Tenant demand continues to exceed the supply of rental properties in the UK, with 46% of 25-34 years olds renting privately compared to 27% in 2006-7, according to the latest English Housing Survey. Despite this, it doesn’t mean landlords should be complacent and assume there’s no competition out there.
In a bid to stand out from the crowd and ensure your buy-to-let investment continues to prosper, you not only need to set yourself apart with existing and prospective tenants, but everyone you deal with in your property business.
It’s not just about the quality of your product. Warren Buffett, arguably the world’s greatest investor, famously said: “You can build your reputation for twenty years and lose it in five minutes.”
Property is first and foremost a people business and people prefer to do business with people they like and trust. That’s why, at Platinum Property Partners (PPP), we show all our Franchise Partners how to operate with integrity from purchase, right through to the management of their tenants and properties. It’s what makes them so successful. Here we share some of the same teachings we’ve shared with them.
You really need to get estate agents on side if you’re going to be a successful property investor. In today’s market, prices are fairly high and the number of properties for sale has stagnated. In the HMO (House in Multiple Occupation) sector in particular, property type and location are extremely important, so you need to sell yourself as a buyer so that you are the first point of contact for an estate agent when a suitable property becomes available.
Always aim to meet your estate agent face-to-face; show them you are serious by proving you already have funding in place and can move quickly; and educate them about what you are looking for and hoping to achieve. Don’t try and gazump other buyers (know your price), don’t try and renegotiate a lower price at the last minute and don’t pull out unless absolutely necessary.
You want them to remember you for good reasons, so differentiate yourself. It’s common for them to congratulate you when you complete on a purchase, but why not show your appreciation for them? A simple thank you card and invitation to view the property once refurbished would go a long way.
Whether it’s the team of builders managing your refurbishment, full time property managers or ad hoc cleaning and maintenance tradespeople, you should always pay on time and treat them how you would want to be treated as a supplier – which as a landlord, you are to tenants. It’s extremely bad business practice to not pay or take several months to settle invoices. Ultimately, it shows a lack of organisation, professionalism or cashflow and could bring your trust into question.
If you want projects delivered on time or last-minute maintenance requests handled properly, for example, consider making them feel part of your ‘trusted’ network of suppliers and recognise their good work. A nice cup of tea and biscuit wouldn’t go amiss from time to time either!
Planning and licensing
Amateur and novice property investors, especially in the HMO sector, often fall down when it comes to complying with planning, building regulation and licensing laws. This is usually because they don’t know what they are doing, but even the most experienced investor can still get caught out if they are not proactive.
Regulations change from one town to the next, so always make an effort to meet the planning, licensing and HMO officers in your area as early on in the project as you can. Tell and show them what you are planning to do and ask if they have any specific requirements that they want you to adhere to. Within the PPP network, it’s not uncommon for our Franchise Partner landlords to be praised for the quality of home and service they will be providing to their tenants.
If you follow this advice, all the while ensuring that you’re maintaining your properties to a high standard and giving your tenants the best facilities, mod cons and level of service possible, then you’ll be sure to differentiate yourself as both a great landlord and property investor.