Thursday 27 April 2017

How do transport links affect the Warrington Property Market?

It isn’t always the most posh villages or the swankiest Warrington streets where properties sell and let the quickest. Quite often, it’s the ones that have the best transport links. There’s a reason why one of the most popular property programmes on television is called Location, Location, Location!

As an agent in Warrington, I am frequently confronted with queries about the Warrington property market, and most days I am asked, “What is the best part of Warrington to live in these days?” (chiefly from new-comers).  Now the answer is different for each person – a lot depends on the demographics of their family, their age, schooling requirements and interests etc. Nonetheless, one of the principal necessities for most tenants and buyers is ease of access to transport links, including public transport – of which the railways are very important.

Train Usage in Warrington

Official figures recently released state that, in total, 4,000 people jump on a train each and every day from Warrington’s Train stations. Of those, 962 are season ticket holders. That’s a lot of money being spent when a season ticket, standard class, to Manchester is £1,692, a year.

So, if up to £1.63m is being spent on rail season tickets each year from Warrington, those commuters must have some impressive jobs and incomes to allow them to afford that season ticket in the first place. That means demand for middle to upper market properties remains strong in Warrington and the surrounding area. In turn, these are the people happy to invest in the Warrington buy to let market – providing homes for the tenants of Warrington.

The bottom line is that property values in Warrington would be much lower (by at least 3% to 4%) if it wasn’t for the proximity of the railway stations and the people they serve in the town.

This isn’t a flash in the pan. Rail is becoming increasingly important as the costs associated with car travel continue to rise and roads are becoming more and more congested. This has resulted in a huge surge in rail travel.  

Why does this have an impact on property?

Overall usage of the station at Warrington has increased over the last 20 years. In 1997, a total of 1,336,573 people went through the barriers or connected with another train at the station in that 12-month period. However, in 2016, the figure had risen to 2,912,188 people using the station.

That’s 8,001 people a day.

The positioning of the property and the train station has an important effect on the value and saleability of a Warrington property. It is also significant for tenants. So if you are a Warrington buy to let investor looking for a property, the distance to and from the railway station can be extremely significant.

One of the first things house buyers and tenants do when surfing the web for somewhere to live is find out the proximity of a property to the train station. That’s why Rightmove displays the distance to the railway station alongside each and every property on their website. 

For more thoughts on the Warrington Property market – email me on or call on 01925 235338. If you are in the area, feel free to pop into the office – we are based on 6 Bankside, Crosfield St, WA1 1UP

Don't forget to visit the links below to view back dated deals and Warrington Property News.

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Thursday 20 April 2017

How to Find the Right Warrington Letting Agent for You

There are an estimated 16,000 letting agents in the UK.

Some are large ‘corporate’ companies who own thousands of agents between just a few brand names. Some are independents with just one office, like us at Hamlet Homes. Others are franchised, where the individual owners are supported by a central office. We in Warrington have a good mixture of all three.  

So how do you find ‘the right one’? Surely they’re all cowboys, out to fleece the unsuspecting landlord in some way - aren't they?

What service are you looking for from your agent?

By law, since October 2014, lettings agents in England must belong to a redress scheme. From much of the marketing you see, it does appear that on the surface, most letting agents are the same. Most, for example, offer the same basic services: ‘let only’, whereby they just find you the tenant and you do the rest, and ‘full management’ where they look after your tenant and property for the duration of the tenancy.

However, just because they all offer the same services, it doesn’t mean they deliver them in the same way or work to the same standard.

As a landlord, there are various services you may need which are above and beyond the ‘standard’ offered by most agents. For example, some offer a successful ‘buy to let service’. This is where the agent helps landlords find the right property to let, at a price you can afford, delivering levels of rent achievable in the local area. You could do this through property investment clubs, but they tend to charge you thousands of pounds to ‘source’ a property and don’t always offer the discount claimed, nor is it always possible to achieve the rent they suggest.

We at Hamlet Homes offer a buy-to-let service based on our extensive knowledge of the area, won’t charge anything for our advice and time (providing the investor also puts in some leg work) and our main aim is to secure your property management business over the next 15-20 years, so your success is very much tied into ours.

How can you interpret the fees that agents charge?

Secondly the way letting agents charge is very different. The better agents provide both tenants and landlords with all the fees they are likely to charge.

Since 27 May 2015 in England, it is a requirement to display all fees upfront to landlords and tenants - but not all agents do. In Scotland, letting agents (and landlords) are banned from charging tenants fees, although again, some still do.

As letting agents charge for their services in different ways, it isn’t always easy to compare them.

What’s important is to be clear on how they charge, not just at the start of the tenancy, but to manage and re-let the property too.

Some agents charge landlords a fixed ‘admin’ set up fee, which may include just marketing the property and showing tenants around or include lettings basics such as a tenancy agreement, an inventory and protecting the tenant’s deposit. Other agents don’t charge a set-up fee, but charge a set commission based on the rent to find a tenant or for full management.

Agents’ charges become complex and potentially quite high where there are inflated prices for ‘additional charges’ and carrying out repairs.

For example, I find many letting agents who charge low commission fees to ‘attract’ landlords, such as 5% of the rent and then charge high costs for letting incidentals. They then pass on some of those costs to tenants by forcing them to re-apply (and pay again) to renew their tenancy, ultimately causing a higher number of tenant moves. For example they may charge a set-up fee, a low commission rate and then charge high prices for individual services needed such as a tenancy agreement, gas safety, EPCs, protecting the tenant’s deposit, inventories and more.

For you to compare costs on a ‘like for like’ basis, it is important to compare letting fees over a 12 month period:

·                     What does the ‘set up’ fee include? 
·                     What percentage uplift does the agent charge for individual     services?
·                     How much will the agent charge for management, renewal and check in/check out fees?
·                     What will it cost to organise repairs?
·                     Do they organise some repairs for free?
·                     Does the letting agent keep up with latest legal changes?

Keeping up with the Legislation

The final main difference between good agents and the not so good comes from keeping up with legal legislation for lettings.

Successive governments have been increasing the amount of legislation which affects landlords, letting agents and rented properties. To keep up with these legal changes requires substantial investment from letting agents. This is why many letting agents don’t bother.

Agents should ideally belong to an industry organisation such as the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA); National Approved Lettings Scheme (NALS) ; Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) or Residential Landlords Association (RLA).

These organisations require the highest standards in lettings. For example, they need their agents to have ‘client money protection’ insurance which means if something goes wrong with the business, the rent collected by the agent is protected. It also means every time there are proposed changes to the law, the agent can respond. It’s not just knowing the law that’s important – it’s being able to interpret it correctly on your behalf, and at Hamlet Homes we pride ourselves on being at the very forefront of change.

So, although on the surface, agents do offer the same basic services, there are key differences when it comes to standards and pricing. At Hamlet Homes, we were members of a property ombudsman scheme prior to it becoming a legal requirement. Our fees are published on-line and in print for both tenants (
here) and landlords (here) and we take our legal responsibilities seriously, so that you can be both protected from risk and advised of future compliance ahead of time.
If you have any questions or want to know more about what (and what not) to look for when looking for a letting agent in Warrington, then email me on or call on 01925 235338. If you are in the area, feel free to pop into the office – we are based on 6 Bankside, Crosfield St, WA1 1UP. There is plenty of free parking and the kettle is always on.

Don't forget to visit the links below to view back dated deals and Warrington Property News.

Thursday 13 April 2017

Warrington rents have risen by 13.1% since 2005

The Warrington Property Market is a very interesting animal. It has been particularly fascinating over the last 12 years, when we consider what has happened to Warrington rents and house prices.

What impact does Brexit have on the Warrington property market?

I believe we must look what happened in the 2008/9 credit crunch (and what has happened since) to methodically judge the possible ramifications for long-term investors in the Warrington property market. An important, yet overlooked, measure is the performance of rental income VS house prices (i.e. the resultant yields over time).

In Warrington – notwithstanding a slight drop in 2008 and 2009 – property rentals have been gradually increasing. The income from rentals has been progressively increasing over the last 12 years. Today, they are 13.1% higher than they were at the beginning of 2005. In fact, over the last five years, the average growth has been 0.7% per annum.

From a landlord’s point of view, increase in average rental income is not to be sneered at. However, the observant readers will be noting that we are ignoring an important factor – our friend inflation.

Turn the clock back to 2005 for a moment. Say we have a property being rented for say £900 a month, which is still being rented at £900 a month today. While the landlord is not getting any less income, this £900 is no longer worth as much.

In 2005, £900 may have bought a two-week 4* holiday in Italy. However, holidays have increased in line with inflation (which has been 38.5% since 2005), so our holiday would cost today £1,246 (£900 + 38.5% inflation = £1,246). Therefore, the landlord could no longer afford the same holiday, even though having the same amount in pound notes from their rental property.

In real terms, this means Warrington landlords are worse off today when they receive their monthly rental income, than they were in 2005 by 25.4% (rents increased by 13.1% since 2005, less the 38.5% inflation since 2005 – net affect 25.4% drop

What about the value of capital growth in investment properties?

However, rental income is not the only way to generate money from property as property values can increase. Although in the short term, cash flows are diminishing, many Warrington landlords may be content to accept that for a colossal increase in capital value.

Property values in Warrington have risen by 16.4% since 2005

This equates to a 1.36% per annum increase over the last 12 years. It’s even more interesting that this includes the 2008/9 property crash. This will make those Warrington landlords and investors feel a little better about the information regarding rents after inflation.

Moving forward, the prospects of making easy money on buy to let in Warrington have diminished, when compared to 2005. Last decade, making money from buy to let was as easy as falling off a log – but not anymore.

It would be true to say, my rental income verses property prices study does lead to noteworthy thoughts. I am often asked to look at my landlord’s rental portfolios, to ascertain the spread of their investment across their multiple properties. It’s all about judging whether what you have will meet your needs of the investment in the future. It’s the balance of capital growth and yield whilst diversifying this risk.

If you are investing in the Warrington property market, do your homework and do it well. While some yields may look attractive, there are properties in many areas that do not have the solid rudiments in place to sustain them. If you are looking for capital growth, you might be surprised where the hidden gems really are. Take advice, even ask your agent for a portfolio analysis like I offer my landlords.

The clear majority of agents in Warrington will be able to give a detailed analysis of past and anticipated investment opportunity (especially the awful effect of inflation) on your portfolio. However, if they can’t help – well, you know where I am and the kettle is on! Email me on or call on 01925 235338. If you are in the area, feel free to pop into the office – we are based on 6 Bankside, Crosfield St, WA1 1UP

Don't forget to visit the links below to view back dated deals and Warrington Property News.

Follow The Buy-To-Let Property Investment Market in Warrington

Warrington Property Market LinkedIn Page

Hamlet Homes Letting Agents Warrington Facebook Page

Hamlet Homes Letting Agents Warrington Twitter Page

Warrington Investment Property Specialist Hamlet Homes Website

Thursday 6 April 2017

Warrington Property Q&A– I am unable to contact my Warrington tenant – HELP?

Landlord’s Question:

“Dear Andy,

I have a three bedroom buy to let property in Padgate which I currently have a repayment mortgage on and is currently let out. They are relatively new; the tenants have not been in the property for very long – for just over five months now.

The tenants have stopped paying the rent and have now stopped answering calls, texts and emails. It leads me to believe that they are avoiding my calls on purpose.
What can I do?


Andy’s Response

Susan, you are not the first landlord who has asked this question. This problem happens more than you would think. When things like this happen, we naturally assume the worst – that tenants are avoiding the problem and burying their heads in the sand.

Often there is a simple explanation. It may be that the tenant has changed their phone number or updated their email address and not provided it to you. We find that when tenants do change their contact details, letting agents and landlords tend to be much further down the list than their employers and doctors, etc. We have even had cases where tenants have had embarrassing email addresses or email addresses shared with a partner which become forgotten about or ignored after a break up.

When moving a tenant into your property we would always recommend obtaining contact details, both address, email address and phone number, for their next of kin. This might seem like unnecessary information at the start of the tenancy, however this may be needed when you least expect it. It’s also good practice in case of unfortunate situations where the tenant is no longer able to act for themselves, or requires someone to speak on their behalf (death, illness, when given a prison sentence, etc.).

My first port of call would be a quick call to the next of kin to ensure nothing serious had happened to the tenant and try and obtain alternative contact details – or at least get a message passed to your tenant. Please remember not to give out information you shouldn’t. This often works as the tenant is surprised to hear you have made contact with their family.

If the above doesn’t work, then I would be arranging a property inspection and advise the tenant if they are not there to give access then you would enter the property using the spare keys. Another vital point at the start of the tenancy: ensure you have spare keys.

However, please remember the following: 
  • You cannot ‘just let yourself into the property’ without written notice
  • If the property appears to be abandoned when you do gain access, unless the tenant has returned the keys to you, you still require a possession notice from the courts as the tenancy is still running. There is no such thing as an abandonment notice in the eyes of the law.
Hopefully one of the methods above will help you get in contact with the tenant and resolve whatever issues are present. Communication is key in a tenant landlord relationship.

Email me on or give me a call on 01925 235 338. 


Don't forget to visit the links below to view back dated deals and Warrington Property News.