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What’s the Ideal Time to Decorate and Shop for Christmas?

November 16, 2022 #

We’ve brought autumn into the house with beautiful oranges and browns, gourds and pumpkins. Some of us have even bedecked the garden with bones, ghosts and gremlins, but we’re now safely into early November, and the word that is on everyone’s lips is, of course, Christmas! The shops are already putting their festive windows up, and radio and TV commercials are tugging at our heart – and purse -strings. So the big question: “When will you put the tree up?” is currently overtaking “What’s the weather forecast?” in our day to day chatter. Here in Ireland, there are a few big occasions that arguably demand a bit of tinsel and the smell of a Christmas candle. With all these occasions, decorating and shoppingto plan for, here is my Christmas calendar for 2022

November 25th:

The Late Late Toy Show

The holiest of all Christmas dates regardless what the age of people in your family, many households will be suitably decked in time for Tubridy to jump about in fancy dress and silly jumpers. As a general decorating note, most large stores have been flogging decorations since August, so if you’re hoping to buy any baubles this year, you’d better bag them well before The Late Late.

November 25th & 28th:

Black Friday & Cyber Monday:

We have our American Cousins to thank for this new Christmas festival. Now more a month-long occasion than a single day, these events are the dates when retailers beguile us with promises of savings, discounts, treats and thrills. Sharpen your elbows, get comfortable shoes on and you’re your wallets at the ready, folks! Note for extra feel good and all round sound-ness, spend Black Monday cash with local independent retailers who are also looking for your support. But forget about ordering decorations online – unless of course you’re planning for Christmas 2023!

December 8th:

Feast of the Immaculate Conception:

OR…. to most of us, the big outing to the big smoke to do the Christmas shopping (City dwellers beware)! This is the occasion when families load into cars, trains and buses and take to the nearest city to empty their pockets and drive themselves to distraction figuring out the perfect gifts for their nearest and dearest! This is also the date that many households believe the bauble angels approve of decorating without fear of heavenly reprisals, so if you’ve resisted the Late Late pressure, this is likely the Big Decorating Day.

December 10th:

Twelve Pubs of Christmas (a moveable feast!)

In decorating terms, the opportunity for people to actually decorate themselves for Christmas and head to the pub. Public service announcement: no prizes for silly jumpers, but it’s always good for an Insta-laugh!

December 22nd:

Not Quite Last Minute Christmas Tree Shopping:

No words for this cohort of Decorators, really. Let’s face it, if you haven’t spent hours untangling Christmas lights by now, you’ve got to question your motivation, Humbug!

December 24th:

For those who have successfully, completed their Christmas present shopping and decorating, this is an ideal day to take the train to Dublin, and-walk around with a smug look on your face watching last minute shoppers punch each other for the last available pair of Santa socks in Penneys!

FYI if you happen to come across Bono crooning on Grafton St, keep it to yourself please: I’m too busy in Smyths Toystores searching for the toys my kids have just told me they’re expecting from Santa! So after all these shopping events, you’ll be doing well to have everything done in time rip to put a glass of milk out for the Big Man in Red on December 24th.

My Advise to Conclude!

My advice? A pair of Christmas Pj’s will do just fine for the Late Late Toy Show. Keep Christmas firmly in December and unfriend any Facebook friends who post / brag about their tree being up before November 30th!

by Joanne Lavelle of Michael Lavelle Estate Agents – Originally Published in the Dundalk Democrat Newspaper

Halloween, Decorating and Your House for Sale 2022

October 26, 2022 #

Autumn is my favorite season, and obviously Halloween is a big part of that. There are loads of things about Halloween decorating that can be lovely, but at the end of the day, the novelty of great big giant hairy spiders hanging over the telly can wear thin very quickly. Your Christmas tree is probably different later in the year, that has got a couple of weeks in it! However a spider and a web for example is hard to justify, having up for a long time. Today, I thought I would generally cover options regarding Halloween decorations, their effects (from professional and personal experience) and what they could mean for you when selling your house at this time.

Who Doesn’t Love Halloween? Well……

Having a truck load of scary Halloween decorations around the house is not for everyone. For some people entering a house (with their thoughts of buying) itmight actually be a little off putting. Then again for others thay actually might LOVE it!

Over in the United States, it’s a massive ‘thing’ because it goes straight from Halloween, gently then into Thanksgiving, then Christmas, and it all merges beautifully. Its a pretty packed season overall for them. In Ireland we haven’t (dare I say, thankfully?) gone to the full extent of the U.S with our Halloween attitude, but it is growing.

From experience, I see that the Halloween Style of Decor is split into two types. (We’ll look at how this can effect a selling process a little bit later in this article)

Styles of Halloween Decor: Theres the ‘Scary’ and the ‘Seasonal’

The ‘Scary Type’ are the witches and ghouls and bones and graveyard’s in the front garden with cobwebs everywhere. When there are young people in the house it can be lovely and fun. It can get a little bit ‘overdone’ after some time however!

I’ve watched over the years, as my the children got older, the decorations get scarier and scarier until they do actually start to look like a bit like a crime scene! There are some pretty ‘advanced’ decorations nowadays also from what I have seen around!

So, it’s a balance really. In our own home I’m conscious that when the children are coming to the door on Halloween night, we don’t want to frighten the life out them either. So that sums up the scary side.

On the ‘Seasonal Type’ (and this is the side that I love) you have your pumpkins and your gourds and your pop of seasonal colours. I see that Dunnes Stores are selling gourds at 40 cent each! Tree leaves, even chestnuts, anything that comes out of the garden, can look lovely. You can make a little display of it and actually bring that season into your house at a foraging level. Pick some berries and things to use around the house they can look fantastic. Also I see people have really started to embrace door wreaths. In my work and in general, I see lovely door wreaths out in seasonal colors. The colors really lend themselves so well to embracing this time of year. Even in a normally drab entranceway, it’s a fantastic way to bring warmth and life in to space. It can make it inviting. Its easy then to bring all the way through a home then. I recommend you try it!

Find Suggestions, Tips and Inspiration on Seasonal Decor for your Home Here

Here’s another little tip. Get a pot, or similar and put something colorful such as a Red Robin ornament, or really colorful Chrysanthemums in (and you look after them provided they don’t get a heavy frost) they will last you through this season.

It’s a lovely way to counteract the greyness of this time of year, breaking it up with pockets of gorgeous colours.The ‘grey’ can act as a fantastic backdrop in fact.

Go into any supermarket or any garden center, you’ll easily find winter colors that you can pop in a pot or vase.

For me, it’s the seasonal side of it, rather than the scary side of it that I love now. When the kids were small however, I was scary stuff all the way!

Top Tip for Arachnophobe’s

If you are not too fond of Arachnids at this time of the year, there’s plenty of fallen conkers around the place. Get them together and put them in a bowl around your house, particularly where there’s access points, you’ll find that our eight legged friends don’t like them!

So, When it Comes to Selling Property During the Halloween Festivities

When we think about the Halloween scene and whether you should be putting up decorations when you’re selling, I’d suggest to err on the side of caution. Not everybody likes spiders or ghouls, fake (or otherwise!) We have had cases with buyers wanting to view property, doing an ‘about turn’ due to the scary Halloween decor in place!

As well as that, if you’re thinking about selling your house right now, photographs need to be taken. If an agent turns up and is met by Frankenstein or the Harry Potter style spider scenes, it is not really representing the house in its truest form as it were.

People viewing that property online will have a hard time seeing passed the seasonal décor (even Christmas decorations – I know I shouldn’t really be talking about Christmas again yet! But I think you get the point!) This may even dissuade them from arranging a viewing in the first place. We all know how easily distracting the online world is (by design!) and so capturing a potential buyers eye is key. If not, they can easily investigate elsewhere and it can be a case of ‘out of sight, out of mind’.

When you are getting pictures taken of your house, they have to last for weeks and maybe months depending on your property type. Seasonal style pictures will run out of steam very quickly.

So what do I suggest?

It’s to wait until photos are taken and then get your decorations up! A simple suggestion that could mean a big difference to you overall.

In the meantime, from myself and all of the team in Michael Lavelle Estate Agents Dundalk, we wish you a wonderful Halloween and Autumn Season

~ Joanne Lavelle

Thinking about Selling Your Home? This Guide is For You!

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.

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