Two years after opening a High Street estate agency in Tredegar, Louvain Properties is expanding into selling homes in nearby Abertillery, Brynmawr, Nantyglo, and Blaina.

Louvain Properties was formed as a letting agency in 2005 by Steve McPherson, after providing maintenance support for landlords and tenants across Blaenau Gwent for several years.

His extensive property maintenance experience meant he was able to pre-vet all the properties and advise on issues such as EPCs, gas certificates, and electrical checks, along with advice on fixtures, fittings and décor. Properties were therefore let quickly and achieved the highest possible return for landlords.

When a competitor relocated in 2017, Steve moved his business into Commercial Street, Tredegar, and built up his successful sales operation.

Now, Louvain Properties has the second biggest market share for sales and lettings in Blaenau Gwent and Steve’s reputation for achieving sales for his clients has meant his business is growing fast.

“Our experience and depth of knowledge of the area over decades mean we can give our clients the advice they need to achieve the sales our customers need,” Steve said.

“People have begun to know our reputation, particularly over the past six months, and they are now actively looking for us.

“Our understanding of the area is deep because this is where I come from and I understand it and the marketplace for sales and lettings. We also ensure our properties are on all the available portals, including Zoopla, Right Move, On The Market, and Prime Location, and have an active social media presence.

Now covering the whole of Blaenau Gwent, including Tredegar and Ebbw Vale, Steve is actively looking for more properties to Sell or Let in and around Abertillery, Nantyglo, Blaina, and Brynmawr.

“We offer competitive fees, excellent advice for landlords and sellers, and a flexible, professional attitude to viewings,” Steve said.

“We give a full service from dealing with energy and gas certificates and our trusted partners can offer mortgages and insurance.”

Landlords can find out about Louvain Properties’ services including tenant finding and vetting, full management, and property maintenance here.

See the latest homes for sale here.

Can we help you sell or let your property in Abertillery, Brynmawr, Nantyglo, or Blaina? Call us today on 01495 619811.

Some tenants are a dream for landlords – others are a nightmare!

Here are the top 7 horrors for landlords this Halloween, and how a property management team could help you avoid them:

  1. Tenants who never pay on time.

How can you meet your mortgage payments if your tenants don’t pay on time?

Some tenants have every excuse in the book – from family problems and car breakdowns to waiting for payments for work or benefits.

A property manager who knows your tenants well and knows their circumstances, can help you differentiate between genuine problems and excuses. The best managers, like Louvain Properties, can guarantee you get your rent on time.

  1. Renting to party animals?

Loud noise and music at all times of the day and night can mean a local authority’s noise control team is called in or the police are called.

This can be a worrying and exhausting situation for a landlord and neighbours.

A good letting agent who carries out effective background checks can help to filter out problem tenants like this.

If they’re called into an existing problem, they can act as a liaison with the authorities for the landlord and ensure tenants comply with the terms of their tenancies.

  1. Tenants who disappear owing large amounts of back rent.

Having to involve an external debt collection agency or a private investigation firm to track these tenants down can be costly.

Far better to hire a property manager who vets potential tenants effectively to nip this problem in the bud – weeding out those without good financial references – and who get you your money, reducing your risk. Louvain Properties also offers debt collection on a ‘no collection, no fee’ basis.

  1. Trashed properties.

There are internet tales of stolen pipework and boilers, smashed baths and sinks, fires set in floors, and graffiti.

A pro-active property manager who vets tenants and carries out regular inspections can cut down on the risk of problems like this.

  1. Tenants with fake references.

This can be the root of many problems like late payment and poor behaviour – and a property manager will rigorously check references to help you ensure you get good tenants with a track record of prompt payment and keeping properties in good order.

  1. Chronic complainers – no matter what you do.

We’re talking about those who always have a long list of gripes, even though a landlord makes repairs promptly and keeps their property in a good condition.

Your manager can act as a buffer between you and these tenants.

  1. Tenants who don’t inform their landlord about problems.

How can you fix a broken shower or a smashed window if you don’t know about it?

Your property manager will keep an eye on the fabric of your building with regular inspections.

Want to avoid bad tenants turning your property into a house of horrors? Take a look at our services for landlords here: https://louvainproperties.co.uk/services/.

 

putting off potential buyers

putting off potential buyersHalloween is fast approaching and it’s got us thinking about the things potential buyers see as horrors.

So, we’ve drawn up our top 10 turn-offs for people during property viewings – so you can avoid them and sell your home:

 

  1. Pets – their fur, their smells, and their…well, leavings! Clean your property thoroughly before viewings, keep pets out of the house when potential buyers are looking around, banish the litter tray or the dog bone, and don’t leave bowls of pet food in the kitchen. It’s the number one turn-off for house buyers. Don’t forget that some would-be buyers might be allergic to animals or be frightened of them.
  2. Bright walls – you may love that bright orange paint, but your potential buyers may not! If you want to sell, it’s time to take some of your personality out of your home. Make it more neutral to appeal to more people. While you’re selling, you could add colour to your home with soft furnishings such as throws and cushions, or rugs. These are things you can take with you to your next property.
  3. Rooms strewn with toys – although creating a family feel is good, a cluttered room looks smaller and people need to be able to imagine themselves living there. Help them do that by clearing toys away.
  4. Cooking smells – think liver and fish as some of the main offenders. Lingering smells don’t help your cause. On the other hand, the smell of freshly baking bread and coffee tend to have the opposite effect. So, make sure your home is properly aired for viewings if you enjoyed a curry the night before.
  5. Cigarette smoke – a big no no. If you smoke inside, your viewers will smell it even if you open all the windows. Many people smell cigarette smoke and assume they will have to throw out carpets and repaint the whole house because they don’t want to live in it. Smoke outside while you’re selling and have your house thoroughly cleaned. You may well also decide to paint to cover any smoke stains.
  6. Messy bathrooms – a clean and tidy bathroom is huge selling point. Clutter it with make-up, toiletries, and cleaning products, and you’re not helping your agent during viewings.
  7. Unfinished DIY – it will make your buyers think they can knock you down on price because more work needs to be done than they had anticipated. Complete it!
  8. A shabby porch or front door – kerb appeal is hugely important. Get that repainted and tidied up as it’s your first chance to make a good impression.
  9. Dirty windows or curtains – sparkling windows say a home has been well maintained. Dirty windows say the opposite. It’s also such an easy thing to fix.
  10. Too much furniture – if your rooms are crammed with furniture, they will look small and poky. Put some of it in storage to free up space while you’re selling.

 

Can we help you sell your home? Call our local property experts on 01495 619811.

 

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How to make viewers fall in love with your home as Valentine’s Day approaches, an estate agent’s thoughts turn to…how to make people fall in love with your home.

Our experience has taught us there is a house love potion formula to help all our sellers get the right people to feel that special connection with their properties.

Here’s our formula:

P+L+C+W+G = S

  • Right asking price – P
  • Excellent location – L
  • Clutter-free rooms – C
  • Bright and welcoming – W
  • Room to grow/add value – G
  • Successful sale – S

How can you get the right elements for our formula?

Right asking price – Experienced agents who know the local market, including the ceiling prices in your street, will help you get the asking price right the first time. Then, there’s be no need for reductions and no fear you could have achieved more.

Excellent location – We’ll help you sell the local amenities, services, schools, and the lifestyle people could have if they buy your property. That could mean stressing the walks buyers could take, the great schools their children could get access to, or the convenient shopping centres. We do our research on our potential buyers and tailor our pitches to appeal to their individual needs.

Clutter-free rooms – Our agents will give you honest advice about where you could, and should, declutter. It’s one of the worst turn-offs for potential buyers.

Bright and welcoming – We’ll help you create kerb appeal, decide where to freshen paintwork, and whether to change colours or soft furnishings. A welcoming feel is so important when people make their decisions on properties within seconds of seeing it.

Room to grow or add value – This is something we can help you identify and which we can then sell at viewings. There may be potential for a loft room, cellar conversion, or extension.

Which parts of a property do people love the most?

If you’re considering adding some extra value and cosmetic appeal before selling your home, concentrating on four areas of the home would help get the most impact for your cash.

The kitchen – Having an eat-in kitchen is a key tick box on the list of many home buyers, so upgrading your existing kitchen could help you attract the best price for your property. You’ll need to take advice from a local agent about how much value you could add, and then decide how much you should spend on the work.

The bathroom – Looking to sell the lifestyle your buyers could have? A refitted bathroom could help your buyers imaging themselves enjoying your home. Advice from your agent will help you set a budget.

The lounge – This is the area where most people would spend most of their time. A welcoming, light, airy, and attractive lounge will make a great impression. You’ll need to decide whether that means new plasterwork and flooring, or simply a lick of paint.

The entrance – Make a fantastic first impression with a new front door and clutter-free hallway.

Need help getting some love for your property? Call Louvain Properties on 01495 619811.

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.