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HIRING CONTRACTORS: A LANDLORD’S GUIDE TO FINDING TRADESPEOPLE YOU CAN TRUST

June 21, 2021 #

Whenever you ask someone if they know a good contractor, you’ll never be far from a tale of woe: the plumber who never turned up; the electrician who bodged the job; the builder who overcharged and left a huge mess.

It’s taken us many years to build a circle of reliable contractors, and we’ve had plenty of upsets along the way. Unfortunately, even the good ones go bad, get too busy, or simply disappear, so we keep our eggs in more than one basket to ensure we have a backup plan.

One thing that makes the life of a managing agent easier is that we look after multiple homes. Our calls take priority because of the amount of work we provide through regular maintenance, compliance checks, general repairs and, of course, the odd emergency.

It can be more challenging to build close relationships with contractors when you’re a landlord with a single rental property or a small portfolio, but with our checklist of tips, you’ll find it easier to spot the ones you can trust.

And if you’d rather someone else did all the legwork, why not ask us to take care of everything for you? Call us on 042 933 2482 or drop us a line at  info@lavelles.ie to see if we’re a match.

BEGIN THE SEARCH NOW

Leaving it until the last minute to start hunting for a contractor is a recipe for anxiety and panic. That emergency or repair will never come at a convenient moment, and you’ll be rushing around against the clock to find someone you trust.

Having time on your side will give you the space to compare hourly rates to get an idea of what’s fair and what’s not. Try and find three of each type of contractor to get an average price and ask them whether they charge by the whole or part hour.

Some firms publish their prices online, but it’s always worth calling for an insight into their customer service and whether they answer the phone or call you back.

By having the numbers of a good plumber, electrician and handyman in your phone now, you’ll be well prepared in advance. Knowing who to call can be a real lifesaver in emergencies when your tenants expect a speedy solution.

ASK FOR RECOMMENDATIONS

You can’t beat a personal recommendation, as long as you can trust the source.

Do your friends, family, or neighbours know anyone reliable? Some might recommend their own friends, so check that they’ve experienced their work first-hand and aren’t just being supportive.

You could also see if any contractors you already know can recommend someone in another field. Perhaps your plumber met an electrician on a renovation project where they worked together.

If your rental property is far from where you live or have connections, it’s going to be more difficult. Your tenants might be willing to knock on your neighbours’ doors or drop notes through, but the onus is ultimately on you to fix the problem.

READ REVIEWS & ACCREDITATIONS

Companies generally only post the best remarks on their website, but review sites or Google can give you a fuller picture. Don’t judge by one bad review – everyone gets the odd one of those. Instead, check if the general story is a positive one.

We all know a friendly local handyman who’s good for replacing a washer in a tap or fixing a loose door handle, but when it comes to jobs involving electrics, gas, plumbing and renovations, you need to be sure your contractor has the correct certifications.

If something goes wrong after you use an unqualified contractor, it’s you who’ll bear the responsibility and consequences, no matter how well-intended your efforts. We cannot stress enough that it’s really worth doing your homework.

RESEARCH RESPONSE TIMES

Every property requires ongoing maintenance, general repairs and safety compliance, so it’s good to know how far in advance you’ll generally need to book. Ask about average arrival times for regular office hours, weekends, and in the middle of the night.

For non-urgent repairs, anything up to 72 hours is acceptable, but you may need to call further ahead for electrical and gas safety checks. As soon as you know the deal, put a note in your calendar a couple of weeks before any certificates expire to ensure you get a slot.

Direct Line Insurance carried out a survey of UK landlords and found that plumbers are the fastest emergency responders, with an average arrival time around 13 hours after an issue is reported. They’re followed by electricians at just under 18 hours, with gas and heating engineers coming in just short of 21 hours.

Many excellent contractors are sole traders, but no matter how wonderful they are, they might be busy when you call, so it’s worth having a couple of numbers. When there’s water coming in or a major electrical fault, the speed of response will be crucial.

SPOT THE ROGUES

It’s a big deal asking a stranger into your property to carry out work and repairs, so look for these tell-tale signs of traders to avoid.

Suspiciously cheap

Good contractors are like gold dust. The best ones know their worth, and their work is worth the cost. Be cautious when someone is unusually cheap compared to other quotes, particularly if you have no firm recommendations to go on.

Cash only

The days of writing cheques and three-day bank transfers are long behind us. Now you can send money from your phone to another bank account in seconds, so there’s not much excuse for only taking cash.

Requesting full payment upfront

It’s normal for contractors to request a deposit to cover their time and any materials they may need to buy in advance, but you shouldn’t have to pay the total cost until the work is complete.

Flaky behaviour

Non-committal language, vagueness over price and failing to turn up at the agreed time are not the signs of a good contractor. If you get a bad feeling, go with your gut. There’s always another option.

FINAL WORDS

Building a trusted circle of contractors is no easy task: it takes time, and it takes work, but the peace of mind is priceless.

Of course, having a managing agent removes all of this work to give you a truly passive income. You’ll never have to deal with maintenance, compliance or repairs, and you’ll never get a call in the middle of the night. We have an emergency number for tenants to call and our very own little black book of contractors from years of trying, testing and sometimes tears.

If you’re a landlord with a rental property in County Louth, why not get in touch to see how we can look after you and your investment? Call us for a chat on 042 933 2482 or email us at  info@lavelles.ie– we’d love to make your life easier.

NEGOTIATING A PRICE: DOES YOUR BUYER NEED TO FEEL THEY GOT A GOOD DEAL?

June 15, 2021 #

“I don’t want to give my home away” is a thought on the minds of many people when they first put their home up for sale. In fact, it’s one of the main concerns we address when recommending an asking price that gives you comfort and confidence.

There are some myths and misunderstandings around price negotiations and choosing the right tactics. If you add on a margin to deduct for buyers, will you lose interest by setting your asking price too high? And if you market your home at the price you’re looking to achieve, are you inviting low offers because everybody wants to feel they’ve got a discount?

Given that the average homeowner now only moves house every 15-20 years – roughly four times in a lifetime – it’s no wonder that price negotiations are unfamiliar territory. The economy, technology, buyer habits and property fashions are constantly changing, and the traditional rules of supply and demand also play their part.

You’re always welcome to get in touch about the property market in County Louth – we’re here to help on 042 933 2482 or at info@lavelles.ie. Meanwhile, this week’s article looks at how buyers really relate to the price of your home, and how the foundations for the best outcome are laid from the very start.

IT’S NOT ABOUT MONEY

Think back to when you first saw your current home and when you decided to buy it. Of all the things that made you fall in love and feel you could be happy there, how much came down to the price on the brochure? More than likely, it was something else that got you hooked.

When you put your home up for sale, the price is at the top of the list because it’s the only thing left for your home to give you. It’s been a loyal friend that’s served you well, but now it’s time to move on, and the price you achieve will affect the move you can make.

When you’re looking for a home to buy, your priorities are very different: size, number of rooms, location, condition, potential, noise, natural light, parking, the garden… Not to mention THAT feeling when you find The One.

Most buyers spend as much money as they can to get the best property they can; one that ticks all the boxes to give them the lifestyle they’re looking for. And while everyone does indeed love a bargain, it rarely makes the list of a buyer’s must-haves.

THE FEAR OF MISSING OUT

Nobody pays the asking price is a belief that pops up from time to time when we’re talking to homeowners about their pricing strategy, but it’s nowhere near as clear cut as that.

The Behavioural Science Unit at Barclays recently carried out a survey among homebuyers. They found that 30% didn’t even try to negotiate on the price, mainly for fear of losing a property, but with a dash of cultural embarrassment thrown in for good measure.

It makes perfect sense. When you fall in love with a home, an emotional attachment begins to form, and you do everything you can to secure it. You don’t walk away from the perfect property purely because you can’t get anything off the asking price. Your dream usually takes priority.

But, if 30% of buyers don’t feel they can or should negotiate, they’re unlikely to enquire about a home whose asking price appears above their budget. That’s a lot of people to lose.

DO YOU NEED A BUFFER?

The short answer is… maybe, but not necessarily. Sorry!

When lots of homes comparable to yours have sold nearby, they provide a clear price story backed up by plenty of local evidence. You know exactly who to target, exactly who will buy, and for exactly how much. There’s little need for negotiating margins.

But for a home that’s unlike anything around it, and where there’s some uncertainty over the eventual sale price, a buffer can be a useful tool. Perhaps for a unique architectural design, or where improvements have lifted the accommodation or specification well above neighbouring homes.

Timing can also be an influence. There’s lots of momentum right now, and you can read many tales of people paying well above the asking price. That’s because confidence is high and supply is low. When confidence dips or when competition increases, that’s when buyers may try to negotiate downwards (although not usually at the expense of losing a home they love).

Your asking price should always be a conversation between you and your agent that takes into account local sales, current market conditions, strategic price points and generating excitement. Of course, you also need to feel comfortable with your strategy, and we always look to tailor an approach to you.

PLAYING THE PORTALS

Almost every estate agent gets the majority of its new leads online, and most of those come through property portals like Rightmove or Zoopla. But the portals don’t simply display your home; they tell its story of being for sale.

When someone searches on a portal, they’re asked to choose a from and to price range to narrow the results. It’s transformed home hunting by removing any nuance, and we need to ensure that your asking price doesn’t leave you stranded. For instance, if you were likely to achieve £490,000 but you asked £505,000 (less than 3% higher), nobody searching up to £500,000 would see your home. You’d lose them all.

Instead, you risk increasing the time it takes to find a buyer by sitting among higher-value listings, making competitor homes look like better prospects, and advertising to people who expect more for their money.

With your home’s marketing timeline available to everyone, keeping that story short is crucial to getting the best price. A longer tale of price reductions and sitting on the shelf provides the opening to negotiate you down.

YOUR AGENT’S DUTIES

Buyers often ask questions like “what’s the lowest offer they’ll take?” and “what will the owners accept?” and here’s where your agent needs to be absolutely clear that they are acting for you, the seller. If all we did was to ask you how little you’d accept and put forward every low offer without even challenging it, we wouldn’t be doing our job.

Your agent is there to put you in the strongest possible negotiating position, and a big factor in that is how firm your agent holds. When they express doubts about your price or even suggest that you might take less, it turns the tables in favour of buyers.

So as your agent, it’s up to us to demonstrate that your home is worth the price you’re asking, which is why it’s so important that we recommend a credible starting point. It’s far easier to negotiate a higher offer when an asking price creates enthusiasm than when it creates an obstacle.

Final words

Your buyer doesn’t need to feel they’ve got a bargain; they need to feel confident that your home is the perfect choice for them and their future.

From our perspective, it’s you, the seller, who needs to feel you’ve got a good deal. That we’ve worked in your interests, found you the perfect buyer and got you the highest possible price.

Are you thinking of selling your home in County Louth? Call us for a chat on 042 933 2482 or drop us a line at info@lavelles.ie– expert advice is right here, and we’d love to be part of your move.

THE NICHE LANDLORD: PERFECTING A LETTINGS FORMULA FOR REPEATED SUCCESS

June 7, 2021 #

Specialise or diversify? That’s a big question for many landlords when it comes to expanding their portfolios, and if you look around Google long enough, you’ll find arguments for both.

You don’t have to have a niche. You could choose a wide spread of property types across multiple locations, but you’ll undoubtedly become more knowledgeable with some sort of specialty, and you’ll find it easier to manage your portfolio.

Of course, every property will give you a yield, whether it’s flats over shops, ex-local authority homes, swish new developments or classic traditional houses. There’s a demand for all of them, and we’re never going to run out of families, professional couples, sharers or single people to live in them. However, there’s definitely an edge in picking and perfecting your market.

Many of our landlords choose to specialise in a particular location and type of property because it makes their lives easier. By developing an expertise in their chosen marketplace, they know exactly what attracts the tenants they want, which gives them an enjoyable and profitable business.

You’re always welcome to get in touch for some friendly and expert advice anything buy-to-let – call us on 042 933 2482 or email us at info@lavelles.ie. Meanwhile, read on for the steps to building a niche portfolio and the benefits of having one.

PLAY TO YOUR PASSION

There’s nothing like being interested in something to make a good job of it.

You’ll find plenty of content and sage advice around not making your buy-to-let business personal, but being a landlord – and, for that matter, being a managing agent – is nothing if not personal. Having a portfolio of homes that makes you proud and where people love to live is no bad thing – in fact, it’s an inspiring life.

Without a shadow of a doubt, the property you’ll enjoy owning the most is the sort of property you like. Maybe you’re familiar with a certain style from having lived in one, or from being an admirer of a particular period or design. Either way, enthusiasm on viewings often leads to seeing the full business potential of a home.

The trick is to avoid getting emotional. You won’t be living in the property, so it doesn’t need to fit your lifestyle or personal decorative tastes. Still, you can certainly bring personality to your homes to help them stand out from the crowd and attract your perfect tenant.

FINDING YOUR SPECIALTY

Every neighbourhood has more than one marketplace. Think about the stages of life people go through: singles wanting their own space; friends that want to share; couples moving in with each other; families growing up.

It would be a tough call to know about every type of home in every street, so a better place to start is by asking local letting agents about the different sectors of the market. Once you’re familiar with activity, demand and supply, you can make an informed decision about what’s right for you. Maybe there’s an untapped market just waiting for your talents.

Our landlords have different niches based around their own interests, preferences and experiences, as well as the local housing stock. Some put their trust in classic family homes; others favour small apartments and fewer occupants. Capital growth and prime locations can be a goal, as can the higher yields of cheaper streets. Knowing any of these well can give you valuable insight into beginning or expanding your portfolio comfortably and successfully.

DEEPEN YOUR EXPERTISE

For a rental property to be a success, it should reflect what people want and require minimal maintenance and repairs. By knowing your market and creating a durable home that encourages long-term tenancies, you’ll keep your income as constant and passive as possible.

These pointers aren’t exhaustive, but as an idea of the differences to consider:

BUILD A REPUTATION

Being known as a local landlord of popular rental properties helps you secure the best tenants at the best rents. When your letting agent can gush about your homes, it gives tenants a great deal of comfort to feel they’ll be living somewhere that’s expertly owned and managed.

Having a solid reputation also adds credibility to your offers when you’re looking to expand your portfolio. Citing your existing successful properties will show that you’re a professional landlord with a proven track record who can proceed without a hitch.

The same goes for when multiple offers are competing against yours. Sellers – and sometimes agents – can find it difficult to be entirely sure which buyer is the best one, but a chain-free and well-regarded local landlord is a sound proposition that can add a sense of much-valued security to a sale.

EXPAND WITH EASE

Suppose you’re achieving a healthy rental income from one property in a neighbourhood. It’s a safe bet that a similar home nearby will be just as profitable, so you can double down on your success to pick another winner.

Concentrating your portfolio provides a real focus for your business and makes it easier to identify a good prospect quickly. On the other hand, spreading your rental homes across several different towns or cities means you’ll need to research every location. It can also be time-consuming to look after them all – you’ll either need to find reliable contractors in each area, or multiple managing agents.

You’ll also find new opportunities come to you when you’re known as a reliable local landlord. When agents know your speciality, it makes it easier for them to help you expand your portfolio, and you’ll be among the first people they think of when a candidate property comes up. This can be particularly useful where another landlord is selling and wants to find a buyer off-market.

Final words

Being a specialist is revered in almost every profession and makes it easier to excel in any given field. Well, you can apply the exact same logic to being a landlord. With a deep understanding of your chosen marketplace, you can make confident decisions much faster and attract more property to grow your buy-to-let business.

If you’re looking to begin or expand your rental portfolio in County Louth, why not get in touch for some expert neighbourhood insight? Call us on 042 933 2482 or email us at info@lavelles.ie– we love nothing more than helping landlords create popular and profitable homes.

HIDDEN POTENTIAL: USING THE UNTAPPED VALUE OF YOUR HOME FOR SELLING POINTS

June 1, 2021 #

Potential is a magic word in property, and no wonder.

As our home lives continue to evolve, we’re examining every corner for how it can offer us more. Could the layout be more sociable? Can we create a workspace? Is there scope to add more bedrooms? How can we increase the levels of luxury and light?

One of the unseen parts of estate agency is looking for potential in every home, not just those that need modernising. And as your selling partner in your move, it’s part of our job to explore every possibility to widen your audience and get you the best price.

More and more buyers want a home with the chance to make their mark now or to grow with them as a family member. And we can often match people to property in unexpected ways by taking an interest in how they live, instead of simply asking how many bedrooms they want.

This week’s blog is all about the typical opportunities we look for when appraising a property for sale. If you’d like some advice on realising the potential of your home or using its promise for selling points, give us a call on 042 933 2482 or email us at info@lavelles.ie– we’re always happy to help.

ADDING ROOMS

The most obvious route to increasing a home’s value is to make it bigger. Even if you don’t extend it yourself, you’re likely to achieve a higher price when you come to sell if you’ve already obtained consent for an addition that requires planning permission.

Side extension

A garage attached to a house can often take a floor on top for valuable extra bedroom numbers. Going larger still, an empty space to the side can also provide an additional living room on the ground floor, perhaps for a home office or studio. It may even be possible to create a separate annexe, either for a family member or to rent as an income stream.

Rear extension

The back of a home usually provides the most flexibility in terms of design, and here is where large dining kitchens have become a sought-after feature as a sociable, multi-purpose space opening out to the garden. We also look for the possibility of adding another storey to increase the number of bedrooms.

LOFTS AND CELLARS

Lofts have a special character that suits various uses, particularly with a full staircase installed to make the new top floor an accessible and integrated part of a home.

Having a sumptuous master suite at the top of the house with a private bathroom can provide a welcome sanctuary away from the kids. Or a pair of children’s bedrooms could be made, perhaps with a shared shower room to ease the strain on the main family bathroom.

A loft can also provide the perfect home workspace hidden above the busier areas, or a studio for wellness or creativity.

Down below, the least headline-grabbing feature in older homes is usually the cellar. Generally relegated to junk rooms, they can make an excellent music studio (with adequate soundproofing!), a cinema room (where the darkness is a blessing), or a children’s play den (to keep the living areas clear of toys).

OPENING SPACES

Rooms are used very differently now from the traditional separations of living, dining, cooking and even working.

Flexible, multi-purpose and flow are today’s keywords – and many homes can deliver on those without the need to extend. It’s all about finding ways to connect previously separate spaces that can be zoned with furniture rather than physically divided.

Successful and popular designs include:

removing the wall between a hallway and dining room to accept a bigger table and brighten a once-dark corridor;

merging two living rooms in a front-to-back space to suit larger modern couches and TVs;

combining the kitchen and dining room for a flexible and friendly eating, cooking, family and work zone.

LUXURY UPGRADES

Adding extra sizzle is a sure-fire way to stand out from the crowd, while increased comfort gives a home a more enjoyable and desirable quality.

A central cooking island makes a statement and sociable centrepiece in a kitchen that also looks fabulous in photos. Incorporating a utility room keeps the laundry out of the main part of the house. And repurposing an understairs space as a ground floor cloakroom adds value and function, as well as an ideal spot for a glamourous moment.

Enhancing a master bedroom with an en-suite not only injects a seductive slice of indulgence; it also transforms the morning battle for the bathroom and can often be accomplished by repurposing all or part of an adjoining bedroom.

Outside, garden rooms have become more popular than ever. A modern and stylish design makes the perfect home workspace or studio: faster, less intrusive and less costly than extensions or loft conversions.

If overlooking isn’t an issue, a roof terrace above an extension or cut into the roofline can bring an opulent flavour to a bedroom, giving it a private outdoor area with a view – particularly wonderful if a home backs onto open space.

INVITING LIGHT

As a big consideration for buyers, a feeling of airiness and natural light has a hugely positive impact on viewings. Think of it as a daily dose of domestic Vitamin D.

Creating or improving routes to the garden can blur the lines between inside and out, bringing the daylight along with a sense of space. Turning a window into French doors from a living room, or opening up a dining kitchen with a wall of bi-folds onto the patio – bonus points for a skylight overhead – can dramatically increase light levels.

Rear-facing bedrooms take on a whole new persona by having their windows dropped to the floor, with a Juliet balcony adding extra romance and an enhanced view over the garden.

Even dark hallways and landings can be brightened by installing sandblasted glass into solid interior doors, allowing light through without losing privacy.


A final word

Plenty of potential can be realised with straightforward building regulations approval, although we always advise checking with the local authority to see if any proposals require planning permission.

Even when somewhere doesn’t fit a buyer’s exact criteria today, it may have that special something to make it the right choice for their future. And by presenting them with ideas, inspiration and even examples of completed nearby projects, we can help them create the home of their dreams from a property they may have otherwise missed.

To explore the untapped value in your home, call us on 042 933 2482 or email us at info@lavelles.ie– talking about potential is one of our favourite subjects.

SOLD WITH TENANTS: YOUR LANDLORD CHECKLIST FOR BUYING A TENANTED PROPERTY

May 25, 2021 #

As a fast and chain-free way to start or add to your lettings portfolio, buying a tenanted property can be an attractive proposition.

Usually, when you buy a property to rent out, you’ll need to have it cleaned, fix any repairs, get it on the market, show people around, take up references and create a tenancy agreement before seeing any income. But that’s all taken care of when the property you buy already has a tenant.

However, you’ll also inherit every outstanding responsibility of the previous landlord, and you need to be sure that the property and tenancy are all they seem. Do the figures stack up? Are you happy with the tenant? Will you be taking on unresolved problems or disputes?

Before you make an offer and start incurring legal fees, use our checklist here to ask the right questions and get the story straight. If you’ve already got somewhere in mind and you’re wondering whether it’s a good deal, call us on 042 933 2482 or drop us an email at info@lavelles.ie for a confidential chat – we’ll help you decide if a property is right for you.

RESEARCH FUNDING OPTIONS

Even if you’re considering buying with cash, it’s worth checking to see if your money can perform better elsewhere, particularly with low interest rates for borrowing.

You’ll find plenty of lenders with buy-to-let products, but mortgages for rental homes are not the same as residential loans. They tend to come with additional fees, and some lenders won’t lend on certain types of property, so speak to a financial adviser with experience in the lettings market to find the mortgage that’s right for you and the property.

Lenders typically require the rental income to be at least 125% of the monthly mortgage payments on a buy-to-let loan, and they usually calculate the loan based on the rental value at the time rather than the rent being paid.

You almost certainly won’t get a mortgage on a home with a sitting tenant because lenders see those as far too risky. If you want to borrow for that sort of purchase, you’ll need to remortgage another property.

CRUNCH THE NUMBERS

Doing a bit of homework around the suitability and sustainability of a potential rental investment will help you make a confident and savvy purchase.

Check current rents and demand

Talk to local letting agents about rental prices, ongoing demand, the reputation of the area and the types of people who want to live there. You need to know that you’re buying in a location where homes are easy to rent, particularly if you’re unfamiliar with the neighbourhood.

See it for yourself

It might sound blindingly obvious, but it’s essential to visit the property you’re buying, even if it’s purely for investment. Mortgage valuations don’t include testing the heating, hot water or appliances, so you need to know whether everything is working correctly or if repairs, replacements and bills are on the horizon.

Walk around the neighbourhood

Spend some time exploring the area to get a good feel for it. Check for yourself how long it takes to get to the supermarket, station, somewhere for coffee, schools and whatever else a tenant would expect from the type of property you are considering.

TALK TO THE TENANTS

There’s nothing like living in a home to know what it’s like, so ask if you can speak with the tenants direct: this could be in person, over the phone or by email. As well as giving you an idea of their character, you’ll learn about their experience of living in the property and whether they plan to stay.

If the tenants are thinking of leaving, find out why. Perhaps they simply need more space, or they’re moving further away, but if it’s down to issues with the property, you might be able to salvage the tenancy by addressing any concerns.

Good tenants are worth holding onto, so it’s worth discussing whether they’d stay if the property was better cared for or more up-to-date. Talk about any repairs or improvements they’d like to see to save losing them unnecessarily. A simple paint job, installing a decent shower, or replacing a dated fridge can make all the difference to someone’s daily life and are benefits your tenants will happily pay extra rent for.

EXPLORE THE HISTORY

As you’ll be taking over a property as the new landlord, you’ll want to know the calibre and performance of the tenants you’re getting.

Request a schedule of rent payments to see if they’ve always been on time. For any that were late, check if there’s a good reason. Anyone can hit a bump in the road now and then, but it’s good to know if it’s a one-off or a regular thing.

Ask the current landlord or their managing agent for written details of any maintenance issues during the tenancy and whether all repairs are complete. For any that are still pending, find out whether they’ll be finished before you complete, or if you can negotiate the cost of them off the price you agree.

As a final bit of research, ask if the tenants report problems promptly and politely, and whether they are responsible and reliable renters. Ultimately, is the property in good hands with them living there?

CHECK THE PAPERWORK

While everything will be revealed in the conveyancing process, we recommend getting as much information as possible before instructing a solicitor to proceed.

Review the tenancy agreement for the terms of the rental. Standard contracts usually follow a form, but it’s always worth reading the small print. Check that an inventory was created and signed at check-in, and whether a security deposit was taken and where it’s held.

Tenants aren’t obliged to sign new agreements or inventories when the property they live in changes ownership, so it’s important to know how accurate and comprehensive the paperwork is at an early stage.

Finally, ask to see copies of valid gas, electricity and fire safety certificates to ensure that everything is up to date and complies with current regulations. Do the same for any furniture that’s included to see if you need to replace any items.

What’s your next step?

If you’re thinking about buying a tenanted property in County Louth, or you’ve recently bought one and you’re looking for a managing agent, why not get in touch? Speak to our friendly team of experts on 042 933 2482 or email us at info@lavelles.ie– we’re here to help you make the most of being a landlord.

BACK ON THE MARKET: CAN CHANGING YOUR ESTATE AGENT RESTART YOUR MOVE?

May 16, 2021 #

Nobody wants to feel left on the shelf. Seeing your neighbours sell and move out while you’re stuck on the market for months, can be disheartening and confusing. And when you’ve poured your heart and soul into your home, but nobody seems to want it, what are you supposed to do? How long is too long before you give up?

It might be small comfort, but many homes fail to sell with their first agent, so you’re neither alone nor even unusual. Perhaps the initial momentum has stalled, or there was never one in the first place. Maybe the advice you received hasn’t delivered the promised results, or a price reduction hasn’t worked, or the contact from your agent has been a source of disappointment.

Wherever you’re at right now, the idea of switching estate agents might seem like a bit of a hassle with no guarantee of success, but for many people, it was the pivotal moment in getting their move back on track. 

If you’re unsure what to do next, call us on 042 933 2482 or email us at info@lavelles.ie

for a confidential chat about your plans. Meanwhile, let’s look at how you can start again without going back to square one.

FACT-FINDING TIME

First things first: have an honest, straightforward and detailed chat with your current agent.

Request details on the number of enquiries from when you began so you can see whether interest has been consistent, intermittent and where it dropped. You could even call your agent and pose as a buyer to discover how they talk about your home.

Next, review all the feedback from your viewings. Look for clues in the responses around location, interior layout & room sizes, distance from schools or transport, garden privacy, and general presentation or style. Is there a common thread in what people are saying when your agent shows them round? 

Finally, are you happy with the marketing of your home and the service you receive? Do the description and photographs compel someone to view, and does your agent stay in touch and offer constructive advice? Ask about homes they’ve sold that are similar to yours and why they were more successful.

TAKING STOCK
With all the information you’ve gathered, you should now have a clear picture of why your home isn’t selling. That means it’s decision time.

Do you feel the reasons why your home hasn’t sold are nothing to do with your agent? To continue working with them, you need a new plan of action to avoid getting stuck on repeat. If the marketing for your home still looks and sounds the same, nothing is likely to change.

For a completely fresh start with a new agency, check your current agreement first for any tie-in or notice periods to ensure you don’t become liable for two sets of fees.

Depending on the number of months your agent has already had and how long since their last enquiry or viewing, you might be able to negotiate a shorter time to part company. It’s always worth asking the question.

EXPLORING ALTERNATIVES

If you already have a second choice from when you first put your home up for sale, ask them if their initial advice still stands with the feedback you have from your viewings.

To hear some new opinions and ideas, think first about the setbacks and disappointments with your first agent, then use them to fine-tune your selection process. 

Look at how agents present and describe their homes online, and note down the ones you feel most drawn to. Then check their reviews on Google or Facebook for an impression of how customers rate their experience.

With your shortlist, carry out one final test before inviting anyone round. Call each agent about a home they’re marketing to gauge their enthusiasm and knowledge, along with how much interest they take in you as a potential buyer. Do they check whether your requirements match the property, that you’re in a position to move, and then invite you to view? 

Ask yourself how inspired you feel after speaking to each one.

INVITE, INTERVIEW & INSTRUCT

Now it’s time to meet the candidates in person. 

Hopefully, they’ll ask you all sorts of things about your home. To help them factor everything into their suggested asking price and strategy, tell them as much as you can and talk about your previous experience and feedback.

When it comes to each valuation, is it supported by other nearby sales? If it sounds high, even delightfully so, is it credible? A home with unique qualities can achieve more than established local prices, but flattery alone will not get you sold. Watch for any advice that sounds good but doesn’t stack up, then feel free to challenge it: setting your price is very much a two-way discussion.

Your research revealed how agents present their homes, but what’s their plan to generate interest, maintain momentum, and find you a buyer? It’s also worth checking how they’ll keep you up-to-date: nine times out of ten, communication is the biggest let-down that people tell us about – even more than their home not selling.

As well as all this nitty-gritty, think about how it feels when talking to each agent. You’ll be working together for months, so you need to feel cared for as well as confident to be comfortable with your choice.

RELAUNCH FOR SUCCESS

You’ve found an agent who’s just right – now it’s time to agree on a date for your return to the marketplace. Perhaps you’d like a week or two to recharge your batteries after tidying up every day for months, or you might want to finesse the presentation of your home.

To optimise your new marketing drive, use the feedback from your previous viewers to make your next ones a success: those remarks can be priceless in getting it right second time around. Focus on any repairs, tidying, rearranging – or cleaning! – that will have your home looking irresistible in photographs, as well as in person. 

With the benefit of hindsight on your side, work together with your new agent to help them avoid previous mistakes and missteps. Let them know if your home was incorrectly described, if any rooms photograph better from a different angle, or if any crucial details were missed. 

Could we do better?

If you’ve been struggling to sell your property in County Louth, perhaps a fresh approach and a change of agents can turn your move around. So instead of giving up hope, why not get in touch? 


Call us on 042 933 2482 or drop us an email at info@lavelles.ie– you could be one step away from finding your perfect buyer and successfully moving home.

ACCIDENTAL LANDLORD? ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW TO MAKE IT A SUCCESS

May 10, 2021 #

Not everyone sets out to be a landlord, and becoming an accidental one is more common than you might think.

An accidental landlord is someone who becomes a landlord by circumstance rather than by plan, and it can happen for several reasons. You could be relocating for work, moving in with your partner, or having trouble finding a buyer for your current home. Or you might have inherited a property.

Being a landlord can provide you with an unexpected passive income stream, but there’s a lot to know before you get started. Lettings legislation is complex, forever changing and comes with plenty of responsibility, so it pays to be informed to make your transition from property owner to landlord as smooth as possible.

We’re here to help you get started, so call us on 042 933 2482, drop us an email at  info@lavelles.ie, or simply read on for an introduction to becoming an accidental landlord.

FINDING & MANAGING TENANTS

Generally speaking, landlords divide into two camps: those who choose to self-manage once a letting agent has found them a tenant, and those who ask a managing agent to take care of everything.

The question ultimately comes down to whether you wish to be an active landlord, or one with a passive income. To help you decide which option is right for you, here’s a quick rundown of what’s involved.

Finding a tenant entails advertising your property, vetting enquiries for their suitability, attending viewings, negotiating offers and referencing prospective candidates. Creating a tenancy means getting your property professionally cleaned, preparing a tenancy agreement, collecting the first month’s rent and security deposit, drawing up a detailed inventory and then meeting the tenants to sign off on the paperwork and hand over the keys.

Ongoing management includes: organising gas and electrical safety checks; dealing with maintenance, repairs and emergencies; carrying out inspections during the tenancy; staying on top of lettings legislation; ensuring payment of rent; handling any issues that may arise with your tenants or their neighbours; meeting the tenants to collect the keys when they move out, and finally checking your property against the inventory to agree on any deductions from the security deposit.

If you live near your rental property and have the time and inclination to deal with all of the above, being a self-managing landlord could be for you. If you live further away, or you’re busy enough already, it could prove impractical to manage everything yourself.

PREPARING YOUR PROPERTY

As a legal requirement, you’ll need to comply with gas, electricity, and fire safety regulations by obtaining certificates and installing smoke alarms. But a successful rental property is also one that’s easy and enjoyable to live in.

If you’ve lived in your home for a long time, you’re probably used to its quirks, and you might not have remedied minor repairs. We’re all busy, and it’s easy to forget non-urgent tasks with a thousand other things to do.

For an inherited property, you may need to bring it up-to-date with modern standards and expectations. And if you’ve never lived there, you’re less likely to be fully aware of ongoing problems, overdue maintenance or outstanding repairs.

When a tenant moves in, they’ll experience all that’s good and all that’s bad in a very short space of time. This might prove overwhelming and upsetting for them while giving you a long and urgent to-do list.

Little things like leaky taps, wobbly handles, cupboards and doors that don’t close, or anything that requires a knack to function will almost certainly come back to haunt you. Fix them now to avoid them becoming a source of unnecessary friction.

For larger expenses like upgrading fittings and appliances, talk to us first. We’ll help you budget correctly and optimise your rental income by creating exactly the sort of home that tenants want to rent.

MORTGAGES AND TAX

Lending policies vary widely.

If you have a mortgage on your existing home, you’ll need to inform your lender that you intend to rent it out. Depending on the terms and conditions of your loan, you may be allowed to stay on the same arrangement, or they may switch you to a more expensive buy-to-let rate.

Before you commit to anything, explore other lenders to see whether you can remortgage with them on more flexible terms.

Talk to a financial adviser with experience in residential and buy-to-let mortgages to understand every option open to you. Rates and products are changing all the time, and you may even find a more competitive deal than your current one.

The rent you receive from your property is taxable, but there are various costs you can claim back. In general, maintenance, repairs and management are allowable expenses, but improvements are not.

As an example: if the oven breaks down and you need to replace it, you can take the cost off your income, but if you decide to upgrade the kitchen, that’s not an allowable expense. That said, you’ll undoubtedly increase the rent you achieve by keeping your property up to scratch and ahead of the competition.

INSURANCE & INVENTORIES

Most rentals are unfurnished. That’s partly down to the strict rules around fire safety and furniture, and also because tenancies are getting longer: tenants want to be surrounded by their own belongings to feel completely at home.

Yet even an unfurnished property has plenty inside that needs to be insured: kitchen cupboards & appliances; bathroom fittings; a heating system; floor coverings; electrical sockets & switches; maybe some light fittings, curtains or blinds. So, alongside your regular Building Insurance policy, you should take out Landlord Contents Insurance to provide you with sufficient cover in the event of damage.

An inventory is another essential component and can protect you and your tenants from unnecessary misunderstandings. The lack of one is why many landlords lose deposit disputes, because they need to prove loss or neglect to make a valid claim.

Preparing an inventory yourself can leave you vulnerable to dispute as it might be seen as subjective. You’re much better off instructing an experienced and independent third party to provide a comprehensive written and photographic account of your property’s fittings and condition.

STAYING WITHIN THE LAW

Depending on your mindset, landlord legislation is either a fascinating and forever-changing landscape that thrills at every turn, or a minefield of obstacles and paperwork that sends you running for the hills.

Whatever your view, it’s your responsibility as a landlord to ensure that your property complies with all current regulations around gas, electrical and fire safety, as well as habitation. It’s a non-negotiable requirement, and ignorance is not a defence. Fines can be heavy, so don’t leave anything to chance.

If you intend to be a self-managing landlord, the best way to stay fully informed about your responsibilities is either through online landlord forums or by regularly checking the government’s website for updates to the law. When you use a managing agent, you effectively shift the accountability for knowing the law to them: an attractive option when legislation isn’t your favourite read!

In summary

Becoming an accidental landlord can provide you with an income-producing asset for many years and into retirement. By preparing your home correctly, staying on top of maintenance, attending swiftly to repairs, and keeping abreast of legislation, you’ll lay the groundwork for a run of successful tenancies.

Do you have any questions about renting out your existing home or an inherited property in County Louth? We’ve helped many people step into landlord life with minimal fuss and who now enjoy an extra income stream with many positive impacts on their lifestyle.

We’d love to do the same for you, so call us on  042 933 2482 or email us at info@lavelles.ie. With our expert guidance and professional hand-holding, you can start life as a landlord with confidence.

SETTING THE SCENE: HOW TO BE READY FOR VIEWINGS EVERY DAY

May 4, 2021 #

No matter how neat and tidy they are, people always ask us how their home should look on viewings and whether they can improve their presentation.

While no one expects you to live in a perfect show home, buyers do react well to a bit of pizzazz and polish. They’re looking to be seduced, and the way you present your home can shorten the time it takes to agree a sale, which means less tidying up in the long run.

Viewings can happen any day, and the trick is to minimise disruption to your morning routine so you can get ready for work, prepare the kids for school or go for your daily run without adding a lengthy to-do list. Then you can leave the house knowing that everything looks just right, without feeling flustered or rushed – or at least no more than usual!

With a simple plan and some upfront preparation, it’s fairly straightforward to be ready for viewings every day without feeling as though you’re living in a museum. A home that’s full of love and full of life is a big selling point for buyers, so this week’s blog is about finding the perfect balance between maintaining your happy home life and presenting a home that sells.

BEFORE YOUR HOME IS FOR SALE

Now is when you’ll be energised with the excitement of moving and putting your home on the market, so let’s make the most of your enthusiasm.

When it comes to having your home photographed, you can often get away with hiding things around a corner to get the perfect shot. But to prepare for viewings, you need a more permanent solution.

We’ll happily give you some pointers on getting your rooms looking right. Then, we’d suggest a weekend purge to deal with any visible or hidden clutter. Make it a household event with Spotify playlists, pizza deliveries, coffee on constant rotation… whatever makes it fun for you.

With storage space a priority for buyers, they’ll pay attention to your cupboards. If they’re full to the brim, tackle them now rather than waiting until you pack – you’ll save time later, and your home won’t feel like it’s bursting at the seams.

Once you’ve chosen what to sell, donate, store or throw away, make your listings live on eBay, head down to the charity shop with any donations, and get everything else bagged up and boxed before the caffeine wears off.

Still got too much stuff? Try spreading it out across the loft, cellar or garage. Alternatively, ask a willing friend or relative to keep some at theirs, or rent a storeroom until you move.

CLEANING & LAUNDRY

Just like death and taxes, laundry is a fact of life, but sheets hung over doors are never a good look.

Aim to get your laundry done when you’re least likely to have viewings. That might be a Saturday evening, so it’s dry, folded and put away by Sunday night, leaving you clear for the rest of the week.

Do you have a cleaner? Tell us their schedule to help us time your viewings accordingly. As a tip, we’re often in the office on Monday mornings to follow up on the weekend’s viewings, gather feedback and deal with offers, so this can be the perfect time for your cleaner to work their magic.

With longer days and the approach of summer, most viewings will happen when it’s light, and the natural brightness of your rooms will become immediately clear. The rays of the sun highlight how clean your windows are, so make sure they’re kept sparkling and see-through, either by you or by a pro.

SCENTS & SENSIBILITY

From beginning to end, the scent of your home is the backdrop to every viewing. As the sense most connected to memory, smell does more than create an instant impression; it leaves a lasting reminder. What better excuse for some aroma therapy?

If we all lived in the pages of a magazine, freshly-cut flowers and gently roasted coffee beans would appear every day, imbuing your home with fragrant greetings. Real-life isn’t necessarily like that, but that doesn’t mean you’re out of options.

First off, never underestimate the power of nature. The simple act of leaving a couple of windows securely ajar will keep the inside air circulating and noticeably refreshed.

For something more aromatic, try a couple of well-placed reed diffusers or scented candles. Go for high-quality, natural fragrances and don’t go overboard; too many can be overwhelming and even raise suspicions, so buy one or two and gauge the effects. You can always add more later.

Flavoursome aromas like coffee and nutmeg are foodie favourites for kitchens; calming lavender or vanilla create a soothing mood for bedrooms, and crisp scents like lemongrass or ginger keep bathrooms feeling fresh.

If you love curries, garlic, fish or other pungent foods, save cooking those meals for a Saturday night to give the air in your home a chance to clear.

BEFORE BEDTIME

Evenings are your best friend when it comes to tidying up.

As well as shaving valuable minutes and fuss off your morning routine, performing a reset for tomorrow brings a natural end to the day. You’ll probably even sleep better knowing how well you’ve got everything handled.

THE TEN-MINUTE TIDY

With everything else in place, the final finishing touches are all that’s left for the morning. Do a quick sweep with this speedy checklist for an easy and on-time start to your day.

DOORS & WINDOWS

Leave all internal doors open for air circulation and a sense of flow

Open curtains and blinds for maximum light

KITCHEN

Breakfast plates, coffee cups and pans in the dishwasher, or rinsed and put away

Tea towel hung in its place

Wipe down worktops and sink

BEDROOMS

Make the bed and plump the pillows

Close wardrobe doors and drawers

Put away any jewellery and accessories

BATHROOMS

Shower screen squeegeed

Toothbrushes and toothpaste away

Posh products only left on show

Towels on hooks or folded on rails

Feng shui etiquette – loo seat down

In summary

Preparation is everything. Spending some time before your home goes on the market to get everything in order, then having some simple routines to keep it that way, will help you enjoy your everyday home life while being ready for viewings, no matter how much notice you have.

Most tasks are tiny in themselves but combine to make a big and lasting impression, as though you’ve had a cleaner in every day.

Are you planning to sell your home? We’re here to ensure you make the biggest impact, so why not get in touch? Call us on 042 933 2482 or email us at info@lavelles.ie– we’ll help you get your presentation perfect from the start.

LETTING AGENTS: HOW TO PICK THE BEST ONE

April 26, 2021 #

Whether you’ve been a landlord for years or you’re just starting out, finding a letting agent you can trust and build a long-lasting relationship with is a big deal.

Renting out your property is about so much more than just money and business. As well as wanting an agent who can find you the perfect tenant, you’re sure to have feelings around confidence, connection and communication. None of these are financial concerns, but our experience tells us how prized they are by all of our landlord clients.

Letting agents will be competing for your business left, right, and centre, so how do you begin the selection process? Having a list of standards is a good place to start, and these five factors will help you narrow down the field and choose the best letting agent for you.

LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION

It might sound really obvious, but choosing an agent close to your rental property makes sound business sense.

Letting agents who live and breathe an area are the best equipped to rent your property quickly, and for many reasons:

Ask about the size of the area your agent covers. Are they truly local experts, or are they spreading themselves too thin? Nobody can be in two places at once, and a random smattering of properties that are a long way from each other could mean travelling long distances between appointments. This cuts down on the number of viewings an agent can attend and dilutes their local expertise and profile.

PRETEND TO BE A TENANT

There’s no better way of finding out what a company is really like than by posing as a customer. As a landlord and possible client, letting agents will be going all-out to impress you, but you also need to know how they talk to potential tenants.

Take a look at an agent’s website and find a property to enquire about, then prepare a few questions that aren’t covered in the description to test their knowledge and customer service. You’re not looking to be awkward or to catch them out; you’re simply doing some fact-finding around the experience of dealing with them. If you don’t feel comfortable making the call yourself, ask a friend to do it for you.

Your questions should be easy to answer without someone needing to call you back. Try asking what parking is like on the street, how much passing traffic there is, or how noisy the neighbourhood is at night. You can’t find those answers on Google maps, and a good letting agent will know their stuff.

Look for how long it takes the agent to answer the phone, then for how polite, professional and interested they are. Do they have an obvious knowledge of the property you’ve enquired about? Do they invite you to view or ask about the type of home you’re looking to rent? And how does your experience leave you feeling – like you’ve made a new friend, or like an interruption to someone’s day?


PROMOTION & PERFORMANCE

To be sure of reaching the best selection of tenants, your property needs to be on at least one of the national portals, so ask about an agent’s choice of channel and why they made that decision. Agents have varying results with different portals, so one isn’t necessarily right over another. What matters most is that whichever portal your agent has chosen will get you the right result.

Now take a look at how they describe the homes they rent. Are their descriptions enthusiastic and informative? Lettings can be fast-moving, so they don’t need to be War & Peace – or even Harry Potter & The Sorcerer’s Stone – but they should at least be clear and helpful, and they should make you want to view.

Finally, ask your agent about their results. What’s the average time it takes them to find a tenant? Do homes like yours rent quicker or faster than others? Can they show you examples of successful recent lettings?

Be wary of false promises. Look for answers that are believable and realistic.

COMMUNICATION & CARE

Something we often hear from our landlords is how much they feel they matter to us. You can’t put a price on sentiment like that, and you deserve the same.

When you’re speaking to agents, ask for details of their service standards to ensure that whatever they are offering is compatible with what you need.

What’s their system for giving you feedback after viewings? Not every property goes in its first week on the market, and you’ll want constructive advice and unfiltered commentary to know what action to take.

Will you have a specific point of contact for when you want to get in touch? Ask them how and when they’ll keep you up-to-date.

Happy landlords are our number one priority, and we make sure they feel valued and remembered.

TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS

Every letting agent you meet could say all the right things and impress you with their knowledge and results, so which one do you choose?

We could list countless more points and essential tips on what to look for in a letting agent, but one thing you should never overlook is how it feels when you’re talking to them.

Using a letting agent is a long-term relationship. As well as finding one who measures up to everything we’ve set out here, you should enjoy speaking to the person who’ll be looking after you and your investment—someone who gives you the comforting sense that you’re in safe hands.

Of course, we hope you find that in us. The best way to feel completely comfortable is to get every question and concern answered, so ask us anything you want to feel 100% sure.

In summary

Choosing the best letting agent for you combines practical concerns around a company’s location, customer service and results, along with the personal qualities of the agent you meet and talk to. Ultimately you want to feel that you’ve added a valuable addition to your buy-to-let business.

If you’re a landlord and you’re looking for a letting agent in County Louth, we’d love to have a chat about working with you. Alternatively, you could secret shop us first and test us on one of our homes! We’re sure we’ll pass with distinction, so call us on 042 933 2482 or send us an email at  info@lavelles.ie to experience our service first-hand.

THE PERFECT BUYER: HOW DO WE FIND YOURS?

April 19, 2021 #

Being an estate agent is a bit like running a dating agency: playing Cupid every day, cultivating commitment and building long-term relationships that lead to living together. It’s more than marketing; it’s matchmaking!

If you’ve ever experienced online dating, you’ll know that someone’s profile and pictures never tell the full story: it’s only when you meet that you know if it’s going to work. Until then, you’ve only got their looks to go on.

That’s just what it’s like when selling your home. The property portals are effectively Tinder for buyers and, with so many listings on show, it can sometimes come down to chance whether someone stops on your profile or simply scrolls on by.

Marketing is an essential first step, but there’s more than that to estate agency; it’s about listening to people’s stories, forming connections and building trust. It all comes down to crafting those magical a-ha moments of: “we’ve got just the person”, and here’s where we show you how.

KNOWING YOUR STORY

Right now, your thoughts are probably looking forward to everything you’re hoping for in your next home: the extra space, a bigger garden, maybe somewhere for an office or studio. The future is really exciting, and that’s where your focus goes.

But to find you the perfect buyer, we need to go back in time to when you bought your current home. Very often, people coming to view will be at the same stage in life as when you first moved in, so it’s helpful to know why you chose this home out of all the others available.

What did you think when you first arrived outside? How did you feel when you stepped into the hallway? When did the moment hit that this was ‘the one’ for you?

When we tell potential buyers why you fell in love with your home, it adds another dimension to viewings beyond the bricks and mortar. Whether it’s how the morning light hits the dining table, or your favourite sunspot in the garden, or where you love to curl up with a good book, it all paints a picture.

Even if your home looks perfect today, are there any ideas you’ve had for making it even better? Hidden possibility and further potential can ignite valuable extra interest, so don’t be afraid to tell all!

TIMING IS EVERYTHING

Not everyone is looking to move at the same speed, and matching people’s timescales is a vital component in getting any sale to work, so it helps to know the dates you’re working to and whether they’re flexible or non-negotiable.

Imagine you’re hoping to move towards the end of summer in time for the new school year; there’d be little point in bringing you buyers who don’t want to move until Christmas. And if you’re expecting a new addition to the family or relocating for work, you’ll probably have a strict schedule that we’ll need to take into account.

The more you tell us about your dates and plans, the more we can narrow the field to a buyer that’s right for you.

LISTENING & LEARNING

The type of property that people begin their search for can look quite different to the home they eventually buy. In fact, they can be more certain about why their existing home no longer works than exactly what they need from their next one. But with each subsequent viewing, their clarity increases as their priorities evolve.

We can fast-track that process by digging deeper from the start. Having a detailed conversation of discovery when a buyer first contacts us can establish very quickly whether or not your home could be the one for them.

A typical example is when someone asks for a specific number of bedrooms. Do they need them all for sleeping, or do they need an office at home? Would an alternative space or suggestion provide a better solution? Perhaps an extra living room, or even a cabin in the garden for some extra peace and quiet.

With a bit of detective work beyond mundane questions, we can match buyers to a home they’ll genuinely love and with fewer wasted viewings.

STRIKING A CHORD

Intuition is a surprisingly effective tool in matching people to property.

A feeling, a hunch, a notion – call it what you will, but noticing reactions on viewings provides valuable clues to what someone will actually buy. When their face lights up at a fireplace in a living room, the view from a bedroom, or the privacy of a garden, those are the golden insights that we’re always looking out for.

When you invite us into your home, we’re thinking about more than value when you’re showing us around. We can almost guarantee that names will be popping into our head as we take in the layout, space and features, then make mental connections with the buyers registered with us.

By knowing what people really care about and focussing on their aspirations, we can help your viewers to visualise their lives in your home. And from this comes certainty and commitment, two priceless commodities in your move.

MONEY & ABILITY

Many factors can affect the speed and progress of your sale, and, aside from someone falling in love with your home, they need to be ready, willing and able to buy it. People don’t move every day and may not be familiar with the process, which means it’s our job to establish your buyer’s budget and buying position.

It’s not enough to ask if someone is getting a mortgage or paying with cash. Everyone’s financial position is unique, so it’s essential to know how their funds are being arranged.

If your buyer is taking out a mortgage, is it already agreed in principle? If they’re cash, and for any deposit monies, are those funds readily available, or are they tied up in multiple assets or accounts?

In the event of a chain, we confirm every link to ensure the foundations of an offer are sound. That means talking to every estate agent involved about how far the connected sales have advanced so that we can recommend a buyer with confidence.

And if you’re lucky enough to have more than one offer, you’ll want to be sure that the one you accept is the best combination of price, ability and timescale.

In summary

There’s plenty that goes into finding you the perfect buyer: appreciating the qualities of your home, taking an interest in why people are moving, and asking thoughtful questions are all part of the work. But when all those planets align, it makes for a simpler, smoother and more enjoyable move for everyone.

Are you thinking of selling your home soon? We’d love to hear your story and all about your plans. Call us on 042 933 2482 or email us at info@lavelles.ie; let’s get talking about where you’d like to go and when you want to get there, so we can help you on your way.

RENTAL UPGRADES: FIVE IMPROVEMENTS TO INCREASE YOUR INCOME

April 13, 2021 #

The rental market has grown up. Tenancies are running for longer, and with stays of four or more years increasingly common, tenants have higher expectations around the place they’re willing to call home.

This spells good news for landlords because those higher expectations come with a willingness to pay a higher rent. More than that, the right improvements will also increase the value of your property, giving you precious equity to finance and expand your portfolio.

But which improvements make the most difference?

There’s a fine balance to strike between spending too little, spending too much, and spending where it counts. The key is to create a contemporary and timeless home that’s durable and popular to give you wide and long-lasting appeal with minimal maintenance and repairs.

When we’re out on viewings, we see exactly what attracts people and excites them about their next home, and there’s no doubt that investing in presentation is rewarded in the quality of tenant and the rent achieved. If you’re considering making upgrades to your rental property, call us for a chat on 042 933 2482 or email us at info@lavelles.ie for some expert advice on getting it right.

But for now, let’s take a look at the improvements that will increase your income, attract high quality tenants and protect the value of your property.

PAINT

From the second the front door opens, the condition of the walls will be staring your viewers in the face, creating their first and immediate impression of your property.

Scuffed walls look dingy and, despite being entirely cosmetic, have a deeply negative impact on viewings. On the other hand, a fresh coat of paint works wonders in any room and elevates everything around it, making it remarkably good value.

Although brilliant white is undeniably bright and a great reflector of light, some tenants find it a bit cold. It’s also a magnet for marks! Choose an off-white, soft grey or other classic neutral to give the walls a welcoming hue, with matt white on the ceilings, and white satin or eggshell for the woodwork.

KITCHENS

You’ll be pleased to know that not every kitchen upgrade means ripping out the old one and starting again. You can replace doors, handles, splashbacks or worktops for an instant improvement, so look carefully at whether the whole thing really needs to go.

Whether you’re choosing a total refit or replacing selected elements, follow these rules for an enduring, impressive and low-maintenance kitchen:

The presence and quality of appliances attracts more scrutiny than it used to: a dishwasher is no longer seen as a luxury item; an old-fashioned electric hot plate makes cooking seem like a chore; and a washing machine with a small load capacity means continual washday blues.

Investing in well-respected and reliable mid-range brands like Bosch, AEG and Neff is a visible demonstration of your commitment to quality: they make living in your property more enjoyable and tenants love them. You’ll also have long-lasting appliances that need less maintenance and ongoing expenditure, which means less hassle all round.

FLOORS

Floors take a real battering. Everyone walks all over them; furniture sits and moves about on them; bags, suitcases, bikes, strollers and pets all take their toll.

While carpets are soft to walk on, they can become worn and accumulate lines of dust at the bottom of doors, or imprints from previous furniture. Cheap laminate can look good when it’s fitted, but often peels at the edges, lifts at the joins and chips very easily. All this can leave your property looking unkempt and uninviting, negatively impacting your rent.

Engineered wood floors in living areas, halls and bedrooms look smart, are hard-wearing and can make your property look bigger when laid throughout. With a top surface of real wood, they’re a more authentic and luxurious alternative to laminate, but don’t come with the price tag of solid planks or parquet. They also last longer and can be sanded down when the surface becomes worn, giving you many years of service.

Medium oak is a classic, safe choice that will go with most people’s furniture: it looks great with pretty much anything and your tenants can accessorise with their own choice of rug for some underfoot comfort. If your property is particularly bright, you could add some drama with a darker wood like walnut. Pale woods like birch and maple reflect the light, but they can be more susceptible to marks as well as showing dirt and dust in the joins.

BATHROOMS

Tenants regularly ask us if they can test the water pressure on viewings, so a powerful thermostatic shower is a priority – dribbling hoses with fluctuating temperatures no longer cut it. People want an invigorating shower experience to start their day, so put them in a good mood every morning, rather than looking for a new place to live.

If your bathroom needs replacing, a plain white modern suite, warmed by grey floor and wall tiles, will provide a timeless contemporary style with universal appeal. Don’t skimp on the taps – you’ll soon be replacing parts if you go for the cheapest option, and the costs of repairs will eliminate your initial savings. Choose metal finishes like chrome, brushed steel and nickel: they never go out of style and they’re easier to maintain than taps with coloured lacquers.

Storage is vital to avoid an ocean of products piling up, gathering dust and making life difficult. The ideal solution is a vanity unit with a cupboard or drawers below the washbasin, and a mirrored cabinet above.

GARDENS

A modern, inviting and low-maintenance outdoor space is a definite winner, even more so since Covid-19 made getting outside feel like a privilege.

You don’t need to recreate the Chelsea Flower Show: in fact, keeping it simple and manageable will win you fans without presenting an overwhelming display of pruning duties. No matter how much they enjoy being outdoors, not every tenant is an expert gardener.

A patio or deck with a paved or timber surface provides a year-round usable space that’s easy to keep clean and looks way better than raw cement. Paired with exterior lighting, you’re effectively giving your tenants another room, day and night, for which they’ll happily pay.

Add a few pots planted with spring and summer perennials that bloom again every year, and your tenants will have a colourful, seasonal space where they only need to add water (and much of that is taken care of by our national climate!)

In summary

With proper execution, making improvements to your rental property will increase your income, attract higher quality tenants, reduce void periods and future-proof your property’s value. There’s no one-size-fits-all amount when it comes to budget, but we’re here to help you invest in the things that really matter.

Are you a landlord with a property to rent in County Louth? If you’d like to increase your income while keeping your costs under control, why not get in touch? Call us on 042 933 2482 or drop us a line at  lettings@kelwaylaw.co.uk– we’ll help you set the right budget and do the right thing to attract the best tenant and rent.

GARDEN REVIVALS: SIMPLE & INSTANT TIPS TO BE READY FOR SPRING VIEWINGS

April 5, 2021 #

The weather may be confusing, but one thing is for sure: Spring is springing.

One of the biggest effects of lockdown on the 2020 property market was a massive surge of interest among buyers for gardens and balconies, and not just from green-fingered enthusiasts. People who’d never given gardens a second thought were suddenly sold on the value of being outside at home, and the demand went through the roof.

That blooming market has continued this year, with gardens and balconies still noticeably high priorities for buyers, so it’s really worth making the most of your outdoor space to maximise its value and amplify interest in your home.

Colourful spring flowers look wonderful in photographs and on viewings. From window boxes inviting people to view, to fully-planted borders encouraging them to stay, they bring a natural vibrancy that boosts any image or visit. Even if you didn’t plant any bulbs last year, you’ll see it’s not too late to have an enchanting display to captivate every viewer.

HEALTHY LAWNS

Grass rarely looks great after winter, but with increased sunshine encouraging active growth, it’s time for some TLC and dusting off that hibernating mower.

Wait for a few dry days in the forecast, then start with a trim on the highest setting when the ground is firm and free of dew: not only better for the grass and your mower, it’ll save you churning the soil into mud with the mower’s wheels.

Most lawns suit a length of 2-4cm, but where there’s lots of wear and tear or footfall, go a little longer at around 5cm. For very shady areas, up it to 7cm. Remember that grass is a plant and needs its blades working to photosynthesise, so don’t go scalping it!

Moss, dead grass and other debris can impede healthy growth, so remove them with a spring-tine rake. Use a garden fork or hollow-tined aerator to reduce waterlogging and improve drainage, or go for the hands-free option with a pair of aerating shoes.

Finish with a bit of top dressing and feed. With all-in-one products like Miracle-Gro Evergreen 4 in 1, you can fertilise the grass while treating weeds and moss.

PATIOS AND BALCONIES

It’s incredible how fast sludgy green growth like moss and algae can settle over winter on paving, decking and walls, but there are some easy and eco-friendly ways to tackle the job.

A jet washer will shift the weeds and muck. Not only highly effective, they’re incredibly satisfying to use – simply hook up to your water supply and get blasting! Use the highest setting on pavers and concrete to watch the dirt slide off like butter, while a lower setting for timber decking or walls with paint or render will avoid damaging the surface.

No outdoor tap? No problem! Widely-available organic cleaners like Algon are free of nasty chemicals, making them safe for pets and wildlife. They restore the natural colour of virtually any surface with no need to scrub or rinse: just apply with a sprayer, soft garden broom or paintbrush on a dry day, then walk away!

BUYING YOUR BLOOMS

This year’s fashionable planting trends are very much naturalistic and concentrate on supporting pollinators, but don’t panic if you’re a complete novice. You can find ready-made, expert-curated combinations to suit any setting, making it very hard to go wrong.

Websites like Suttons, Woolmans and J Parkers are great places to start and have so much to choose from. They mainly sell ‘plug plants’, which can be delivered right through your letterbox by the postman: equally perfect for containers or for spaces in the ground left by anything that didn’t quite make it through winter.

Many supermarkets have also expanded their plant and garden offerings this year, and you can buy a wide selection of tulips, narcissi and even bluebells when stocking up on your pantry essentials.

To stay on-trend through summer and autumn, mix in some salvias with your choice of spring blooms: cheap to buy, low on maintenance and varied in colour, there’s one for every taste, and they’ll flower through summer and autumn.

SMART PLANTING

Super-organised gardeners will have been out planting their bulbs last autumn, but you can still get beautiful results with pre-planted or ‘in the green’ bulbs.

A great trick to make your shop-bought bulbs go further is to separate them for planting. They’ll be potted close together in a bundle of competing roots, but by teasing them gently apart with your fingers, then spacing them out in your beds, you’ll see more of the individual blooms across a larger area.

Your bulbs will also perform much better as their roots begin to spread, soaking up all the nutrition and water they need in their spacious new home.

CONTAINER GARDENING

You don’t need a huge garden – or even a small one – to bring in the spring: flowers still look fabulous in pots, boxes and baskets. A bright selection of bulbs and bedders by your front door – or on your window sills – makes a cheery welcome for anyone viewing your home, either in person or online.

Classics like tulips and narcissi look brilliant when combined in containers, while primroses are another favourite at this time of year. The perfect companion for bulbs, they’ll naturalise too, giving you new plants year on year. Gorgeous in pots, there’s a reason they’re such eternal garden stalwarts.

For hanging baskets, try mixing fuchsias, petunias and lobelias. Keep them watered, and you’ll be rewarded with a glorious eye-level display of interest, colour and form.

In summary

A spring clean and some clever planting will give you immediate seasonal colour that buyers will love and that you can enjoy right now. There’s no time like the present, so go outside, soak up some vitamin D and get your hands in some soil: it’s good for the soul, and great for your sale!

If you have a property in County Louth and you’re making plans to sell, we’d love to help you get your seasonal presentation just right. Get in touch today on 042 933 2482 or email us at info@lavelles.ie , and let’s work together to put the spring into your move.

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