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Easy Autumn Decor Ideas for Your Home 2022

September 28, 2022 #
by Joanne Lavelle of Michael Lavelle Estate Agents

The leaves are turning brown, the nights are getting longer and the mornings are dewy and pale… Autumn is here. Maybe the thoughts of the colder days fill you with some sort of dread.

Fear not, we are here to inspire.

Get yourself a cuppa, place your woolly socks on, and read our convenient overview about getting your home ready for this season of transformation.

Our Easy Autumn Decor Ideas will, no doubt, help you feel a seasonal glow rather than gloom, in no time!

Spicy Scents Make Sense!

Autumn is the period of spices. Think Apple Spice, Pumpkins, Ginger Spice (not Gerri from the Spice Girls!) Cinnamon and add Nutmeg in the mix to dial up on the season.

Besides baking batches of tasty treats, you can bring these scented tones into your home with candles and oil diffusers. If you would like to see a gorgeous range that we recommend then check out the Soilse Candle Company, an independent Irish brand of handmade candles.

All of their candles are made from 100% soy wax, infused with and evoking the unique and captivating fragrances of the Irish Landscape.

Autumn Door Decor

Front door decor can give a ‘wow appeal’ to your entrance way and allow’s you to make your home look unique.

Adding delicious seasonal charm does not have to be labour intensive to gain a high impact. Go ‘Full On’ Autumn with these beautiful Door Wreath’s from Gift and Art Gallery, Dundalk

Get Blankets Out and On

Floral and geometric are out, faux fur is in!

Provide your furniture with an abundance of soft layers to snuggle up in as you binge-watch on Netflix and ignore the rain outside.

If an open fire is not possible (or simply not your thing) then between the gentle candlelight and cosy blanket, you will definitely reach that seasonal ‘cocooning’ mood any time you wish!

Hallowe’en is Coming

Planning your Autumn decor also points to planning for Hallowe’en (a massive occasion these days) so go grab the decoration boxes out of the garage or attic and see what you have even before you need to get decorating.

Some items just dont last the pace (even in storage) so use some of that cosy indoor time to sort through and get rid of the less ‘enthusiastic’ looking pieces.

Hallowe’en doesn’t have to mean spiders or ghouls either. Check out these super cute autumnal decorations from Gift & Art Gallery in Dundalk that are ideal for tables, mantlepieces and around your home.

Conclusion

Using these easy autumn decor ideas also help you ease into the colder winter months. Basically it is all about preparing and making the evenings more pleasant, especially after coming home from a long day, or after an evening out. Transforming your home into a ‘sanctuary’ not only helps you to relax but it is excellent for your mind and body. There are real benefits to be gained by doing so. With this guide we hope to provide you with some inspiration on to how to achieve optimum cosiness!

RELATED ARTICLES:

See our online article Getting Your Home Ready for Sale and our video Vlog: 3 Tips for Selling Your Home in Ireland This Autumn 2022 for more great practical tips that can help you enjoy your home more and even have reach an optimum market price when it comes to selling.

Advice for Selling your Irish Investment Property 2022

February 1, 2022 #

As a landlord, when you decide to sell a rental property, there are several important factors that must be considered. They will dictate the process of the sale and ultimately the financial gain to you as the landlord seller.

Time to Cash in and put Your Irish Investment Property for Sale?

In this guide, we will take a closer look at each of the main considerations so that you can get the best return when it comes to selling your investment property in Ireland. This guide can also help you to avoid conflict that could either make a sale very difficult or even scuttle one altogether.

Selling an Investment Property with Tenants or Without?

Will you be offering the property for sale with vacant possession (nobody living there) or with tenants in occupation (someone living there)

If your property is vacant, then it has a much higher chance of being sold to any sort of buyer – investor or owner occupier. On the other hand, if you have a tenant living there, then the sale will usually be restricted to investors only.

Irish Tenancy beginning before June 2022

Should you have a tenancy in place that began before June 2022, as a landlord you have the option to give notice to terminate the tenancy and sell with vacant possession. It’s really important to recognise the tenant’s entitlements regarding the length of notice, refund of the deposit, and access for viewings and inspections. There are clear rules concerning termination of tenancy and these are available on the www.rtb.ie website.

In the case of selling your investment property with a tenant in occupancy, the details concerning the tenancy, deposit, and rental history will be needed by the selling agent. Make sure to get these details to your agent as early as possible as a way of spotting any issues that might interrupt your plans. Clear and open communication is going to be critical where a tenant remains within your property.

Dealing with your Mortgage as a Landlord Seller

Where there is an existing mortgage on your investment, then you as a landlord should request the Property Deeds from the bank or building society, through your solicitor, again as early as possible in the process.

We recommend that this be done as soon as a landlord decides to sell. This significantly reduces the overall time between putting your property on the market and closing a sale for you.

Taxation issues when Selling an Investment Property in Ireland

If your property is currently worth more than the purchase price, you will be subject to Capital Gains Tax, after the cost of sale and some other specific costs that are allowable e.g., capital expenditure.

Planning Compliance and your Investment Property Sale

Has your property been extended or has the use been changed? Then we recommend you get a compliance cert at the outset, as this will be requested by the purchaser’s solicitor.

Paperwork is obviously important during the process of selling your investment property in Ireland. By having a complete history of the property ready and with your solicitor, you can avoid unnecessary delays to completing a successful sale.

MUDs

Own an investment property as part of an apartment development? Then check that your annual charges are paid up to date and that the Owner Management Co is compliant. Talk with the company and make sure its annual returns are also up to date.

BER Certificates when Selling Property in Ireland

All property offered for sale in Ireland or for rent must have a valid BER Certificate. Ask your agent for details of local BER assessors. (If you need a BER Cert in Louth then Click Here)

Improvements are investments to getting a better deal

An ex-rental property that is being sold with vacant possession often warrants some level of maintenance or content clearance before putting it on the market. Again, ask your agent for advice and, if appropriate, consider home staging or repainting to maximise the property’s performance on the market.   If you are selling the property with the tenant in occupation, it is worth checking whether repairs and safety checks are up to date. Otherwise, a sale could fall through if the property is found to require significant work to bring it up to standards.

As a very minimum check for the following:

  • Is the boiler due for a service?
  • Are the smoke and carbon monoxide alarms working?
  • Is there a fire blanket and extinguisher?
  • Are there appropriate safety catches on the windows?

Put yourself in the shoes of a prospective investor considering buying your property:

  • Would you accept what you see at the property for the price being asked? Does the property need renovation or repair?
  • Is the tenant amenable and interested to meet the buyer?
  • Are the rent payments up to date? How close is the current rent to the market value? When was the rent last reviewed?
  • Who owns the contents of the property? The landlord or the tenant?
  • If you own an apartment, are the common areas well maintained and clear of items? Are the rubbish collection arrangements in order?

Ask yourself these questions. They can help you to focus on the steps you might need to take to help sell the property efficiently and at top market price.

In Conclusion

Whatever the Circumstances of your Investment Property in Ireland, the two most important messages are:

  • By becoming a well-prepared seller, you will ensure a smoother sale and a better sale price
  • Clear communication with your tenant is crucial.

Need more advice when it comes to selling your investment property in Louth, then let the team in Michael Lavelle Estate Agents know. Our property experts are on hand to guide you through the process and find a buyer for your property when it comes time to sell.

For more simply call (042) 933 2482 or leave your details below so a team member can contact you. Alternatively, click to grab your Free Property Valuation Here to get your property sales process underway from today.

Lavelles Free Advice Library

Join Our Winning Team

November 5, 2021 #

We’re excited to be hiring a Team Coordinator for our dynamic successful team of property experts.

Michael Lavelle Estate Agents is a leading estate agent and auctioneer in Dundalk and the north east. We are independent estate agents and we are experts in selling property. We sell houses and land, we rent houses and land and we value all types of property. We are brilliant at selling and marketing property: we work in innovative and clever ways, and we always work hard for our clients. The result is great results!

Our new team member will be the front of office person and coordinator of our team and our business – the skills we’re looking for will include

  • Organised individual with strong admin and office skills and previous proven experience of office administration
  • Great computer skills and eagerness to learn about new IT abilities (training will be provided)
  • Interest in and experience of social media / digital marketing (and eagerness to learn more)
  • Good writing skills and phone skills 
  • Strong customer relations experience
  • Ability to manage their own work and use initiative

The person filing this role will also

  • Know the north east quite well
  • Have a keen interest in (and ideally experience of) property
  • Be articulate and professional and able to work within a team
  • Be able to problem-solve and think on their feet!

This role is ideally full time (Mon-Fri 9-530) and is based full time in our office at Bridge St, Dundalk. A full clean driver’s licence may be important.

If you are satisfied that your skills and personality match this role, please send your details to joanne@lavelles.ie asap… We move fast!  

PERFECT PORTFOLIOS: MAXIMISE THE VALUE AND MAGNETISM OF YOUR RENTAL HOMES

October 25, 2021 #

The holy grail of every buy-to-let property is continuous occupation by high-quality tenants with a market-leading income and a value that increases year on year. None of this happens by itself, and, just with any business, a plan of action is the key to success.

Great tenants pay more money for beautiful homes, and you only have to look at new-build properties for proof that new price ceilings can always be set. By offering a home that reflects the earnings and aspirations of professional people, you create a win-win situation: your tenancies last for longer, your property is better cared for, and your buy-to-let is a joy to own with a healthy return to boot.

Older homes have the built-in advantage of heritage and character that many tenants desire, but they can fall behind on modern, energy-efficient lifestyles. However, any property can lead the way on design or price, and there’s nothing to stop period homes exceeding the income of newer ones.

Whatever the age of your rental property, our blog this week guides you in creating high-quality rental homes to keep as a long-term investment or to sell at a healthy profit. So read on for some sound advice in maximising the value of your buy-to-lets, keeping them in high demand, and standing out for all the right reasons.

LOOK THE PART

The first step in attracting the best tenants is to create a rental property that looks brilliant on viewings and in photos. You also want your agent to photograph it properly.

There’s no point making your buy-to-let sparkle when the images make it look gloomy, so check the websites of any agents you’re considering to see whether their photography is right for your property.

Homes for rent can be trickier to photograph than homes for sale because they don’t have the benefit of being lived-in, accessorised and styled. Empty rooms expose everything, which means it’s essential for everything in your buy-to-let to look up-to-date and well maintained.

No kitchen will look its best with a dark brown hob, but they’re easy and inexpensive to swap for a shiny stainless-steel model. The same goes for old and scaly taps: replace them with modern fittings for an instant bathroom reboot.

Fresh paintwork in white or pale neutrals gives the air of a new start; clean windows make every room brighter, and clean floors make a home feel bigger. For a final flourish, dress naked windows and lightbulbs with blinds and lampshades to add a stylish warmth.

READ REALLY WELL

A killer description packed with enthusiasm and juicy benefits is key to converting the interest from your photos into an enquiry and a viewing. The text doesn’t have to be long, but it does have to be good.

Make a list of all the features and benefits of your property, then tell your agent all about them. Beyond the standard points around accommodation and location, let us know about any extra touches that may not be so obvious.

Concealed lighting, clever storage, audio wiring and eco-friendly improvements are qualities we can make a big deal of, and it makes a positive difference to a potential tenant’s reading experience when there’s lots of good stuff in the description.

Please don’t be afraid of telling us too much. We’re here to get you the highest possible rent, so the more we know, the better. If you’ve put in the effort, it deserves to be rewarded.

FEEL JUST RIGHT

Photos and descriptions can show how a home looks and talk about its features, but they can’t convey how it feels. Only viewings can do that, and, as well as an emotional connection, tenants develop a tactile impression: from opening doors to turning on taps to walking on floors, very little escapes.

Loose tiles, lifting timber or laminate floors, and threadbare carpets can really bring your property down and make it seem worse than it is. Likewise, handrails, hooks, switches and knobs that are coming loose, poorly fitted or worn-out will create the impression of a neglected home.

All of these are very easy to change, and you’ll get the best tenants and the best rent when your buy-to-let feels as good in person as it looks in the photos. It’s all about reinforcing the enthusiasm and excitement of your viewers with a home that’s even better than they expected.

GET PRICE-WISE

Most new enquiries come from the property portals, and they list homes in price bands that display the monthly rent. However, many landlords work on a per-week basis, which can reduce the visibility of their buy-to-lets.

For example, a rent of £290 per week equates to £1,256 per month, while £285 per week equals £1,235 per month. Both will get buried in the search results from £1,000 – £1,250 and £1,250 – £1,500, putting competing homes ahead of yours.

A slight tweak can change all that. Setting the monthly rent at £1,250 sits exactly at the meeting points of two price bands, which means the property will now appear among the very first listings of both, potentially doubling its audience.

As you can see, being inside or outside a price band by as little as £6 per month can send your property below many other listings and lose valuable enquiries. If you’re unsure about where to set the monthly rent for your buy-to-let, call us on 042 933 2482 for some expert and friendly number-crunching.

BE HANDS-ON

Once you’ve found high-quality tenants, the real story begins when they move in. How you look after them and your property has a huge impact on the profitability of your buy-to-let, and a plan of continuous maintenance will avoid unnecessary turnover of tenants and loss-making voids.

Taking the time to visit your property every six months will not only identify any minor repairs or niggles; it will keep your relationship with your tenants fresh, friendly and full of trust. It’s an easily forgotten part of being a landlord, but it’s absolutely worth the effort.

The landlords and tenants of the homes we manage tell us that our half-yearly inspections are one of the most valuable parts of our service. For tenants, the peace of mind of regular check-ups offers a welcome comfort that keeps them happy and makes them stay longer; for landlords, our visits provide opportunities for carefully managed improvements that keep their investments performing well.

Final words

With the right marketing & presentation, conscious pricing and an active care regime, you’ll draw in the very best tenants and the highest possible rent. You’ll also future-proof the value of your buy-to-lets so you can leverage your equity and continually expand your portfolio.

If you own a rental property in County Louth, or you’re looking to acquire your first buy-to-let here, call for a chat on 042 933 2482 or drop us a line at info@lavelles.ie. We’re here to help you create a life as a profitable landlord with a passive income and peace of mind.

GET YOUR HOUSE IN ORDER… FOR LPT!

October 13, 2021 #

The new Local Property Tax deadline is fast approaching, and property owners are now receiving a letter containing their account details from Revenue.

So what’s this all about, and what do you, a property owner, need to do?

Local Property Tax is an obligatory, self assessed tax. Owners need to do some research into how much their property is worth, and declare their opinion of value to Revenue. Most people will do this online (using the Property ID and PIN that’s in the letter Revenue sent to owners), whereas some will need to phone Revenue to ask for help.

It’s 8 years since we last had to value our property for local property tax purposes. And as everyone knows, property values have changed considerably in the intervening years.

The valuation date is 1 November 2021 – what this means is that owners must as themselves: How much do I think my property is worth on that date (at the present time)? Owners can do this research using the following ways:

  • Go to property websites like www.daft.ie or www.myhome.ie and look for property that is similar to yours in location, accommodation and condition
  • Go to www.propertypriceregister.ie and search for properties in your area to see what they sold for – remember to search close to late 2021
  • Talk to neighbours
  • Arrange to get a property valuation report – you can book this here. A valuation for LPT typically costs €150

If your property is unusual, or perhaps has problems like planning or structural issues, or may be entitled to an exemption, then you should arrange an LPT valuation.   

Watch our free webinar to explain all about LPT: the exemptions, the bands, the ups and downs of LPT.

You can access below. Simply fill in your details below.

REMEMBER: LPT Returns must be made before 7 November, so don’t wait until the last minute to Get Your House in Order!

BUY-TO-LET FINANCE: OPTIMISE YOUR PORTFOLIO’S CASH FLOW, YIELD AND PROFIT

October 11, 2021 #

Buying one or more rental homes can give you additional income now and a plan for financial freedom, but simply owning a property isn’t enough by itself.

To be sure of maximising your yield and protecting the value of your portfolio, the financial management of your rental homes is an essential part of being a successful landlord.

There are many ways to use buy-to-let funding to optimise the performance of your properties, so if you’re thinking of buying a rental home in County Louth, or you’d like to get the most from your existing lettings portfolio, you’ve come to the right place.

We’ve pulled together all the details to help you begin, improve and expand your buy-to-let business for a sustainable and profitable future.

BUY-TO-LET LENDING AT A GLANCE

Buy-to-let mortgages are slightly different to standard residential loans. As well as checking your credit rating to consider lending to you in the first place, banks also take into account the expected rental income of a property alongside its sales valuation.

Generally speaking, the monthly rental income needs to be at least 125% of the monthly mortgage repayments. For example, if you’re looking to buy a property where the monthly mortgage repayment is £1000, the rental income needs to be a minimum of £1250.

Lenders usually work to a maximum loan-to-value of 75% of the purchase price, and most buy-to-let mortgages are loaned on an interest-only basis. It’s a combination that helps to keep your monthly outgoings low while increasing the gap between the mortgage repayment and rental income. This protects your cash flow and reduces the risk to the lender of you being unable to meet the monthly payments.

Unlike typical residential mortgages, your personal income is not as important as the rental income from the property. In fact, experienced landlords can often borrow with no income other than the rent they receive.

EXPANDING YOUR PORTFOLIO

Releasing equity from one property to fund another is one of the easiest ways to expand your portfolio without eating into your personal savings.

As soon as you have enough equity in one property to cover a 25% deposit on another without taking the borrowing on the first above 75% of its value, you’ll be able to add another property to your portfolio funded entirely by a lender.

Mortgages are generally the cheapest funding you’ll find, and many professional landlords advocate leveraging as much of the equity in their buy-to-lets as they can to keep expanding. They think long term and don’t care about price fluctuations – merely about the most efficient way to finance and grow their portfolio.

Once you acquire more than three buy-to-let properties, you’ll start to meet the criteria for being a portfolio landlord, which can open up portfolio funding on even more attractive terms.

INCREASING YOUR YIELD

Keep reviewing your mortgage. The fast-track to increasing the yield of any buy-to-let property is to reduce your monthly outgoings. If you’re already on a variable rate, you’ll almost certainly make instant savings by remortgaging at a fixed rate.

Most landlords fix their rates for between two and five years, which gives them certainty over their outgoings without being tied in for too long.

For existing fixed rates coming to an end in the next six months or so, it’s well worth reviewing current mortgage offers for better terms. By applying now, you can line up your new rate to take over the day after your current deal runs out to avoid any early repayment charges.

Even if your current mortgage deal isn’t due to expire for a while, you may even find any early repayment charges are more than compensated for by switching to another lender or loan if the rate is significantly lower.

Depending on the eco-friendliness of your peppery, you may qualify for a green mortgage. These are gradually becoming more widely available and reward eco-friendly landlords with lower interest rates.

IMPROVING YOUR PROPERTIES

If your buy-to-let is showing its age, it won’t achieve its maximum rent or reach its full income potential.

Remortgaging an ageing rental property to invest in upgrades that meet local market expectations will increase the demand, the rental income, the length of your tenancies and, of course, the value of your investment.

It’s essential to make the right improvements and to balance expenditure against the increase in income. Overspending won’t always give you the return you’d hoped for, while underspending almost always ends in disappointment for both landlords and tenants.

If you own a rental property in County Louth and you’d like to know which improvements will help you achieve its full income potential, give us a call on 042 933 2482 or email us at info@lavelles.ie

TAX EFFICIENCY

When we talk about buy-to-let finance, it’s not all about borrowing and banks. How you pay tax on your rental portfolio will impact your business as much as your interest rate.

Tax is a complicated area, and a specialist tax advisor can help you identify where you can improve the tax efficiency of your portfolio and ensure you are claiming the correct allowances.

As well as the expenses you claim, the way you own a property can also affect the tax you pay. If you’re married, it could be more efficient to transfer the title into your spouse’s name to make use of personal tax allowances.

Owning a property as a company or individual can also affect your liabilities, particularly around capital gains tax and inheritance tax.

Remember that, just like any business, you should only pay tax on your profits, not your entire rental income.

Final words

Buy-to-let finance has many faces and can help you start and grow a truly successful lettings portfolio that fulfils all its potential.

If you own a rental property in County Louth, or you’re thinking of becoming a landlord, call us on 042 933 2482 or email info@lavelles.ie for some expert and friendly advice – our team is here to help.

GET YOUR HOUSE IN ORDER… FOR LPT!

September 29, 2021 #

The new Local Property Tax deadline is fast approaching, and property owners are now receiving a letter containing their account details from Revenue.

So what’s this all about, and what do you, a property owner, need to do?

Local Property Tax is an obligatory, self assessed tax. Owners need to do some research into how much their property is worth, and declare their opinion of value to Revenue. Most people will do this online (using the Property ID and PIN that’s in the letter Revenue sent to owners), whereas some will need to phone Revenue to ask for help.

It’s 8 years since we last had to value our property for local property tax purposes. And as everyone knows, property values have changed considerably in the intervening years.

The valuation date is 1 November 2021 – what this means is that owners must as themselves: How much do I think my property is worth on that date (at the present time)? Owners can do this research using the following ways:

  • Go to property websites like www.daft.ie or www.myhome.ie and look for property that is similar to yours in location, accommodation and condition
  • Go to www.propertypriceregister.ie and search for properties in your area to see what they sold for – remember to search close to late 2021
  • Talk to neighbours
  • Arrange to get a property valuation report – you can book this here. A valuation for LPT typically costs €150

If your property is unusual, or perhaps has problems like planning or structural issues, or may be entitled to an exemption, then you should arrange an LPT valuation.   

Watch our free webinar to explain all about LPT: the exemptions, the bands, the ups and downs of LPT.

You can access below. Simply fill in your details below.

REMEMBER: LPT Returns must be made before 7 November, so don’t wait until the last minute to Get Your House in Order!

THE ECO LANDLORD: OUR GUIDE TO SUSTAINABLE & PROFITABLE BUY-TO-LET SUCCESS

September 28, 2021 #

Energy prices are rising, utility bills are on the up and legislation around the energy efficiency of rental homes is getting tighter.

This background of higher costs and stronger rules, along with the ever-louder conversation around climate change, is making all of us acutely aware of our carbon footprint and how much money we’re wasting on bills.

As a landlord, although you probably take pride in your rental property and take energy efficiency seriously, you might wonder whether making improvements is simply an extra cost to you with no benefits. Is it really worth your while?

Well, tenants will pay more rent for – and stay longer in – a comfortable, warm and energy-efficient home. Your improvements will also protect the sales value of your property, increase your equity and give you more leverage to refinance and expand your portfolio.

With that mind, here’s our guide to being an eco-friendly landlord with a profitable and sustainable business.

TENANTS CARE ABOUT ENERGY USE

Nobody wants to pay more for their utilities than they need to, and with energy prices forever on the increase, tenants, just like everybody else, are looking at where their money is going.

Even back in 2018, a survey by Prism revealed that 42% of tenants took energy efficiency into account when searching for a home. And when we’re out on viewings, the question of running costs is a regular part of the conversation.

Since the introduction of compulsory energy certificates, it’s easy to see whether a rental property is economical to run and comfortable to live in. With many tenants saving for a deposit to buy their own home alongside paying rent, energy efficiency is not merely an attractive option for them, it’s the key to their future.

Legislation is only going to get tighter in order to meet the Government’s carbon emissions targets, so getting ahead of the curve will ensure your buy-to-let retains its spot as a first-choice option among high-quality, long-term tenants.

EFFICIENT HOMES = EFFICIENT RENTALS

We manage many properties and the most expensive and time-consuming homes for landlords are those where things keep going wrong. When outdated boilers and appliances start breaking down, the costs of replacement parts and visits from contractors soon add up.

Unfortunately, nothing ever stops working at a convenient moment, and boilers in particular have a habit of dying in the middle of winter when your tenants need them the most. Having to deal with that and a heated phone call at 7am when you’re trying to get ready for work is really no fun at all.

Very simply, homes where things don’t work properly are homes that tenants leave. That means more vacant days, loss of income and reduced future rent when a property looks and feels out of date and costly to run.

Always keep the longevity of tenancies at the front of your mind – you can’t beat uninterrupted income for the best return on your investment!

ECO-FRIENDLY OPPORTUNITIES TO CHECK

You don’t have to do everything at once, but making a list will give you a clear picture of potential improvements.

Quick upgrades include:

  • installing flow restrictors on taps, showers and loos;
  • fitting draft excluders to window frames and doors;
  • adding thermostats to radiators;
  • replacing any outdated appliances.

These can all be done during the working day without disturbing your tenants.

Larger works to consider:

  • loft insulation;
  • plugging gaps in exposed floorboards;
  • replacing a boiler;
  • renewing drafty old windows

These all make a big difference to the energy efficiency, comfort and rentability of a home, but they can also be messy and disruptive and we’d generally advise carrying them out between tenancies.

PROJECT-MANAGE YOUR UPGRADES

Creating a timetable of energy-efficiency improvements will help you keep on top of legislation with a property that retains its tenants and value.

It’s really worth setting it all out so you can decide what to prioritise, what to plan in the future and what makes financial sense now and later on.

As well as obtaining quotes for any works to be carried out, check whether contractors will pick up the materials for you, or whether you need to order them yourself and have them waiting at your property.

Ordering appliances may need some market research for the best deal, then liaising with your tenants over a delivery time, arranging installation and having the old items taken away and disposed of.

A good managing agent can organise all of this for you and check that works are complete without you ever needing to visit or make a call.

BALANCING CASH FLOW & COSTS

As with any business, cash flow is king!

Some energy-efficient upgrades like flow-restrictors cost so little that you’ll hardly notice the difference in your pocket, but for larger expenditure around insulation, windows and heating, you may find it makes more sense to spread your outgoings over time.

You can often find interest-free offers on white goods from large retailers like Currys, and they’ll even remove your outdated appliances after installing new ones.

For more expensive works, have a chat with your financial advisor. Remortgaging your buy-to-let is often the most financially-efficient way to invest in improvements without large upfront expenditure that leaves a hole in your income.

So-called ‘green mortgages’ are becoming more widely available and offer lower interest rates for either purchasing an eco-friendly home, or retrofitting an older property.

Final words

Energy-efficient upgrades are about so much more than simply keeping up with legislation. With the right execution they make sound financial sense and help you attract high-quality, long-term tenants and increase your income by creating a feelgood-factor around your portfolio.

We’ve helped many landlords to maximise the demand and yield for their buy-to-let homes, and we can help you do the same. If you own a rental property in County Louth and you’d like to talk about making the right improvements, call for a chat on 042 933 2482 or email  info@lavelles.ie -we’d love to be your managing agent and help you grow your business and passive income.

LONGER LETTINGS: HOW TO ATTRACT AND KEEP GREAT TENANTS FOR YEARS

September 17, 2021 #

Every landlord and tenant wants exactly the same thing: security and stability. As a landlord, you want an uninterrupted income stream, while tenants want an uninterrupted home life.

Renting a property has become a more permanent lifestyle choice, and tenancies are getting longer and longer. Many tenants plan to stay in a home for 3 or 4 years – and sometimes more than that – which means they’re looking at potential properties in more detail.

From our experience with the homes we manage, we can say that the longer a tenant enjoys living in a property, the more connected they feel and the more they learn to love and care for it as if it were their own.

Longer tenancies also mean less tenant turnover, resulting in less paperwork, less wear and tear from people moving in and out, lower administration costs and fewer void periods. In short, it’s really worth preparing your property to capitalise on the trend.

The lettings market in County Louth has many high-quality people looking for long-term homes to rent, so we’ve packed our blog this week with valuable tips on attracting great tenants and keeping them for years.

Enjoy the read!

EXTEND AN INVITATION

It might seem blindingly obvious, but a sure-fire way of attracting long-term tenants is to openly declare that you want them.

The description of your rental property is the perfect place to advertise that you’re actively seeking enquiries from tenants in search of a long-term home, so ask your agents to include some words to that effect.

You don’t need to sign a longer tenancy agreement. Life throws too many curveballs for tenants and landlords to over-commit, but welcoming applications from long-term tenants will send a clear message to the people you want to attract.

Be clear that your goal is for you and your tenants to be happy for many years and that long-term happiness for you means having the rent paid on time, your property looked after and no complaints from neighbours about noise or nuisance.

REMOVE PESKY NIGGLES

We all know what it’s like to stay in a hotel or Airbnb with dribbling water pressure or cheap fittings. They can take the sheen off a holiday, saved only by the promise of heading back home.

But having to deal with minor annoyances every day of your life would soon have you looking for somewhere new to live.

Typical on the list of niggles for tenants are rickety door handles, wobbly taps, mouldy grouting, fiddly locks, difficult windows, loose loo roll holders and a leaky shower hose. Each is fairly trivial on its own, but they can soon grow into a long list of bugbears and reasons to leave.

These are simple jobs that are easy to fix, and they add to a sense of carefree comfort where petty problems don’t exist.

Remember that you can claim repairs as a tax-deductible expense, so avoid the temptation of cheap and short-term fixes. Think instead about the long-term value of your investment and remedy everything as though your buy-to-let is where you live.

OFFER A FRESH START

Is there anything at your buy-to-let that’s starting to look tired? Keeping your property up-to-date has a direct impact on increasing your monthly income and the value of your investment, as well as demand from tenants and holding onto them.

A good-looking and powerful shower makes all the difference in starting the day in a good mood instead of a bad one. Mixer taps with a hose don’t cut it anymore, and an independent thermostatically controlled unit is an inexpensive and highly visual upgrade.

In the kitchen, we’ve come a long way from the solid plate electric hobs and dark brown ovens of the 1990s. Even if they still function, they won’t be energy-efficient, and they drag down everything around them. Replace any dated appliances with good-quality new models: stainless steel goes with everything, white looks fresh and clean, and black is a dash of sleek style.

Scruffy paintwork will only ever get worse, but scuffs don’t always mean you need to redecorate. Marks will often wash off with a magic sponge, so try one of those first to revive your walls and give your tenants a fresh-feeling home.

If you do need to paint, pick a light and airy neutral shade like an off-white or soft Nordic grey to go with anyone’s taste and furnishings.

SHOW HOW MUCH YOU CARE

Staying in touch with your tenants from time to time is a valuable exercise in nurturing your relationship.

Half-yearly inspections are not just about checking up on your property. There’s also an opportunity to show that you care about your tenants’ enjoyment of living there.

We love making interim visits to the homes we manage because they keep a connection between the tenants and us. They know we haven’t forgotten them, and they can see our interest in caring for where they live.

Sometimes a minor repair goes unnoticed by your tenants, or they feel it isn’t yet worth reporting. A fresh pair of eyes can spot anything they missed, and fixing even the slightest issue gives your tenants confidence and comfort while nipping a potentially larger problem in the bud.

CONSIDER THE VIP TREATMENT

When you look at the lifestyles of your likely tenants, could you add any services to the rent to make the experience of living at your property even more special? Many people will happily pay extra for convenience and time saved.

Window cleaning is an often-forgotten chore in lettings, but sparkling panes significantly increase the amount of natural light in any home and make it a more enjoyable place to live. A regular visit from a window cleaner would maintain that bright and fresh feel.

If your property has a beautiful garden, you might want it to stay that way. Not every tenant has green fingers, but that doesn’t mean they won’t appreciate a lovingly tended space to be outside.

An organised monthly visit from a gardener to mow the lawn and look after the plants could well be what hooks and keeps the perfect tenants.

Final words

With a little extra thought, you can design your buy-to-let as a home where tenants want to live for many years, and the rewards are plentiful and tangible.

We’ve helped many landlords attract high-quality, long-term tenants to get the best return on their investment, and we’d love to help you do the same.

If you own a rental property in County Louth call us on 042 933 2482 or email  info@lavelles.ie for some expert and friendly advice.

BEING A LANDLORD: IS BUYING TO LET RIGHT FOR YOU?

August 31, 2021 #

Owning one or more buy-to-let homes is the dream of many people. The idea of passive income, financial security and building a comfortable retirement is an inviting prospect that, for many landlords, has led to a complete change of lifestyle and career.

Alongside all the headline benefits are many things to consider before embarking on the journey. There’s plenty of legislation to keep on top of to ensure your rental homes stay compliant with every change in the law, and it’s also important to remember that being a landlord means running a business.

A bit like a romantic relationship, the beginning is the easy bit – buying a property is just the start and, once you’ve picked up the keys, the real work begins. You’ll learn all sorts of things about yourself, not least when things don’t go to plan.

So, let’s take a look at some of the aspects of starting, building and managing a rental portfolio so you can decide whether being a landlord is something for you.

RESEARCH

Knowing the local marketplace is the foundation to being a successful landlord.

Having a handle on which streets rent well, the sort of people they attract (families, sharers, couples, singles), the level of demand and the rents being achieved are crucial components in focusing your search.

Whatever location you choose, there’s some essential legwork in making sure the home you have your eye on will make a sound rental investment, and that means putting in the hours.

As well as looking at listings online, going for a wander to get a real feel for the neighbourhood will help you identify suitable properties faster and give you more comfort in committing to a purchase.

NETWORKING

Although almost every available property appears on the online portals, there’s little to beat approaching estate agents direct and forging relationships.

Most enquiries come in by email, but most estate agents would much rather talk than type, so picking the phone to introduce yourself is a great start in standing out from the crowd and being remembered.

Any successful property investor will tell you that staying in touch with local estate agents is key to demonstrating commitment and finding out about new property listings first. It’s remarkable how few landlords do this, but if all you do is wait around for an email alert, you’ll just be another name on a list.

Identify the best local agents for the type of property you’re interested in, then put in some time to develop a relationship and trust. Showing them how serious you are, giving them a clear picture of what you’re looking to buy and being a regular friendly face (or voice) will really pay off.

FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT

Being a landlord is a business, and all businesses require a degree of financial management.

First and foremost, having your finance agreed should be your main priority before you even start viewing. Estate agents need to make sure that whoever they introduce to a property is in a position to move, and having the money in place will make you a better prospect.

After that, you need to consider all the costs of owning a rental property: everything from mortgage repayments and insurance policies to a rainy-day fund for regular maintenance and urgent repairs. Check that all the numbers stack up for you to keep your property in good shape.

It’s not essential to be a financial wizard, but plenty of landlords come unstuck by not having anything in place to deal with the unexpected. Always keep your focus on achieving the highest rent, minimising vacant days and protecting the long-term value of your investment.

COMMUNICATION

The way you talk to people and handle their concerns will directly impact your experience of being a landlord, from the calls, emails, and texts you make to the ones you receive.

How do you react when things don’t go to plan? As a landlord, you need to be the calming influence who puts your tenants’ minds at rest when something goes wrong. To coin a phrase: can you keep your head when those about you are losing theirs?

It’s all about managing expectations. Your tenants need to feel looked after and informed, which means adopting a caring tone when they call, reassuring them that you’ll get onto the problem straight away, and then staying in touch over progress.

When will a contractor visit? Is nobody at the service centre answering the phone right now? Will there be a delay in finding a spare part? Has the engineer actually turned up? All of these need to be relayed to ensure your tenants aren’t left wondering if you’ve forgotten them.

Communication is incredibly important to everyone, but it’s easy to fall short when it comes to keeping people informed. Remember that not knowing what’s happening can turn into a bigger frustration than the problem itself.

ORGANISATION

Owning a buy-to-let property comes with obligations for a landlord – and expectations from tenants – in keeping a home comfortable and legally compliant. So, an excellent question to ask yourself (and to answer honestly!) is how organised you are.

There’s a difference between looking after the home you live in and dealing with problems that come up somewhere else. Organising repairs and maintenance between tenants and contractors requires time and effort, and not always at a convenient moment.

A good start is to schedule annual safety checks, regular maintenance, servicing contracts, policy renewals, and mid-tenancy inspections in advance. You want as much running like clockwork as possible to reduce thinking time and minimise the chances of forgetting an important date.

You also need contractors to call so you can attend to problems quickly and maintain good relations with your tenants. At a basic level, having a reliable electrician, plumber, gas engineer and general handyman in place will save frantic phoning around at the last minute (and avoid the uncertainty of who might turn up).

It’s worth deciding at the outset whether you’d like to be fully hands-on, or if you’d prefer a managing agent to take care of things for you.

Final words

There’s a lot that goes into being a landlord, but you don’t need to do everything yourself. In fact, you can stick to the fun stuff like looking at homes, then outsource everything else for a truly passive income.

We’ve helped many landlords in County Louth to start and build a successful lettings portfolio, and we’d love to help you too. Call us on  042 933 2482 or email info@lavelles.ie for a friendly, expert chat about where to go from here.

RENTING TO FAMILIES: OUR FIVE-STEP FORMULA FOR THE PERFECT BUY-TO-LET

August 17, 2021 #

Families are among the most stable tenants you can find, not least because the process of moving home is so much more complicated than for single people and couples.

As well as having more furniture and belongings to pack and transport, the potential disruption to children’s lives, including changing schools and finding new friends, means families are usually on the hunt for a long-term home.

That’s good news for you as a landlord because it cuts down on void periods and means your tenants get to form a deeper and longer connection to your property, which usually translates into caring for it as if it were their own. That’s backed up by research from the National Landlords Association that family homes are, on average, 30% less work to manage.

Families look for particular qualities in considering whether a property is suitable for them, so this week is all about ensuring your buy-to-let property ticks all the boxes as a family home.

If you’d like to talk in person about the best locations for buying a family rental property in County Louth, or for advice on making your existing buy-to-let more family-friendly, call 042 933 2482 or email info@lavelles.ie.

THE RIGHT LOCATION

Families have multiple considerations when it comes to choosing where to live. Location has a substantial impact on value, rentability and profitability, so the trick is to hit the right combination of schools, transport and safety.

Schools

Education is a hugely important area for families, with parents keen to give their children the very best start in life. If you’re looking for a family rental property in County Louth, ask us about the most popular local schools, their catchment areas, and which streets will give you the best rental return and speed of let.

Transport

Whether it’s the bus or the train, local transport connections can be a consideration for the entire household.

If children are taking public transport to school, make sure there’s a bus stop or station nearby that goes where they’re going. Also, consider where parents are likely to commute and how convenient a property is for travelling between home and work.

Safety

Families with children of a school-going age tend to avoid homes on main roads. Look for streets with less traffic and plenty of other families, so your tenants feel at home among their neighbours and confident in the safety of their children when they go outside.

FREE TIME AND FUN

As well as having a comfortable home, families need to think about enjoying weekends and evenings, whether as a complete unit or apart.

Take family activities like seeing a film, walking in the woods, having a picnic, swimming, eating out… From parks and nature to sports facilities and entertainment venues, every parent and child will have their own interests, so look at what’s within striking distance that caters to a family-friendly lifestyle.

It’s also worth considering whether access is only by car. If parents always need to drive, that will open up possible conflicts with teenagers feeling stranded. As they gain a stronger sense of independence, they’ll want to meet up with their friends alone, so explore what’s reachable by foot, bike or public transport.

THE RIGHT ACCOMMODATION

Whatever size of family you wish to attract, there are some golden rules to follow.

Storage space is vital. Suitcases, daypacks, sports equipment, tools, bikes, an ironing board, vacuum cleaner, coats, shoes, umbrellas, Christmas decorations and plenty more besides, all need somewhere to go.

Look carefully at how your property can swallow modern family life and all its belongings – cellars, lofts, understairs cupboards, and garden sheds are all useful for hiding away stuff, whether for occasional or everyday use.

A good-size garden with a lawn is essential as a haven for children and pets to play, as well as family mealtimes and barbecues. Make sure any boundary walls or fences are secure and keep any planting simple and low-maintenance.

Steer clear of the temptation to carve up bigger bedrooms into smaller spaces. Children tend to outgrow their bedrooms rather than shrink into them, so keep the original layout. By all means, add extra bedrooms if there’s space in the loft or for an extension, but check with us first that your plans are in line with demand.

Remember that more bedrooms mean more people, so find a way to include at least an en-suite shower room to alleviate the morning rush in a larger household. In the main family bathroom, be sure to retain the tub for kids’ bath time.

Most families have at least one car and will want somewhere to park. Although driveways and garages are ideal, they’re less common in homes before the 1930s, and many families will be okay with street parking. Look at the overall parking situation on the street and whether permits are available for residents.

THINK ABOUT PETS

Be open to pets. They’re a precious part of life for most families and are usually problem-free.

You can alleviate any concerns with some well-chosen questions, and you’ll find most families are happy with an extra clause in the tenancy agreement that sets out responsibility for damage by either their pets or visiting ones.

Dogs are the neediest and shouldn’t be left alone for long periods, so if the family does have a dog, ask whether someone is usually home during the day. It’s also worth finding out the breed so you can gauge whether your property is a suitable size.

Cats are more independent, and a secure, lockable cat flap installed in a door to the garden will make it easy for them to get outside.

FAMILY-FRIENDLY FIXTURES

The fittings inside a family home should balance durability, the practicalities of modern family life, and child safety.

Childproof catches on windows, external doors and floor-standing kitchen cabinets are an inexpensive way of providing welcome peace of mind for parents – and for showing you care.

Kitchens need plenty of cupboards for food, pots, plates and gadgets, as well as ample work surfaces. A tall, family-sized fridge freezer is essential, and, depending on the size of the property, you should either include or be open to including a full-size dishwasher. Extend the same openness to including a washing machine with at least a 7kg load capacity to cope with family use. Models from mid-range brands like Neff, AEG or Bosch will give you years of service.

Curtains or blinds are expected even in unfurnished lettings, and we suggest wooden Venetian blinds with twist-wand controls, or fitting safety cleats at a height beyond the reach of children.

Solid floors are a wise option as they’re far less susceptible to damage and stains than carpets, particularly in living areas with the spills and thrills of busy households and children.

Final words

Striking the right balance between location, accommodation and specification will attract the best family tenants, achieve the highest rent and help you achieve valuable long-term tenancies and minimal void periods.

For expert advice on the best streets in County Louth for renting a property to families, why not get in touch? Call for a chat on 042 933 2482 or email info@lavelles.ie for genuine local insight on creating the perfect family home from your buy-to-let investment.

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