Alex Goldstein’s interview with leading Harrogate Architect Joel Smith of SSA asks Are TV property development shows worth watching? What is ‘permitted development’ and what do you have to be aware of? And how do you make sure you keep the local authority on your side when developing your home? How to get planning permission and what is the process?
Interview with leading Harrogate Architect Joel Smith of SSA
Full transcript below:
Alex: We are honoured indeed to have Joel Smith here in the studio today just to talk through architects, both on the residential side and indeed the commercial side and just to demystify what these actually do. Now Joel, it’s a big hot topic at the moment, you’ve very much got Grand Designs, dare I say Small Spaces and good old George Clarke in there and they’re making extending and building look mighty easy. How do you rate these programmes? Do they have a point at all?
Joel: Yes Alex, simple answer is I do rate these programmes and actually I think they’re really valid. One, they’re enjoyable and informative, but two I think they help elevate the role of the designer and how we can affect the spaces that we live in. I think the consideration for any extension for instance should always be how can I improve the space that I dwell in? Certainly, Kevin McCloud has championed that to such a high degree that he’s really helped the industry. I’m not 100% sure that they make the process look easy though, in fact in many cases they focus on the pitfalls, the challenges and in a sense of course they have to increase the drama which often leaves me voicing my opinion should we say at the TV. But as I say Kevin McCloud specifically has done an incredible amount to raise awareness.
Alex: It’s helped you in terms of an architects practice because people are saying I’ve seen a this on TV, I’ve got this idea that I want to do to my home and can we involve you and it’s working more along those line.
Joel: Yeah absolutely, and as I say they do champion a role of architect within that and yes certainly once you see people who’ve been and got a little bit of ambition, a little bit of desire to improve their space that helps no end. And from an architect’s point of view it’s great to see what contemporaries are up to.
Alex: No absolutely and I mean these programmes often talk about the phrase or the term permitted development and a lot of people think this may be more serialised on television but permitted development makes it sound very easy to get that grand extension and off you go. That’s what these programmes tend to suggest, how does that actually work in real life terms? What is permitted development?
Joel: Right yeah, fair question Alex, and you’re right it’s certainly a hot topic and it’s a great thing actually. A permitted development rights are essentially a national grant of planning permission. They allow building work to be carried out without having to make an application for planning, however, you still need to be aware of certain aspects, you still of course need to notify your local authority and as always ensure building regulations compliance. Permitted development is as I say in principal a great idea and I believe that it has the intention of aiding a really important aspect of our economy, you know the smaller builders, the tradesmen, the designers. You know we in the UK have a very interesting approach to our homes, I find this really interesting, we have the smallest space standards in Europe, yet our homes are our castle and it turns out they’re not the biggest by comparison. But as I say you still need to contact the local authority and make them aware of your intentions. Permitted development rights are quite prescriptive so I would urge anybody considering a mid-development or any extension to look at the planning portal, speak with your local authority if you need to, obviously as I would always say speak with the designer, they have to be aware of things like designated areas where specifically in Harrogate area for instance, your conservation areas, areas of outstanding natural beauty, in some instances where you’ve extended before you may need to speak to your local authority before and there’s things to be aware of and you do need to do a little bit of research here Alex, because you’ve got existing curtilage of your site, principal elevations to your property, what’s the size of the proposed extension, what’s the height, how close are you to your boundary?
Alex: So good old George Clarke it’s not quite as straightforward as going oh we’re going to put on this lovely little extension and let’s just build it tomorrow afternoon. There’s a bit more of a process, it’s not as simple as possibly they make out.
Joel: Well I can’t comment on George Clarke because he is a fellow contemporary of course but then you always need to take some appropriate advice I would always ensure that.
Alex: Ok and in terms of I suppose, the larger extensions, just going I suppose beyond the permitted development and again this is from the private individual’s perspective, what do you actually need to be mindful of when you want to undertake such a project? I’m thinking sort of the timeframes and what’s actually involved in the planning process there?
Joel: Yeah fair enough, and I can appreciate in a lot on instances for people looking to extend it can come across as provisionally quite daunting and actually there’s a few things to consider before you even take pen to paper as it were. I’d always personally refer people to the RIBA website, they do a great bit of work for the profession in the background and in the forefront in fact, you know they do many useful sections, progressive design areas but also help you find the architect who can help you start the ball rolling with you and from a personal point of view there’s a good local sub group in this area called the North Yorkshire Society of Architects, again they work to promote good design and architects and the role we can play. But enough of the professional pitch, back to your questions the first consideration should surely be what are we extending for, what are my needs? In practice we would call this determining the brief. What does the design need to reflect in terms of your requirement as the owner and client? In terms of timeframes there’s actually many factors to take into account and you know the RIBA again have a great useful guide detailed plan of work which identifies key stages to be mindful of. So I refer back to identification of need, what do you want to gain out of your project, preliminary design, you know how we start to get things on paper, how’s it look, does it reflect what we’ve got in our minds, are we getting it on paper and of course we need to amend the design to reflect those needs, ultimately finalise these proposals. Of course, then you have to go for your planning permission and planning consent, you know can take between 8 and 12 weeks but bear in mid it can take longer.
Alex: When and why would it take longer? Because of the size or complexity of the job or if things fall behind?
Joel: Well all of those parts come into it but also you know is there a challenged with the design? Is there some additional legislation you need to be aware of? So again, dialogue at that point is important and you have to be slightly open-minded to that I think from my point of view. Time to discharge any pre-commencement conditions, when you’ve got that piece of paper from the planners you know hopefully it’s the piece of paper you want, and it says granted, but of course there’s often pre-commencement conditions there, which again just looks to protect you ultimately but also ensure that it fits with the planning permission granted. That can take a little bit of time, then of course you need too cost the project, obtain suitable quotes and time to actually construct the extension. I think also in the background of that, not necessarily a timeframe questions but how are you going to have that building and who’s going to build it for you. I’d always suggest requesting referrals, those are a great bit of use.
Alex: That’s the recommended builders?
Joel: Recommended yeah, you know many people, British people, like to refer, if someone’s not referring somebody what’s the reason behind that? We all like a referral. Have a look at the work they’ve done maybe, you know sure they should be proud of the work they’ve undertaken, the designs they’ve come up with and that should be a constructive dialogue and then yes certainly do that please.
Alex: I know people are often I suppose mindful, how do you actually keep the local authority, for example here, how do you keep Harrogate Borough council on side because you do hear albeit I dare say it, serialising in the media that people have run into all sorts of difficulties with their panning application, why have they gone a miss and why have they got on the wrong side of the council, how do you keep in their good books?
Joel: Well dialogue, simple as that and in simple terms and I you know personally would never recommend approaching an application with conflict on the agenda. Do things properly, the role of the architect here is to interpret your needs, provide information and help you navigate the planning process and as I say the LA shouldn’t be viewed with the barrier, it isn’t there to be bashed down, you need to approach any development with an open mind and be prepared to discuss your proposals with them. This as you’ve touched on, they do get a bit of negative press but that’s because maybe they’ll read on a isolated basis, case-by-case basis, their position in fairness is to protect the areas in which we live so the areas which will exist much longer than we will and really they’re part of a wider policy to ensure that amenity space and positive design and construction reflects where we live.
Alex: So, if you know their rues and you’re ticking their boxes where you go you’re not going to have an issue, it’s if you want to do something I’d say that’s pushing the boundaries or possibly being slightly controversial that’s when like you said in an isolated case it may not be looked upon possibly favourably.
Joel: Yeah, it’s difficult one to answer that Alex because you know the local authority isn’t there to champion good design as well you know the positive design from their point of view, they want to progress that with you and really you that maybe areas of conservation might need a slightly different approach etc. I think in the main the idea is the better design helps everyone ultimately. Yeah, I think they’re all boarded, I don’t see any negativity when it comes to positive design.
Alex: Fantastic, Joel I can’t thank you enough. Very useful and great insight there, so if anyone needs to discuss ant of there home getting extended, permitted development, the small space type of thing or the commercial side of things, what’s the best way for people to reach you?
Joel: Fabulous, well I’d be more than happy to speak to anyone who’s got any queries. My number is 01423 856999, but you’re more than welcome to look at our website which is www.ssaarchitects.co.uk
Alex: Ok, fantastic Joel, thank you very much again really appreciate your time.
Interview With Leading Harrogate Architect Joel Smith of SSA
Alex Goldstein uncovers the property market seasonality myths. Is selling your home in winter a good time or is there something you may be missing? How do the online search portals such as Rightmove and Zoopla see this time of year? Some property market myths are explained!
Property Market Seasonality Myths
Full transcript below:
Alex: Hello, Alex Goldstein here. Just wanted to share with you as we are early/mid-December, as I think of it, a couple of property market myths. People often talk about this time of year, the seasonality and the activity in the property market but look, to be honest with you it doesn’t really exist, there aren’t really the seasonal buying and selling periods as we once knew them. Yes of course activity dips in August, it always does for the holidays, arguably a bit about now. However, it may well surprise you the number of years that I’ve actually done deals on Christmas Eve itself will certainly surprise you, and equally, the most important day for Rightmove, Zoopla, On The Market and all these online search portals believe it or not is boxing day and the 27 December, that is where they see a huge surge in traffic. So, if you’re looking to sell your property this is clearly a great opportunity just to maximise that to make sure and use your time over the next few weeks just to make sure that online entry is as great as it can be. And equally if you are looking to buy a property there are going to be some great options out there for you. When does the market pick up again post new year? Well as always, it’s when the children go back to school. So, for a lot of people, Monday 8 January, that is one of the key dates in the diary and that’s when you’ll see the market activity really pick up again towards sort of mid-February and then it will just stay very steady until that August holiday. I hope that’s of use, see you soon.
Property Market Seasonality Myths
Listen to full interview with property expert Alex Goldstein, “live” on Vale FM with Steve Twynham – talking through his career to date, what a property consultant actually does and how he helps people buy and sell residential property.
Alex Goldstein Live on ValeFM
Full transcript below:
Steve: It’s drivetime, Steve taking you home between now and 6 and we’re joined by a special guest in the studio this afternoon, Alex Goldstein. Good afternoon Alex, how are you?
Alex: Steve, I’m great thank you very much indeed.
Steve: Great, thanks for joining us and we’re going to talk property this afternoon.
Alex: We are indeed.
Steve: Yeah so, look forward to finding out more about that. First of all, tell us a little bit about yourself, and how did you get involved in the property market?
Alex: Yeah, I suppose for my sins, I have been, I was an estate agent for the last sort of 14/15 years. Started my career in Oxford and London and more recently in Harrogate as well and its just sort of blossomed from there. I’ve been working for some of the UK’s most well-known firms and left that a good few years back.
Steve: So, what’s the difference between being a property consultant and an estate agent then?
Alex: Yeah, an estate agent just solely works for a homeowner when they come to sell their property, that is their primary purpose, whereas I’m now as a property consultant or property adviser, I’m on the other side of the fence and I actually help people buy residential property, both in Yorkshire and London, I happen to help them sell but I’m not an estate agent, it’s purely advisory.
Steve: So, you do both things then?
Alex: Yeah do both things, in both locations as well.
Steve: Ok, so if I was looking to buy, I’d come to you and say Alex I’m looking for a property, lets use York for example, I’m looking for a property in York, for a certain value, in a certain area, is it your role then to go and do the searching?
Alex: Exactly that. I will take all your search criteria and all the parameters exactly that you’re after, either liaise with the agents or the developers or indeed I’ve been in the business long enough now I just ring up the homeowners because I’ve known them of old and just say I can vouch for you Steve and this is the basis, I try and secure that property off market. Off market is away from Rightmove and all these online portals, so we just do it privately. It’s not always possible but that’s always the aim. So that’s the buying side and you pay me a fee for that service and very often it’s people that don’t have the time or they’re not sure and they just need some confidence building into the whole transaction. It’s a big, one the biggest transactions ever in life, you need to get it right.
Steve: Yeah tell me about it, I forget how many properties I’ve bought in my lifetime, luckily, I’m at the stage where I don’t have to buy another one, maybe who knows. And what about on the selling then?
Alex: The selling is a bit more unusual, and very often I get involved with people when they’re thinking of going on the market and very often they haven’t done it for 10, 20, sometime 30 or I had one recently 60 years, they’ve never sold a property and the markets changed even in the last two years. So, if you’ve never done it in that sort of timeframe, what do you do? Or where do you go? Or the other flip side of the coin is when people have been in the market for a long period of time, you’re getting a lot of sales chat, often from the estate agents and they’re wondering well I’ve been in the market a long time, where do I go? Where have I gone wrong? So that’s where I independently come in and say Steve, you’ve been in the market a long time but with my experience you need to change these sort of specific areas, we need to turn the sale around and we head off in a particular direction, and that’s when I bring in and manage and orchestrate said estate agents on your behalf. So, it actually ends up that the estate agent pays my fee, not you the homeowner.
Steve: Right ok.
Alex: It’s quite unusual.
Steve: Yeah, it sounds interesting as well. So, if someone’s been on the property for, I don’t know, what is the average length of time selling a property now?
Alex: It’s the ultimate question, I would probably say from going on sale to under offer, I honestly wouldn’t like to put a timeframe on it because every situation is different. Once you get from under offer to exchange normally it’s between four and six weeks, any longer than that and alarm bells start to ring, and completion, i.e. when you move in and get the keys, tends to be four weeks after you’ve actually exchanged, but again that vary on each transaction, it’s that exchange, it’s getting from offer to exchange, that is the most critical time and you’ve got to keep that window of opportunity very tight indeed.
Steve: Ok, so from your expertise as well, if the house has been on sale for 8 months.
Alex: Yep, it does happen, I’ve had longer.
Steve: Is there something not quite right? Could be price or?
Alex: Very often I always think and in simple terms there’s usually three main factors that tend to go a miss and normally it’s a combination of these, but it tends to be the photographs, the price of the property or it’s the presentation of the property and very often it’s a mix of that. Sometimes people have been hoodwinked if you like by estate agents and they’ve listened too much to the sale speak and they’ve bought into that and they’ve signed contracts and again it’s then advising people how to actually manoeuvre away from that, but it tends to be those three factors and just altering those accordingly.
Steve: Ok so I guess at times as well if somebody’s been around and somebody says well we think you can get, lets pick a figure, we think you can get 359 for this and somebody says well no I think you might only get 310, as the seller you want to hear the 359, don’t you?
Alex: Exactly that and that’s exactly where a lot of people hang their hats, they hear three estate agents and they go with the one that’s quoted the highest guide price, when actually that’s the exact reason you should not instruct that estate agent. You should always go for the estate agent that’s possibly told you something you didn’t want to hear, and you’ve almost got to be illogical when choosing your estate agent. Don’t just go for the guy that as I said overflatters you and grants you things on planet 9, you’ve got to look beyond that and delve behind the scenes, and that’s really where 15 years in property, been there and done it and can advise clients well this is what you actually need to look out for and this who to actually go with.
Steve: Ok we’ll talk some more in a moment and we’ve got a great question about lawyers coming up.
This is Steve, this is Vale Radio across North Yorkshire. We are talking property this afternoon, we’ve been joined in the studio by Alex Goldstein. We’ve been talking lots of things about buying and selling. Alex it’s been quite a turmoil time in the marketplace with Brexit and things, what’s the marketplace doing?
Alex: I think at the moment, I think a lot of people dare I say lost their heads when Brexit came along and I suppose I predicted and a lot of people did, there would be a bit of turmoil afterwards but interestingly it was actually an incredibly good time to buy because if we now look at Brexit it’s all turned around very nicely, and there’s all these countries who want to trade with us and it’s all looking a lot more rosy and obviously Mr Hammond, the Chancellor is keeping it, trying to keep it nice and steady. But interestingly, if you look at London, specifically that’s come back 8/9% percent in recent months, so again of you are looking to buy and you’re ready to go and you’re on the right basis that is a fantastic time to buy. I think at the moment market activity here in Yorkshire is very good, there is a real demand, a real surge for sort of more urban and village lifestyle living, that is a massive driver for activity, it is good, it is very good indeed at the moment.
Steve: Good news to hear then.
Alex: No absolutely, Brexit is long gone, and you hardly hear any bad news about it at the moment I think, it’s great when it comes to property at the moment.
Steve: What about when somebody wants to advice for lawyers, getting a lawyer involved?
Alex: Yeah, I know it’s something certainly I regularly talk about and I don’t know why but estate agents never seem to ask a homeowner or vendor in advance and it’s probably one of the most important things you should do. When it comes to a conveyancing solicitor my advice is never ever cut a corner. You must always go with a rock-solid solicitor, because at the end of the day, you personally have to live with the consequences not them if something goes wrong. One thing specifically to bare in mind is always look for a solicitor that is on low volume, but high quality. You regularly come across these sort of huge swathing open floor conveyancing practices, and the problem is with that, your file, you become a number and your file and your transaction, they tend to be fairly complicated on the most part, it gets lost. And this is where you hear about deals falling apart. You need to then, holiday cover, it gets passed around, who is dealing with the file while someone’s away? You have no idea, you’ve lost control. Best thing you can do when it comes to a conveyancing solicitor is instruct them in advance, ask and pretty much tell your solicitor to open a file, get the client ID signed off and to get the title deeds ready, check for any anomalies and sort it in advance. You as a homeowner are then ready to go so when you find the buyer, you are on the forward foot and that contract pack will be with the buyer’s solicitor in 24 hours. That is how to master the situation.
Steve: Right ok, so it’s do your homework a bit?
Steve: I must admit I was buying a house down in Shropshire some years ago when we had a little bit of trouble with a boundary, we were ready to sign, and my solicitor wouldn’t let me sign and at one point I’m thinking gggrr, but I tell you what they were absolutely amazing because they saved me so much trouble further down the line.
Alex: Exactly and that is where experience, it doesn’t matter whether a conveyancing solicitor or an estate agent, experience is absolutely key critical. It’s a interesting point and actually whether it’s a lawyer or an estate agent, where your money is going is into the time they’ve spent and the expertise they’ve got, and when it comes to estate agents it’s not just about marketing. People just think it’s that initial bit of going for sale, and getting under offer and that’s it job done, it’s not, where your estate agent comes into his own is actually between under offer and getting to exchange. And that is again where you pay the estate agents fee, that’s where they’re worth it.
Steve: Ok, I’ve got my brain in gear again now.
Alex: Glad to hear it Steve. I was worried for a minute.
Steve: Yeah, I did look a bit blank, so the question I was going to ask was about, it seems to be the explosion of online, what about that?
Alex: Yeah, you’ve got three levels of estate agents you’ve got the high street agents that we all know, you’ve then got the pure online agents that just have a website, but you’ve also got a third one which is called a hybrid agent, which is a bit of a mix of the two, so they’ve got most part online and they’ve got a office premises of sorts. Now interestingly I did a very interesting interview the other week and he actually trains all those agents nationally, a very very well qualified chap, he was saying and it was very interesting, where the high street agents have lost a lot of ground is again customer service and not getting in the right experienced people and therefore the buying public, the homeowners have drifted away, they see all the snazzy marketing advertising out there and go with one of the online chaps. As I’ve just touched on, the problem with them and what most people don’t realise is some of these online people get paid in advance. Your signing their terms, they’re actually getting paid in advance via a sort of scheme behind the scenes. Therefore, where is their motivation as an estate agent to find you the answer, they don’t, they’ve already been paid, they don’t care less. And again, unless you know what to look for, you’re going to come aground very quickly indeed, and I worry because these online guys just focus on marketing and advertising. As I just mentioned, an agent comes into their own when they’ve got that experience of getting it under offer, that’s step one, getting under offer to exchange, that’s a whole different ballgame, whereas a lot of these agents now just stand back and let it drift and that’s where you hear of so many fall throughs happening. So, at the moment I see that there is a place for online or hybrid agents, again they’re at the budget end of the market, if finances are tight, fine it’s worth it I think if you are low/mid. If you are on the upper range then there’s no point cutting a corner you’ve got to pay for that experience, it’s well worth it.
Steve: So, what you’ve described there is they’re getting paid for listing the property basically.
Alex: That’s exactly what they’re getting paid for. And you need to be very very careful again remember estate agents again they’re sales people, they’re commission driven, it’s all about that hunger and that drive and if your suddenly paying them upfront, albeit you don’t quite know about it then they can just take their foot completely off the pedal, your sale drifts, you then realise you made a bit of a error, you pull it from the market, you relaunch it again, price reduction, people see you’ve relaunched it with a new agent, a new price, what’s going on, there’s something wrong with it, well it’s got subsidence Alex didn’t you hear, you and I know well that doesn’t exist but again buyers out there put two and two together and come up with five, that’s the problem and that’s where you’ll come undone.
Steve: Right ok thanks for that. Are you ok to stay for a bit longer?
Alex: Very much so.
Steve: We want to talk about some great tips for people who are buying or selling.
Alex: Feel free.
Steve: This is radio Vale across North Yorkshire, we’re talking to Alex Goldstein this afternoon, we’re talking property, buying, selling, all kinds of things and it’s absolutely fascinating. We are talking property with Property Consultant Alex Goldstein, we’ve had a fantastic hour, lots of information. Alex before you go some tips really on selling or maybe buying?
Alex: Yeah absolutely, I think when it comes to selling, how do I put this, the TV and some of those presenters do get it wildly wrong. Never ever paint your house white and remove all the photos and take the pictures down and leave it as a blank room because I always say it then feels like a hospital clinic, who likes going to hospital, absolutely nobody so why present your house like one. You’ve got to remember that, buying and selling a property, it’s emotional, you’re buying into a lifestyle, so leave the magazines out or the cookbooks by the agar that sort of thing, leave the photographs of the children up, that’s what people want to get a feel for. Present it well and clean, clear simple lines and please as I’ve touched on do choose your agent incredibly incredibly carefully, and we haven’t quite got enough time to run through it all but again if you’re unsure, ask. The other thing that I talked about is instruct your conveyancing solicitor at the same time as your estate agent and make sure that file is open, and they are ready to go because I bet your bottom dollar you will find a buyer tomorrow, you won’t be ready, and you’ll be caught out.
Steve: Right ok but keep it tidy I guess.
Alex: Keep it tidy but remember people, it’s lifestyle that they’re buying into, it’s one of the very rare if not the only transaction you do in life where people are dealing in that sort of level of money and that sort of level of emotion, you’ve got to play to that strength, don’t paint it white.
Steve: So yeah it needs to look lived in doesn’t it?
Alex: Yeah, within reason absolutely. You want the photographs and the toys out and that sort of thing, not completely stripped bare.
Steve: Yeah ok and what about buying?
Alex: Yeah buying is interesting because people think sometimes they’ve got it absolutely nailed and I tell you, a week never goes by where someone doesn’t get it quite right. When someone says cash, it means cash in a bank account. A mortgage is something completely different so cash fund, make sure they are ready and accessible, I’ll mention that you should email yourself a copy of that bank statement, I’ll say why in a minute. Your mortgage, you must go through a mortgage broker, I would always recommend that because they will search the whole market. A bank is just there to push their own product of course. And ask for an agreement in principal, an AIP, or a DIP, decision in principal, get that and email it to yourself.
Steve: An independent mortgage broker then?
Alex: It’s an independent mortgage broker, that’s the one. And once you’ve got proof of mortgage, proof of cash, you’ve got it on email, use that in the negotiation. So, when you go to the agent, instantly supply without them asking proof of everything right up front and you’re turning the tables from the one sort of negotiating to the one then commanding the situation. Again, make sure when you’re buying your solicitor is instructed ready to go, same with the building surveyor and I think the bottom line is look, it is a people business. Make sure that you’ve got that great personal rapport of course with the vendor, because they’re buying into you and vice versa and again make sure you’re buying into the agent as well. If you’re getting on well with them, they’re more likely to do you a bit of a favour as when if need be. Again, if you’re unsure of any of those, do feel free to ask.
Steve: Ok and finally you’ve got an event happening in Leeds did you say?
Alex: I do yeah, I’ve got a educational talk on property investment, it’s on the 23 November at the Crown Plaza right in the centre of town. It’s 6pm and I think the talks sort of kick off at 7 o’clock, it’s property investors who its aimed at. Again, if anyone needs a free ticket do come through me.
Steve: If anyone wants to get in touch with you, how do they do that?
Alex: Yeah, do feel free. Look at the website alexgoldstein.co.uk or call me anytime on the landline 01423 788377.
Steve: Alex it’s been a pleasure.
Alex: No thank you very much indeed.
Steve: Thank you for joining use today and maybe catch up in the not too distant future.
Alex: Look forward to it Steve.
Steve: Have a wonderful evening.
Alex: And you.
Alex Goldstein Live on Vale FM
Alex Goldstein discusses how to decide which estate gent to choose when selling your home. Do you go with the one who quotes the best price for your home, or the one whose fees are the lowest? Or do you choose the one who’s sales pitch is the best? Or a combination of all these? Well, it’s none of those, and Alex reveals the correct answer.
How to decide which Estate Agent to choose?
Full transcript below:
Alex: The property hospital is all about me answering your property concerns and putting you back in control. Now this week I’m answering a question from Tom who’s got this question to ask.
Tom: Hi Alex, I’m about to put my house onto the market. I’ve seen three agents, but I don’t know which one to appoint. Do you have any insider tips please?
Alex: Tom, a useful question and one often asked by many homeowners. The points that regularly come up revolve around price, fees or professionalism. Now most vendors think they’re doing the logical thing by choosing a mixture of these points however they’re all completely wrong. What you need to look at is each agents’ front of house team. These are the people sat in the estate agents’ office each day, meeting and greeting walk in enquiries, taking incoming phone calls and they’re the ones who actually know the buyer database, these are the people who will actually sell your home and not the estate agents sat in your kitchen. Now you want to check out the front of house team before you see the agents at your home, go into each estate agents’ office and see how knowledgeable and helpful the front-of-house team were, mystery shop them in effect. You will know instantly which agent to go with. If you’re treated well as a prospective purchaser, then you’re more likely to find the right answer when you come to sell.
How to decide which Estate Agent to choose?
How should an estate agent value a property? What evidence do you look for? What statistics do you ignore?
Full transcript below:
Alex: Final stretch in terms of how to ascertain a property value. The key to this is what has sold in the market. Ignore what’s for sale, ignore current guide prices, it’s what’s sold. So, go on to as I said net house prices, ignore HPI’s, house price indices, ignore as I said Zoopla and their generalised algorithms and statistics, you’ve got to go by fact and that’s really what an estate agents there for. So, it’s looking at comparable evidence as to what’s sold. The other angle is to look at a pound per square foot analysis and this is what’s called a gross internal area, that wall to that wall, that by that, gives you the overall square footage, times by the magic number for the area. So, for example in Harrogate you can be anywhere between 225 a square foot to about 350 square foot, and you times that out and that will give you a vague indication as to a property’s value and you then add on a bit extra for the garage or they’ve got several acres with it or they’ve got the views. That’s effectively how an estate agent should value the property, it’s pound per square foot analysis and it’s looking at comparable evidence, what has sold recently in the area as well.
How To Value A Property
Home security expert Patrick Beebe from Keybury Fire & Security answers all questions you might have about protecting your home, including how to bring your alarm system up to date without breaking the bank, how you can keep an eye in your home using your mobile phone, and why owning pets does not mean you can’t switch your alarm on.
Interview with Patrick from Keybury Fire and Security
Full transcript below:
Alex: It’s great to have Patrick from Keybury Fire and Security here in the studio. We’re just going to delve into home security and really just understand this sector a bit more. Patrick thanks for coming in. Now obviously people have heard of ADT and Job and those larger companies out there but what do you guys actually do? You’re a smaller outfit albeit but what does it entail your side?
Patrick: Well we are a smaller company, but we do cover the whole of Yorkshire. We cover domestic systems, commercial systems for intruder alarm, CCTV, fire alarms, access control, fire risk assessments so pretty much everything that the big boys do but perhaps on a bit more of a personal self-service compared to ringing through onto a switchboard where you might have a faceless person, you would know who you’re speaking to when you get through to us. When we ring you back it’s the same person you can speak to, so a little bit more personalisation compared to what the bigger companies may offer.
Alex: And what do you guys do, I mean you outlined everything but effectively is it a case of if it’s a property you can put some security in it and depending on the levels that are involved you can sort of talk anyone through it?
Patrick: Yeah, if you’ve got a property that you’ve got no idea about security in at all then you know it’s a clean canvas and we would come in, listen to what your requirements may be, you may have something specific you want to cover within the property. We will go away, and we’ll take the plans away and we’ll have a look at the site and come up with some ideas on what we can propose for a new system for you. If you’ve already got an existing system, then we’re quite capable as well of taking that over from a previous company and looking after that as well so you don’t have to have a brand-new system installed.
Alex: How does it work just firstly on the CCTV side because a lot of people say well look I had some minor CCTV cameras just a couple put up back in the day, how can you get round that because again I’m always mindful of client costs and that side of things, what can you do as the workaround?
Patrick: If there’s been a system that’s been installed, and we do come across systems where perhaps somebody’s bought it from a DIY shop or something like that so it’s also cheaper perhaps in the short term but in the long term it’s not necessarily. We can come in and utilise the existing cabling that’s in place so you’re not having to take floor boards up again and start you know taking the carpets up. We have systems that would fit across all sorts of different cabling that might have been installed so some of the newer systems nowadays go in with cat 5 cable and cat 6. The older ones would have been on co actual cable but ultimately nowadays people really would like HD images, whereas you know a long time ago those images weren’t really like anything they are today so taking an old system that’s been installed, taking the old hardware out and then just put it in a new camera that would fit onto that old cabling isn’t actually quite a big task nowadays to do.
Alex: Is it not also that with the wireless options that you sometimes see on the camera side, is that ever an option where there’s been issues?
Patrick: We’ve always tended to sort of stay away from the wireless cameras. We’ve always done a hardwired system basically from a reliability point of view.
Alex: Now, I guess is there a hacking risk as well?
Patrick: There is, but also you know wireless can drop off now and again for whatever reason that might be, whereas on a wired system all the integrity is a lot more secure.
Alex: What’s the latest I suppose, security tech that’s coming out? Because I know you can get sort of some mobile phone apps and that side of things, just talk us through that and anything else.
Patrick: Mobile phones are playing a big part in the marketplace for the security industry nowadays and you know a lot of people want to integrate the camera system at their houses onto their smartphones and their iPads remotely while they’re not actually at the property so if you’ve gone away on holiday and the intruder alarm is set and the cameras are all running 24/7 recording, if the intruder alarm activated that would send you a push notification through onto your mobile phone to say the alarm had activated, you can then log on to the cameras at your house just have a look round the perimeter or internals if you had it fitted inside, once you’ve established if there’s been a genuine activation from there on you can either you know pass that through to the key holder or the police but there’s also the option if it’s somebody that you know, a relative might have come in with a key didn’t realise the alarm was set, you’ll see that and you’re quite capable as well of turning the alarm system off by your phone, wherever you may be, unsettling it, have a word with them, how they go.
Alex: Is it a standing joke as well you can look into your mobile and actually watch your house being burgled, does that happen as well?
Patrick: Well I suppose in theory it could do that.
Alex: The other point that links in with this on the alarm side of things, what is actually possible? I know we’ve just talked about things about the alarm and it’s effectively a bell in a box on the side of your house, but I think it’s a bit more than that nowadays isn’t it?
Patrick: Yes, alarm systems have come on quite a lot as well in the years. You can start at a very very basic system which, it might just be an audible only system within your property that would not frighten the neighbours of an external siren going off. There is also the options from that where that notification could then go through to a monitoring station, it can go through to your mobile phone on the app as well, you can add both so the app would notify you but you might be away and think well actually what can I do here so the monitoring station can the take control and say right well we’ve got a list of key holders here so we’ll contact the key holders, the one above, that is the police response system, so if we have an alarm activation at a property on a police system, it works slightly different in that when the alarm system is set then we would generate what’s called a confirmed alarm. So how that would work is if a burglar broke in through the kitchen and activated the alarm sensor that would send the first signal through to the monitoring station to say we have an alert at this property. If they then proceeded to go through into the hallway with our two alarm sensors activated within a time window there, so that is an instant confirmed alarm to the police monitoring station, so the police would come straight out to that one, followed on by the key holders on that system.
Alex: How does it work, say for example, pets you’ve got, could have been the pet cat gone through the kitchen and then onto the hall, can alarms tell the difference nowadays or how do you get round that or would you just have to leave your cat in a particular room?
Patrick: You can have pet sensors now that can be installed on the system designed around your requirements where the pet would stay, so there are sensors that will ignore a pet up to a certain size, a dog and a cat, so that’s workable within a system if you particularly want them to have free roam of the house. There’s also options where you may give them the whole of the ground floor for instance where we could do vibration detection on the windows and glass and glass break detection devices as well, as opposed to just internal movement sensors. Course the internal movement sensors are good, and somebody breaks in they are actually in your house at that point whereas you may be considering a perimeter protection type system as well, so there’s quite a few variations on what you could use that for.
Alex: Fantastic stuff, Patrick I can’t thank you enough some really great insight and expert tips. Now if anyone wanted to sort of talk anything through with you guys in a bit more detail, what’s the best way to get hold of you?
Patrick: Well we’re on the web, www.keybury.co.uk and the telephone number to call is 01423 876348 so feel free to get in touch.
Alex: Fantastic Patrick thank you very much indeed.
Home Security Expert Answers All
Alex Goldstein is ‘live’ on Talk Radio with Mike Graham, discussing the North-South property price divide and why southern prices have dipped for the first time in 8 years. Why has this happened and what is the driver behind it all?
Full Transcript Below:
Mike: Coming up in this hour we got the Carrier Awards because it’s Good Friday we are going with them a day early. Alex Goldstein, Property Consultant is going to join us because apparently for the first time in eight years, the value of homes in the north has risen while the value of homes in the south has gone down. It’s the north-south divide but upside down. It’s very weird. You’re listening to me Mike Graham. Right hear on Talk Radio.
The Independent Republic of Mike Graham on Talk Radio.
Now we were talking earlier to a guy from Liverpool who said, you know, if you guys think travelling around in the south of England is bad news, you should try getting on a train up here. Because the travel problems they have had in the north of England particularly between the northwest and the northeast have been famous. This has been going on for many, many years where the trains are so bad that nobody can really afford to use them if they have got to get to work because quite frankly, they are not fit for purpose. What they can do though, of course, up in the north of England is to buy homes for a lot less money than you can buy homes for generally speaking in the southeast. However, southeast England property prices have actually fallen for the first time in eight years while the value of homes in the northwest has risen by 4%. Let’s talk to Alex Goldstein who’s a property consultant to find out what is going on. Alex, very good afternoon to you.
Alex: Good Afternoon, Mike. Good to speak to you.
Mike : Thank you for joining us. It’s an interesting one because for a long-time people have said, we can’t afford to buy property. The Millennials are all complaining that the problem of prices for houses in the southeast is prohibitive. But there have always been affordable properties in different parts of the country and maybe now, finally, we are seeing property slightly correcting itself in a sense.
Alex: I think you’re absolutely correct. In fairness, I think the southern and Home Counties market, it was overheated, and something needed to happen to temper it down. But what’s amazing at the moment is there’s a seismic shift, I feel, in how people wish to live at the moment and there is a major movement towards quality of life and the work-life balance. And as more and more London orientated or Home County orientated companies actually have footings up in the northern regions there is again, people can afford to move up and be in the London office two to three days a week not five days a week.
Mike: No quite. And I mean how different is the gap between say the average price in the north. It is a bit of a nebulous concept of north of England. I’m not sure where it begins. For me it begins in Edgeware because I’m a Londoner, I mean where does it technically begin?
Alex: Many would say north of Watford Gap of course. For example if you look at Birmingham and go across the Pennines and you’re looking at Manchester and you’re looking right into Yorkshire. Harrogate, Leeds at the moment is absolutely flying. You got Channel 4 putting in their head office there. You got HMRC. These are significant legal and finance institutions and they are putting big footings down in these areas and I think that’s what’s driving the move on top of, like I said, a bit life-work balance movement.
Mike: Sure and Leeds has always been a place where there has been quite a lot of money, hasn’t it?
Alex: It has. And again you have two hospitals in Leeds as well. Dare I say, the footballers out there, Leeds will hopefully come back into the Premiership. Huddersfield are in the premiership. And it does make a big difference.
Mike: Not for much longer. I don’t think though.
Alex: Wait and see. Anything can happen.
Mike: But it’s interesting as well, possibly, and you can correct me if I’m wrong here, but Cheshire area around Manchester and Liverpool as well, very much boosted by the footballers that are playing for the big clubs up there.
Alex: Absolutely. I think if anywhere is a great example it is in and around Manchester and Cheshire. They do bring a sizable amount of money into the economy. Equally on the other side of the Pennines, the Tour de Yorkshire, the Tour de France. Again we got the UCI Cycling Championships as well. Some would argue that Yorkshire is one of the only counties that’s got a brand out there at the moment. Again all of these, Manchester and heading across the Pennines, it’s constantly in the nation news. And I think a lot of buyers are picking up on that and hence you are getting a lot of families relocating and looking for that lifestyle.
Mike: Well I have to say, trying to get around London at the moment is such a nightmare that if you could provide a reasonable amount of money for a job in the north of England, which wouldn’t necessarily be exactly same amount of money you’d get in London, the lifestyle is a lot better isn’t it?
Alex: Hugely so. I mean you’ve got vast, open, green spaces. Less overcrowding especially when it comes to housing, you’re more spread out. And dare I say, every time I split my time between the north and London. And people always say that people are generally so much more friendly and relaxed. A generalisation albeit. Schools as well. And as I said, you don’t need to be in the office five days a week. You can be flexibly working. Work from home. Go into the office when it’s needed. And that helps both employees and employers in terms of costing. I just see this as a very sizable shift both in terms of how employment is working and indeed the property sector.
Mike: Sure. And was there any sort of boost to Manchester and the northwest when the BBC set up such a big outfit in Salford? Salford is very much a draw for media companies and all that. I went up to Salford a couple of years ago and it was sort of like a ghost town. There wasn’t much going on. Yes, the big BBC place was there. Salford Theatre was there as well but it didn’t feel like a buzzing metropolis.
Alex: As with all these things, it takes time. It will take time for that to pick up speed. I certainly think it has picked up speed and as you said, it’s just the bolt-ons sort of effect it creates. Again the same could be said for Leeds and Channel 4 moving in there. Again these things don’t happen overnight but again such a significant institution coming into both areas, companies and employers gravitate towards them.
Mike: So if you were an investor, property wise coming into these areas, where would you say to people is a good place to buy a home now in England. The place where it’s likely to rise up the most?
Alex: For me, at the moment, it’s the areas we discussed. Across major parts of Yorkshire, Leeds, Harrogate, Ilkley. As you mentioned, Manchester, Cheshire. There is a big push for urban or just outside of town living at the moment. And I think if you are looking to invest as indeed a lot of developers and investors are doing, they’ve long since moved out of London and are looking towards the secondary cities in the UK as that’s where you’re going to see the uplift.
Mike: And I mean 1.8% down in southeast overall, I mean there’s still a long way to go before anyone who doesn’t have an awful lot of money will be able to afford to buy anything.
Alex: It needed correcting. We probably don’t have time on today’s show but first-time buyers and that side of things, we have got a fairly significant range of issues here. I think the stamp duty that was introduced by George Osborne and its reduced prices, but we are a long way from helping those trying to get on the first rungs of the property ladder. The homes being built aren’t particularly good quality across the board if you are looking at the big developers on there. I don’t think the banks lend particularly well and aren’t prepared to take a view. There are just layers and layers of issues. I would be happy to become the Housing Minister and try to sort this all out.
Mike: Fascinating stuff. Alex, thank you very much. Alex Goldstein, Property Consultant, there on the rise of prices in the north of England and the fall of prices in the south of England which is happening for the first time in eight years.
The North-South Property Divide
Featuring global heavyweights in the accountancy and personal services sector PwC (Price Waterhouse Cooper) discussing offshore funding, tax planning and tax avoidance.
Plus Sharon Wright – a specialist joiner using a wood product which has a 60 year guarantee and paint system with up to 15 years!
In addition, we discuss the ONLY question you need to ask your estate agent before you instruct them.
So much to cram in, plus the Alex Goldstein top tips!
The Alex Goldstein Property Show (Part 3)
Full transcript below:
Alex: Welcome again to the Alex Goldstein Property Show. I’m Alex Goldstein of Alex Goldstein Property Consultants Harrogate and this is the fast-paced property show, giving you industry expert insight into the world of property, estate agency and the related business sectors within it. Insider tips, tricks and know-how all jam packed into the show, so you can make the best-informed decision when it comes to buying and selling your home whether you’re a first-time buyer, up-sizer, downsizer, experienced property developer, have a portfolio empire or just simply have an interest in the local and national property market then this is the show for you. I will be speaking with and getting industry expert advice from some of the most successful property related businesses and professionals that Yorkshire and indeed the UK has to offer ranging from regional Chartered Surveyors all the way through to some of the UK’s most well renowned multinational firms. We’re available for podcast download on the first of every month so make sure you sign up to Alex Goldstein and the Stray FM social media accounts to get an early reminder of this and to get great property tips whenever you need. In this months show we will be getting the inside track from global heavyweight giants in the accountancy and personal services sector PwC, Price Waterhouse Cooper, where we have Chris Etherington, a senior manager on their private client team in Leeds here talking through the hot topics of the day in the financial sector, such as offshore funding, tax planning and all the news in the press about tax avoidance currently. We will also be getting to grips with how to stay at the forefront of an agent’s mind when they’re selling your home as part of our property hospital section. Plus, we are putting Sharon Wright from DH Wright Joinery in the hot seat to get clarity on why a wood product she uses has a 60-year guarantee, you did hear that correctly. We of curse also have the Alex Goldstein top tips. So much to cram in so let’s get straight into the property news.
This month we’re discussing the current government intervention in the property market. Now, let’s face it, it doesn’t matter whether it’s our sugar intake the cars we drive or consumption of fruit each day, the government surely has our best interests at heart. After all a 3% stamp duty surcharge for second-home and additional property purchases and a further tax on what’s deemed to be the well-off can only be a good thing right. The government are just trying to help first-time buyers get on the property ladder. Seems fair doesn’t it, in addition to the above taxation, it’s tougher buy-to-let lending criteria now, curtailing of mortgage interest relief plus capital gains tax or CGT has effectively seen an 8% increase as residential property sales are excluded from the recent overall reduction in the tax. So, what is the governments problem and why are they doing this? In simple terms they feel that property investors have a competitive advantage over the first-time buyer and they are targeting the same types of properties. The government wants greater home ownership and to create a more stable economy so that if times ever got tough again with we’re well sheltered from the storm. Sounds sensible so far and by putting off some investors with higher upfront costs it will mean that the first-time buyers can get on the ladder. However, there are actually greater issues at hand here and let me explain. The government have effectively put the brakes on by-to-let investors. This has choked up the supply of rental properties. So of course, if there’s a shortage of supply, tenants demand is going to increase. When this happens the amount of rent payable each month is going to go up. So, if you’re a tenant and you rent has gone up how are you going to afford to pay for your first home? Don’t worry the government say, here is that new lifetime ISA and an increase on the annual ISA limit. However, to my mind this doesn’t solve the issue as if I’m a tenant how can I still afford to put money aside each month into my brad new fancy ISA if my rent has gone up. I argue we are still left with the same issue of people trying to get on the property ladder because saving for deposits and tougher lending criteria means that it remains an uphill struggle. Time will of course tell on this, but I hope the government have got their watchful eye on what I see as a brewing issue.
It’s great here to have Chris Etherington rom Price Waterhouse Cooper in Leeds. Chris getting straight to the heart of it, I know everyone’s really heard of PwC and Price Waterhouse and it’s one of those massive UK names but what underneath it all do you actually do?
Chris: Thanks for inviting me on Alex. So yeah PwC, I mean it’s one of those words that you see bandied around in the press for being you know just a large accountancy firm. We work with huge global conglomerates and things like that and it’s actually like you say is it’s a bit impenetrable as to what do we actually do. So, in terms of getting down to the nuts and bolts of it we’re essentially problem solvers. I mean we do a whole variety of things, I can list you know a whole different load of services that we do so you know, I do tax advice, we do legal advice, we do investment advice, we do deals, we help people buy and sell companies, we do the boring stuff like the accountancy, colleagues in accountancy won’t thank me for saying that but you know that is what we’re known for but we do so much more. You know we help people get debt funding, a whole host.
Alex: So, sort of numbers and a bit beyond?
Chris: Absolutely yeah, obviously numbers based but we’re not all just mathematicians.
Alex: Yes, a possible common misconception is the types of clients that you help, and I know you’ve mentioned that you do help some of the UK’s best names out there. But just give people a feel because obviously you’ve got those people, but I picked up that there is actually a bit of a slant and a change.
Chris: Well I tell you what I do, I just work with individuals and most people will be surprised to hear that probably. I’ve spent the last decade of my life sitting at the same desk helping clients of all shapes and sizes if you like. So, I’ve got clients who are guys in their bedroom with an internet business, to 98-year-old Granny’s. So, you know there’s all sorts and its not just your high net worth Russian oligarchs or what you think it might be.
Alex: Yeah, a common misconception, it’s great to clear that one up. And what about companies on that on the company side because again you’re often seen to be acting for some of the big guys out there but that be said at the moment you’re quite interested as a company in the SME’s of this world.
Chris: I mean if you just took what we call it private business and what that basically means is working with individuals, typically owners of managed businesses and privately-owned businesses and if you took that out of PwC in itself that would probably be the fifth largest accountancy firm in the country, just that bit of PwC, I mean we do a lot. If you look at how many FTSE 100 companies are there in Yorkshire, there’s some but there’s not a huge amount so over two thirds of what we do is working with entrepreneurs and their businesses and that’s not just huge ones it’s tech start ups to very large privately-owned businesses and everything in between.
Alex: If you are a small medium sized business, why would you look to PwC’s rather than say an accountancy firm down the street. What is the difference, what are you actually getting?
Chris: At the end of the day I mean you’ve got the benefit of having somebody that is focused on the SME market, but has the benefit of having a global firm behind them so we can help you from day one as you grow and invest out time, quite happy to invest time to start with in certain businesses you know, so I’ve got a lot of guys who are tech start-ups and there’s not a huge amount I’m going to be doing for them but I just spend time with them on a day-to-day basis and help them, grow with them and in the future there might be an opportunity for me to help them with something.
Alex: And I suppose from what you previously said it’s the fact that you’ve got all these different departments and sub-divisions and all different types.
Chris: Yeah, say someone is trying to export to a European country for example and they’ve never done it before, well we’ve got offices all over the world. I can pick up the phone to somebody and find someone over there that can help them.
Alex: They’re getting the PwC network that you can’t obviously get from your high street guy and you are the one stop sort of financial spreadsheet shop so to speak.
Chris: Yeah, that’s why I said basically we’re problem solvers. So if you have a problem with your business, generally I can find an expert, because it’s such a big firm there’s usually somebody who does everything you know, I’ve had a little niche expert, I mean I’ve been in the firm for a decade, I still don’t know what we do, there’s so much there yeah but usually if you pick up the phone there’s somebody I can turn to with something.
Alex: And just talk us through because it’s very much a hit topic at the moment, this whole sort of tax avoidance. You’ve obviously got all the Panama papers, you’ve got David Cameron who’s supposedly been caught out according to some of the papers, Emma Watson the actress, she again bought it through the Panama company. What’s the viewpoint on this because again I think it’s very much a misconception when people sort of talk about taxation, the different structures, talk us through what is legal, what is illegal, what’s the grey area?
Chris: Yeah, it’s a hot potato, bit of a minefield to go through and it obviously sells papers which is why it’s been all over the press for the last five or so years. Before then I think the tax world was very different. Broadly the important point to know is tax evasion, that’s the really bad thing, that’s illegal, now tax avoidance that’s legal. So, one is a criminal matter, if you’re doing tax evasion, there’s still plenty of people out there doing that, and if you look at what budgets and things set when the Chancellor stands up with his little red box and so on he says how much I’m going to recover from tax evasion, as there’s plenty of people out there doing that.
Alex: And that’s effectively money laundering which is the illegal bit.
Chris: Yeah it can include money laundering, it can get people not paying their tax, basically defrauding the government.
Alex: And the difference flipping over to the….
Chris: I mean obviously we don’t do any of that.
Chris: Tax avoidance is a much broader term. So, and again that is bandied around, and it is becoming more of a dirty word in itself. It comes down to confusion, as you mentioned, it’s how do people understand what is genuinely just financial planning and what is avoidance and if you look at what the law says, you know case law basically going back donkey’s years which goes along the lines of and I probably paraphrase badly that somebody is entitled to arrange their affairs in a way that helps minimise their tax exposure. That’s perfectly legitimate. But if parliament didn’t intend this to happen are you manipulating the rules? Are you finding a loophole and exploiting it? That’s tax avoidance in their view and they don’t like it for obvious reasons, it’s not what they want you know. Whereas they are obviously happy with financial planning. I mean tax avoidance is so broad you could say that investing in a ISA you know in a sense is, you are arranging your circumstances to pay less tax because there is a you know government sponsored tax relief there, you can invest in a wrapper like that.
Alex: So effectively its your role to take and do the tax advice and take your client and their pot of money no matter what it is and take it up to the line that is set out effectively by HMRC but you don’t cross it because the as you said you’re getting into serious nitty gritty territory and you’re bound to be caught out and that’s where if you like the daily mails of this world and the media have picked up on it and arguably twisted the facts slightly?
Chris: Ultimately it comes down to there are thousands of pages of legislation now you know it’s impossible for the layman on the street, you know Jimmy an ordinary citizen to understand really what the tax rules are, they’re so complex now. You know when I started you had a couple of books and it’s now twelve. It’s impossible, I can’t read all of that, you have to have you know specialists in each individual field and some of just doing stuff like a tax return for people was impossible because there’s absolutely no way you can self-assess without some help. So, a lot of what we do is actually try and help people understand what the rules are.
Alex: It brings us on I suppose nicely in terms of again another term that’s sort of bandied around predominately by the media in terms of offshore funds, whereby you sort of say well I’ve got my pot of money and it’s held in the Channel Islands or it’s over in the British Virgin Islands and all of that and again it’s tarnished with a similar sort of brush. Are those sort of setups legal? Illegal? What are the advantages? What are the disadvantages? I mean again it’s a term possibly misunderstood but where we we’re at the moment in terms of legislation what’s possible?
Chris: Yeah so I mean like you say there’s a lot of attention on things like Panama, before then there was non-dom’s, that came up in the election campaigns and stuff, and a lot of these terms are thrown out into the press and it’s all no non-dom’s are bad, Panama’s obviously bad, offshore structure that’s awful, you know and the trouble is a lot of people aren’t interested in the detail, I love tax, a lot of people don’t, I’m fairly unique, I chose to do this, most people fall into the profession. Unless you get really into the detail and that’s not going to sell papers is it if you’re going to get really into the detail of it, so it is quite easy to get things misconstrued. I mean just turning to the Panama situation and David Cameron, so he invested in essentially shares in an offshore vehicle set up by his father. I don’t know all the details, I haven’t look at it that much in all the specifics, but broadly it was an entity which paid UK tax, it was distributing its income each year and David Cameron would have to declare that on his tax return. So that is the same as you investing in a blue-chip company on the stock exchange as anybody else would, you do that in a ISA or whatever you like. If it’s paying the same amount of UK tax as it would be in a UK entity, then what’s the problem but people see offshore and tax evasion and tax avoidance and group it all. You just read the headline don’t you. There are things to be uncovered and it’s perfectly legitimate for people to look at Panama and things like that and see if there is, you know I’m sure there will be untoward things that are in there to be uncovered, you know it’s 11 million documents I think, it’s going to take somebody with a fine tooth comb to go through it all I think.
Alex: Well time will tell on that one time will tell. Bring it back round, in terms of property investment again the sort of the buzzwords is sort of how you structure it for tax efficiency, capital gains, inheritance tax, company structures, how do you actually sort of structure purchases nowadays because obviously there’s so many sort of obstacles, are there sensible ways, obviously above board as we’ve said that you can actually structure that purchase? What should one actually look out for as a property investor?
Chris: Ok, ok ultimately, it’s a bit fob you off a little bit. It really comes down to your personal circumstances. There’s not a one set of rules, this is the right thing for a property investor to do you know, one person’s situation may be completely different to another person’s. You might have someone who is married and in a property partnership say, you might have somebody that’s just doing it by themselves, you have to take all of that into account. I mean if your married you might think about things like who’s earning more so you know a lot of the changes at high level are, some of the bigger ones that we announced were around for stretching the amounts of relief you can get on your mortgage payments so that’s going to be restricted to basic rent, so you know 20% relief eventually essentially, whereas in the past you would have got 40% or If you’re an additional rate tax payer, if you’re lucky enough to be one, 45% relief. You know so that’s a big dip in terms of how much, it’s coming phased in so over the next couple of years you will come 75%, 50%, 25%, I won’t throw numbers around but in those circumstances you might look well okay fine if my wife isn’t earning anything well maybe she should own some of the properties if we’re going to acquire some more, maybe she should do it rather than me. The issues with stamp duty and tax are interesting. I mean you’ve got obviously this new 3% surcharge, from the people I’ve spoken to it’s just not necessarily something that will change the behaviour but they’re looking at, it’s more a case of it’s an extra cost that we’re going to have to incur it’s like a business expense you know it’s just something that we have to take into account when we’re setting our rents and so on to try and get the right sort of profit in the long term. So unfortunately, I think whilst the idea is to disincentive I guess the landlord and buy-to-let market, I suspect it will just be passed on to the tenants in due course.
Alex: That’s my fear but again we will see because it’s very early days. Talk us through Chris, because I know a lot of people are banding around ideas of if we’re looking to buy property we’ll put it in a limited company structure and there’s sort of limited liability partnerships and all of that. If one is looking to acquire properties what are the things you actually need to think through in the structures as well.
Chris: Well I mean you’ve got to think about what’s commercial first and what’s good for you. I mean there are benefits to being in a company there are benefits of being in a partnership, like limited protections one but you know there’s also things like who’s going to lend money to me. I mean it’s easy to obtain finance when you’re an individual through buy-to-let mortgages, it might start to get harder but it’s my understanding is it’s harder to do it through a company than it is. The tax things to think about are well yeah there are some tax changes. Not all of those tax changes apply to the companies, particularly mortgage interest one is a big one. So, there’s a distinction there that if you can get lending through a company and actually some people are actually so worse off that after these tax changes come through, in earnest once they’ve been phased in, yeah you could end up making a loss after you know the tax cost. So that in itself could mean that basically there’s no point being in business, so what you going to do about it? And one of the considerations might be well can I incorporate, well that might be one route you’ve got to think about what the other implications are, the stamp duty land tax issues and so on. Like I said before you what you got to do is look at your individual circumstances and then decide which structure is best from the outset.
Alex: Yeah and take some pretty specialist advice as well, again the great thing about PwC is just so many different departments and areas of expertise so you’ve just got to declare everything from your personal circumstances and really, I think hand it over to you guys for you to navigate through.
Chris: Obviously, I’d be happy to do that, the key thing is taking that sort of advice earlier on rather than later. It’s much easier to plan for the future than it is trying to unravel something from the past.
Alex: Yeah no quite. And I mean it’s been really insightful, thank you very much indeed for your time. If anyone’s got any sort of questions or queries or both I suppose from a personal perspective and also the company side and tax structures that we’ve run through, what is the best way for people to reach you?
Chris: So yeah you can give me a call, my direct telephone number is 0113 2894895 or normal routes you can reach us through the website pwc.co.uk
Alex: That’s fantastic, really appreciate your time Chris, thank you very much indeed.
Chris: Thank you very much.
Alex: In the property hospital I get to answer your property problems.
Linda Alex, I’m on the market with an estate agent at the moment and things are ticking along but how can I continue to get the best out of them and ensure that they’re always pushing my property?
Alex: Linda, great question. One of the best things you can actually do is get the front of house team or the office-based staff to view your home. The more staff that have seen it, the more they’re going to remember it and they’re then going to mention it to the buyers out there. The other thing is, I think you need to stay in touch with your agent but do keep it brief each time. Remember agents are sales people and they’re often short of time, so having a 30-minute telephone call is just going to clog them up and let’s face it, I would much rather they were using that 30 minutes on the phone selling your property. So, really keep it short and sweet with the communication, that’s the key. Again, on that point, remember estate agency is of course, it’s a people business, so therefore be nice as I know you would be, but people always go out of their way to help anyone that’s great to get on with and keep a solid personable rapport with the agent. Really, ultimate tip and rick here, stay front of mind with your agent, go and buy them some cake and seriously I do mean that, pop buy the bakers, get them a selection of cakes in a box and drop by the office and to say that you were thinking of them. So, when they’re eating them, and the other office staff are asking were these cakes come from, they’re discussing you and your home, and again in other words you are front of their minds and you’re being a great client and therefore they will continue to go above and beyond for you. I really hope this helps.
Voiceover: The Property Hot Seat
Sharon: Sharon Wright
Sharon: David H Wright Joinery
Voiceover: Time in property?
Sharon: I’ve been in the business for 28 years.
Alex: Just sort of talking all of this through, I know people possibly have this misconception of what joinery actually is and as soon as you mention a specialist, what is it that you actually do and offer?
Sharon: Right well as a bespoke joinery manufacturer we manufacture all types of products windows, doors, orangeries, conservatories. We work on heritage work, all types of different woods.
Alex: I dare say being a specialist you get involved with a lot of sort of older properties, listed properties, is that something that you sort of go into and what are the sort of details that you need to sort of secure off on it?
Sharon: Absolutely when a property is in a conservation area or indeed it is a listed building yeah then the attention to detail we have to be very careful what we’re actually putting in to that building. We have to improve it sympathetically with our windows so the attention to detail is paramount, we have to ensure that we get all the mouldings correct, that we’re using the correct timbers, we’ve got to pay special attention to the paint finishes, the colours that are really important.
Alex: I guess it just goes into the sort of the legal side of things, if you get it wrong, you and the owner are liable, and you’ve got the council and authorities to answer to is the bottom line.
Sharon: Absolutely, it can be a very expensive mistake.
Alex: What are the considerations that you need to do when making applications to the local authority if you wanted to change any windows, doors, maybe a conservatory or orangery, what do you actually need to think through as an owner and indeed yourself as a business?
Sharon: We have to be very careful because the local authority want to preserve the heritage of the building and also with conservation areas they want to preserve the area to make sure that its maintained, it’s kept beautiful and all the buildings are sympathetic to the area so we have to make sure that one the windows are copied exactly as they were before, so it doesn’t have to be a 1700 property, doesn’t have to be a Georgian property or a Victorian property. It might be that it’s a 1920s or 1930s property.
Alex: Just in the conservation areas you mentioned.
Alex: You’ve still got to tread carefully, I mean what happens for example, there’s some fantastic properties that have stained glass and its again they’re incredibly difficult to A – get right and copy nowadays, is there a way you can get round that from your perspective?
Sharon: Absolutely, so the glazing is very important as well. Say you’ve got a property that’s got beautiful stained glass windows in and the client still want to have the double glazed units then what we can do is we can encompass that into the double glazed unit so we send them away to a very very clever man in Leeds that repairs the original stained glass and then encapsulate that into a double glazed unit so you’ve got the benefit of a very very modern window in a traditional style.
Alex: You’ve got the best of everything.
Sharon: Best of all worlds yeah absolutely yes.
Alex: I know you have talked about the difference of timber types and I think this is a really interesting subject. Just tell everyone the wood types and the differences that you work with because again some of it is quite surprising I think.
Sharon: Well you’ve got to be really really careful when you’re looking at buying a window, whether that’s for a new build or we’re looking at heritage type buildings. There’s a lot of soft wood products out there which are ok, but when you’re wanting to have a beautiful window done then you want to have the best wood you can have.
Alex: Yeah, and people often sort of throw around the term oak, but I guess there’s oak and there’s oak, what are the differences?
Sharon: Absolutely, well you have European oak and American oak. Both really really great timbers but you wouldn’t want to be using American Oak outside because it’s just not capable of our weathers to use outside. So, it’s great to use that timber American oak but on inside products such as staircase, internal doors that sort of products but as far as any external work then you really have to use European Oak.
Alex: Talk me through because I felt that this was absolutely fantastic, this is a fairly new product that’s out there sort of accoya, talk everyone through this as I know I’ve been saying to everyone look at this a 60 year, a six-zero-year guarantee which I think is quite something. Just talk everyone through exactly what that is and why there is that guarantee in place.
Sharon: I’m so excited about this product, it really really is a great product. What happens it’s a soft wood timber, accoya is not a tree, it’s a soft wood which is farm grown in New Zealand and what they do is they take all the you know DNA, take all the DNA out of the timber and it goes through a process which enables that timber then to be very very stable. So, you can cut a piece of timber, measure it before you put it in some water, put it in water, leave it for six-months Alex and take it back out and it won’t have swollen, it won’t have moved it won’t have done anything, so it’s a great stable timber.
Alex: It’s actually wood, it’s not anything objective or strange, it’s just the way they’ve treated it?
Sharon: Absolutely, it’s a fantastic product so we use it for doors, for bi-folding doors it’s absolutely great because we can get the tolerances really down to a fine line. It’s great for sliding sash windows because what we do we also use a product called tri-accoya which is also great, which is made of all the sweepings of the accoya into a MDF board so that’s great for when we do orangeries or conservatories, it’s great for the big timber posts that we use, we use that instead of big timber posts and we know we’re not going to get any swelling or movement so it really is a fantastic fantastic product.
Alex: Doesn’t rot, doesn’t move, doesn’t split, doesn’t do anything apart from when you’ve cut it to size, it just completely stays in place and let me check I’ve got this right it really is 60, six-zero years guarantee.
Alex: I don’t know any other product probably in the world that has that sort of guarantee that is something quite special, and then over the top of it, I know we’ve sort of chatted in the past about the paint that you can also then incorporate, not necessarily on the top of accoya but the other products that you use. Talk everyone through that.
Sharon: Ok, well we work with a company called Technos and that company provide a micro-porous paint system. Now just explain a little more in details than that, that is a water-based system, which will actually moves with the timber so if for instance looking at sepelia hard wood then you get up to a 10-yewar lifespan on a sepelia hard wood, with soft wood you get up to a 10-year lifespan with that, but with accoya you get up to a 15-year lifespan on your paint system.
Alex: And that is just on the paint itself, not for the woods just on the paint?
Alex: Again, that is quite a combination, so again if you’re doing anything specialist that’s going to take a bit of a hit so to speak I think that is really the product to go for. I know again everyone sort of talks about UPVC windows and sort of timber windows and bare in mind the products on the timber side that your using. What are the advantages as you would see it in terms of putting in timber windows over UPVC?
Sharon: If you are doing a project, firstly if it’s in a conservation area or a listed building you’re not allowed to use UPVC and you can really get caught out by spending money and then having to put new windows in again so be very very careful with that, that’s the first thing. Also, the attention to detail, with a plastic window you can’t get the really very nice mouldings on the windows themselves. Also, with a wooden window, they’re endorsed by the WWF and Greenpeace so they’re much more environmentally friendly, of course if we put them into landfill they don’t really know, so for the environmentalists that is very important.
Alex: And I suppose the design element as well from your perspective because I think you’ve got a fleet of people behind the scenes so if you want any design under the sun, pretty much it’s all possible.
Sharon: Absolutely and what we’ve got to take into consideration as well is that the people that are trained by us are apprentice trained really from school, and they’re craftspeople, so the windows that we’re manufacturing, are really really difficult to make and so attention to detail is paramount and with a plastic window really anybody can make.
Alex: And what’s the training? What’s the length of year out of interest? Sort of a craftsmen, how many years?
Sharon: So, we’re talking about seven years.
Alex: As long as that.
Sharon: We’re talking a long time.
Alex: Well it’s been fascinating to talk to you and some really interesting products to use and I’m sure you’ll have some great interest on that. And what are the best ways for people to get hold of you?
Sharon: You can give me a call, the best number to get me on is 01977 681832 or the website is dhwjoinery.co.uk
Alex: Sharon, great to see you thank you very much indeed.
Sharon: Thank you for having me Alex.
Alex: This month we ask ourselves what is the only question you need to ask the manager of your state agency office when they’re looking to sell your property. That is what is their experience in estate agency. Now, let me explain, for example I had a case a couple of years back and completely out of the area a homeowner rang me, and they were struggling to sell their property. Area was great, great property, right price, I just personally couldn’t understand why it hadn’t sold and something wasn’t right. Cue a meeting with the estate agent who also was the manager of that office. Excellent sales person, full of enthusiasm, couldn’t fault him, however once I’d actually cut through all of that and asked his experience in the sector, his response was that he used to work for Cirque De Soleil, the circus people in their marketing team. He was literally a clown. He fancied having a goat estate agency and bought himself a franchise and whilst he could buy a franchise opportunity and he really was an excellent sales person, he could not buy hands on experience, and this was why the sale in this instance had faltered. And as the manager leading his team, if there was an issue, were to have the foresight to see a problem cropping up on the horizon he was instantly out of his depth therefore so was the rest of his team. Whilst this new twist to estate agency is a great thing they need to be backed up by a leader with experience and some of the most powerful agents have the young negotiator who’s enthusiastic, full of energy, it’s then backed up and tempered by the manager and these guys have the years of experience and the know-how. Together the combined skills can be a very formidable force when selling your home. However, no experience at the top can only lead to issues down the line. Remember time and experience in any job can only be earnt and never bought.
That’s all from the Alex Goldstein Property Show (Part 3). More details, tips, tricks and industry expert advice can be found on the website alexgoldstein.co.uk and of course all my social media channels. Alternatively drop me a line on firstname.lastname@example.org The next episode is out on 1 July so make sure you tune in for that. Until next time.
The Alex Goldstein Property Show (Part 3)
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What effect has the result of the general election had on the property market? And is what you read in the papers accurate?
The General Election, media and property
Full transcript below:
In the property news we’re talking about the general election, the media and the property market. Now the outcome of the general election has left many with different opinions. Theresa May has lost the overall majority. Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party gained an extra 30 seats, taking them up to 262, while the Tories lost 13 seats and that took them down to 313. The press and the spin doctors have seized the moment claiming that Labour won. But hold on unless my calculations are completely out, in my opinion I say that Labour lost, they’ve got 51 fewer seats than the Tories albeit the Tories lost that overall majority ruling. Now according to the media this unprecedented result has led to many people adopting a wait and see approach to buying and selling their homes. Apparently, the recent political events have led to a shortage of supply coming onto the market and this has led into some people going into a bit of a blind panic. Now yes don’t get me wrong there’s certainly been a bit of turbulence, but we always knew this was going to happen with the Brexit negotiations starting. But hold on we knew that Brexit was coming almost exactly a year ago and we’ve been building up to this point. So, from my travels across Yorkshire and London I see that the supply and demand balance has just shifted recently. Demand remains very high for properties priced correctly, supply is slightly down, which means that if you put your home on the market you’ve got less competing properties, are likely to get great response because demand is so strong and surely this is good news. So, if you’re thinking of selling, my advice is to get the top 3 tips right, right price, right agent, right presentation. Get these spot on you really are away. So, when you come to buy you are in an excellent position and can negotiate from a position of strength, that’s what it’s about, and I should know as I’ve recently done this myself having bought and sold a property within the last few weeks. Now if I’m doing this with my years of experience perhaps the media are stirring up issues to sell newspapers. They wouldn’t do that, would they?
The General Election, media and property