longer. Plus you’ll have removed one or more eBay chores or trips to the tip from a to-do list that is guaranteed to grow as moving home approaches.

FINISHING TOUCHES

Little things in every room can build into a huge overall difference in how your home presents itself, so here are some quick wins for each area of your home.

Hallways

Shoes and coats are always a challenge, but you don’t want to convey chaos the minute someone is through the door. If you don’t have a cloaks cupboard, thin out the bulk by removing winter jackets and then get shoes off the floor and onto a rack. How’s it looking now? Would a few more hooks help?

Living rooms

Now that your windows are clean, your curtains tied back and your clutter gone, it may be a matter of adding a final something. A bowl of summer-fresh oranges on the coffee table gives an instant lift, while a cushion or two can work wonders on a bare couch.

Dining rooms

If the table has been doubling as your office, return it to its original function for viewings. Get the paperwork and laptop into a drawer, and replace them with a candlestick or a vase of fresh flowers.

Kitchens

For essential-but-ugly items like sponges, dishcloths and washing up liquid, hang them on a rack inside the cupboard under the sink. You’ll still be able to get to them quickly, but they won’t be taking centre stage.

Bedrooms

Make the beds, obviously. If the wardrobe is straining, take winter clothes out and get them into vacuum sealed bags. Their reduced form can then go under the bed or somewhere else out of sight. A laundry basket for every occupied bedroom saves clothes ending up on the floor.

Bathrooms

Lotions, creams, foams and gels are a fact of life but an eyesore in bulk, so put them into a cabinet or a stylish storage box. Get cleaning products completely out of sight in a cupboard somewhere else. Towels should be on hooks, or folded neatly on rails or shelves.

Spare rooms

A room never looks its best when it feels spare. So if you have a space you’re not using, find a way to give it purpose. Could you add a desk to make a study, or your yoga mat or weights for an exercise room? Even spare bedrooms can feel forgotten, but a bedside lamp, a small rug on the floor, or a picture on a wall can quickly change things up.

Once the inside of your home is looking like a dream, it’s time to work on your kerb appeal and any outside space. Whether it’s a window box, a balcony or a sprawling lawn, there’s plenty coming up in part two of the Selling in Summer blog to help you make the most of whatever you’ve got. So we’ll see you back here in two weeks!

Meanwhile, if you’d like to chat about getting your home ready to sell this summer, we’re here to help. Simply pick up the phone on 02920 561111, or drop us a line at info@fortisproperties.co.uk and we’ll be talking in no time.

Now that the property market in England is open for business again, moving plans across the border can get back on track. Demand from buyers has been up right across the country, with enquiries to estate agents and visitor numbers to the property portals almost at where they were before lockdown began. And now that in-person viewings are back on the cards, there should be a gradual return to normal – albeit one of a different kind.

The housing market is one of the most important sectors in the UK and global economy and, in recognition of this, Parliament has eased restrictions for the estate agency industry in England ahead of other sectors. As of today, the Welsh Government is yet to follow suit, but we thought it timely to look at the wide ranging restrictions and guidance that have been put in place around viewings and moving home in England to give you a flavour of how things might go in Wales.

Estate agents in England now have to give all their clients and customers a picture of exactly how to prepare a property for in-person viewings; how the agents themselves will be carrying out appointments; and how the moving process can move forward from this point.

All of us here are keeping a close eye on how things pan out in England and we’re already making plans to ensure everyone’s safety – both at the office and when out on appointments – for when we can open again.

PREPARING FOR MARKET

English estate agents can now visit sellers and landlords in their properties to advise on price, presentation and getting ready to move. They can also arrange for photographs to be taken, while energy assessors can inspect people’s homes and issue Energy Performance Certificates. Tradespeople are once again allowed to carry out any maintenance or cosmetic works.

For all visits, everyone is required to practice social distancing measures. Homeowners are required to keep a minimum of 2 metres distance from any visitors as well as ensuring that everyone entering their home immediately washes their hands.

VIEWING PROCEDURES

VIRTUAL FIRST

Every viewer will be strongly encouraged to view properties virtually in the first instance, and only to visit in person once they feel they are likely to make an offer on that property. Virtual viewings can give home hunters a comprehensive impression of a property and can take many forms, from pre-recorded videos, to individual tours and even virtual open houses using Facebook Live. Agents are working with their clients to figure out the best solution that fits each person’s personal preferences and situation.

IN-PERSON VIEWINGS

These are the restrictions, regulations and guidelines in England around physical viewings to ensure everyone’s safety.

1)

To reduce the risk of transmission, the owner must open all internal doors and turn on any necessary lighting before a viewing begins to minimise the need for estate agents and viewers to make contact with any surfaces. The Government’s advice is for owners to vacate their property or wait in the garden while viewings take place, but, if that’s not possible, to observe social distancing measures.

Everyone attending a viewing is required to wash their hands as soon as they enter a property, and owners must provide access to handwashing facilities and separate towels, preferably disposable paper ones. Although buyers are being encouraged to bring their own hand sanitiser, agents are advising owners to provide some at their property in case somebody forgets.

All viewings must be by appointment only and no open houses are permitted.

2)

It is not yet a requirement to wear masks or gloves, on viewings but, depending on the type of property, it may be necessary to do so. It’s also possible that homeowners and viewers may wish to use masks.

Many estate agents in England are choosing to wear masks on all appointments and are encouraging viewers to bring their own Personal Protection Equipment (PPE). Again, in case someone forgets, agents are stocking up on PPE to have some on hand in case anyone who requires it on the viewing doesn’t have any of their own.

3)

Estate agents are required to limit the numbers of viewers entering a property at any one time to a maximum of two adults, both of whom should be from the same household. They are permitted to be accompanied by their children if no other arrangements can be made.

Agents are asking a number of screening questions of anyone wishing to view a property in person to ensure that nobody displaying any of the symptoms of Covid-19 goes to a viewing. They are also checking for symptoms – high temperature, dry cough, upset tummy, etc – at the point of meeting people outside a home. It is not allowed for agents to drive people to appointments.

Viewers are being asked to avoid touching any surfaces as they walk around and agents are working to maintain a 2m distance wherever possible.

4)

All surfaces and door handles are required to be wiped down after each viewing. For empty properties the agents are taking care of everything; where a property is tenanted or owner-occupied the responsibility is being dealt with viewing-by-viewing, depending on whether anyone living at the property is actually in attendance.

AGREEING A SALE

There are no restrictions around agreeing a sale on homes. Conveyancers are still working, albeit from home, and can begin collating all the paperwork in readiness for accepting an offer just as they normally would.

Surveyors and valuers are now permitted to enter properties again, although a number of lenders in England will issue mortgage offers on some properties through desktop valuations using recent sales data. If a valuer does visit a property, their visit must be treated as though from a viewer and the owner must ensure that all internal doors are open, any necessary lighting is on, and that all areas of their property are accessible.

In case a buyer wants to revisit a home to measure up for furniture and curtains, or if they wish to send in tradespeople to get estimates for works, all the measures in place for in-person viewings have to be observed. That includes handwashing, minimising contact with surfaces, keeping all internal doors open and practicing social distancing.

Estate agents are advising sellers to maintain whatever flexibility they can in their moving plans – in their mindset as well as their dates – and to ensure that sales contracts are worded to allow for possible changes to the completion date after exchange of contracts takes place. This will protect owners from being in breach of contract in case the Covid-19 situation takes a turn for the worse and lockdown restrictions are tightened again, or if someone from their household or the chain falls ill with coronavirus.

Sellers are being advised to book their removals company as soon as they exchange contracts, and to start gathering quotes while the conveyancing process is underway so they can lock in their removals team as soon as a completion is confirmed.

MOVING DAY

It’s being recommended that as much of the packing as possible is done by the seller and their household. If that’s not possible, they’re advised to speak to different removal firms to explore other options as different companies may have different policies. All belongings that won’t be going into boxes and that will be handled by people outside of the seller’s household are to be thoroughly cleaned.

Despite the British custom of making the removals team continuous cups of tea, that’s a no-go in England at the moment. But, again, owners must provide the crew with handwashing facilities and towels, again preferably disposable paper ones (and hopefully recycled to avoid any eco guilt!)

The viewings procedure of social distancing and access must be followed, with all internal doors to be opened before the removals crew arrive, and members of the household keeping at least 2 metres apart from any of the removers wherever possible.

Although it feels like there’s a lot in here, when you break it down most of the steps are fairly small and can make a huge difference in keeping everyone moving. There is no sign yet of when the Welsh property market may follow suit, but clearly all eyes are on England to see whether opening up the property market proves a workable policy while keeping coronavirus in check.

In the meantime, if you have any questions or concerns about marketing your property or moving home during this particularly strange time, please pick up the phone or drop us a message. We’re here to support you and help in any way we can.

COVID-19 Statement

16.03.2020

The safety of our clients, staff and tenants is our number one priority. Therefore, Red Key Property Services and Fortis Properties would like to issue the following statement:-

Viewings in tenants’ and vendors’ homes will be minimised over the next 7 days and we will observe the advised 1 metre no-contact range where possible. We will also refrain from shaking hands; please do not take this personally as this is solely based on the advice given by the public health departments.

Staff will ensure they are fit for work and in the event of any staff feeling unwell with any one of the symptoms as described by the public health departments, they will be self-isolating at home for 7 days in line with current advice and will work from home where able to do so to limit and reduce the risk of the spread of germs.

Personal hygiene in the workplace has always and will continue to be a high priority. Therefore, to safeguard our staff and visitors, we ask that all visits our offices are kept to a minimum and are for essential appointments only.

Should one or both of our branches be forced to close temporarily due to staff illness or ‘work from home’ government advice, we will still strive to maintain high levels of service at all times. We are dedicated to ensuring no loss of service to our customers, so this will only occur in extreme circumstances.

In the event of maintenance issues at properties, works will be restricted to ‘most urgent and priority cases only’ to ensure tenants’ and contractors’ health and safety alike.

If your home is due to be inspected by a member of the Red Key Property Services or Fortis Properties teams, we will be in touch to rearrange your appointment. We will initially postpone inspections by 4 weeks, but will monitor government advice on an ongoing basis.

Please see the link below for advice from the World Health Organisation.

https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public

Please check on those that are most vulnerable; friends, family and neighbours. Should you require any assistance from Red Key Property Services or Fortis Properties, are genuinely concerned about any aspect of COVID-19, or require clarification of the contents of this statement, please contact a member of the team.

We will continue to work as normally as possible until such time circumstances change and would ask for your patience with our reduced workforce and consideration for others at this time.

Please stay safe and take necessary precautions where possible.

Red Key Property Services and Fortis Properties

Green views Wenvoe Cardiff

This aspirational family home on Burdons Close, Wenvoe provides an inspiring view every time you open the curtains.

Every now and again we get a property that has something a little bit special. Sometimes it’s a beautiful kitchen, others it’s a generous living space. Although this property has both of those, it’s this view that really sets it apart from the crowd in its price range.

This three bedroom family home for sale is situated in the village of Wenvoe and backs on to green fields and a gorgeous tree line. The unobstructed view makes the garden feel endless and is sure to provide one lucky family with a sense of respite from busy modern life. Due to the built-up nature of Cardiff and the surrounding areas, opportunities like this don’t come along often and they are snapped up quickly when they do.

For more details of this home, see here for the full description and a video tour.

If you’d like to be one of the first to view this lovely property, call Leanne now on 02920 561 111 to secure your visit.

Happy house hunting!

Leanne, Isabelle and Jo at Fortis.

We are so excited to win Best Letting Agent in Cardiff South and West in the 2019-2020 British Property Awards!

After a series of mystery shopping exercises by the good folks at the BPA, Fortis Properties Cardiff was selected for our outstanding customer service in dealing with all manner of lettings enquiries. To succeed in winning Best Letting Agent, the various competition rounds thoroughly tested our local knowledge, as well as our experience in the property industry and our demonstration of excellent client care.

Anyone who follows us will know how much we value our clients, and the level of effort we put in to make sure each and every person feels valued and important, both to us as individuals and as a business. We strongly believe in the personal one-to-one service and going the extra mile for both our lettings and sales clients. We are simply thrilled to be recognised in this way (we may have done a little dance!).

We’d like to round off by saying a huge thank you to the British Property Awards and particular congratulations to Leanne, Isabelle and Linda for, once again, delivering above and beyond! Our award lasts for a year upon which time we’ll be back in competition with other Cardiff agents for the 2020-21 award! We’re told that in the new year, mystery shopping will commence for the Best Sales Agent award, which we are really keen to win. Having both awards for Cardiff south and west would simply mean the world to us. Wish us luck!

Best Letting Agent Cardiff south and west: Fortis Properties.

Promotional material for Best Letting Agent Cardiff south and west
property, kids flown the best, downsizing home

We love our kids, and to see them as fully-fledged, independent adults make any parent proud! Whether your offspring have gone to university or perhaps moved away for work or love, you have probably found yourself with an empty bedroom or two. So the question is: do you keep your spare rooms for guests, turn them into a gym or study, or do you decide to make a change and downsize your property? What are the pros and cons of downsizing and how might they affect you? Read on for our Top 5 Tips to bear in mind when considering downsizing your property:

reducing your bills, downsizing property

1. A Smaller property will likely mean lower monthly bills

Smaller properties are generally cheaper to run and so when making your decision, do think about the monthly cost of running your current home. More bedrooms generally mean higher heating costs. Your council tax will likely be higher, too. However, if you have less people than bedrooms in your home, you may be able to save money by installing a water meter.

money, saving money, pound coins

2. Could you make money on your spare room?
If the idea of having a lodger fills you with dread then skip this one, but if not, consider the benefits of the monthly rental income that a lodger generates. As well as this, it could also be someone to mind your home and pets when you’re on holiday. Of course, unless you know the person beforehand, you’re always going to be taking a chance with a new lodger, but if the person is clean and tidy, it’s a nice way to make extra money for very little effort.

property sale, househunting

3. A Smaller home in a better area?
This is one many folks are faced with. They have a sizable home but it’s become too big for them. However, they know that moving to a nicer area may mean sacrificing space. Think about how much of your home you actively use on a daily basis. 31% of homeowner’s waking hours are spent in the kitchen. If you’re not using one or more rooms in your house regularly, then that’s an expensive empty space.

helping kids with house deposit

4. Helping your Kids
It’s no secret that getting on the property ladder is tough for young people these days. By freeing up some of the money in your home you could help your kids with that all important first home deposit.

freeing up equity

5. The Trip of a lifetime
Have you always dreamt of visiting the Sydney Opera House, or perhaps seeing Vietnam by rail is more your thing? The money freed up from downsizing your home could fund an exciting adventure with memories that last for years to come.

Are you thinking of downsizing? Take a look at our free, quick valuation tool to get an idea of what your property could be worth https://www.fortisproperties.co.uk/value-my-home/

Estate Agent Cardiff

Cardiff landlord rent calculator

We all like to ensure we get value for money and of course, that’s true for Landlords in Cardiff, too. With several choices to make before renting out your property, how do you ensure you make the right decisions for the best return? Read on for our top six tips for saving money on your rental property and getting the best return on your investment:

Letting property, renting, Landlord, saving money

1. Choose the right Cardiff letting agent. Read their online reviews. Examine their fees and ask how they deal with maintenance queries and rent arrears.

Landlord mortgage, renting, property, Cardiff

2. Make sure you have the best mortgage product to suit your needs. We are in the best climate for buy-to-let mortgages since before the 2008 crash. There is lots more choice for Landlords now. Considering consulting a Mortgage Advisor to make sure you have the best deal.

Landlords, maximising rent, Cardiff

3. Occupation over rent pcm. Every day your property is empty is lost revenue. Be careful not to set your rent so high that you put off potential tenants. Consult your agent for setting the asking rent right in the first place and you’ll have an occupied rental property in no time.

tenant white goods, renting, Landlords

4. If you are considering providing white goods, include a fridge freezer. Tenants are not fond of small ice boxes in fridges and you’ll get a little extra rent for providing good cold food storage.

Simple Patio table set with fresh flowers on the top.  Rental property

5. Keep the outside space simple and easy to maintain. Not everyone has green fingers. A nice patio and a few pots will be much easier for your tenants to look after than an elaborate garden.

Landlords, rental property carpet

We hope this was helpful to you if you are a first-time or more experienced Landlord. We are a letting agency based in Fairwater, Cardiff and we serve Landlords all over Cardiff. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to get in touch!

For information on our services to Landlords, see here

Heather and Leanne