Kate's top stories of the week including Benham & Reeves and the DeVere Group

publication date: Feb 10, 2015
author/source: Kate Faulkner, Property Expert and Author of Which? Property Books

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Kate's top stories this week...

Story 1 - Manage your property properly or see losses on your investment!
Benham and Reeves have come up with an amusing series of anecdotes about landlords who’ve tried – and failed – to use their own DIY skills to maintain their properties. Top of the favourite jobs is plumbing, but nothing escapes the home DIY enthusiast and there are amusing tales of door adjustments going wrong, and bathrooms being shoehorned into tiny, awkward spaces.

However, there’s a serious point behind the funny stories; current legislation requires professional tradesmen to carry out repairs on rented properties, but there are still some landlords who have a go at doing them themselves – and the less-than-perfect results lead to being able to command less-than-top rents.

The message is clear: a good letting agent can advise on the best way to approach home improvements that will add value to your investment, and if you don’t follow their recommendations, you are very likely to lose income and reputation. To read more, go to BR Lets

Kate’s thoughts
On the one hand it’s good to have a laugh at people trying to save a pound or two renovating their property, but the poor tenant is paying a price to rent a property which is legally let. Doing DIY on property which is rented, isn’t a good idea. You go to jail or are fined if things go wrong. Good tradespeople will ensure you have warranties and guarantees which take care of you and ensure if something does go wrong, there is some sort of protection for you. Read:

Story 2
Expat mortgage approval is far from difficult to secure
DeVere United Kingdom, part of deVere Group, which has 80,000 mostly expatriate customers across the world, has countered UK lenders’ typical opinion of British expatriates as being high risk.

Kevin White, deVere’s Head of UK Financial Planning, says that, in fact, “95% of our clients who live and/or work overseas get a mortgage agreement… if they follow certain criteria.”

These criteria amount to

  1. having stable local and international bank accounts,

  2. showing they have committed themselves to saving a good-sized deposit, and

  3. hiring an English-speaking public notary or lawyer who is able to authorise documents locally.

However, there are two extras that expats need to consider before concluding transactions: checking that interest rates are in the same currency as the mortgage they’re applying for, in case currencies go up or down and cause payments to rise; and also ensuring they don’t get charged additional fees just because they live abroad.

Some mortgage brokers levy an additional charge of up to 1.5% for that sole reason. Hence British people living outside the UK have no reason to struggle to get a mortgage. For more information, see www.devere-group.com

Kate’s thoughts 
It’s really important when you aren’t looking for a ‘standard’ mortgage, in my view, to go to a broker used to dealing with the type of mortgage you need – in this case for expats. Experts in finance can save you a fortune, just like buying currency from special traders and not from your local bank, especially in large sums can save you a massive amount of money. Read:

Story 3
Land Registry introduces new free counter-fraud measure for companies

Companies owning a registered property that they think may be vulnerable to a fraudulent sale or mortgage can now apply for a restriction (using form RO(Co)) requiring conveyancers to certify that they are happy that the company transferring, leasing or mortgaging the property is the same company as the owner before any new sale, lease or mortgage is registered.

They also have to certify that they have taken reasonable measures to establish that the person who executed the deed on behalf of the company actually held that particular office at that time.

Alasdair Lewis, Director of Legal Services, said “With fraud currently estimated to cost the economy £70bn annually, it makes sense to try and deter fraudsters where possible…. our new restriction can easily be used by companies to help protect their property from being stolen.”

Up to three restrictions can be applied for free of charge, and the Land Registry has issued some top tips to help protect property from fraudsters, including signing up for their free Property Alert service and a fraud line and email address, reportafraud@landregistry.gsi.gov.uk, for anyone who thinks they’re the victim of property fraud.

Two Bucks fraudsters were identified by the Land Registry in Bucks and Worcester and were given four-year jail sentences in 2011. For more information, go to landregistry.gsi.gov.uk

Kate’s thoughts
It’s vital that any homeowner makes sure you sign up to the Land Registry service as people are out there who are intend on property fraud – and have been known to sell people’s own homes and investment properties ‘under their noses’, so again don't forget about the government Property Alert service. Read:

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