Monday 31 July 2017

Video Series 7/30 - How to Appraise a Buy to Let Property Investment

Well here it is, for those that want to see the numbercrunching and spreadsheet analysis!

If you like this video please like, comment and share and join the Clapham Property Blog community on Facebook, LinkedIn and Youtube. If you prefer old fashioned email just drop me a line or come and meet me in person at the Clapham Property Meet!

Monday 24 July 2017

Video Series 6/30 - How chicken shops can help you identify a great investment area!

So what do chicken shops have to do with the price of fish??

Find out more in this video:

If you like this video please like, comment and share and join the Clapham Property Blog community on Facebook, LinkedIn and Youtube. If you prefer old fashioned email just drop me a line or come and meet me in person at the Clapham Property Meet!

Friday 21 July 2017

Video Series - 5/30- Should I get an agent to manage my rental portfolio?

Another hot topic today - whether or not to get involved with management yourself...

Click here for the video:

1. Are you letting by the room or are you letting as a whole? Generally letting by the room is much harder work, you're dealing with an infinitely higher number of variables and you have upteen times the work. Every time someone leaves you need to re-advertise for new tenants, go through the rigmarole of vetting and referencing and then by the time they move in the next person wants to move out. With a single let the tenancy term is anything from 6-36 months, but most people will sign up for a year and stay about two. ARLA reported significant increases in tenancy lengths over the last few years, so the trend for people that are living together to stay together longer is increasing. This is naturally a less prevalent trend with room lets because there is generally no baggage to tie them down.

2. How far away do you live from the property? Now this is a key one. I actually have all my properties in South London yet it still takes me an hour to get to most of them, believe it or not! So viewing most of them with prospective tenants is absolutely out of the question for me. There's no way, me as a private landlord, can drum up enough people to make a successful block viewing happen (where everyone turns up simultaneously and you hope to create a bidding frenzy). I outsource this to my agency team. However if it's next door that's a different matter. Travel time is a big one to take into consideration therefore; not just with viewings but also inspections and more hands-on things like overseeing repairs and so forth.

3. How skilled are you? Generally people that self-manage fall into two categories: the landlord that's been letting the same flat for 20 years, probably let it 10-15 times and think they know everything, despite still using the same tenancy agreement from when they started, never heard of deposit regulations, right to rent or "How to Rent" booklets.... OR the landlord that keeps up with the latest legislation and knows everything inside out. Sadly the latter is in very short supply. If you are thinking of self-managing and you don't know what any of those things are that I just mentioned you best get googling, or better yet book yourself on a landlord course with the NLA or RLA (email me for a discount code).

4. Cost: are you making any money on your buy to let property? My argument is very simple: if you cannot afford to use an agent then you are not making enough money from your buy to let property. You should really be getting a healthy enough return to employ someone to do at the very least the tenant find and then have a healthy cash flow of at least £500 per month (London figures) to allow for repairs, replacements and updates over the years. I would say a yield of any less 5% is danger territory, unless you have others to offset this poor yield. A well-diversified portfolio is key, mix up period properties and ex-local authority for a good mix, but I would strive for cash flow really to weather any downturn in capital values; the tenant type in ex-local authority properties are generally more plentiful and rental demand will increase in an economic downturn.

So in summary, it's time vs money. If you live next door, you know what you're doing and you're willing to do it then by all means. Living further way adds in travel, and although even single lets can be very easy, it only takes one spate of repairs to have you clocking up the hours in the car quite rapidly! If you like this video please like, comment and share and join the Clapham Property Blog community on Facebook, LinkedIn and Youtube. If you prefer old fashioned email just drop me a line or come and meet me in person at the Clapham Property Meet!

Thursday 20 July 2017

Video Series 4/30 - How to choose an Agent to Sell or Let your Investment Property

Day 4 of the video series...

Thank you very much for the overwhelmingly positive response to my video series! Looks like video is really the medium of 2017, so here comes another one, this time I'll discuss the things to watch out for when choosing an agent. Remember to give me a thumbs up, comment or share to discuss your thoughts also.

So.... here comes 6 factors you should be looking at when deciding on an agent for your investment property!

1. Online or High street - It will come as no surprise that I will be for the old-fashioned High Street agent, having been one myself for nearly 15 years. Local agents have... local knowledge. They are trained to better standards (most of the time) and generally have a lot of experience in the field. Online agents generally only get paid to list and then forget about the listing, so you have to pay them and then pay an agent to do it properly. Exception to this is if you are an experienced landlord and don't mind doing your own viewings and paperwork and you "know what you're doing." Sadly most people don't - they don't stay up to date with the changes in legislation, and issuing (or not issuing) the right documents can lead to disaster. DIY if you are competent and well-read on the matter. The other factor to consider is time vs money. If you earn 100k per annum do you want to spend your precious free time doing viewings and hosting no-shows at ungodly hours? Weigh up the money spent vs time saved...

2. The hallmarks - ARLA for lettings and NAEA for sales. Are they members? If not then why not? It's a very basic examination, I'd argue that it's easier than a driving test, but then again I have been doing it for a very long time. Any agent should be sitting these exams within 12 months of joining their company really and their company should be accredited to train their staff to pass these exams. It's a benchmark (albeit very basic) of effort the agent goes through to stand out from the crowd. Do you have a Diploma or a Degree? Doesn't make you a better person/employee necessarily, but it makes your CV stand out, or perhaps these days the bar is so high you need one? Not sure I'll let you be the judge of that, but personally I want an agent and agency that has sat the exams and is accredited, if for nothing else they have an annual number of hours to fill with core professional development so they keep learning and stay industry experts.

3. Recommendations. Speak to other investors in your area, who do they use? Why would they recommend the company? Perhaps they got lucky because they had the right buyer or tenant literally missing out on a property the day before, could happen to any agent I'm sure, but if they've used them for a few years and always had good dialogue and sensible advice, now those are things to look out for. Avoid the ones with staff turnover so high that you never see familiar faces. Yes, you want salespeople to be on their feet and the underachievers exit through the back door - a sign of a good office, a good agency is one where the staff stays and helps you year in year out. Saying that, the average lifespan of an estate agent in the industry is 18 months, so perhaps it's a tall order!

4. Appearance. And I'm not just talking about the agent's appearance. Look at the web; not their site, who cares, nobody will go on it. The only thing you want to know really is "How do they present their properties on Zoopla and RightMove?" The answer should be: "impeccably." If the photos look like your 4 year old took them, the beds are unmade, the loo seat is up with whatever floating... then look for the next agent. Quality presentation means care taken in their work. Now I'm not suggesting the photographer should spring clean the house, but so much can be done to make sure the photos show the property in a positive light just by moving a few things around. How much effort is taken? Have they told the tenants to tidy up? Have they asked to clear things away? Have they put the loo seat down? Doesn't take much really does it?? If they have quality listings they will have an abundance of enquiries compared to those with rubbish photos... and more applicants on their books to instantly alert when your property is listed with them. Selling? Floorplan is a must.

5. Experience - leading on from what I said earlier, experience is a good thing. Has the agent sold/let in your road? In your block? They will be familiar with the type of property and likely to have buyers/tenants on their books who were interested in the last one. Check out what type of property they typically transact on. Some agents are renowned for selling more expensive property, some cheaper. Is your property catering to Savills clients or Bairstow Eves clients? No good marketing a million pound house with an agent who sells ex-council flats all day long! Get the right agent to represent your property because they will cater to a certain demographic of tenant/buyer.

6. Lastly, NEVER choose an agent on price. Price is the last thing that should be of interest to you. As long as the commission falls within a "reasonable" range (sales 1-2% and lettings 8-12% you shouldn't be quibbling over a few pounds here or there. The reason I say this is because if you look solely for the cheapest agent you won't get good value. Remember what I said the other day, the best value is found around the middle of the price range. Not always - this is a choice on the aforementioned factors, you may find the one that ticks all the boxes is the cheapest; or most expensive. Point is, DO NOT dismiss an agent based on the commission they ask. They are used to haggling, for sure. But if you turn around and ask them "your commission is higher than others have quoted and I like value for money. I'm not adverse to paying more, but what am I getting for the money?" they should have an answer for your straight off the bat if they hadn't made it clear already. Remember, they only get paid on results, so they should be motivated to get you that result. Are they going to be motivated by a pennypincher? no.... don't be "cheap!"

So that's it for today, I hope you enjoyed that video. Give me a like on YouTube, FaceBook or LinkedIn, whichever platform you're watching on and do share with your network. Stay tuned for tomorrow's video where I go more into the detail of managing your rental property. As always if you'd like to pick my brain give me a shout on social media or ping me an email: or come and join me at the Clapham Property Meet, the monthly social networking event in Clapham for property investors.

Wednesday 19 July 2017

Video Series Day 3/30 - Photography!

Welcome to day 3 of my video series on investment tips to help get you better returns from your property developments and investments. Today’s video will focus on photography, so I’m going to give you 5 massive tips on how to get the best from your property in still picture format.


  1. Dress the property like you are living there, create that homely feel. Pictures up, scatter cushions tidy, curtains tied back, lots of light in there. Prep all the rooms. Toilet seat DOWN! If shower is wet squeegee it down, make it look fresh. Maybe a coloured towel and some ornaments on the sink? Discretion as can look cluttered, speaking of which make sure to take away shampoo bottles etc. Same for kitchen, toaster, kettle, microwave etc…
  2. Use a professional photographer or camera and do some editing, brighten up the photos, or if you want to you can outsource that to someone.
  3. Failing that: best angle is normally from the doorway. Try to get two walls in and remember that the main focus should be the join of the wall with the window. Additional reverse shot maybe but the focus should on a shot with a window in it.
  4. Chest height. If you’re very tall then lower the camera a little bit and HOLD IT STILL! Better yet get a tripod. You can actually play with the exposure times on your camera to get more natural light in the frame if it’s a dark flat. Try that and with the lights on and off in order to get more material to play with.
  5. Exterior – comes back to what I was saying about curb appeal. Make sure it looks nice. Windows painted/cleaned, tidy front door, no rusty old door knob. Make it look really luscious. Is it inviting? The picture is the first thing that people look at.

They say that 95% of people start their property search online. People want nice things and people know when they are getting value for money. Why do big developers get away with charging a ludicrous some for small new build flats? It’s because they know how to market. So don’t innovate, copy what the big boys do and market your property and get a better price. Dress it up, nice photos, voila!

When you go to buy a car, new or used, what kind of cars do you see on the forecourt? Property is easily 10x more expensive, why are you not presenting as well as a used car salesman?? Make sure you present your property well for the photos so it can be displayed on the forecourt (RM and Zoopdeeloops) well. You will get more clicks, more viewings, more offers.

Here’s a few examples of properties that haven’t been presented well and some that have. You can easily see the difference. Sometimes prices vary in the same block simply because of the photos/marketing efforts. It can easily make £150pcm difference. Do you want an extra £1800 per annum for putting away a few shampoo bottles and tidying?

So that’s it for today, join me tomorrow for day 4 of my video series.

As always if you are looking for help with your investments in south London or further afield just contact me through the tinternetweb, give me a shout on your preferred social media platform or just old fashioned email: jeroen@claphampropertyblog. If you’d like to meet in person then come and join me at the Clapham Property Meet, the monthly social networking event for property investors. There’s no selling, no pitching, just good quality content from a guest speaker who will be an experienced investors just like me and my co-host Trevor Cutmore. See you soon, and remember to sign up to the blog at if you’d like an email straight to your inbox when I publish a new article!

Tuesday 18 July 2017

Video Series Day 2/30 - Refurbs on the Cheap!

Thanks for all your positive comments from yesterday's episode. In case you missed it go back to it here - I talked about curb appeal. On to today's video:

Day 2: refurbs on the cheap.
As you'll know I've been an estate agent for nearly 15 years before turning to property investment full-time. You will know I've seen my fair share of the good, the bad and the ugly that the London PRS has to offer. In the video I offer my insight into what makes a refurb look "cheap" and how you can avoid being that "cheap" investor! After all everyone likes a bit of quality in their life and housing is no exception. Better returns are for those who go the extra mile.

So if you want to know where that magical price point lies click on to the video and have a look and listen as I talk real examples and show you pictures of the good, the bad and the ugly! I hope you find the video useful. Stand by for tomorrow's episode too, it's a topic very close to my heart!

As always, if you are keen to start investing, or start doing something a bit more interesting with your current portfolio... Start the conversation on email. I'd love to meet you in person of course at this month's Clapham Property Meet, so do come along. Click here for tickets and more info.

Monday 17 July 2017

How to add value to your Buy To Let in Clapham Day 1 - Curb Appeal!

This morning I was rather inspired to do a little mini series on lettings. A lot of investors overlook the simple things when letting their property, so I thought I would offer some value to their investments with 30 tips in 30 days. Here goes!

Day 1 - Curb Appeal

I actually recorded a video LIVE to put myself on the spot to give you some added value on my thoughts. Watch the 4min video here: (go easy, it was filmed live!)

If you don't have time to watch the video just keep reading:

Often times curb appeal is overlooked. Landlord are often too focused on the bottom line and more often than not the inside is where the money is spent, not the outside. I think this is a missed opportunity. There will be times where the front of the property is very important - tenants are waiting around, they may look on Google Streetview to check it out beforehand and there will invariably be an external photo of the property on your agent's RightMove and Zoopla advert. Do you want to turn off would-be tenants before they walk through the door? No. Invest in curb appeal, if nothing else to get them in a good mood as they walk through the (freshly painted) front door. Curb appeal counts, it's part of the overall package. They will think that if you are scrimping on the exterior, "what else are you scrimping on?" 

A green front door works miracles - see video for example. Green is "GO" in marketing speak, so it sets the right tone straight away.

Windows are key - are they in good condition? Painted? Or falling to pieces? Be honest with yourself here... Even a window cleaner before viewings start could be a big lift to the exterior.

Fence? Falling down or neatly pointed, which would give the right impression? You know the answer, don't you!

So in a nutshell the next time you start marketing your property think about the curb appeal. Would you want to step in? Is the exterior inviting you to walk inside? Think like a would-be tenant and be honest!

As always, if you are keen to start investing, or start doing something a bit more interesting with your current portfolio... Start the conversation on email. I'd love to meet you in person of course at this month's Clapham Property Meet, so do come along. Click here for tickets and more info.

Tuesday 11 July 2017

The Clapham Property Market, The Beatles, Sweden and 50 year mortgages

50 years ago, in 1967, the first human heart transplant was performed by Dr Christian Barnard in South Africa. In the same year Sweden switched from driving on the left-hand side to the right-hand side of the road. The average value of a Clapham property was £11,388, interest rates were at 5.5% and The Beatles released one of my favourite albums – their Sgt Peppers album ... but what the hell has that to do with the Clapham property market today?? Quite a lot actually ... so with my CD Player turned up loud - let me explain my friends!

I have been doing some research on the current attitude of Clapham first-time buyers.  First-time buyers are so important for both landlords and homeowners. If first-time buyers aren’t buying, they still need a roof over their heads, so they rent (good news for landlords). If they buy, demand for Clapham property goes up for starter homes and that enables other Clapham homeowners to move up the property ladder.

First-time buyers are the life blood of the property market. They are, however the most susceptible to interest rate rises and the affordability of mortgages. With that in mind, let us see what is happening to them…

The average value of a Clapham property is currently standing at £858,741 and UK interest rates at 0.25%. As each year goes by, it appears the age of the everlasting mortgage has started to emerge, prompted by these first-time buyers, eager to get a foot on the housing ladder. I was reading a report a few days ago where some mortgage companies confessed that the battle to gain big returns from the property market has led to mortgages that will take considerably longer than the customary 25 years to pay off.

Over the last few years, it has been commonplace for first-time buyer mortgages to be 30 and 35 years in length as the ‘Bank of Mum and Dad’ have been helping with the deposit (Beatles Sgt Pepper song - “With a Little Help from My Friends”). Now, some high street banks are offering mortgage terms of 40 years. This means first-time buyers could be paying until their mid 60’s - I can hear that other great track from the same album "When I'm Sixty-Four" ringing in my ears! So, a 50-year mortgage does not seem as far-fetched now as it would have been back in the 1970’s. After all life expectancy for a male then was exactly 69 years and today its 79 years and 5 months!

Over the last ten years, Clapham property prices have continued to rise more than wages, therefore, first-time buyers are looking for bigger loans. If this development continues, the only way repayments can remain reasonable is by increasing the term of the loan.

However, some commenters have said there are worries the mortgage companies are lending money over such a long term, they threaten leaving some first-time buyers with a generation of debt if the house price bubble bursts.  Interestingly, when I looked at what had happened to average property values in Clapham over the last 50 years, there have been bubbles. First-time buyers should take heart, since as a county we have always recovered from it a few years later.

What if interest rates rise? Well looking at historic UK interest rates, the current rate of 0.25% is at a 300-year low. Mortgages will never be cheaper. I would however, seriously consider fixing the rate to cushion any future potential interest rate rises (since they can only go in one direction when they do change). If Clapham first-time buyers see buying a home as a long-term decision, based on the last 50 years, they should be just fine!

No, our Volvo-loving Swedish friend’s average mortgage length is 140 years (this is not a typo). Although such mortgages have had their Before I go, a final thought for property buyers in Sweden, the land of Volvo and Abba. As Swedish property prices are so high, Swedish Regulators announced last year limits on the length of Swedish mortgage terms. They don’t bother with 50-year mortgages  (On and On and On – Abba).

No, our Volvo-loving Swedish friend’s average mortgage length is 140 years (this is not a typo). Although such mortgages have had their Waterloo (Abba), regulators have significantly reduced the maximum term of a Swedish mortgage to 105 years. Either way, that’s a lot of Money, Money, Money (Abba again – Sorry!) to pay back!

Now I will leave you in peace as I listen to the 1980’s Madness song ‘Our House’. My apologies to all the Beatles and Abba fans in Clapham - a bit of light-hearted fun albeit on serious topic.

As always, if you are keen to start investing, or start doing something a bit more interesting with your current portfolio... Start the conversation on email. I'd love to meet you in person of course at this month's Clapham Property Meet, so do come along. Click here for tickets and more info.

Thursday 6 July 2017

Clapham Buy-To-Let Predictions up to 2037

You’ll have seen my most recent market update. If you had missed it, check out the video here on YouTube. It would appear that the rental market is a little bit “soft” at the moment. An oversupply is certainly causing prices to come down. Odd this, because the summer is notoriously the busiest time of the year, as I’ve written in the past. Fear not, I suspect that the real rush is yet to come as the August and September months approach.

It would appear that rent rises are easing in Clapham, at least they have been over the last year. At the same time I felt that in some parts of the UK rents had actually dropped for the first time in over eight years. Recent research backs up this prediction.

Rents in Clapham for new tenancies fell by 1.2% in the last 12 months (i.e. not existing tenants experiencing rental increases from their existing landlord). When we compare that current rate with the historical rental inflation in Clapham, an interesting pattern emerges...

·         2016 - Rental Inflation in Clapham was 7.7%
·         2015 - Rental Inflation in Clapham was 9.2%
·         2014 - Rental Inflation in Clapham was 9.4%

The reason behind this change depends on which side of the demand/supply equation you are looking from. On the demand side (from the tenants point of view) there is the uncertainty of Brexit and the fact that salaries are not keeping up with inflation for the first time in three years. Critically this means tenants have less disposable income to pay their rent. As an aside, it is interesting to note that nationally, rent accounts for 29% of a tenant’s take home pay (Denton House).

On the supply side of the equation (landlords point of view) Brexit also creates uncertainty. However, the biggest issue was a massive upsurge of new rental properties coming on to the market in late 2016, caused by George Osborne’s new 3% stamp duty tax for landlords in the first part of 2016. This meant a lot of new rental properties were ‘dropped’ on to the rental market all at the same time. The greater choice of rental properties for tenants curtailed rental growth/inflation. A slight softening of Clapham property prices has compounded this.  Figures from The Bank of England suggested that first time buyers rose over the last 12 months as some were more inclined to buy instead of rent. Together, these factors played a part in the ongoing moderation of rental growth. Smaller landlords are selling up, you see, fuelling FTBs’ appetite to get on the ladder. This won’t be affecting the middle of the market or the larger rental properties’ capital values.

The lead up to the General Election in May didn’t help: after all people don’t like doubt and uncertainty. So now that we have a mandate for going forward over the next 5 years hopefully that has removed any stumbling blocks stopping tenants making the decision to move home.

Whether it be ‘hard’ or ‘soft’ Brexit negotiations (and with the Election result the Tories might have to be ‘softer’ on those negotiations) the simple fact is, we aren’t building enough properties for us to live in. Both in Clapham, Greater London and the wider UK, long-term population trends imply that rents will soon be growing faster than inflation again. Look at the projections by the Office of National Statistics. 

Tenants will still require a vibrant and growing rental sector to deliver them housing options in a timely manner. As the population grows in Clapham, and further afield, any restriction to the supply of rental properties (brought about by poor returns for landlords) cannot be in the long-term best interest of tenants. Simply put rents must go up!

The fact is that I see this as a short-term blip and rents will continue to grow in the coming years. With rents only accounting for 29% of a tenants’ disposable income, the ability for most tenants to absorb a rent increase does exist.

As always, if you are keen to start investing, or start doing something a bit more interesting with your current portfolio... Start the conversation on email. I'd love to meet you in person of course at this month's Clapham Property Meet, so do come along. Click here for tickets and more info.

Tuesday 4 July 2017

Depford Project update 4th July 2017

Independence day for some, just another day in property in London.

Here is a short video for you, I thought I'd share my Deptford project with you thus far.

Stand by for launch day!

As always, if you are keen to start investing, or start doing something a bit more interesting with your current portfolio... Start the conversation on email. I'd love to meet you in person of course at this month's Clapham Property Meet, so do come along. Click here for tickets and more info.

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