It’s International Women’s Day today!

But what does that mean?#Balance for better?

Today is not about a battle of the sexes. It’s not about comparing women to men, or proving which is better, stronger or cleverer. Today is not even about asking whose role is more important and whether stay-at-home carers matter more than those who earn money. In my eyes, they are both hard work.

Today is about recognising that despite wishing it were not the case, in many parts across the world, women are still treated as second class citizens. In education, religion, politics, leadership and business, many women who are bright and able are not allowed the choice to be the person they were meant to be.

In the West we probably can’t fully understand this kind of oppression. Despite rumblings of inequality in the UK (and the UK pay gap is but one measure of this), we know nothing compared to our sisters around the world who face much greater opposition.

It’s true that in the UK we continue to have to nag away at ‘accepted norms’ and stereotypes. To reduce the disadvantage that women often face, and the historical beliefs and structural challenges that make pure equality very hard to deliver. But compared to many women we must be grateful that we have role models who have risked their lives to break through those imposed barriers and paved the way for us.

Some of the women I am truly grateful for – Emmeline Pankhurst, the women’s suffragette leader who gave women the right to vote, Mother Teresa, who showed tremendous compassion and humility yet walked on the world’s stage, Laura Ashley and Anita Roddick – both female entrepreneurs who made a difference within a feminine power. Jocelyn Bell Burnell – a female physicist who first discovered pulsars at the end of the 1960s. The discovery was recognised by the award of the 1974 Nobel Prize in Physics, but despite the fact that she was the first to observe the pulsars, Bell was not one of the recipients of the prize.In 2018, she was awarded the Special Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics. She gave the whole of the £2.3m prize money to help women, ethnic minority, and refugee students become physics researchers.

Who are the women who have inspired you? What are their qualities and traits that have driven you forward, helped you feel great about yourself, made you believe in more?

For me these women showed strength in the face of massive challenges and family responsibility. They showed courage in the face of great fear and opposition. They showed humility and prowess. They showed grace and love.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could all emulate these qualities. Then, certainly, we would have #balance for better.

#internationalwomensday #women #inspiration #future

Clarity, Momentum and Accountability

I really believe in clarity to create momentum. I believe in accountability to ensure completion.  If you don’t have any of these three elements (clarity, momentum and accountability) you will probably fail. It may sound depressing, but you know what human beings are like. We set great goals, have high expectations, and huge hopes, but week 4 after the diet has started, we’ve slipped off the wagon and are justifying why a Mars bar is a necessary mid-morning snack.

We all do it! It’s what is called RESISTANCE! The block to achieving what you want. You start but don’t continue. You start but don’t complete. You start but don’t finish.

In property, as in investing generally, unless you are part of a team, it’s very easy to slip. To procrastinate, to delay. And before you know it, you’re six months further off buying your first property. Prices have gone up, the market has changed, and you’ve been left behind. Leave it too late and you’ll be completely unable to invest at the prices and rates you once could. Leaving you with regret and pain. Instead, you need someone who will help you stay accountable, plan with you to deliver energy and momentum and help you focus on what is really important, thus giving you clarity.

Over the last 12 months, I’ve been totting up how much property my small group of mentees has purchased. It totals over £5.1m !!! That is an average of £340,000 per person. Many of these properties were in the North of the UK so costing less than £80k. This figure does not include the cost of the refurbs or the income they have created! What’s even more extraordinary is how they have done this with little or none of their own money! All of them have created high cashflowing HMOs using my simple five step system, saving them time and money, and enabling them to deliver results fast.

It’s because they decided to get clear on their direction, gain momentum on their journey and stay accountable to me (and each other) that this incredible result has happened. I’m really proud of them for all they have achieved. Many of them started with little to NONE of their own money!

If you’d like to be part of a close-knit HMO investing team who really care about you and your struggles, and will work closely with you to help you achieve your goals then please get in touch. I’d love to help you be part of this magnificent result.

Wendy Whittaker-Large; Best Nest

Are you spending too much time watching TV?

According to a recent survey* adults in the UK spend nearly four hours a day watching TV. This doesn’t account for the time they’re spending on social media sites like Facebook and Instagram.

I’ve got nothing against TV; in fact I can really enjoy a good Scandi murder series like anyone else! At the end of a long day, an hour relaxing in front of the telly can be an ideal way to relax before bed. The issue here is not whether to watch, but how much.

If you find you’re watching a lot of TV, you might ask yourself why? Is it valuable food for your mind? Is it just passing time, or moving wallpaper? Is it a distraction from what you really should be doing? Or is it a way of ignoring the little voice in your head that tells you your life is worth more than this?

It’s so immediate, it’s really easy to find that we just flick the switch (or these days say ‘Telly On’), slouch down on the sofa and a few hours pass by. Is it really worthwhile though? Many of us want to run away from the pain of our daily lives by escaping into other people’s lives. It’s well known that soap operas and dramas are designed to include a cliffhanger deliberately to keep us addicted to the storyline, and stay watching.

It’s often more interesting to see other people’s problems so that we don’t have to face our own. Sadly, all this does is drive us further and further away from creating a solution to our own issues.

I would like to offer you a challenge if you know this is you. I would like you to think of designing your own life so that it has all the excitement of a soap opera with less of the drama! How can you feel more alive, do something that gets you up in the morning with joy, and enables you to create the life of your dreams?

The biggest problem that stops most people doing this is money. If this is you, you will fully appreciate how much of a challenge it is to change your life, ditch your job and do what you feel passionate about. Who will pay the mortgage and the bills? Who will take on board all your responsibilities?

How would it be if you could find another way to create income that doesn’t rely on your time? What about if you gave up a couple of hours of telly watching to learn how to invest in property so that you could make money without a job?

Investing in property allows you to make money without a job. It relies instead on your insider knowledge, your expertise and your contacts. If, through what you knew you could make a thousand, five thousand or ten thousand extra pounds per month how would that change your life? You may think this is ‘pie in the sky’ but I have seen ordinary people, like you, with families, children, jobs and mortgages create thousands of pounds of extra income per month.

How? They’ve done this through investing in HMOs. Houses of Multiple Occupation. I’d love to share with you how I took an ordinary house and turned it into a 7 bed HMO making me over £1500 income per month. And how I did this with very little of my own money.

If you’d be prepared to give up a couple of hours next Sunday night at 7.30pm I’ll be sharing with you – – Why you feel stuck if you are in a job – How to buy property with other people’s money – How to achieve financial freedom with just 5 properties – How to use a simple 5 step system to build your property portfolio.

In addition, for attending the webinar I will send you my unique 7-Step ‘Investor-Ready’ Process to make sure you are prepared for raising all the money for all the property you ever want!

I look forward to seeing you there. Sunday 24th February at 7.30pm.

Please Register for your place by clicking here

What can I do if my partner won’t support me investing in HMOs?

My son Tom is ten years old, and for Christmas last year he got a magic set. He spent the first few days learning all the tricks in the box so that he could amaze all the family with his skills. A few weeks later and there are really only about three tricks that he’s remembered but he’s already close to auditioning for the magic circle. He can summon up these tricks at will, and all he needs is a pack of cards and a one pound coin.

Isn’t it great when you discover something new and exciting? When you learn a new trick, or a new approach? Especially when it’s something that will really help your family like learning how to make money or how to invest in property.

When I learned all about HMOs and realised the amazing cashflow I could make in comparison to my single buy-to-lets I was gobsmacked. I just KNEW that by hook or by crook, I HAD to get into HMOs. My nice little portfolio of buy-to-lets was never gonna make me enough money to leave my job. I just wasn’t making enough money.

So I was committed to getting into HMOs. I was certain. I knew that the way ahead was HMOs. There was just one problem. My problem wasn’t money, it wasn’t time. It was my Darling Husband, Andy! Love him to bits, but cautious? Sheesh, he redefines the meaning of the word. He was SOOOO uncertain it was untrue!! “But what if it doesn’t work, what if we can’t get tenants, what if we run out of money?” he said, his voice laden with doubts.

Ever heard those things from your partner? Or ever thought those thoughts too? Andy was exactly the same.

What I wondered was whether I could ever make this plan work without my husband’s backing. There were risks in going it alone, and I wasn’t sure that I was ready to risk my marriage for money. Deep down I needed to know that he was at least ok with me investing in HMOs, even if he wasn’t willing to do any of the work.

If you’re finding that your partner is less than enthusiastic about your new-found desire to create HMO magic, I might be able to help you.

  1. Don’t rush it. You’ve had more time to let your ideas and your new-found enthusiasm settle than your partner has. He/ she is way behind you in their thinking. They need to learn for themselves. The one way to put someone off something fast is to impose your ideas too fast, too forcibly.
  2. Make time to discuss your ideas. If your partner refuses to listen, ask them if they would allow you 30 minutes to explain your ideas and why you want to invest, without them interrupting or arguing with you. Then you give them 30 minutes to explain why they have misgivings. Then take 15 minutes to calmly discuss your feelings together. After you’ve each shared, leave the discussion for 24 hours. This takes discipline and commitment, but will let your partner see that you are as committed to them as you are to the whole idea of investing in HMOs
  3. Show them you’ve considered their objections by writing out a clear plan. In my experience, people who are cautious tend to be people who like clarity and structure. With a written plan and some thought behind it, your partner may well realise you are serious and have thought about the risks. This alone can shift their mindset.
  4. Accept that your partner’s objections could strengthen your business. Take them seriously and consider whether their reasons have weight. You might realise that if you work on addressing their objections, you could have a stronger business as a result.
  5. Don’t give up on your dream to practice HMO magic. If you are in the right relationship and your partner really respects and loves you, your persistence will pay off.

 

After a few weeks of doing none of the above and frankly nagging Andy to death, he made an excellent suggestion. Being an IT geek, he was used to launching new projects as ‘beta’ projects – trial ones that tested the core idea to see if it would work.

So we agreed that I would launch a ‘beta’ HMO – a trial small four bed HMO. It was the best way to test my idea out and see if it would work, with little risk. It made me happy and it satisfied Andy’s aversion to risk.

Thankfully the project was a huge success, and soon afterwards I could really press on with my goal to create enough HMOs to achieve financial freedom. Our marriage not only stayed intact, but was made stronger as a result.

You can create a magical income from HMOs and you can do it with your partner’s support if you are patient and kind. You never know, in future, they will probably thank you for it.

 

How Can I Get My Money Out? A guide to adding the most value to your HMO.

I speak to a lot of people investing in HMOs and one of their biggest questions at the point of buying a property is ‘How can I be sure to get all my money out?’.
Many of us have been educated to realise that the momentum of releasing money from one deal to use as capital for the next creates momentum for effective wealth-building. Changes to the marketplace, regulation and government towards investors means it is becoming increasingly difficult for investors to pull all their money out of HMO developments, especially if they are new to the market. Many lenders have tightened their criteria so that there is some ‘skin left in the game’ by the investor after the development has been completed – meaning that no matter what you do, you will NOT be able to recycle all your cash when you re-finance after the development is completed. So what can you do to avoid getting stuck with capital left in a project? And how can you best insure yourself against that happening?
Having bought, sold and refurbished nearly 35 properties worth over £5m, we have plenty of experience of developing properties that have valued up thus allowing all the money to be pulled out of the development. We have also had some developments where we have left money in the deal. I wouldn’t necessarily say that the latter were ‘worse deals’ than the former. There are ways to assess and evaluate a project which consider more than just whether you have pulled all your money out. However, there are a few key areas, that when actioned, can create a far better chance of getting all your money out.
1. You make money when you buy, not when you sell. It’s an adage that seems rather counter-intuitive, but it’s absolutely true. Buying a property at the right price is a fundamental first step to adding value. When you buy below market value, you immediately lock in value as comparative to other properties of a similar size, age and state you are already making money by buying below market value. Relying on capital gains is not a sound strategy for HMOs because it can be so volatile. There are clever ways to find properties below market value but they all depend on finding a buyer who is motivated. I suggest rather than looking for properties you look for buyers. We once bought a single buy to let at a considerably reduced price (about 24% below market value) because the tenant had moved out of the house and the landlord had no cash to bring it up to a standard whereby it would re-rent. He therefore had to sell. After we had carried out some basic renovations costing roughly £6k (new kitchen and decoration plus carpets throughout), the house valued up at over £32k more than we had paid for it, allowing us to re-mortgage and pull all our money out. During the conveyancing process on another property which we bought for development as an HMO, we discovered that the garden was hiding Japanese Knotweed! We had a full survey which estimated the cost of complete removal and destruction of the knotweed, plus remedial work on the garden, to be in the thousands of pounds. By taking this figure back to the vendor we reduced the price of the house accordingly. Once the work was completed and insured (very important if you are removing JKW) we were easily able to re-finance the HMO on a commercial basis. If you can find problems with properties, you will find deals. If you can find motivated sellers you can find deals. If you become a problem solver rather than a problem creator, you will find LOTS of deals and this is still the first and the best strategy for creating long term value.
2. Substantially alter the layout. This is a second approach which relies on heavy capital investment and thus is not always possible for investors who are starting out on their HMO investment journey. I’m referring here to putting ensuites in all of the rooms, perhaps even small kitchenettes, moving walls and re-configuring the layout so that the property is clearly only for use as an HMO and without serious work will never be used as a family house again. Getting good plans drawn up by a technically competent person (such as an architectural technician) will also allow you to explore other creative options for the property which a trained eye can spot. Larger properties would be eligible for this undertaking as you will not get the sizes required from smaller houses to make this worthwhile. There is though another risk, which is that in doing so you incur the risk of revaluation of the rooms as single buy-to-let units which in turn become eligible for council tax on their own merits. You need to know the local market sufficiently well to understand how likely this is. When HMOs have planning permission (required for properties with 7 or more bedrooms), a license (currently for properties over three storeys) and full building regulation certification, this can also help to increase the likelihood of a valuation that will recognise the value of the property as a commercial venture.
3. Extend the property. As is the case in standard residential properties, adding extra space to a house can add significant value when designed and executed well. You could add a loft extension, cellar room, or a rear extension to the property, all increasing the rental yield of the house, and adding space. Assuming your costs do not exceed more than 75% of the added value, (i.e. if the added space can add £20k in value to the property, you need to spend 75% or less of that figure to create the space or you will be leaving money in the deal). Space that is already attached to buildings such as garages, workshops or conservatory lean-tos can also be used for conversion (subject to getting the necessary consents). The use of redundant but pre-established space on the footprint of a property has been a well-used hack that developers have historically used to add many thousands of pounds of income to an HMO property. Some of our best performing HMOs are ones we have bought with additional space such as this and converted into additional living or bedroom areas.
4. Great design. Creating beautiful, contemporary and exceptional spaces in which tenants can live is an aspiration for many HMO investors. There are many inspirational ideas you can apply to do this without spending the earth. Lighting, colour, clever use of space, creative touches and unique details can all create a ‘WOW’ factor in an HMO which even valuers are impressed by! Minor improvements such as bathrooms and kitchens of course also improve the look and feel of an HMO. However, in terms of assuring cash out of the deal, this approach is more tricky and may require you to combine this with one of the other approaches I’ve outlined above to maximise the impact that good interior design can have. We developed a small ‘mini-mo’ in Stoke-on-Trent which was bought below market value at £61,000. We spent £26,000 on the refurb which was a huge amount of money comparative to its value. However, the property valued up at £100,000 on a bricks and mortar basis. We left just £2k in the deal and it nets us a profit of £650 per month. This for a small three-bedroom house! The valuer was delighted when he turned up and said it was one of the best-looking properties in Stoke he had ever seen.
5. Experience. If you are brand new to HMOs this is the one area you won’t easily be able to demonstrate evidence of – that is, running and managing HMOs. If you don’t already have other buy-to-let properties this can also be a stumbling block, which is a reason why I advise anyone to get a couple of vanilla buy-to-lets under their belt before embarking on HMOs. Lenders like to see that you are approaching this as a business not a hobby, and have considered maintenance, repairs, voids and local market conditions in your approach to the property. Writing a business plan is becoming a necessity for many lenders to ask for to know that their money is in safe hands (as well as having first charge on the property). This document will become a selling point as you can use it to create the correct impression and build a strong relationship with the lender. It will help you to consider how you will manage the HMO in detail and analyse the risks and rewards if you haven’t already done so. When we put our first business plan in place and gave it to the lender as part of the application, we had excellent feedback which assured us that this was not the normal standard of application they received. Since then we have built a great relationship with this lender, allowing us to access lower fees, lower interest rates and better deals. This takes time and is a huge benefit of HMOs that is not often discussed. Although on your very first deal you may not find that this adds any value at all to the building, as time goes on, the leverage you create when you have a positive and reciprocally beneficial relationship with a lender is huge. Remember you can re-mortgage a property more than once. Property is a long game and having a sound perspective will mean that you can plan when the next round of re-financing can take place. This strategy has tax implications that you should understand and consider, so take tax advice for your business before implementing this approach.
6. Choose the right lender. Using an experienced and well-connected mortgage broker is crucial to get the best valuation on a property. Without experience and specialist knowledge of the marketplace you may end up with an offer and a valuation that does not fully reflect the value you’ve created. By working closely with your mortgage broker they will fully understand your business, your personal situation and agree an approach to risk (again often not discussed but vital when it comes to deciding on your HMO borrowing strategy). Some lenders are happy to value on a full commercial basis (i.e. on a net income multiplier). Others are more cautious and prefer what I call a ‘hybrid’ valuation approach – a mid-way figure that sits roughly half-way between bricks and mortar and commercial. Each lender has their own policy guidance that they use to advise valuers on their panel. While this is not something you can easily influence, you can reject a valuation of a property if you feel it is not reflective of the value you have created. If you are buying with a mortgage and then plan to re-finance after the development is completed, a good plan to make this strategy work will ensure you meet all the lender’s requirements before and afterwards (especially if there is a possibility of re-financing onto a new HMO mortgage product with a different lender).
For example, Precise mortgage’s requirements include:
a. Experience: experienced landlords only. Applicants must have held a current buy to let for at least 12 months prior to application. No first time landlords
b) Occupancy: properties with up to 8 bedrooms accepted
c) Minimum valuation: £250k in London, £100k elsewhere.
d) Rental cover – Interest Cover Ratio: Bespoke ICRs based on individual circumstances to help you to maximise the loan size.
If you don’t meet these requirements you won’t be able to access this mortgage product. Another option is a bridge to term product which allows you to buy, develop and then re-finance with an end valuation in mind. Although this is not completely reliable as a determined end value, it will give you some comfort as to a potential figure. As they say, forewarned is forearmed!
7. Finally, do the maths! Do you really want a commercial revaluation to pull out all of your money? In some areas, it would be preferable NOT to get a commercial valuation if the bricks and mortar value of the property is higher than the commercial multiplier of net rents. Also you must consider the impact on your cash flow if you gear your portfolio highly. By increasing the value of a property you may be able to pull out all of your seed capital, but does it make sense to do it? If the mortgage payments result in creating a risk for your business if your HMO is not fully occupied 100% of the time, is it really right to take out all your money? If you do get a valuation that allows you to withdraw all the added value you have created what is your plan for the money? Having a good accountant and tax specialist at this stage will be vital so that you maximise the positive result you have created. Your age, attitude to risk and overall strategy will help determine the answers to these questions.
Wendy Whittaker-Large
If you would like to find out more about how I can help you realise your HMO ambitions, why not join me on my two-day ‘Multilet Income Multiplier’ Event on 2-3rd March 2019.
At a special donation price of £400 (saving £900 on RRP), with all proceeds going to the YMCA, there is no better time to learn how to systemise your HMO business for success.

Seasons in Life and Property Investing

The recent snowfall we’ve had in the last few days has made me reflect that the seasons we experience in our weather are much like seasons in a property business. Throughout the year we expect to experience different seasons. As the year progresses it would be very strange not to feel the changes in sunlight, temperature and climate. Indeed, other countries across the world have very different seasons to our own. They still have seasons and recognise the need for the rainy season and the hot sunny seasons and the dry season. Yet too often we have expectations that our journey in property can always be in summer mode – sunny, bright and positive! But that’s not reality.

Seasons create the right environment for growth. Without seasons, we wouldn’t get the fruit, vegetables and produce that we rely on to live. Yet in winter it can be hard to enjoy life in the same way we do in summer.

In a property business there are varying seasons – and you might feel right now that it’s like winter. You can’t find the deals, you can’t find the investors, you’re doing lots of viewings and maybe you feel like nothing’s happening and you’re getting nowhere. There’s no shoots, there’s no blossom, there’s no greenery, it feels cold, hard, and icy. At a time like this you need to concentrate on creating YOUR ideal environment for growth. A bit like a compost heap needs time to develop and mature, we also need the right environment to mature into successful property entrepreneurs.

What kind of people do you surround yourself with? Are you in the right group of investors? Are you focusing on expansion or contraction? Are you learning the secrets of successful entrepreneurs while you can, or are you retreating – hibernating, cos it all seems just too hard and impossible for you to achieve?

I’ve worked with many, many people who felt that they were skating on ice. They didn’t have experience, they didn’t have time. And they didn’t have the right knowledge.

Take Keith for example. He was the epitome of a successful businessman, but felt completely stuck in his well-paid job. He wanted to create a reliable extra income stream for himself and his fiancee. He heard about the exceptional returns that HMOs could bring, but had no idea how to do it. He came on my 2-day Multilet Income Multiplier event and learnt exactly how to make his time and money work efficiently by implementing my simple five-step system. In just a few months he had created 3 HMOs and done this with other people’s money! He realised that he was stuck in the winter cycle because he hadn’t taken action towards his goals. When he learnt exactly HOW to create passive income and do it with other people’s money he felt like spring had sprung!

The good news for you is that spring is around the corner. If you take action and do what’s needed you can adjust and change your results.

If you’re interested in learning more, and would like to get started but have no idea how to start, scale and systemise your HMO portfolio, then I’d like to invite you to my next two day event on March 2nd and 3rd. The usual price is £1497 but I am running a unique charity weekend to raise money for the YMCA – a charity that supports young and vulnerable people who are homeless. The special weekend price is just £400! Yes that’s right a discount of over £1000! All money raised will go to the YMCA.

You’ll learn the very same 5 step system that Keith learned and implemented, and is now making him thousands of pounds income per month. You’ll also learn how to sow the right seeds at the right time and in the right way, to get the best deals and to grow your portfolio fast. If you know that this year you really must start to learn how to make this a reality in your life, and make winter turn into summer – then I would urge you to book your place now. At this price, I know the seats will fill up fast, and I wouldn’t want you to miss out.

Click Here to Book up NOW

Just like in the natural world that we see around us it won’t be long before you’ll start to see those green shoots that are evidence of your activity paying dividends. You’ll start to see the trees budding, and blossom appearing.

Perhaps right now vendors aren’t willing to negotiate with you. Maybe estate agents haven’t got the stock on their books. There’s lots of other economic factors at work that are making it feel like winter, but it will change. If you are in it, if you know what you’re doing, if you know what you’re looking for, if you’re practicing, then when spring comes, you’ll be ready.

And then up ahead is summer! Just think about the summer you’re going to have – the kind of rewards you’re going to have and the amount you’re going to be able to reap because you have sown seeds at the right time in the right season. That’s why I’m a big believer in educating yourself about property – how to spot when a deal is a deal, and how to see the conditions for an effective transaction.

When autumn comes, that’s the time for looking at your portfolio assessing how well it’s working and whether you’re getting the returns you expected. Perhaps you need to prune it a little bit. Perhaps you need to cut back a bit here, or you need to push forward a bit there, or you need to focus a bit more in another area. Then, of course, there’ll be time for winter again. You’ll be better prepared next time because you’ve gone through it once already and will know exactly how to approach it and how to behave.

Seasons are natural and rhythmic but I believe that if we act despite what the weather and our feelings tell us, then we can still make the most of our situation to produce great fruit when the time comes!

So don’t let this winter dictate your activity – plan for a fantastic spring and summer, and plant the right seeds in your life now –

Click here to find out more!

To your growth

Wendy

Top 20 Questions for your Potential HMO Agent

If you’re considering HMO’s as your next property investment, have you thought about how you will ongoingly manage them?

If you intend to use an agent, how do you know how to benchmark them against each other?

Top 20 Questions to ask your potential HMO agent…

1. What experience do you have in renting out properties like this HMO?
2. What is the type of HMO you specialise in?
3. What is the average room rent you achieve?
4. What is your average void period?
5. What is your average type of tenant?
6. How do you advertise the properties?
7. On average how long does it take you to rent a room?
8. What percentage of rent advertised do you achieve?
9. Do you rent any licensed HMOs?
10. Are you the manager of any licensed HMOs?
11. What does your service actually include?
12. How do you deal with maintenance and repair jobs?
13. How do tenants contact you for emergencies?
14. How do tenants report issues or general queries?
15. How often do you/your team visit the property?
16. How do you deal with rent arrears/missed rent payments?
17. How do you ensure the cleaner is managed well?
18. Which KPIs do you gather and supply to your clients each month?
19. What is your inventory process?
20. What advice would you give to an HMO landlord?

Get Organised with Viewings

If you know that the returns in your area are not what you’re looking for, choose another area. Don’t stress too much about finding your goldmine area just yet. One will appear.

However, you need to trust and follow the process first. Learn HOW to follow a process for sourcing and viewings so that when your ideal area becomes obvious, you are ready to pounce! Creating a system so that you regularly contact agents and vendors, organise viewings and follow-up is key to your actions if you’re going to find deals.

Diarise Property Viewings

If you’re planning on growing your property portfolio this year, the one action you will have to diarise is regular viewings.

Creating a system so that you regularly contact agents and vendors, organise viewings and follow-up is key to your actions if you’re going to find deals.

Create a spreadsheet with three tabs at the bottom – one for each area that you’re analysing. Better to analyse a postcode area than just a general town/ city wide area.

Within the spreadsheet create 9 rows…

  1. Average price of property sold in the last 12 months
  2. Population size & growth
  3. Large employers in area
  4. Growth plans and development
  5. Transport links
  6. Spare room average rental income
  7. Number of tenants looking for rooms
  8. Number of rooms available
  9. Views from local lettings and estate agents about HMO demand

Stay Ahead of the Winter Weather for Property Success

A survey from online letting agent upad.co.uk, which surveyed 4,000 landlords, showed that nearly half of landlords fail to carry out routine maintenance checks before Winter sets in. The impact of failing to prepare for the bad weather can be huge, especially if your property is an HMO. Frozen pipes resulting in no heating and water, and then water leaks and further problems lead to unhappy tenants who may choose to move elsewhere.
Our maintenance team carry out monthly checks on all our properties, but every quarter they run a more detailed assessment to identify and prevent longer term problems. Here are my suggestions for areas that you need to include in a routine check (or make sure your managing agent does)!

1. Gutters, drains and roofs
Leaves and debris can quickly cause water damage if they’re not cleared regularly. I would recommend that every 6 months someone needs to go up on a tall ladder and check the state of your gutters and downpipes, clear the debris and run a hose of water through them. Make a similar regular date with your roof. Loose or missing shingles may lead to leakages with rain or melting snow, and flat roofs may be prone to leaks after heavy rain.

2. Trees and external objects
If you’ve got a tall tree or foliage that overhangs the property, check whether this needs to be cut back or pruned so that in high winds there’s no risk of damage to the house. Having deciduous trees near to the property can cause other problems such as root growth damage and leaf pile up, so it might be a good idea to assess whether this is the right time to remove a tree altogether.
The television aerial can also get dislodged in high winds, so it’s worth having a look to see whether it is securely lashed to the chimney stack and can withstand some force from the wind.

3. Heating and lighting
Boiler failure is one of the most irritating and costly issues to deal with and can cause real upset with tenants – understandably. Have your boiler serviced at the end of October to flag issues early and consider whether you could add boiler insurance to your policy for extra cover.  You may choose to use a service plan to ensure you have back-up should the boiler fail. Alternatively find a reliable local plumber who is happy to do emergency calls at an agreed price. Furnish your agent with full boiler instructions and a detailed guide as to how to re-set it or top up the water levels as this can sometimes be the issue. Also make sure your tenants know who to call if anything goes wrong.
Heating woes are not all about the boiler, however. While three-quarters of landlords who carry out winter maintenance check the boiler, only half remember to do a health check on the pipes and radiators too, according to the upad.co.uk survey. Bleeding the radiators and checking for leaks across the property ensures the whole system will work more efficiently.
Using a remote thermostat like Hive from British Gas or Inspire will allow you to control the heating remotely. This means that you can set the property’s heating to come on regularly each day. Ensure your tenants understand the thermostat set levels and what to do if they want to change the heating settings.

4. Condensation and mould
Condensation can be a major problem in the winter months and regular room checks will allow you to see whether this is occuring. Air flow through the property is key to reducing humidity as is the use of extractor fans. Check that all extractor fans are in use and working properly, and remind tenants of the importance of good ventilation.

5. Alarms and security
Every habitable floor of a rental property must have a working smoke alarm – and any room with a solid fuel appliance (eg, a working fireplace) should be equipped with a carbon monoxide alarm. While testing your alarms, check the burglar alarm is working for added tenant reassurance on dark nights. If you have an outside light or PIR, make sure it stays on long enough and the range is wide enough to be of use. If your tenants have to pull bins out onto the street, or don’t have enough light to see where to put their key in the front door, their annoyance will only be exacerbated by having to wave at the external light that fails to stay on long enough to be helpful.

6. Insurance
Ensure your current home insurance is up to date and check your policy gives adequate protection for any winter-related damages. And if your property has a flat roof, it’s worth checking your insurer covers flat roof damage – most insurers do not cover flat roofs, and structures of this kind can be prone to collecting water as it can’t drain off.

Having a regular approach to maintenance is both proactive and reactive and will help you ensure that your HMO works well today and for the future.

For more tips, advice and information on running a successful and cash-flowing HMO portfolio please join my Facebook group ‘The Ultimate HMO Success System. Or alternatively you can find out more about my mentoring services at www.wendywl.uk/mentor.html

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