Thursday 17 December 2015

Do you want to be involved with more property transactions in Brixton and Clapham in 2016? Get yourself down to PIN!

So... what are your plans for the New Year? Let's save the Merry Christmases, promises to all to hit the gym and eat less pies for another day. Let's talk property.

Whether you are looking for JV partners, deal sourcers to find your next deal or a broker to speak to regarding creative finance strategies - just come down to the next Property Investor Network meeting in Wimbledon. I'll be there giving the monthly lettings update and I can introduce you to some colleagues whose experience you may benefit from. The venue is:

Antoinette Hotel Wimbledon
249-263 The Broadway
SW19 1SD

Come down and we'll talk property, strategy and about your pending success for 2016. But remember, the first step is yours. I have thousands of readers and I've only seen a handful of you at the PIN. So if you are serious about making some gains in property in the New Year let's agree to meet down in Wimbledon first Tuesday of the New Year.

Make sure you log on at and register to get your free entry using "xandermatthew" as the discount code on the checkout. Normally £20, for you - free.

As always, run those deals by me - and I'll give you my honest opinion as to whether they're good, bad, ugly, whatever. See you in the new year!

Monday 7 December 2015

Changes in 2015 and 2016 that will affect your property investment in Clapham, Brixton and surrounds

Well it's certainly been an eventful year. We've seen a lot of regulatory and taxation changes - we're already seen the results of these in the form of panicked twittering and facebookerings. 

2016 will be no different I'm sure!

So what is causing such a commotion? Well property investors are up in arms about a few things recently, some good, some bad. Let's have a quick reminder of the changes in the recent past, along with announcements for 2016.

Deregulation Act 2015
This covered a few things, but here are the highlights
  • You can't serve S21 if:
    • there are outstanding repairs
    • you are sooner than 4 months into a tenancy
    • the deposit isn't protected
    • you haven't served the tenant with a "how to rent" booklet
    • you haven't given the tenant a valid gas safety cert or EPC
  • You don't need to re-serve the Prescribed information to the tenant(s) upon renewal

From 1st April 2016:
  • Energy efficiency: Compulsory for landlords to make improvements at tenants' requests in order to make the home more energy efficient; and by 1 April 2018 ALL landlords must upgrade the energy efficiency of the rental properties which are rated F and lower to a minimum of E by April 2018 or they will not be allowed to let until such time improvements are made.
  • Tax Changes: Interest relief being reduced to the basic tax rate. Phased in over for tax years starting with year ending March 2017, with the full effect being felt YE 2020.
  • Stamp duty surcharge of 3% added to buy-to-let and second homes. Buying as investment? expect to pay more stamp duty. Primary homes exempt.
  • Right to Rent: Mandatory ID checks for all tenants. Onus on the landlord to determine immigration status
So, it's been an exciting year, but with recent announcements I'm sure 2016 will be an eventful one. I've spoken to many of my fellow investors and they are of the opinion (as am I) that rents will rise astronomically in order to cover the increased running costs. Having said that, the recent changes to push for repairs to be carried out as well as homes to become more energy efficient will certainly improve the quality of homes to rent in the PRS.

What's your view? Feel free to comment below.

If you are looking for your next investment or advice on property and more, feel free to drop me a line on

Wednesday 25 November 2015

Where should I buy my next property? Brixton or Clapham? How many bedrooms? House or flat?

So, another profitable year draws to a close. We all know that very little happens in the property market in these last few months of the year, so now is probably a good time to recap on what’s happened locally. It’s also a brilliant time to set your goals for 2016. How many properties are you planning on buying? Refinancing? Refurbishing? Adding value to?

Let’s look at some numbers I’ve compiled, courtesy of Zoopla. My main aim is to point out areas of good growth for you, the investor.

Brixton SW2
Clapham SW4
Average Value
£496,886 up 5.22%
£843,777 up 6.74% (12m)
£405,081 up 4.96%
£566,979 up 5.36% (12m)
£738,939 up 7.41%
£1,344,463 up 7.95% (12m)
Semi D
£914,410 up 0.66%
£1,808,612 up 0.66% (12m)
Average Rent
Average gross yield
Number of transactions

This table certainly makes interesting reading. On the face of it you’d be inclined to buy in Clapham straight away (average values up), but there are certainly advantages to both areas. For one, you can see that the average gross yield in Brixton is nearly 50% more than in Clapham! So rents are much greater in relation to the purchase price. That’s a good thing, because that will make up for the slightly slower house price growth we’ve seen compared to Clapham over the last 12 months. Also interesting to note is that terraced houses are absolutely unaffordable as a buy-to-let, with vastly diminishing yields, only made good by the increase in capital value.

Should I buy in Brixton or Clapham?
Well that depends. Historically we can see that both are good bets. But decide what you are going for: capital appreciation, on the face of it, looks stronger in Clapham but rental yields are definitely better in Brixton. But let’s compare over a longer period. Queue a beautiful graph again courtesy of Zoopla. Now look at how SW2 prices are keeping pace with SW4. There is a difference. But the gap isn’t widening. So as far as investment goes I think Brixton has more to offer in terms of house price growth as gentrification increases and “Brixton Villaaaage” becomes even more popular.

So we’ve decided that Brixton has the best yields and best potential based on historic data and trends. Which property is doing well? 1beds? 2beds? No, it’s actually 3beds which are doing the best. They are still relatively affordable (a big word in London of course) and command the best rents as a percentage of purchase price. Also personal experience tells me that they are ALWAYS in good demand.

1 bed
2 beds
3 beds
4 beds
5 beds



1 bed
2 beds
3 beds
4 beds
5 beds







Interesting to see that 3 bed flats are offering a near 6% yield in Brixton. Tell me it isn’t so, my chants in April of three bed flats in SW2 being a good bet were fairly accurate.

So if you want more advice on what to buy, where to buy it and when – just drop me a line on Helping landlords make wise investments now and in 2016. 

Monday 16 November 2015

The ideal tenancy length for your letting in Clapham, Brixton and Surrounds?

The news
I read the news of the most recent DPS survey and I was surprised to hear that most tenants wanted a short tenancy. Surprised was actually an understatement. I fell off my chair. It's certainly not often that I hear that from would-be renters in my agency. More often than not they ask for longer term because of the costs associated with moving, the security they are after and so forth. In turn landlords generally prefer those tenants who can commit for longer and as a result I turn away people that only want to rent for a short period (12 months or less). Client's preferences, you see.

Long-term vs Short-term
To my surprise The survey, taken by 39,855 tenants who have their deposits protected by DPS, revealed that 80.1% of them wanted tenancies that lasted no longer than 12 months. 34.60% of the total stated a preference for contracts of 6 months or less. That's amazing. Especially this time of year. I can honestly say that a good majority of my landlords would want their property back during a busier time of year so they have the pick of the applicants and tenants bidding up against each other in order to stand a chance at getting their pick of the hot flats in Clapham and Brixton. Why go long? Well here's why... Tenants that are ABLE to offer longer term, in my experience, are a better long term bet. They are confident they don't want to move around (if they can help it). They prefer stability in their lives (they may have had a landlord sell up or move back in previously) and they will take care of your property like a home ( much like you would I'm sure).

Short term AirBnB style
I hear a lot of landlords thinking "I want to raise the rent every opportunity I can." That's right, you can't do that as frequently if you opt for 18 or 24 month tenancies. So match your approach to your situation. Ask yourself whether you can handle a void in order to get things repaired that tenants have failed to mention to you for ages, only discovered by your letting agent after you've given them notice. Can you afford these repairs? Can you afford the new furniture you're going to have to buy (because to attract top rent you're going to have to up your game to stand out). Having said that, some of my investor landlords have turned to AirBnB and are making handsome profits despite their 15% commissions. Do note however you have to be running the operation with military precision, changing sheets/linen, supplying fluffy towels, paying the council tax, WiFi, water, gas, electricity. And voids - it's going to be empty 20% of the time. I would say it's harder work than most envisage. I've even been approached by various management companies who can do this all for you. But... once you've paid everyone are you really better off? Add in the fact that most mortgage companies don't like these short term lets and you're back to where we started...

When is the best time?
For those of you that read my blog religiously you'll know that the best time to let your property in Clapham, Brixton and Surrounds is definitely the summer. The demand peaks in August. So if you are letting today I would most certainly opt for a tenancy length 18 months or even a shade longer to try and capture that peak demand.

If you are looking for advice and help with your property investments, be it in Clapham, Brixton or further afield then please get in touch. I source properties regularly and carry out due diligence reports for a number of investors and if you are looking to expand your portfolio profitably then talk to me. Drop me a line on today.

Thursday 29 October 2015

Want to know more about investing in property in Clapham and surrounds? Come along... to Wimbledon PIN Tues 3rd November

You will probably have been reading my blog for a little while now, and hopefully you've learned some new things. A tip here, a trick there. All good pointers for those starting out as investors or even seasoned professionals. Here's your opportunity to learn some more and meet some interesting people.

I've been asked a colleague investor to come and have a chat at the Wimbledon property Investor Network. Trevor Cutmore has been a property investor for years. Initially trained as a chef he later realised that property investment was more lucrative. A wise man. If you are reading this blog I would assume you are at the very least intrigued to hear more... Could full time property be for you? Perhaps not full-time but you are keen to learn more? Having a few hundred or even a few thousand pounds per month extra in passive income would be a lovely thing for everyone I'm sure.

I'm giving a detailed lettings update next week. Topics I'll be covering include:
  • BTL Tax Changes
  • Right to Rent Regulation
  • Deregulation Act 2015
  • Importance of education
  • Professional memberships

Who else will be there? People new to the game and seasoned investors alike. It will be a great opportunity to meet like-minded people and learn how to invest, where to invest and find the money to do it with - it doesn't have to be yours!

The best part of all it's free. If you have never attended a PIN meeting before just register online at using the voucher code xandermatthew and your night out meeting experienced professionals will be on the house. See you there on Tuesday November 3rd.

Remember - if you're looking at investments in Clapham, Brixton and surrounds then let me know! Happy to cast an eye over it and see if the deal stacks up. 

Monday 26 October 2015

More legislation you need to know about when renting your property in Clapham, Brixton and elsewhere!

October brings us many things. Cold mornings, grey skies and it brings us a little bit closer to Christmas. My local supermarket outdid themselves by bringing out the tins of Quality street on the last day of September. Fill your boots.

More pressingly though, some interesting bits of legislation have been brought in recently. You will know about some I trust, with my recent post on the Deregulation Act. I thought I'd elaborate on that some more, reason being a landlord asked me more specifically about the changes regarding prescribed information.

We're all familiar with prescribed information. This is given when a tenant's deposit is registered. However as of the first of this month you will need to supply a little bit more...

Point 39 of the Deregulation Act 2015 states that: The Secretary of State may by regulations require information about the rights and responsibilities of a landlord and a tenant under an assured shorthold tenancy of a dwelling-house in England (or any related matters) to be given by a landlord under such a tenancy, or a person acting on behalf of such a landlord, to the tenant under such a tenancy.

So what is this "Prescribed Information" you speak of? Well a lot of you will be thinking it simply refers to the Deposit Protection PI. A standard document that we've all heard of at some stage. It comes attached to the certificate usually, most people don't even think twice.


It's not that. In this case reference is made to a "How to Rent" booklet published by the government. Click here and have a read. You're now legally responsible for serving this on the tenant. A lot of people have criticised its value, arguing that it's a merely a guide aimed at people looking to rent and should be made available earlier in the rental process, not just before signing a tenancy. Truth is that most agents and landlords will send a link through to this booklet prior to starting paperwork. It contains a few obvious things - obvious to you and me - but its existence in itself is anything but. The guide is helpful to those new to the country, supposedly an aid for immigrants that flood in through our private rental sector and perhaps don't know about repairing obligations and the such. The law is of course different from country to country. You would however be surprised at how busy Shelter is with those that are not new to the country. The guide does a good job at pointing out the major landlord obligations. Again something to help the tenants go to the right place when their "rogue" landlord is not complying. That can only be a good thing. It will hold bad landlords accountable and improve the housing stock. Naturally you are of course a good landlord and maintain your property well. This guide will help you because bad landlords with bad property will simply end up selling their properties because they can't be bothered to maintain them well and deal with the extra regulations. Enter stage right, savvy investor. Embrace the compliance and see your returns improve.

In any case, more changes you as a landlord should be aware of. Is your agent handling these things for you? Excellent. If not, time to hand over your management to someone in the know.

Looking at an investment property? Excellent news - run it by me and I'm happy to give you my opinion on figures: buying, resale, letting, you name it. Email me on

Tuesday 13 October 2015

£400,000 fine for non-compliance. Are you complying when you are letting your property in Clapham?

Another day, another news article about a rogue landlord. They seem to be plentiful these days. Here's the latest one:

I'll save you clicking through. In a nutshell, Mr. Landlord chopped up a house into flats and rented them out, despite planners at the council telling him "no, no no." So they took him to court and he was fined £30,000 and his rents and proceeds of £382,000.


That's a fairly extreme example, and let's face it - this particular landlord was a bit audacious ignoring the planners and proceeding anyway. Some say he had it coming, or so the reporters want you to believe for journalistic effect.

Relevance to your letting? A lot really. It just goes to show that landlords are being fined and punished for non-compliance. We have seen a lot of legislation change over the years, I've listed below a few examples with their penalties for non-compliance

Year Legislation Penalties
2008 Housing Act 1988 (amended 2008) - Deposit Registration 3x deposit amount and Section 21 can't be used to evict tenants
2014 Immigration Act 2014 - Obligation for landlords to check immigration status of tenants Fine up to £3000
2015 Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015 Fine up to £5000
2015 HSE revised Approved Code of Practice (ACOP) 'Legionnaires' disease Fine up to £20,000

So as you can see, a lot is happening in the lettings sector. This is just a pick of the bunch, there will be more of course. So as a landlord it's important to comply. In addition to these regulations there will be restrictions from your lender as to what type of tenant you can let to (an how many), if you have a leasehold property there will probably be more restrictions - you may not be able to change the interior walls of the property without consent, paint the windows a different colour and so forth - you may not even be able to let it at all without asking parental - ahem - freeholder consent.

Fall foul of these regulations and plead ignorance all you like, it won't be a valid defense. You will more than likely have given some thought to handling some elements of the letting process yourself. But truth be told, when there's fines of £20,000 at risk along with the fact that you can't ask tenants to leave if you don't handle the paperwork to the letter of the law, why risk not getting a good managing agent on board to look after your compliance. It's a good insurance policy to have.

Your agent should be a competent, ARLA and NAEA qualified and member agent. They will be up to speed with the latest legislation and therefore offer you good value. In addition they will be able to help you get the most from your investments. After all, you have property in order to benefit you financially. With a little boost from good advice you may just be able to retire that little bit earlier, or buy that next property which will yield you another £500-£1000pcm. If you like the sound of that why not drop me a line: and tell me what you would like to achieve. I help you get there.

Thursday 1 October 2015

How much does it cost to let a flat in Clapham or Brixton? Nothing, I'll treble your monthly income if you do it right.

I was speaking to a landlord just the other day about his investment. He called me up to ask me about my letting fees. Well in fact he phoned up the office and my colleague answered. She put him on hold and put him through to me, whispering in my ear "I know you shouldn't discuss fees but discuss value on the phone, can you show me how?" 

The gentleman explained to me how he was looking to buy a 1bed apartment on the William Bonney Estate. I commended him on finding something in such a brilliant location. Being the sleuth that I am I punched in the postcode into rightmove as I spoke. Up it came. An immaculate 1bed ground floor flat. Again I mentioned to him how easy it would be to let. "But," I said, "I wouldn't buy this, I think you can get a 3bed for the same money and get at least 50% more rent every month, with more chance of capital growth, better tenant demand and less voids."

He was amazed. A long conversation followed. He couldn't believe that a letting agent was telling him to buy a different flat. "Any agent would want me to buy this property quickly so that I instruct them to let it." He said. Not me. I look at investments all day long, and there's nothing better than helping landlords make a better investment. They get a higher yield and ultimately they are happier to come back to me because I've given them solid advice. They thank me for my advice and ultimately we all win. You see, I've been doing this for over a dozen years now. I know what is a good investment. I know what is not. I am local. Every day. I see demand shift from area to area. Flat to flat. I know what lets and what doesn't. And people come to me for knowledge, advice, expertise. Value that you don't get from high street branded (or bland) agents.

I recommended two other investments straight away that had come to market recently. They fit in with his criteria: he had a busy job and didn't want to get involved with loads of refurbishments; looking for something with minimal fuss to let and take advantage of a rising market. I trust he will be happy for me to advise on furnishings to get the best tenant in the shortest timescale for that type of property, too. He still doesn't know what I charge to let and manage. That's not important to him. Value is important. The fact that if he follows my guidance he would be netting £1000pcm from his investment and not £300pcm. So how much does it cost to let and manage through me? Nothing sir, I just doubled your capital growth over 5 years and gave you treble your cash flow on a monthly basis. After my fees. Using my services therefore makes money, it doesn't cost you money.

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