Microhomes

 

Are microhomes the answer? 29 March 2018

We all know the difficulties and struggles of becoming a homeowner; young people having to endure exorbitant private renting costs. Thousands of families living in substandard housing and rough sleeping is just the tip of the homeless iceberg plus many “hidden homeless” sofa surfing.

Development schemes where property prices start at £810,000 for a 41.7m2 studio (I can’t tell you the cost of a three-bed for fear you’ll choke on your breakfast) and space at a premium in London many having packed up their ambitions for more of it long ago all add to the pressure and difficulties of London living.

We are told we’re in the midst of a housing shortage epidemic, but at the top end of the market, developers are building just enough homes to meet demand. Those who suffer however are low and middle earners. Recent nationwide research from estate agents Savills found that only a third of the homes needed by this group are in the pipeline.

Which brings us on to microhomes, like everything there are arguments for and against these little lodgings but who is right?

 

micro 1

Environmental  effect

An obvious argument for the benefit of small homes is the effect they have or lack there of on the environment. It’s no coincidence that the “green” movement happened to coincide with the tiny housing trend. Tiny homes use a fraction of the resources a traditional home would The smaller square footage allows you to use less energy in the form of electricity and gas. In fact according to Red Planet you could decrease your carbon dioxide emissions by 26000 pounds per year.  An average sized house will produce 28,000 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions every year, while a tiny house will emit 2,000 pounds. Thus, owning a tiny house could go a long way to reducing your personal carbon emissions to a more acceptable level. The primary reason why tiny homes use less energy is that there is simply less space to heat and cool. Another reason is that fewer electrical appliances are needed. Larger homes take a certain toll on the environment. By using less land, fewer building materials and a more modest level of natural resources, micro housing is an environmentally-conscious homeowner’s dream.

Financially cost effective?

Pocket Living established in 2005 are champions of microhomes and offer two types; Pocket Living and Pocket Edition.

Pocket Living is aimed at First time buyers trying to get on the property ladder earning less than £90,000. They are offered to those local to the borough at a 20% discounted rate in comparison to the average property price in the area. Pocket Edition is open to anyone and offer 3 bedroom family homes still compact in space but innovative in design. They are contemporary in style and are conveniently located to the high street, local amenities and transport hubs. They have landscaped courtyards and plenty of secure cycle storage.

Design

As previously mentioned many of the designs are impressive: prefabricated constructions made from steel frames and concrete slabs. They are quicker to build and middle-income tenants will enjoy the sort of generous shared amenities more often found in luxury flats: a gym, roof terrace, bike storage as seen in the accommodation Pocket Living offer.

Architect Anna Rochar designed the Skinny House in Almere Poort in the Netherlands. The frame took less than 2 days to build and occupies less space than a double garage. The living space is spread over 3 floors and has sliding doors and built in furniture.

However though their designs don’t come up short some do. The minimum space regulation of 37m2 for some residential units this has been waived raising the question: is clever design a substitute for actual space?

Does size matter?

In December 2015, the Royal Institute of British Architects (Riba) released a report on new homes that warned, shockingly, that half of all new homes are too small for families “to live comfortably and cohesively, to eat and socialise together, to accommodate a growing family or ageing relatives, or even to store possessions including everyday necessities such as a vacuum cleaner.” Many of these micro homes are inadequate in size some are being offered on the market at 19sqm the same size as two prison cells! National space standards suggest that a one-person dwelling can’t be smaller than 37 sqm. That’s about the same internal space as a tube carriage, and a fair bit larger than the average Travelodge room, which is 28 sqm so 19sm is far from cutting it.

 

tight squeeze

Privatisation

Julia Park, head of housing research, Levitt Bernstein says “if microhomes are part of the solution, they are also part of the problem. Smaller homes lead to higher densities; higher densities lead to higher land prices and higher land prices lead to crazy purchase prices. Each time a micro-flat is sold, it sets up a chain reaction that nudges up the price of everything else.”  Though there is certainly a role for micro-homes as one of the options for tackling the housing crisis they come with a big caveat with regards to space and quality of life. Many people will compromise on the size of their home to get a foot on the ladder and this could be hugely exploited if micro-housing became mainstream. A fundamental issue preventing it from becoming mainstream is potentially the difficulty to buy them. How easy are they to buy?

To buy or not to buy?

Not very! Is the answer. According to Which? Lloyds Bank, Barclays and Santander all said although they didn’t have a specific size limit, they lend on the basis of a professional valuation. However Nationwide and RBS wouldn’t lend on properties with floor areas smaller than 30 sqm. RBS added that smaller properties run the risk of ‘restricted demand’ and ‘volatile pricing on resale’. If most buyers cannot easily get a mortgage on the property it will prove difficult to sell plus limit price growth over the long-term.

The Future

So we can see that while their popularity is certainly growing, we need to be cautious about this new trend. For some first time buyers and singles  they may be perfect but be aware that selling up to purchase the second home or start a family may be tricky as they don’t grow in value. We know the housing market is broken but is a race to the finish line the answer?

 

 

Lets with Pets!

Lets with Pets! 17 Oct 2017

Britain is famous for being a nation of Pet lovers and if you follow us on Instagram you’ll know we are too, sadly this cannot be said for the majority of buy-to-let landlords. However with over 12 million households owning a pet in the private rental sector and the increase in demand for rentals growing it’s not an issue that can be ignored.

Landlords we understand your initial reservations but you might want to paws for thought (see what we did there?) sit down have a cuppa and read on before you say no. Below we’ll outline the benefits for landlords and tips for tenants so everyone stays happy including our four legged friends!

 

lets with pets dog drink tea

 

Landlords should you accept Lets for Pets?!

You’ll want to make an assessment of the situation case by case, it may not be suitable to have a Great Dane live in your 10th floor studio apartment but letting your 1 bedroom garden flat to a couple with a kitty might not be so bad. Plus there are various measures you can take that will safe-guard your property from the issues that come with having pets.

Firstly it will widen the pool of tenants you can choose from and as landlords who accept pets are few and far between you are likely to keep your tenant for longer making them ultimately more reliable.

Make a potential acceptance of an offer strictly subject to in depth referencing, inventory and request a pet profile. Plus instead of advertising as “pets accepted” advertise initially as “pets considered”. This will allow you to vet perspective tenants and pets individually, will reduce any anxiety about the type of pet in your home and give you more confidence when letting to tenants with pets.

Upon acceptance include pet specific  clauses in your tenancy agreement for example  specify that tenants must keep their pet regularly vaccinated, dogs must be kept on a lead in communal areas i.e gardens or walkways and even at the end of the tenancy must professionally clean the property. For examples of what to put in a tenancy agreement or testimonials Lets for Pets sponsored by Dogs Trust has some great examples. http://www.letswithpets.org.uk/home/welcome

Finally you’ll also find tenants are willing to pay a premium to keep their furry friends by their side, which means you can increase both the monthly rent and deposit request making accepting pets into your property pawsitively profitable!

Tips for Tenants and your furry friends!

There are various measures you can take in order to ensure both you and your four legged friend find a happy home.

Be upfront about having a pet. It is quite common for tenants to trick the landlord either by not mentioning it in the hope the landlord will never find out or if they do that it will be too late after you have moved in. Wrong! On both accounts read on for our advice.

If you are upfront and honest it will create for a better relationship with the landlord and will say a lot more for your character as a tenant  landlords want responsible tenants and being honest with them will show this and allow them to trust you for any futures issue that may arise too.

Money talks! Be prepared to pay a higher premium. Offer a larger deposit or an increase in monthly rent either way this will definitely work in your favour.

Pet Profile ….It may sound rather odd but it will set you apart from the rest and show you to be a conscientious, reliable and responsible person which is ultimately what any landlord is looking for. Create a C.V for your pet. It should be possible for landlords and agents to vet your pet the same way they might a potential tenant. You will want to include general formalities such name breed weight. The health of your pet for example show that your dog is regularly health checked and vaccinated against fleas ticks an dewormed, mention their behaviour e.g  toilet trained, quiet, friendly, plus your  personal responsibilities e.g  let them know they are regularly walking and length of time your pet is left alone.

Finally searching for properties that accept pets in their properties can be tricky however ensure to add the pet friendly filter, be honest from the start when meeting agents and let them know what you are looking for some agents actively try to provide pet friendly lets Belvoir lets states that by additional paperwork and deposits they have successfully been able to secure homes for both tenant and pet you’ll find more details here www.belvoir.co.uk

So tenants get prepped and landlords what do you have to lose? Give it a try and give lets for pets a go!

lets with pets dog and kittien

Estate Agents are they really that bad?

 

Estate agents are they really that bad? 23 Oct 2017

New research shows that complaints against estate agents are at their highest levels ever. We just don’t seem to like or trust them – but do estate agents really deserve their poor reputation?

It may be the Minis with logos splashed all over them. The over-enthusiasm when you first meet one or the fee when they sell your homes …when in actual fact it’s you who is selling your home! Has anyone actually ever met an agent that discourages you from buying a home simply because it’s unsuitable?

Hey Mr Estate Agent, is that 2 bedroom pent house suite an appropriate living environment for my wife, 4 children and dog?

 Well, let me see; according to my calculations, I get 1.5% of the sale price. So if I worked this out correctly- then YES, it’s a perfect living environment for you and your family!

 

 dogey estate agent

 

 Sadly no matter what it is, people just don’t seem to like estate agents. Talk to almost anyone selling, buying, letting or renting and they’ll have a story. Few of which will have a happy ending, but do they really deserve their bad reputation read on to find out…..

Times are changing and so are the way in which estate agents run their businesses from online to reduce costs to those who focus on niche markets in order to really excel at what they do.

Online ……The new breed of online, fixed-fee estate agents such as Yopa www.yopa.co.uk and Purple Bricks www.purplebricks.comare disrupting the property market and challenging traditional agencies with high-quality, flexible and transparent services at a fraction of the cost. These new measures are making it very difficult to continue shining the same unsavoury light upon them.  Ergo can we really label estate agents as these greedy, unsavoury , commission chasers they once were…I think not.

Estate Agent or Estate Angel………have you ever been greeted by Darth Vader while sat at your desk? Attended a mid morning meet with a naked stranger? ( if so….pray tell?!) Or been in a room filled with snakes? Having spoken to some estate agents these are just a few of the examples of what they have to deal with on a day to day basis.  On top of this whether using online agents or the more traditional format, buying or selling can be both stressful and exhausting for all involved.  Right up until the last minute a deal can be sabotaged by a final act of panic or greed. The dynamic of people, money and property can be fraught with emotions and vendor / purchaser can be locked in financial combat. An agent can spend months working on one particular property for it to all fall through at the last minute and ultimately end up working for zero pounds and zero pence. Could you do it?

Just to add salt to the wound a recent Facebook post highlighted just how much stereotype has become the biggest challenge agents face. The post outlined that this particular agent no longer wanted to deal with a very difficult client and simply walked away. There were over 275 comments and judging by the tone short of lynching said agent no punishment would have sufficed. These comments came from complete strangers who knew neither agent nor seller, had no details about what happened, and no information other than the comment from the agent. The public immediately jumped to the sellers defence and one can only assume this is down to public misconception.

However like everything in life we must take care to distinguish between opinion and fact. There are numerous sources which criticize the profession, but like many other jobs, a few bad seeds can spoil perceptions of the industry. They should not be taken as general rule. There are however agents who are tackling these preconceived ideas and challenges head on.

For example Ivywell Estate Agents http://www.ivywell.co.uk  who and I quote are “inspiring action” to make your home stand out in a “sea of similarity” These chaps really do go the extra mile. Their area of speciality is the Prestige Property Sector and they incorporate integrity and dedication in all their decisions via the route of discussions over dinner plus interior styling and professional photography from the likes of those who shoot for Vogue, The Resident and Elle Decoration to maximise the value of your home.

WA Ellis  http://www.waellis.com/Estate-Agency-Foundation  an estate  agents, though set in the heart London’s  most luxurious and prestigious area of Knightsbridge gives back.  Lucy Morton one  of the team is a member of the Property Standards Boards and works closely with Estate Agency Foundation who are charity set up to combat homelessness. Something we at Jackson Partnership feel very strongly about. The charity raises funds from fundraising events and activities. Their most recent bike riding event was sponsored by Zoopla. The money is then distributed to established and relevant charities. Do you still think agents don’t care?

Finally does anyone remember Telegraph columnist Mary Portas ripping into an estate agency on her Channel 4 programme Secret Shopper? Well it was this one. In response, Martyn Gerrard  http://www.martyngerrard.co.uk   has cut the flannel and sorted itself out. It has increased details on properties, even gone on to win awards . Most recently winning Gold for Letting Agent of the Year and Silver for Estate Agent of the Year. There is also a new homes section starting at a cheap-for-London price of £170,000.Who says agents can’t change?

With the likes of Yopa, Purple Bricks, Ivywell , WA Ellis and  Martyn Gerrard using transparent pricing methods,  focusing on integrity and honesty  this must go somewhere to dispel the myth of predacious men in cheap suits, heavy on hair gel, long on unfulfilled promises and show they really do care, have integrity and can change for the better.

trustworthy