Honourable and personal residential letting experts

Top tips of what to look for

When looking at a property for investment the main thing to consider is that you will not be living there.  This does not mean you will accept a sub-standard property, because your tenants have the right to a safe and solid home. What it does mean is that your decision needs to be based on what your market wants, rather than your personal preferences.  It is a different type of purchase than when buying a home for yourself, this is all about financial calculations rather than emotions.

We talk with over 100 tenants a week and collate what they look for so that we can advise you on the best property to invest in.  When selecting a property ask yourself the following questions before buying. Try scoring your answers to compare properties – you might be surprised at the results!

What does the street look like?

You could take a risk and buy an investment property in an area which you think will improve with time as this may give you long term capital growth. However, in the short term you may not attract the best type of tenants, especially if the outside of the property and the surrounding areas look unattractive.  You should budget for regular redecoration / new carpets and thorough cleaning between tenancies, in order to maintain the value of the property whilst the location is being improved.

Where are the nearest amenities?

If you are looking to find a family home make sure that you are in a catchment area of a good school, and that there are shops nearby. Not everyone has a car to pop to the shops and lack of amenities could mean that you have longer void periods.

What are the bus routes?
Not everyone has a car so the availability of public transport nearby is a big plus. This is a definite when looking at properties along the A14.

First impressions count

How warm is the property when you walk in?  Ever seen someone walk into a cold property – we call it ‘the big hug’. A cold house leads to closed body language and you will lose potential opportunities. This is a major consideration in the winter months.

How bright is the property when you walk in?  We have proved that you can get a higher rental for a property with a south facing garden / kitchen / living room. Being near trees sounds attractive but can make the property feel dark and gloomy – however people value greenery!

Will it be cost effective for the tenant?

Does it have central heating? Old fashioned storage heaters are a definite turn off, they also tend to lead to condensation problems.  How old is the boiler?  The older the boiler the more it will cost you in maintenance and your tenant to run.  Modern boilers usually have a 10-12 year life span. Make sure that you add replacing this into your budget.

Does it have double glazing?  Is the loft insulated?  Single glazing and a non-insulated loft will give you a low EPC rating and increase your tenant’s bills.  In general properties with high utility bills have a much higher turnover of tenants. It is also illegal to let properties with EPC ratings of F or G).

What features will appeal to tenants?

Does it have a garage?  The addition of a garage would add between £35 – £50 to the monthly rental. Does it have allocated parking?  If it does make sure it is marked up.  How many reception rooms are there?  More rooms mean more flexibility for your tenant.  Does the living room have a wall big enough for a large screen TV? Forget a fireplace, the big TV is now a major consideration when renting a property.  How large are the bedrooms? Can you fit a double bed in each room – this gives flexibility to attract a wider range of tenants. Can you fit a wardrobe in? How much storage is present?  Think where the vacuum cleaner or ironing board can be kept.  Can you get super fast broadband? This is now essential.


Will it need much work before renting?

Will the property need a new bathroom?  Look at your competition on the internet as if you are a potential tenant. New builds will have nice shiny bathrooms with good showers. Mastic with black mould growth is one of the biggest deterrents for tenants when looking for a property – would you rent a property with mould in it?  Will the property need a new kitchen?  Look at your competition; kitchens can look outdated easily and your market will make a judgement about how well you look after the property based on the age of the kitchen.

Does the flooring need changing?  Cheap laminate will wear quickly and looks cheap. If you want to attract the best tenants you need to review the general presentation.  Does it need redecorating to neutral colour?  You really need to give your tenant a neutral palette to work on.

Are there water tanks? Water tanks need properly lagging and periodically treated and a legionnaires risk assessment undertaken in order to comply with the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974.

Is the garden low maintenance?  Not everyone enjoys gardening, but they do enjoy having a garden.  Is the shed water tight?  Where will the mower be stored?

Is there any service charge and ground rent?  How much is this? How well is the management company managed? What control do you have over the management company? Have you budgeted for this cost? Does the service charge include low frequency high cost items?