Tag Archives: zoopla

Zoopla Making £29.5m From Landlords and Tenants While Driving Rents UP Latest Articles

I didn’t want to start a New Year talking about a negative issue but this is too important to ignore.

The biggest change that has happened to my business in the last few years is being able to find great tenants through property letting web sites at a cost of less than £100. Previously I was paying a High Street Agent an average of £600. I did not use their tenancy agreements; I only use National Landlords Association ASTS because I know that they will be there to support me if the AST fails me. I did my own referencing because I want to speak to previous landlords and get a feel for their relationship with prospective tenants, credit referencing costs me less than £10 and I check my prospective tenants with LRS to make sure that I am not taking another landlords bad tenant. I like to do my own viewings because I am more experienced than most Agents, having been in the business for almost 42 years, and I am good at picking up on “fairy stories”. I need to know that I am comfortable handing over my expensive investments to a stranger. I protect my own deposits because I will be managing the tenancy and I will be the person who prepares the Inventory and inspects the property when they move in and out. I only used a High Street Agent to find tenants because I could not advertise my properties on the big letting web sites and I was prepared to pay an average of £600 for this privilege until my High Street Agent let me down for the second time.

The first time the agent signed up a tenant for 6 months, took their fee from the first month’s rent and deposit. The tenant did not pay the second month’s rent and I spent weeks chasing him, he did not pay the third month’s rent and I served a Section 8 Notice. I called the Agent to be told “We are not managing the property and we let it in good faith so there is really nothing we can do”. The tenant moved out at the end of month 3 taking all the keys to the house and the only keys to the garage. I had 6 weeks rent as a deposit (the Agent kept the first month to cover the fee &VAT) and by the time I paid the lock smith to gain access and change the locks on the garage (I always change locks on the house anyway) I had 5 weeks rent to cover a total of 3 months occupancy – I cleaned the property myself. I called the Agent who offered me 10% reduction on the next let!!! I should have left them at that point but I will always allow for one mistake.

The second time the agents let a house, agreed a move in date, this meant a month’s void but the Agent said that this tenant was the best person who had viewed and would be a good long term tenant. On the day before the move in date I called the Agent to find out why the AST had not been signed. The tenant told the Agent that he had decided not to move in!! The Agent told me that they would start marketing the property again and offered a 10% discount. I asked for the rent that they had taken from the tenant who had not moved in and I was told that they had only taken a holding deposit, equivalent to one months’ rent, and this was theirs to cover the work that they had done letting the property. I pointed out that they had not let the property ….I won’t bore you with the rest.

At this point I began searching on line for another Agent and I found an Online Agent who would place my properties on Rightmove and Zoopla, vet the enquiries and pass on prospective tenants to me all for less than £100. I was delighted, I had not heard of online agents until then. I have been using this agent every since and I have taken on some great tenants. without losing a month’s rent in fees every time I turned a tenancy or paying 10% management fees throughout the year, and this has enabled me to keep my rents below the market rates while offering nice homes.

On 9th December I read an article on Estate Agents Today which made my blood boil. In a nutshell the High Street Agents have put pressure on Zoopla who have decided to stop online letting agents advertising on their site unless they change their business model to offer the same services as a High Street Letting Agent and of course that would mean charging self managing landlord the same fees for services that we don’t want or need. What is the Officer of Fair Trading (OFT) doing allowing Zoopla to have this impact on free trade? The online agents are paying them their fees, they are placing ads in the same way as a High Street Agent, they are complying with ASA standards and all of this is very much the business of Zoopla. What is NOT the business of Zoopla is the service that the online Agent offers to landlords and tenants.

Imagine this:

BP Will No Longer Sell Fuel to Drivers of Private cars.

From January 2014 BP will only sell fuel to drivers who offer lifts to strangers in exchange for a fee. Those who use their cars only for themselves and their families and friends will no longer be able to buy fuel from BP services stations or those that they supply.

The move comes after mounting disquiet by Taxi and Private Hire companies Only days ago Mr Important of the Taxi Owners and Private Hire Self Interest Association criticised the big fuel suppliers for allowing “what are, essentially, private vehicles to buy fuel at the same pumps as professional drivers ”.

This could not happen because of conclusion of the last OFT investigation of the industry in May 1998

ANNEX 3.1 – FUTURE MONITORING OF THE UK PETROL MARKET

1 We see the purpose of any further monitoring of the market as being to determine whether any participants are singly or collectively abusing a dominant position and thus reducing choice to consumers and forcing up prices. Monitoring will thus concentrate on any prospective structural changes to the market, crude oil prices, margins, pump prices and site closures and openings.

2 Mergers which qualify for investigation under the mergers provisions of the Fair Trading Act will be closely scrutinised to see whether they should be referred to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission for investigation. (Mergers qualify for investigation where two or more enterprises cease to be distinct and either the gross assets of the acquired enterprise exceeds £70 million or a market share of 25% or more is created or enhanced.)

Why then do the same rules not apply to Property Advertising sites?

In June 2012 Zoopla and The Digital Property Group, who own Prime Location, FindAProperty and Globrix merged with approval from the OFT. At that time David Dutton, Chairman of Digital Property Group, said,

“This is an exciting day. Our combined businesses have the scale and the resources to transform the online property sector for the benefit of consumers and advertisers alike. We are committed to providing the most innovative products and the most cost-effective advertising propositions, which will give our users and members a genuine powerful alternative in our marketplace.”

In their notes to Editors they said

“At Zoopla.co.uk we are fans of transparency and everything we do is aimed at making the market more efficient for both property consumers and advertisers alike.”

What this actually should have said is that they would now have the power to control the property letting industry and would use that power to force landlords and tenants to use High Street Letting Agents thus increasing costs to consumers. What next? High Street Agents will only deal with properties that are offered to them on the basis of full management?

Thousands of landlords and tenants choose to use High Street Letting Agents and those who do a good job enable busy people to become landlords, but thousands of us choose to manage our own properties and I, for one, resent having this choice taken away from me. There has been a lot of pressure on Government this year to regulate Letting Agents and in particular, to stop some of them charging unreasonable fees to tenants. Self managing landlords don’t usually charge fees to tenants and this, coupled with the fact that we can keep our rents down because our overheads are lower, gives tenants the chance to rent a home without finding huge amounts of money before they can even move in. Zoopla are taking away the choice of tenants too.

I am pleased to say that Righmove has not indicated that they intend to take the same action, though I have no doubt that they will be under a great deal of pressure. If they have the courage to continue to allow a free market I will not really care about Zoopla because most tenants come to me having used Google or Rightmove to find properties for rent in my area and if Rightmove are still advertising my properties they will be let anyway.

This does not alter the fact that Zoopla are using their muscle to drive costs up, in a business to which they are only a service and which has provided them with £29.5m profits this year, all this will be at the expense of tenants who will see rents increasing to cover the additional overheads – I hope that tenants become aware of this a boycott their sites. I wonder what Shelter will make of this?

This move must be investigated by the OFT which exists to protect consumers from Giants who use their market position to push prices up and choice down and there is no business more fundamental than the supply of homes.

Zoopla will not want the adverse publicity ahead of a potential stock market listing that could value the property website at over £1bn and this is the best chance we’ve got to stop them. Come on Property118 use your considerable marketing skills to protect our freedom of choice – Please.Zoopla


Property Research Tool Latest Articles

UK Property Research Tool
What you need to know and where to find the information

This Property Research Tool is for the benefit of all property buyers, landlords, tenants, owner occupiers and professional advisers associated with property.

Thanks to business sponsors and Property118 Members for their incredibly generous donations making the development of this Property Research Tool.

Property Research generally begins online

Far too many people fall into the trap of not doing proper online research, they see a property they fall in love with or meet a sales person they trust and the deal is done. For those of us who have learned our lessons the hard way, it still takes a long time to wade though websites to complete thourogh due diligence. The really annoying part for me was finding each website individually and then having to enter the same postcode into each one over and over again to find the right pages. For these reasons I wanted to have a system built as a convenient Aide-mémoire (check-list) for every internet user to be able to use and to provide access to to the websites containing vital information with the minimum number of clicks. Property Research Tool

Essentially the Property Research to is a pop up page, called a modal, which consolidates key information used by landlords and other property purchasers to assess properties. Any website can incorporate this technology free of charge. The functionality works best with Google Chrome and Safari internet browsers.

The only data input for users is the Post Code of the area. The key benefit is the ability to access all information required to complete desktop due diligence without having to remember visit multiple websites, thus saving considerable time and effort. The information is called from several websites which provide insight into the location being searched.

Enough of me trying to explain what it is, why not see for yourself?

If you run a website yourself why not write a review and grab the embed code to install the Property Research Tool functionality on your own website? We even have a widget which creates a “call to action” button (like the one below) which you can size to your requirements.

Want to learn even more?

My buy to let property investment strategy is documented and constantly updated in the Advice section of this website. To get back to the main menu >>>

 

Landlords Buy to Let Property Investment Strategy


What is an amateur landlord? Latest Articles, UK Property Forum for Buy to Let Landlords

The phrase “amateur landlord” annoys me, I really wish people would stop using it.

First off, if you were a tenant would you want to be dealing with an amateur landlord?

I don’t recall ever seeing an advert on Rightmove or Zoopla which reads “Amateur landlord offers this stunning 3 bed ……” do you?

Would you put the words amateur landlord in you to let advert?

The phrase smacks of the landlord behaving amateurishly or not having a clue about what they are doing doesn’t it? What is an amateur landlord?

Dictionary definitions of the word amateur include:-

  • activity as a pastime rather than as a profession
  • one lacking the skill of a professional
  • not professional; unskillful

Are these the descriptions that people with just one or two rental properties wish to affiliate themselves with?

A landlord who owns just one property should still act professionally shouldn’t they?

I don’t really understand why the phrase “amateur landlord” ever came about. People who rent out property take an income from the rent, some spend any profits, some reinvest them and all are hoping for capital growth. Whilst this may not be their main profession, and often isn’t, surely they can’t claim to be amateurs? Why would they want to?

Perhaps they don’t want to be called professional landlords in the hope that Consumer Laws will protect them? Well there is no legal definition for what a professional landlord is anyway so I can’t see how that makes any difference. The legal case of OFT vs Foxtons ruled that landlords can be protected by consumer laws, however, the case didn’t set any a criteria for what constitutes a landlord no longer being a consumer.

Would these be consumers?

1) Let’s assume a person earned £500,000 a year as a banker and owned 30 investment properties making a net profit of a further £50,000 a year would that person still be a consumer?

2) Turn the numbers around and let’s assume the banker is making £500,000 of net profit a year from his property portfolio and £50k a year from a non-exec Directorship, what then? Logic might suggest he can’t possibly be a consumer any more because the vast majority of his income comes from being a landlord right? Well I’m not so sure about that either.

3) What about a housewife who owns one property making £50 a month profit after all expenses and has no other income?

The housewife with one property might be the better landlord too, hence more professional?

So is it number of properties which should set the precedent of whether a person remains a consumer or should it be based on what percentage of their earnings relate to rental properties. Based on the three examples above I can’t see logically how it could be either of these.

So, with no precise legal definition for what is a consumer landlord why do we have all these other tags?

Why aren’t landlords referred to as landlords?

If we must have further definitions I suggest the following:-

  1. Accredited Landlord – I like this one providing it refers to accreditation by education, not some “jobs for the boys” Council run scheme which inspects properties. I think it should be compulsory for all landlords to be accredited if they wish to manage their own properties.
  2. Rogue landlord – this is meaningless, either they are criminals or they are not.
  3. Portfolio landlord – a person who owns three or more properties (still a consumer though)
  4. Accidental landlord – that’s almost as bad as amateur isn’t it?
  5. Landlady – such a people run pubs or Guest houses. The legal definition of a female who rents out property is a landlord.
  6. Consumer – a landlord who is protected by unfair consumer contract terms – legal definition is required
  7. Sophisticated investor – a landlord who is not a consumer

Thoughts please?

.


Tenant Referencing Using Common Sense Advice, Latest Articles, Property Investment Strategies, The GOOD Landlords Campaign

Common sense tenant referencing was pretty much the only option available when I first became a landlord and started letting property in the late 1980’s. Tenant Referencing Using Common Sense

In this article I am going to explain what my family do to find the next perfect tenant, right from the day an existing tenant let’s us know that they want to move out. More often than not these days, tenants think they can serve notice with just a phone call, email, facebook or text message – more about that later. Continue reading Tenant Referencing Using Common Sense


Locating the highest yielding locations for buy to let Latest Articles, UK Property Forum for Buy to Let Landlords

As a relative newcomer to buy to let investment, but a seasoned hand at web development, I decided to build a website that would help me find the highest yielding areas of the UK. The result of this is http://www.dontbettolet.comLocating the highest yielding locations for buy to let

By leveraging Zoopla’s property data, the site compares the average rent versus asking prices in a given area. Obviously where no properties are available to rent or buy, there is no data.

You can search by postcode, view the Top10 areas, and also view a breakdown of London yields.

I will be adding further filters in the coming months.

Hope it’s of use, and any feedback gladly received.

Thanks

Will Ogden


Is this “The DSS Landlords Ultimate Letting Package”? Latest Articles, Letting, Lettings & Management

Letting Supermarket have launched a new scheme which they have labelled “The DSS Landlords Ultimate Letting Package”. 

The package includes:-

  • Visiting your property, taking particulars and floor plans.
  • Setting up an online account to store your documentation so it can be accessed at any time.
  • Advertising on all major portals including Rightmove and Zoopla
  • Viewings
  • Carrying out an inventory and schedule of condition at the property on check-in with the tenants. Inventory prepared by a qualified inventory clerk
  • Referencing tenants
  • Gas Safety Certificate as required (additionally charged)
  • Tenancy Agreements and guarantor agreements
  • Rent collected in advance with invoice and rental statement.
  • Rent Guarantee & Legal Expenses Cover (now available for applicants claiming benefits)
  • Check in / check out
  • Interim viewings
  • Rent collection
  • Deposit protection (if required). Note that most landlords taking this scheme do request deposits

The charging structure is quite complex as this is dependent upon the number of tenants, whether RGI can be offered and/or is taken up, whether some or all of the costs are to be passed onto the tenant etc. Needless to say, with Letting Supermarket it is always going to be extremely competitive. Quotations are obviously available upon request.

This new package is being released on 1st August 2013.

Letting Supermarket is a member of ARLA and carries professional indemnity insurance and client money protection.

Insurance is underwritten by DAS and administered by Let Alliance.

To register your interest please complete the form below.LettingSupermarket

How to save money and stay protected

Please complete this form if you would like further information
  • Please enter a value between 1 and 999.

 


Buy to Let Property Sales – Partnering With Estate Agents Buy to Let News, Landlord News, Latest Articles, Letting, Lettings & Management, Property Development, Property For Sale, Property Investment News, Property Investment Strategies, Property News, UK Property Forum for Buy to Let Landlords

Earlier this year we spotted an opportunity to set up a buy to let Estate Agency. However, due to lack of resource (time) very little has been done other than a dozen or so sales on behalf of developers, plus setting ourselves up with The Property Ombudsman Service and organising Professional Indemnity insurance to keep ourselves legal of course.Buy to Let Estate Agency

The reason we haven’t got around to growing the buy to let Estate Agency business is that our passion is facilitating the sharing of best practice amongst landlords and letting agents on the Property118 forum which I set up just over two years ago. Prior to that I was a commercial finance broker and I’ve been a landlord since 1989.

The opportunity is a very simple one. Nearly 200,000 landlords and associated professionals subscribe to our daily newsletters and engage on the Property118 forum. Some of these people are no doubt in the market to buy more property. It occurred to us that most properties are sold with vacant possession, however, for landlords that can be a bit of a nightmare as both the vendor and the purchaser both experience costly void periods.

Rightmove and the Zoopla Property Group portals are ideal to sell properties with vacant possession but if a landlord wants to sell or buy a tenanted property these portals are far from perfect as there’s no search facility for buy to let property. Furthermore, their interfaces are not geared up to show rental yields, returns on capital invested, costs of letting etc. At Property118 we have created a landlords calculator to work all of these things out

As we haven’t got time to source properties to sell, never mind to prepare sales particulars, do floor plans, arrange viewings and progress chase offers through to completion, our idea is to work on a split commission basis with other agents.

We will showcase properties on the Property118 forum and link to them in the daily Newsletters. Enquirers will be landlords who may well already own properties in the area, hence for agents who partner with us on this venture, all referrals will be good leads for future sales and letting opportunities as well as prospective purchasers of the property which is being marketed.

From the landlords perspective, they will be presented with properties which are already let and will have no void periods and perhaps most importantly, without any buyers premium attached to them. The sales particulars will include details of the tenancy including:-

  • rent currently being paid
  • profile of the tenant
  • time already in the property
  • management fees currently being charged
  • other expenses relating to the management/maintenance of the property

This information, together with an indicative financing quotation will enable us to calculate not only rental yields but the cash on cash equivalent annual returns after all costs including mortgage, insurance, lettings and management, a sensible maintenance budget and where appropriate any ground rents or service charges. This will enable investors to compare cashflow returns on their money to the returns they are currently receiving elsewhere on their investments. The potential for capital growth is obviously a primary reason for people to invest into property too of course.

We will not allow this activity to overwhelm what we do here at Property118, therefore, we will cherry pick the properties we want to promote based on those which we believe make sense to buy as investments.

It is unlikely that we will be in a position to accept instructions directly from landlords to sell their properties due to the lack of infrastructure to provide a sufficiently professional service, i.e. floor plans, viewings, for sale signs etc. Therefore, any such enquiries will be referred back to the agencies we end up partnering with. Landlords are, of course, also welcome to introduce us to any agencies they are already working with as we will not get tied into any exclusive contracts. Our independence is vitally important to us.

I would like to have a chat with any agents who see some mileage in this opportunity. I have some ideas on splitting commissions but I am very open minded at this stage as the project is very much in its infancy.

Mark Alexander - Your Property ConciergeIf you would like to chat please comment below, email me  – mark@property118.com or call me on 07834 754 223.

Regards

Mark Alexander – founder of Property118.com


Rightmove moves to real time uploads Latest Articles, UK Property Forum for Buy to Let Landlords

Every renter can profess to the frustration of seeing a property listed online and calling up just to be told “sorry, that’s just gone, but if you would like to register with us.”

Imagine if prospective renters and buyers were sent an update the moment a landlord or vendor instructed their agent.
Rightmove are currently testing a ‘Real-Time Data Feed’ (RTDF), allowing agents to list property instantly.

While a real-time listing API (Application Programming Interface – allows computers to talk to each other) is overdue, Rightmove’s RTDF is well produced as a thoroughly modern JSON-based API.
Rightmove are the current dominant property portal in the UK, with Zoopla quickly coming up in their rear view mirror. With both services providing near identical experiences for consumers, innovations like these could be key.

In a world of instant data and a fast-moving property market, those agents who can list live to Rightmove, will get applicants and enquiries before they return from their appraisals/valuations.

Take up of the new service will be dependant on the 350plus agency software companies that feed listings into portals like Rightmove and Zoopla. Comments on Zoopla’s public API forums indicate Zoopla has no plans to provide a listing API (http://developer.zoopla.com/forum/read/160852).

There are many property tech start-ups in London making noise about replacing Rightmove. This new listing ‘standard’ may prove an opportunity to tie closer with both portals and agency software providers, giving their own innovations easier distribution to agents.stopwatch


Letting Supermarket provides massive cost saving opportunities for private landlords Buy to Let News, Latest Articles

Letting Supermarket provides massive cost saving opportunities for private landlordsI am a non-exec Director of Letting Supermarket, an ARLA member letting agency which we have been recommending to Property118 readers since the end of 2012.

The feedback received from landlords we’ve referred has been superb with savings of 50% or more being reported when compared to other ARLA member letting agents. Continue reading Letting Supermarket provides massive cost saving opportunities for private landlords


Negotiating with estate agents Latest Articles, UK Property Forum for Buy to Let Landlords

Negotiating with estate agentsOver the last few days a newbie property investor called Craig has been picking the brains of myself and Mary Latham by email. Yesterday we got talking about negotiating with estate agents and the advice we shared with Craig is well worth sharing here so that others can benefit from it too in my opinion. Between us, Mary and I have 64 years of experience in buying property as an investment. This number will grow massively as others share their opinions and as more questions and answers are added to this thread.

Negotiating with estate agents

Having viewed properties which match your requirements in terms of attracting the right tenants – a good agent will always call to you to ask for feedback. When they do, tell the agent that you really liked the property and would love to buy it but you think it’s priced too high for you to want to make an offer. Continue reading Negotiating with estate agents


Property Forum and News website where UK landlords and letting agents share best practice