How is technology affecting interior design?

Product & design development

The internet has brought with it an era of collaboration, where designers, manufacturers and consumers around the world can come together and bring a design to life. BIM – Building Information Modelling – has had an enormous impact in this space, allowing everyone working on a project to collaborate and communicate effortlessly, speeding up the design process and minimising errors. It has also allowed designers from all over the world to collaborate on projects, meaning a Japanese designer can easily collaborate with a London design studio, for example. 

Another area to watch within product and design development is the advent of virtual reality (VR). Spaces can be visualised in 3D from an infinite number of angles, helping ensure a design fits as intended. VR can also act as a feedback mechanism, where a client can see the development of a product as it is designed, requesting changes throughout the design process in a seamless way. 

Technology has changed interior design in many ways, leaving a permanent mark on the design process from conception to construction.  Be it a gadget or an innovative material, the 21st century has left its mark in the way we design contemporary interiors. 

How to Attract Long Term Tenants

With an increase in the demand for short-term lets and a decline in the amount of people opting to let long-term, it can be difficult to attract long term tenants. Having a long-term tenant is beneficial for a multitude of reasons, as well as the simple fact it saves you the hassle of finding new people to let every couple of months. This guide will give you some suggestions on how to attract long term tenants. Good luck!

Keep the Property in Good Shape

Try to maintain your property to a standard that is not only liveable, but one that your tenants will love living in. If everything about the property is mediocre, or there are frequently maintenance issues, your tenants will be tempted to move into another property that has better amenities. However, if the property is kept well, regularly monitored, and has no faults, your tenants should be satisfied and want to stay long-term.

Keep in touch

Making sure that your tenants can contact you whenever they need to is necessary in case they have any queries or problems with the property that need resolving quickly. Remember to give them your current mobile number, and always answer their calls, or call back ASAP. Answering calls promptly is important not only to keep your tenant happy, but also on a practical level in case something serious has happened at the property that you need to know about sooner rather than later.

Be Appreciative

If you’ve already secured a great tenant, make sure to appreciate them to make them stay! Examples of how to appreciate them can be anything from sending a card at Christmas, to being polite and courteous when you visit the property for inspection. If your tenant knows you are a friendly person, they will feel more inclined to stay, as they’ll feel at home in the property.

Allow for Personalisation

If you want your tenant to stay in your property for a long period of time, they need to feel as though they’re at home. That’s why it’s a great idea to allow for personalisation within the property. Put up picture hooks and curtain poles, so that they can personalise it to their taste and make themselves at home. If furnished, make sure there is adequate shelving for the tenants to display ornaments, and if unfurnished, consider putting up some shelves yourself to cater for this need.

Attracting long term tenants can be difficult, but there are plenty of solutions available. To find out more about attracting long-term tenants, or to speak to someone more generally about property letting, contact us at info@thespacescollective.com

UK General Elections and House Prices: What you need to know?

The snap general election this on June the 8th came as a surprise to many, having repercussions on just about all economic activities in the United Kingdom. However, given how volatile the housing market can be, there is a lot to be said as to how the general election will affect house prices in the UK.

It is common for transactions to ease off in the build-up to a general election, as both buyers and sellers wait to see the outcome, which may have rather different effects on house prices. This dip in transactions has been clearly seen in the last nine general elections, and has reduced the number of transactions from one quarter to the next by approximately 13%.

However, the elections being held on the 8th of June are different. This time, there have only been seven weeks between the calling of the election and the ballot date, less than a third of the usual six months. Therefore, such a short timescale between the two dates means that consumers and sellers have had less of an opportunity to hesitate, and therefore less of an opportunity to have an effect on the housing market.

Not only will the short timescale between the dates have an impact, but also the general timing of the election. With Brexit negotiations in the UK’s hope, property prices have responded by flatlining and in some cases declining, even in London. In the long term, the triggering of Article 50 will have a profound impact on the housing market, and can only be expected to stabilise once negotiations are complete – whatever the result.

Assuming a Tory win, which most pundits have suggested, one can expect the number of sales in the market to bounce back to normal levels in the following three months, and then resume to normal levels. However, if the Labour party were to win, the outcome may be very different. Given their pledge to build one million new homes if they win (source), one could expect the supply of available homes to skyrocket, having an impact on demand, and therefore property and rent prices.

It is fair to say that the outcome of the general election will certainly have an impact on house prices in the UK, but it is hard to predict exactly what they will be. The general expectation is for a lot of fluctuation, and ebbing and flowing of the market.

5 important tips for new Airbnb hosts

Getting into the Airbnb hosting game can be a daunting experience. Whether your property is suitable, how to greet your guests and how much to charge are all valid concerns but can be simply tackled to make your property as Airbnb-able as possible. These tips should hopefully point you in the right direction and help you become an Airbnb superhost.

1. Offer amenities that your guests may not expect

As your guests walk into your property, they could be greeted by the minimum they expect, or by something special. As a bare minimum, you should offer a reliable internet connection and a clean property. However, a bottle of wine, some fruit and a note to welcome your guests will be received extremely well, and will only help ensure your guests leave a good review at the end of their stay. Beyond this, they may even tell their friends and family about your property if they feel so positively about it. If you can, it can even be worth greeting your guests as they arrive and showing them around to make them truly feel at home.

2. Find the right price

Being a new Airbnb host, the primary focus is on getting people to stay and leave you good reviews. Start by researching similar properties in the area, and set a relatively cheap price to ensure you get bookings and reviews quickly. Once you have a few, look at setting a more stable pricing structure to compete with properties nearby. It’s also worth considering how you can price weekdays and weekends differently, and take special events like concerts, national holidays and conventions into account. Seasonality is also an important factor, as a property by the beach can net you much more over summer than during winter.

3. Be helpful and flexible

Travellers may be delays by a flight, a breakdown or any kind of unexpected event. Be flexible, and make sure you are supportive. If they are due to arrive late, arrange for them to get the keys easier to avoid any hassle. An information sheet left in the property with local shops, attractions and other worthwhile sights is always welcome, too. As a host, make sure to get the Airbnb app and reply to any queries within an hour, as this will have a huge impact on your score as a host! This will ensure a smooth experience for your guests.

4. ALWAYS leave reviews

Make sure you leave a review for EVERY guest that comes to your property, not just the good ones. If there was a slight issue between you and your guests, say you worked together to resolve the issues, instead of leaving a negative review. This will help you get a good review back, too. You have 14 days to leave a review, so do so as soon as you can!

5. Be transparent about everything

Make sure your guests don’t have any nasty surprises! Make sure your photographs cover the entire property and be sure to mention if you’re in a noisy neighbourhood if there are several staircases in the property and any rules you may have for the property. This will ensure your guests are not surprised by anything and have a smooth experience throughout their stay.

There are plenty of helpful tricks to get you started on Airbnb, but with these 5 tips for a new host you’ll be a dab hand in no time. Happy hosting!

An introduction to basic buy-to-let regulations

Buy-to-let has become has become an important part of business in the UK, with small-scale property investors looking to see their savings deliver some extra income and an asset that increases in value over time. However, there are many things to consider, including mortgages, tenants, insurance, and safety. Read on to find out how to make the best of your buy-to-let investment and avoid paying hefty fines when it comes to compliance with regulations.

Gas & Electrical safety

When it comes to gas and electrical safety, it is important to keep up to date and comply with regulation. Gas appliances require an annual inspection carried out by a registered gas engineer – contact HSE Gas Safety to arrange this. Failure to comply with these regulations may lead to prosecution and fines up to £25,000. As a landlord, it is also important you supply your tenants a written report on the condition of each appliance, and keep records of the safety checks and issue a copy of them to new and existing tenants. When it comes to electrical safety, a qualified electrician must carry out a safety check to ensure that the electricity supply and all appliances are legal. As a minimum, landlords should have an annual electrical safety inspection carried out to ensure they are abiding by the laws set out.

Buy-to-let mortgages

Buy-to-let mortgages are the backbone of these investments, essentially enabling buy-to-let properties to be available to not only the super-rich. With these mortgages, it is important to understand that they do not behave in the same way as owner occupied mortgages, as they pose a greater financial risk, and therefore attract greater premiums from lenders. Buy-to-let mortgages also tend to come with larger fees than typical home mortgages, but these can be claimed back against tax. It is therefore advisable to talk to an accountant if you need help with this.

Tenancy agreements and referencing

Though less of a problem for landlords looking to let with an estate agent, referencing and tenancy agreements for private landlords can be cumbersome. Tenancy agreements should clearly set out the rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants, the rent payable, what is/isn’t allowed in the property and, often as a separate document, a detailed inventory of the property. Something else to consider is the type of let: an Assured Shorthold Tenancy is the most common in the private sector, and as a landlord, you must adhere to the Tenancy Deposit Protection Scheme.

When it comes to referencing, you must make sure your tenants have a good credit record and have no CCJ’s, debts or previous rent arrears to their name. This is essential to know as a landlord, as it is a very good indication as to whether you are letting to a reliable and responsible tenant. Of course, this does not necessarily assure that your tenants will pay the rent, and it is, therefore, advisable to take out rent guarantee insurance to be assured rent will be paid.

 

Though buy-to-let regulations may seem complex, they are a vital aspect of the buy-to-let process to ensure buyers and tenants have a fair and transparent relationship. This is a great investment option for those who have enough money to put down a big deposit for a mortgage or buy the property outright and is a very safe option compared to stocks and shares. Speak to us at The Spaces Collective if you have any questions regarding regulations.

5 tips for letting property in London

If you’ve made the initial steps to letting your property in London, congratulations. Pitfalls and successes aside, renting property can be an enjoyable experience and a solid income generator. For those new to the game, we’ve prepared 5 key tips to letting property in London. Best of luck!

1)     Attract your target tenant

Attracting your target tenant is so crucial. As a landlord, you need to have a picture in your head of who you want to be renting your property – this informs all the decisions you make going forward. Are you looking to attract students who will leave the property each year? Are you aiming to attract young professionals? Or are a family your ideal tenants? These groups have very different requirements, different expectations, and different risks associated. Before you dive into the nitty gritty, decide who you want in your property – although this may be led by the property itself!

 

2)     Present your property accordingly

Using tip 1 as a foundation, tip 2 can help to secure your target tenants interest once they view the property. It’ll sound simple, but it’s a mistake lots of people make – ensure your property is presented appropriately for your audience. If you’re looking at students, present it as low barrier to moving in, no thrills, etc. If families are your target, space to grow and a licence to create their own story in the property is a must. Whatever your audience, and however you choose to layout the property, as a landlord you should always make sure your property is clean, meets legal requirements and has the necessary amenities in place.

 

3)     Research your prospective tenant

As we have mentioned, getting the right tenants into your property can make the whole process much smoother. But how do you know if a prospective tenant is who they say they are? A simple questionnaire can be more than enough to separate the wheat from the chafe. Use an estate agent’s questionnaire or create your own and enquire about previous employers, income levels, previous landlords and anything else that may highlight any red flags. Do your homework, run a credit check, call their employer. Be certain that the person you are about to let to are the real deal.

 

4)     Understand your yield

An easy way to understand how your property will generate income for you is by calculating your yield. At a base level, you can calculate your rental yield by dividing the amount you paid for the property by the amount you’ll receive in year rent. If you are using a mortgage, you’ll need to remove the mortgage costs from the amount you are getting from the rent. Also – beware of other costs that reduce returns, such as maintenance, fees, gaps in tenancy and other unforeseen events.

 

 

 

5)     Have your property managed

Whilst managing your own property can be beneficial, having your property managed for you, especially in London, can remove the stress of the process and help you create a steady revenue stream from reliable tenants. Do you research, but a property management company can help find tenants, manage your property, renovate your interior and maximise your yield. If you want to speak to The Spaces Collective about property management in London, contact us on info@thespacescollective.com or call 02038807309.

Buy to let Buying Guide – Top Tips for a Smooth Investment

Buy-to- let can seem like an intimidating investment – there are a lot of variables at play – but many people see it as an attractive investment during times of volatility in conventional investments like stock. Due to recent tax changes, there’s now an additional duty on buy-to- let purchasing, but it can still reap great rewards if you do things right. Here’s our essential guide to buy-to- let, the right way.

Understand the Ups – And the Downs

Before you commit to the idea of getting into buy-to- let, it’s important to understand the market as a whole. At a glance, the market is attractive to many because, compared to savings and stocks, it looks pretty appealing right now. For those with big enough pockets to pay the deposits, the market’s currently-low mortgage rates and growing demand looks great in many ways to those looking to profit. Now that savings rates are lower than recent years, investments are looking better to a wider range of people, and there’s certainly a satisfaction to buying property and fixing it up to add value yourself.

However, it’s important to keep in mind that low rates will eventually creep back up again – you need to be comfortable in knowing that you can withstand that inevitability. It’s an investment often in the tens of thousands, but similarly can return big profits, and it’s essential that you’re aware of potential losses as well as gains. Buy-to- let comes with few safeguards and no guarantees, but if you believe it to be a wiser investment than stocks and shares, a bit of effort can pay off.

Choose Your Area Wisely

A wise investment in housing is not necessarily a large one, or a small one – it simply means investing in a place where people want – or will soon want – to live. Perhaps an obvious statement, but a vital one. Think carefully – if you’re looking to invest in property somewhere, it needs to be in a location with a particular appeal, present or upcoming. In particular, look for transport links, good schools, and great student areas; these are areas where there is most often high demand for housing.

Consider properties further away, or in need of love

Most buy-to- let investors stick with investing close to their own home – but that’s not necessarily for the best. If you’re going to be employing an agent, that agent will be able to monitor the house for you, and the best house for investing could be further afield. As said already, properties with good commuter links, good schools nearby, or prime for student housing are almost always better investments than those without.

In addition, properties meeting that criteria, but in need of some work, could be great for investment – provided you have the money available to fix it up. Their owners are usually more open to negotiation, and value can be added significantly by repairing and sprucing up the place. Make sure you can afford to fix it properly though – it’s a rough situation to be stuck with a half-fixed fixer-upper.

Run the Numbers

In buy-to- let, as with any investment, the numbers are critical. In property investment, it’s important to compare the cost of housing where you’re looking, and the buy-to- let mortgage rates you can get, with the rent you’re likely to get from it. Many lenders in buy-to- let will want rent to cover 125% of the mortgage repayments, and many of them also now want significant deposits as part of an agreement, thanks to finance officials having their eyes focused on mortgages as an area of potential exploit. They could even be tracker mortgages, so rates could rise with time – be prepared to deal with that. Make sure to shop around for mortgages from various lenders, like Woolwich, Accord, and

NatWest, to see who is offering the best deal. Comparing similar housing in the area, and the rent costs for those, is also important.

By finding the ranges of cost, rent, and mortgage, you should be able to see the viability of buy-to- let for that scenario very easily. Factoring in maintenance costs and the possibility that the property might not be taken up right away should give an even clearer view. Once you’ve run the numbers, it should be fairly clear whether or not this is a wise investment to make.

Consider Property Management

An important decision to make before you commit is that of how involved you want to be in the letting – do you want to rent it yourself, or have an agent take care of it?

If you’re planning to do it by yourself, you should set a significant amount of time aside for viewings, advertising, and, further on, repair and maintenance. You should also try to draft up a guideline of where you’ll advertise, how you’ll get paperwork (like tenancy agreements) and who you’ll contact if there’s a problem. It might seem intimidating, but it can be done.

On the other hand, for a small fee property managing agents will take care of problems with letting and the house. They will likely also have “seen it all before”, so there will be knowledge about what to do if anything goes awry. Agents will take care of maintenance, find and deal with the tenants and their problems, and generally make sure things go well in the letting process. They will even help with upkeep and any renovations that might need doing. It can be good to go hands-on, and do it yourself – there are certainly benefits - but often the approach that brings you peace of mind is a good one.

If you want to speak to The Spaces Collective about property management in London, contact us on:

info@thespacescollective.com or call 02038807309.