If you’re looking for the best estate agent for your house sale, there are some key questions to ask:

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  1. What advice can you give us to help our home sell for the best price?

The best agents will be full of useful information about staging your home, the local marketplace, and what the latest moves are.

It’s important that you don’t fear asking for advice. If they advise you to de-clutter, repaint some rooms, or get some maintenance done, don’t take it personally.

They have your interests at heart. They want to help you sell for the best price and in a short time. They understand that potential buyers need to imagine themselves living in your home, so all the advice they give is geared to helping that happen.

 

  1. What price should we ask for our home?

Understanding the market in your town and knowing the ceiling price in your street is key to getting the price right the first time you put it on the market.

Put it on for too high a price, you’ll put off many potential buyers. Then, you may have to discount it multiple times, meaning would-be buyers will be left asking why. They may fear there is something amiss – even if your home is an excellent buy.

Put it on for too low a price for a quick sale, and you could be kicking yourselves in a few months’ time. If you’re buying a new home, you need the best price possible to get the best options for you and your family.

 

  1. How will our home be marketed?

The best agents will market your home across all the available platforms. They will advertise it in their window, online in several locations including aggregator sites such as RightMove and on social media, by emailing their list of potential buyers, and in local property sections.

Good agents will also have a plan for that marketing. They will be able to tell you how many times they advertise it online weekly,

When it comes to their list of potential buyers, it’s all about how detailed their information is – for example, will they know if would-be buyers need a home within walking distance of a local school, or a home with potential for refurbishment or redevelopment to add value?

 

  1. How will viewings be conducted?

This is a key time for picking up information about potential buyers as well as showing off your home to its best advantage.

Most agents will know how to show people around, to focus on the key rooms such as the kitchen and lounge. The best will be asking questions like: “Where do you live at the moment? Are you renting or selling your own home?”, “Have you got your mortgage deal in place?”, and “Where do you work?”

This will give you an idea of whether these are serious potential buyers with the finances to complete on a deal, whether they are ready to move quickly, and whether there may be a chain involved in the purchase.

 

  1. On average, how long does a home stay on your books – and how close to the asking price is your average sale?

This gives you a good indication that your agent is actively marketing the homes on their books and giving good advice about prices.

 

Can we help you sell your home in Blaenau Gwent in 2018? Call us today on 01495 619811 to start the conversation.

market your home this ChristmasTempted to put your property marketing on hold for Christmas?

There are so many things to do – shop for presents, organise your relatives, go to Nativity plays, and decide on your Christmas Day menu.

We have an important piece of advice: Don’t!

We understand you’re busy, but this could be an excellent time of year to show potential buyers how they could create their perfect family home.

Give them an idea of your wonderful family Christmas.

Here are 5 effective ways to do that:

  1. Deck the halls

Make your decorations beautiful and tasteful. Don’t go over the top with lots of clashing colours, stick to a fairly simple theme and colours which suit the colours you already have in your home. If you have a real Christmas tree, make sure it’s properly watered and any dropped needles are cleared away. Make sure presents are tidy if they’re under the tree, or put them away in your storage areas. The idea is that you create an atmosphere your potential buyers can aspire to live in.

  1. Create a magical first impression

Think about how you’ll decorate your front door and windows. Warming lights in the windows give a real feeling that your house is welcoming. A traditional Christmas wreath on the front door is a lovely touch for those coming to viewings at this time of year. It’s all about having a sense of proportion, though. Smothering your home in lights and cramming dozens of inflatable Santas, reindeers, and snowmen into your garden might be a little off-putting!

  1. Give your home a festive fragrance

There are so many wonderful aromas which you can use to make people feel at home. Decorations made from orange and cinnamon give a truly festive feeling, while Christmas trees of real pine swags bring the aroma of the forest into your sitting room.

  1. Give potential buyers a Christmas treat

Have some seasonal treats like mince pies to offer your viewers. If there’s a pot of coffee or tea brewing, that will encourage them to linger a little longer.

  1. Tell the story of your family Christmas

This is all about encouraging potential buyers to imaging themselves spending special times together in your property. Explain how you gather around the tree to open presents, enjoy a family Christmas dinner around the table in your generously-sized dining room, and relax by the cosy fire to watch movies on Christmas night.

If you get it right, having viewings close to Christmas can be an excellent way of letting would-be buyers see your home at its best.

What a wonderful Christmas present a SOLD sign on your property would be!

 

Want to sell your home in Blaenau Gwent? Call our property experts – we have in-depth knowledge of the market in Tredegar, Ebbw Vale, Brynmawr, Nantylgo, Blaina, and Abertillery. Call us today on 01495 619811.

rental property It’s vital that maintenance is carried out to keep your rental property in excellent condition for your tenants – and to protect your substantial investment.

If routine maintenance is left undone, small problems will escalate and become costly to fix.

Here are the top 5 ways your rental investment could turn into a money pit:

 

  1. Damaged or leaking guttering causing damp – Your property could end up suffering from damp walls and black mould unless guttering is cleared and maintained properly. If you want to attract and keep good tenants, dealing with damp issues promptly is a must.

 

  1. Missing roof slates leading to rotting roof timbers – One insurer has recently been advertising about the danger from missing roof slates or tiles. Not only could it cost you tens of thousands of pounds to replace rotten roof timbers if it’s left unfixed, it could even affect whether your insurance pays out. Get your roof checked annually to ensure it’s sound.

 

  1. Electrical problems causing a fire risk – A socket which shorts appliances, circuits which trip, light fittings which don’t work properly. All are signs there may be something wrong with the electrics in your rental property. It’s so important that these are investigated immediately. If they’re left unfixed, your property and your tenants could be at risk from an electrical fire.

 

  1. Leaking, broken, or rotten windows letting in the rain and wind – This could damage your walls, carpets, and curtains or blinds. It could also make your property insecure, attracting burglars and vandals.

 

  1. Leaking or burst pipes or joints flooding your property – A small leak can so easily get worse. It’s tempting to put a bucket under it while you juggle your priorities, but unless it’s properly investigated there could be more water getting out of your pipes causing costly damage to ceilings, floors, and walls. Don’t leave it, get a plumber in as soon as you can.

 

Every landlord needs to carry out routine checks to keep on top of their property’s maintenance.

One way of doing this without eating into your time is to engage a property manager who offers in-house maintenance, as we do at Louvain Properties.

That way, not only will checks be carried out and reported to you, routine maintenance will be carried out without the need for you to find contractors you can trust.

Our experts can carry out all the maintenance you require, from replacing damaged sockets to rewiring a whole house.

You’ll also have the peace of mind of knowing all the relevant safety checks and certificates for the electrics and heating systems are up to date.

Find out more about our maintenance work here.

 

Looking for a property manager for your rental house or flat? Call us today on 01495 619811.

 create some kerb appealSummer is house-hunting season.

So, this is the time to ask yourself if your home has real kerb appeal – or if its appearance is putting off people who might like to view it.

There are some relatively inexpensive things you can do to give your home a little more kerb appeal. Here are our top 10 tips:

  1. Tidy your front garden.

Power wash the drive, tidy up shrubs, cut the grass, pull up weeks, and inject a little colour with bedding plants such as marigolds and fuchsias which will last well into the autumn. Re-seed lawns with bald patches.

  1. Create symmetry with plants.

Use two bay trees, olive trees, or equally-sized planters on either side of the door to create symmetry. This makes a statement. Your front door becomes welcoming, the start of good things to come inside your home.

  1. Remove any unsightly bins or empty planters.

You only get one chance to make a good impression on your would-be buyers. Don’t allow anything to distract from your home. If your children have bikes and play equipment, make sure they’re removed before viewings and are not visible in any pictures you use online, in newspaper adverts, or in estate agent’s windows.

  1. Paint your door or surrounds.

A fresh coat of paint will give the impression of a home which is well maintained and loved. If you have uPVC doors, wash them down using sugar soap. It’s important this is rinsed off well to ensure a good finish.

  1. Wash your windows and ensure curtains and blinds are clean.

Windows which are sparkling will give your would-be buyers an excellent impression. Remove ornaments from window sills to give a clean, uncluttered look.

  1. Do you have pets? Replace or clean hall carpets or clean floors.

The immediate smell of dog or cat as your door is opened is massively off-putting to house hunters. Carpets are often the culprits. Can you clean them? If not, consider investing in a new hall carpet or lifting them and sanding back floorboards or polishing tiles.

  1. Wash down the paint on your walls.

A power wash can often remove most of the dirt on the exterior masonry paint, giving your home a fresher look.

  1. Make sure your doorbell works.

Check any batteries and connections, and test it. The little things make your home seem well loved.

  1. Do you have a flat? Make sure communal entry areas are tidy and clean.

There’s nothing worse than stepping over piles of junk mail or seeing graffiti on staircases.

Do you need to talk to other householders or a freeholder to share the cost of painting areas?

  1. Get a welcome mat!

It makes a great impression as people step over the threshold – and helps keep your floors clean!

 

Do you need expert help selling your home in South Wales? Call our local property experts on 01495 619811, or contact us here.

setting up a student HMOAt this time of year setting up a student HMO is popular, property owners may be considering creating student lets which will be available when the new term starts in the autumn.

If you’re one of them, it’s worth knowing the rules and regulations relating to houses of multiple occupation (HMOs).

What is an HMO?

An HMO is a property split into different households. In other words, rented by several people who are not living as one household unit.

Typically, this could be a house where different households rent rooms or parts of the building.

In Wales, there is a C4 planning use classification of an HMO which defines it as: “tenanted living occupation by 3 to 6 people, who are not related and who share one or more basic amenities, as their only or main residence.”

For larger HMOs with seven or more tenants, landlords may have to apply for “HMO sui generis” planning permission – meaning ‘of its own class’. Whether this needs to happen depends on how the tenants live and whether they are single household.

The HMO definition does not include blocks of flats.

Why choose an HMO?

It allows you to rent parts of your building separately and ensure maximum occupation of your property.

In a single household rental, all rooms would become available at once. In an HMO, you could stagger rentals to ensure your property doesn’t lie empty.

While some students will wish to rent as a group, others will want to rent singly or in couples.

Will you need planning permission to switch to an HMO?

Yes. Welsh councils can require landlords to get planning consent to turn their single households with no more than six residents into an HMO.

There will need to be an application for a change of use with a fee of around £380.

If you’re switching back from an HMO with up to six tenants to a single home, you may not need planning consent.

 

Do you need to register under Rent Smart Wales?

Yes. The Housing (Wales) Act 2014 runs alongside the Housing Act 2004 so you have to comply with both.

You must register with Rent Smart Wales, declare the address of the HMO and any other rental properties you have in Wales. For each of them, you must declare who is the agent responsible for managing and letting them.

This could be you or it could be a licensed property manager. If you’re doing it yourself, you must be licensed.

You only need one licence to manage all your Welsh properties.

Find out more about Rent Smart Wales here.

Looking for a licensed property manager in South Wales? We’re registered with Rent Smart Wales and have experienced staff who can help a landlord with an HMO. Call us today on 01495 619811.

 

How property managers can help

How property managers can helpProperty managers play a key role when it comes to dealing with problems.

They can act as a bridge between landlords and tenants, helping them find a way through disputes. Or, they can help them avoid problems in the first place.

Here’s what we can do:

  1. We take the heat out of the situation

Having a professional talking to both sides, without having to get into the same room, can take the heat of out any arguments and help prevent future conflict.

Your property manager is there to ensure both sides get the best deal possible – that landlords get excellent tenants and that tenants get good quality homes.

 

  1. We can independently assess any claims

A property manager will gather evidence if there are claims of breach of contract or damage to property by a tenant, or about claims that repairs are not being made by a landlord, for example.

This evidence can then be used to find a way forward.

 

  1. We can help ensure there are no disputes over deposits

This is a key area of potential dispute between landlords and tenants. The law says there must be tenancy deposit protection for all assured shorthold tenancies in England and Wales where a deposit is taken. A deposit must be protected within 30 calendar days of a landlord or agent receiving it.

This can be done by placing the funds into a recognised bond scheme or with an insurance-backed scheme.

Any tenant who does not think their deposit is protected or hasn’t received enough information about it can apply to the county court for compensation for up to three times the value of the deposit.

Landlords need to know tenants have the funds to pay deposits and rent.

Property managers can organise matters for landlords and tenants so that this process goes smoothly.

 

  1. We can track necessary investigations and repairs

Another important role is to ensure there are regular inspections so that repairs can be noted and dealt with.

Small repairs which are left unmanaged can turn into something far costlier. For example, a missing roof slate left for months and years can compromise roof beams or ceilings below. Pointing which is crumbling can let in rain water and cause damp in a property.

Nipping repair problems in the bud is important for both landlords and tenants. Good tenants won’t want to live in a property which has a long list of repairs and finding the time for inspections is a major pressure for many landlords.

 

Need advice on renting a property in Blaenau Gwent or South Wales? Call our experts on 01495 619811.

get references from a tenant

Getting good tenants is vital in helping your buy-to-rent property pay its way.

You need tenants who are solvent, who will care for your property, and who will be good long-term renters.

Tenant selection is an art.

There are three things every landlord must check when they get references from a prospective tenant:

  1. They are who they say they are – including checking previous names/aliases.

It’s important to know who your tenants are. You cannot carry out effective background checks without knowing this.

You should check aliases and previous names, either changed by deed poll or by marriage.

A good agent will check electoral rolls and ask for proof of identification and residence such as passports, driving licences, and utility bills.

 

  1. They have the means to pay their rent.

Financial references are vital. Typical references here would come from employers, who would provide the level of annual salaries and whether prospective tenants are in full-time, part-time, or temporary work.

You may also want references from previous landlords, if they have rented homes in the past or are currently in other rented accommodation.

These references would give you a good idea that the prospective tenants have paid their rent on time and left properties in a good condition.

If you’re renting a commercial property, you’ll need to run checks with Companies House and other agencies about the companies who wish to rent it.

 

  1. If there are some doubts, they have a guarantor.

If the prospective tenants are not approved after the financial and identity checks, you may wish to ask that a guarantor be appointed to ensure their rent is paid.

This is usually a parent or guardian who will assume responsibility for the rent if it is not paid by the tenants, paying any arrears and any damages over the value of the deposit.

 

These are important steps in the tenant selection process.

So, why not leave it to the professionals who have years of experience in dealing with these matters?

Experienced agents such as Louvain Properties take the hassle out of the process and ensure you get the best possible tenants for your South Wales flat, house, or commercial property.

We’re also registered as an agent with Rent Smart Wales – saving you the hassle of registering as an agent yourself.

 

Looking for a South Wales property agent? Could we help you? Call our friendly team on 01495 440264. Find out more about what we do for landlords here.

Estate Agency in Tredegar

House sellers in Blaenau Gwent have a new way of finding buyers – thanks to our estate agency in Tredegar.

We’re expanding our successful lettings and property maintenance business into the sales market.

Louvain Properties founder Steve McPherson said he saw a gap in the market in Tredegar when one estate agent moved his business out of the town.

We’re opening our new estate agency in Commercial Street Tredegar with an opening evening for our landlords and local business people on May 4.”

Estate Agency in TredegarThe new shop will be offering a full service – including sales, lettings, and property maintenance for landlords.

One new job has already been created, and Ebbw Vale man Steve hopes to create more employment in his home county borough in the future.

“We offer something different because we have the whole package,” he said.

“My background is in the construction industry so we have been offering property maintenance for the past 14 years.

“We also offer the smart deposit scheme which is popular with both landlords and tenants. Instead of a bond, the tenants pay for £229 worth of insurance cover which ends to be hundreds of pounds cheaper than paying the equivalent of a month’s rent as a bond.

“Blaenau Gwent is an excellent place for first-time buyers to look for property, and with the Cardiff to Ebbw Vale rail line we are now getting enquiries from people who want to move into the area because house prices and rents are so reasonable here.

“We are offering two levels of service. We’ll have an advert-only service similar to Purple Bricks for those on a budget, where sellers carry out their own viewings, and the full-service option including negotiations and supervising viewings.”

Our lettings service is known for providing landlords and tenants with an excellent level of service – including reference checking, dealing with repairs, and acting as an effective method of communication between them.

Our new sales agency will also offer excellent service to both sellers and buyers.

See our latest properties here: http://louvainproperties.co.uk/lettings/.

If you have a house for sale, call us on 01495 619 811

 

After a long, hard winter, most of us are delighted Spring’s now here.

It’s a time for clearing our homes and giving ourselves a brighter, new look.

So, if you’re a landlord looking to rent your house or flat this Spring, it’s time to give your property a Spring make-over.

This will help you attract the sort of tenants you want.

Here are our top 5 ways of spring cleaning your South Wales rental property:

  1. Create kerb appeal – You only have a few seconds to make a good impression. The tenants you want will want to create a home in your property, so help them to see it right at the start of their viewing. You could repaint the front door, or replace it with a new composite door. You could also repaint your porch, tidy up the front garden, and put some planters around it. Make them feel this is somewhere they could call home.
  2. Give it a thorough Spring clean – Ensure all the carpets are professionally cleaned to get rid of stains and lingering smells from past tenants’ cigarettes or pets. Get the kitchen appliances and bath and bathroom fittings steam cleaned. Your property should smell fresh and welcoming.
  3. Ensure your paperwork is up to date – Tenants will want to know you have up-to-date certification for checks on gas appliances, for example. It’s one less reason to think twice about your house or flat.
  4. Give it a lick of paint in three key areas – These are the sitting room, hall, and bathroom. These are the rooms which get the most use and can be vulnerable to finger stains on paintwork or marks from moisture. The hall, in particular, is a key space which sets the tone for the rest of the property. A messy, badly-maintained hall makes tenants fear the rest of the house or flat will be equally neglected.
  5. Dress the property to attract the tenants you’d like – If you want to attract professionals with a good salary, dress your property like they would wish to see it. It’s all about getting them to visualise themselves living in your house or flat. It’s worth investing in or renting a few pieces of good quality furniture. If they are renting your property furnished, they will appreciate it. If not, you can rent the furniture and return it when they move their own in.

 

Need help renting your property in South Wales? Talk to our experienced professionals at Louvain Properties – we make the process simple! Call us on 01495 440264. Check out our full list of services for landlords here: http://louvainproperties.co.uk/services/.

Property managers know repairing a rental property can cause a headache for landlords and inconvenience to tenants.

The thought of looking for separate contractors for electrical work and painting and decorating can make landlords’ hearts sink.

Tenants may also be badly inconvenienced by a delay to getting a job completed while a landlord waits for a new contractor. They may even start looking for a new home.

That’s why a service which provides in-house maintenance for repairs and routine maintenance could well be the best option for both landlords and tenants.

Here are our six reasons why:

 

It’s perfect for landlords

  1. You don’t have to spend your precious time looking for trustworthy contractors to complete work on your property. Finding a good tradesman can be a hit and miss affair, particularly if you’re living outside the area. There’s also no need to source different trades. We do everything from full re-wires to putting up a few shelves. We also know our experienced workers will turn up when you need them.
  2. In-house maintenance saves you money. Look for a property management company which passes on its trade discounts to you, just like Louvain Properties. That could save you thousands over the years
  3. Your relationship with your property management company will probably last many years. So, it’s in their interests to ensure the work carried out is of the best quality and appropriate for your budget.

 

It’s also ideal for tenants

  1. Property managers can act as a buffer between you and your landlord when you need to report problems. They assess what repairs are needed and report back to your landlord. You don’t have to feel like you’re a complainer because you’re raising the issue.
  2. An in-house maintenance team will understand your value as a tenant and the property management company will have control over when they do the work and the quality of the job they do.
  3. You have a relationship with the property managers which is likely to continue for years. It’s in their interests to ensure you remain a happy tenant with good quality and timely repairs.

 

Are you looking for a property manager?

Talk to us about our efficient and cost-effective in-house maintenance service. Find out more here: http://louvainproperties.co.uk/maintenance/.

Call us on 01495 440264.