Wednesday, 17 April 2019

Who Surveys the Surveyors?!

Who Surveys the Surveyors?


Who invests in property?

And of those, who has ever had a surveyor make an absolutely ridiculous valuation on the property?

Hmmm, that’ll be every property investor then!

Despite our best due diligence, our most recent sold and for sale comparables, our best work, time and money spent in refurbishment…  there will always be some utter clown of a surveyor who is more interested in covering their own arse than daring to admit what your newly-refurbished property is now actually worth.

What’s all that about?!


Sadly, it’s becoming more and more frequent to have a downvaluation: I’ve had it, my friends and all the local investors have had it, so it seems it’s a scourge across the board.

Surveyors obviously belong to some evil underground unit, where they get rewarded with downvaluation commission. There’s no logic to their madness.

What’s more infuriating is when the surveyors appear not to even look at the comparables, even when you give them them in their hand. And what’s doubly infuriating is that sometimes you are charged a surveying fee for them to go out and shaft you... #cry

One house I had last year was exactly the same as the comparable 4 DOORS DOWN, which had sold 7 months earlier. And although mine was newly refurbished, it was EXACTLY the same house, both with internal layout and outside grounds, but the surveyor still valued it lower than the twin one twenty metres away.

WHAT’S ALL THAT ABOUT?!?!

If I was if the murderous type, that surveyor would now be under the patio, Brookside style...



Still, what’s the point of my rant?

Well, to help you minimise the risk of this happening, and these are the things you can do to help that.

  1. Minimise the risk when you are doing your due diligence on the property by assuming the end value will be the worst-case scenario. Let’s be a pessimist here, then if some miracle happens and they do actually do their job properly, then anything above your worst-case prediction is a Brucie bonus.
    Good game, good game! 
2.     Look carefully at the comparable properties within a half mile radius in the last two years. And compare apples with apples, for instance a two-bed terrace is not going to be the same as a two bed semi-detached, so find houses that closely match what you have. Look at sold prices, and then current similar properties on the market.

3.     Make a full list of every single refurbishments item you have done in the property. Don’t bother putting down what it cost you, it’s none of their business! Let them think you’ve paid more than the savvy tight-fisted bargain-hunting investor you are.

4.     Take clear before and after refurbishment photographs during the project. The grimmer the better! (I mean grim before obviously!)

5.     Meet the surveyor at the property, Even if it’s already tenanted, just explain to your tenant what is going on, and allay their fears that no, there is nothing to panic about, you’re not selling the house!

Be nice to the surveyor! Smile! Make genteel pleasant small talk, and point out things that were absolutely terrible in the house before you had your magic charm fixing them. Confirm the rental amount, with the tenancy agreement if required.

6.     Prepare a little report pack, which you are happy to give to the surveyor. This should include details of the house, your list of refurbishment works, your before and after photos, and some Rightmove screenshots of comparable sold prices and current similar for sale values. Obviously, make sure you pick some examples which are in realistic keeping with your current property – it’s pointless showing them the other ones that sold really cheaply because they needed work!

7.     Pray that your surveyor is not an absolute clown. Keep praying.


8.     If the survey report comes back with a ridiculous valuation, you can either suck it up and take it, change lender (and thus surveyors), or get your mortgage broker to dispute it. If disputing it, work with your mortgage broker to build up a case of evidence, which politely shows, that actually, Mr Mortgage Surveyor, you’re talking tosh, and these are the reasons why.

9.     Another option which may be considered, is to pay for your own independent RICS survey before the mortgage lenders surveyor goes out. This will obviously cost you a couple of hundred pounds, but it makes it more difficult for the surveyor to downvalue something, when you have placed in their hand a report from the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors.

10. Finally, if all else fails, seek out and destroy the surveyor. There is no other option.

Good luck, and let’s hope that the surveyors all get standardised and trained properly very soon!



# Disclaimer: no surveyors were harmed in the making of this blog or portfolio.
…but there’s always time…


When not entertaining herself with impromptu amateur photoshoots, Kellyann is a full time property investor and investment strategist, based in Leeds, West Yorkshire. 

For further details of her work, and how she can help you, please visit:



Tuesday, 5 March 2019

KELLYANN’S FABLES: It's A Dog's Life



Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin….


A few weeks ago I bought some new doggy bags for my walks out with my sexy doggy lad. However, they weren’t the usual 100-for-a-£1 nice thick ones I normally get, I was swayed by another box…200-for-a-£1.
“What a bargain!” I thought, “How bad can they be?!”
And this, my friends, is where it all went wrong…
For in life, I am blessed / cursed by a bounteous affliction: I was born in Yorkshire. 

This means we have a natural instinct, nay, inbred desire, to get our money’s worth at all costs. 

It has been said that the notoriously tight Scottish are just Yorkshiremen in training; we just do not like to pay high costs for anything.


In my property career, I have had to learn that this is not always a good thing, and I have come to realise, that you get what you pay for.


I have paid cheap plumbers that have turned out to be poor. 
I have bought cheap paint that on opening has been akin to water. 
And I have hired cheap solicitors that have turned out to be incompetent, and thus ruined and lost me deals.
I don’t do these things anymore. 


I realise that for good quality, you have to pay good prices. 


So why, despite my learnings, did I choose to buy these dreadful, flimsy, see-through, crappy doggy bags? 
Which as it turns out, are not even big enough to accommodate the devastation that occurs when my German Shepherd drops his German bombs...



Lesson learnt.

You do indeed get what you pay for.

Because if you don’t, sometimes, as with these cheap doggy bags, you can indeed quite literally end up in the shit...

Jerry Lee: The German Bomber


Kellyann is a property investor and investment strategist, based in Leeds, West Yorkshire. 


For further details of her work, and how she can help you, please visit:




Have a lovely day!


Tuesday, 26 February 2019

The Benefits of Helping Others


For the last four days, I’ve spent time helping out at a property course for new investors. Now back home, I just walked Jerry Lee and was contemplating the events of the weekend.


 Me and Jerry Lee do a lot of contemplation in our favourite park.
He never says much though, but he's a good listener!


Just recently, I’ve been a little bit apathetic about networking with other people. Sometimes you’re just giving, giving, giving - and it gets to a point where you feel people are just taking, taking and taking.

Now I’m not saying you should do things in expectation of something in return – but when feels one-way  or one-sided constantly, you do start to get a bit fed up and a bit jaded.

Certain folks have obviously not heard of reciprocity!


RECIPROCITYYYYYYYY!!
Mama Morton in Chicago:
"When you're good to Mama, Mama's good to you!"

Sadly, some people are just out to take advantage and get what they can out of you.

In fact, one of my most-hated phrases has become “Can I just pick your brains…?”

Which I have now come to translate as “Can I take up loads of your time for free, ask you many questions about your property knowledge, which you’ve paid thousands of pounds to go and learn, so that I can go do it for myself with minimum effort and cost, before thanklessly forgetting you ever helped me?”

Luckily, I’ve managed to spot the selfish piss-takers from the genuine people who just need a little nudge in the right direction.

And this is where it gets interesting.

Altruism is vastly underrated.

There’s something really special about helping someone else without wanting anything back in return – just the pure joy of knowing your guidance has helped them.

I love it best when their eyes light up and they start smiling - because you know a lightbulb moment has occurred for them, and you’ve said or done something which will genuinely improve their life.

And as this happened many times over the last few days, I felt my own little glimmer of light reignite inside. 

Like I actually made a difference.


For those of you who don’t know, I used to be a high school teacher - and it was like that special moment in the classroom when you help a kid understand something on his worksheet, and his face grins and he says “Aww fanx Miss, I gerrit now!!” 

And you float off feeling like some omniscient godlike genius. 😁😁😁


So from teaching schoolchildren, to working with my Air Cadets, helping at my local Chamber of Trade and Commerce, to networking and giving referrals to other business and property contacts… I just like helping people, for the nice feeling it gives me inside.
😁
Although helping other takes your time, effort and enthusiasm – why not try it, just for that one pleasant beneficial feeling you’ll get.
Just a few scientifically-proven benefits!
Who can you help today?!?





Friday, 14 December 2018

10 YEARS OF LANDLORDING - and Ten Things I’ve Learned About Being a Landlord!



10 YEARS OF LANDLORDING -  


...and Ten Things I’ve learned about being a Landlord in the that time!





Somehow, somewhere, a full decade has passed since I first rented out a property!

In late 2008, I moved into a house, and kept my little cheap cheerful flat I’d lived in since 2001. 


I rented it out to a nice single older chappy who kept it superbly tidy - and realised pretty quickly: “This is great! The mortgage is getting paid and I’m making some money on top of that as well!



It would be a few more years though until I started building my portfolio properly -  shame it wasn’t ten years earlier!



Nevertheless, I’ve been reflecting on the things I learned about being a landlord over the last ten years, and thought I would share my thoughts so they help other new landlords.



So here goes!



  1. TENANTS ON BENEFITS AND YOUR GUT INSTINCT

Just because a tenant is on benefits it doesn’t make them a bad choice. If someone is a wretch, it is because they are a wretch, not because they are on benefits. I have a couple of benefits families and they are great, and I’m glad I didn’t rule them out.

However, if your gut instinct tells you a potential tenant is a wretch, your gut instinct is right.

In ten years, I have only rented to two different people that turned out badly – and I had a bad feeling about both them as soon as I met them.

Still, I didn’t listen to my gut, decided to give them a chance in my multi-let property – and both times, they caused me problems, chaos and lost rent. But luckily, they were short-lived and ejected reasonably swiftly after a bit of fuss.

And my gut instinct said afterwards; “Ha! I told you so! Should’ve listened!” 


  1. NOBODY CARES ABOUT YOUR PROPERTY AS MUCH AS YOU

Not even letting agents – they’re not worried if you’re losing money because it’s not their house and it’s not their money!

Items that have previously annoyed me about letting agents include:

-        Ripping me off for organising basic repairs. £100 for a gas safety certificate? Ahahahahahahah!!! Nah, you’re alright love, I’ll book a guy mysen!


-        Charging me hundreds of pounds for what is effectively a ten-minute job reprinting paperwork


-        Not informing me about issues with the property (more details later…)


-        Sourcing for me what turned out to be an unsuitable tenant who obviously had debt problems – why didn’t they pick that up? It’s not like I didn’t pay them an…


-        EXTORTIONATE amount for their referencing!


-        Not managing to find me a suitable tenant for a rental, leaving me with a void of four months – FOUR MONTHS! And these are supposed to be the professionals! (incidentally, when they left, I found a new tenant myself, who moved in within 13 DAYS!)


-        Trapping you in a contract forevermore, so that even if they’re rubbish, it’ll still cost you a month’s rent to leave them.


-        My final peeve is their extortionate fees for very little work. I only have one property left contracted / trapped with an agent – my little flat – and every month the letting agent collects the rent into their bank account and simply transfers it to my bank account – and charges me £42.72 for the privilege.

Thanks for that, really great value!


  1. MAINTENANCE ISSUES NEVER ARISE ON THEIR OWN!

There is some magic law of Landlord Land, that across the portfolio, things never go wrong in isolation. Maintenance issues never arise on their own, one thing at a time - they get shy about making theirselves known, and talk to their naughty issue mates, so that magically there’s always a couple of things that happen together. Nowt happens for ages, and then suddenly a boiler will break, some wretch will fire an air rifle pellet at a window and then a ceiling will cave in from a floor leak upstairs. All at once.

This is some sort of evil maintenance Sod’s law!

So prepare for this multi-chaos, it’s very stressful, and painful to the wallet.


  1. TENANT ARE YOUR CUSTOMERS

Without tenants, you have no customers and so they should be treated politely and fairly, if you expect the same treatment in return.

Why wouldn’t you look after them if you want them to remain in your house, looking after it, and paying rent?!

It boils my blood to hear about wretch landlords who don’t look after their tenants. 
I’ve just taken a family on whose previous residence was black with mould: the landlord did nothing and the kiddy has asthma.

Not fair, not acceptable, and whilst I admit I’m far from perfect, at least I’m trying to do a good job. These landlord wretches are making us good landlords look bad!


5.     YOU SHOULD BE HAPPY TO LIVE IN YOUR OWN HOUSES

If I wouldn’t live in certain conditions, I don’t expect my tenants to. This applies to safety features, decor, everything. 
Several times after a refurbishment I’ve said: this is better than my own house! (and usually much bigger!) 
Be thinking: is this acceptable? How can I make it better? 
Be responsible and ethical. 
Accidents don’t just happen, they are caused - by negligence. Minimise risk for the tenants. Ask yourself what’s the worse that could happen if I don’t resolve this issue? 
And my big conscience pricking thought is always “Ooooh, what if this happens and it hurts the kiddy?!” 

I wouldn’t be able to live with myself, and I like to sleep at night: so do the right thing.



  1. FIX MAINTENANCE ISSUES QUICKLY

If an issue arises, it doesn’t go away!

In a lot of cases, they get worse if you don’t deal with them, so fix issues quickly. Once a tenant started getting damp in flat from a leak on the balcony, and reported it to the letting agent – who did nothing, least of all inform me.

By the time the tenant got fed up and decided to complain to me directly, after about 8 months, the issue had gotten much worse. A great deal of damp mould had developed over that time, and it cost me much more to put it right than it would have done if the agents had told me when they should have done. Ballbags.

Lessons to be learned from this: encourage tenants to highlight issues early. Some don’t, bafflingly, for fear you’ll get annoyed with them (!!)

One crazy example that still bewilders me is this: On an inspection, the tenant let me in the side door telling me it was because the front door had stopped opening a couple of months earlier. Hence my horror: “Why didn’t you tell me? How will you get out if there’s a fire? You’re eight months’ pregnant!!”

I have a conscience, but through no fault of my own, if all had gone horrendously wrong, I could have ended up in jail…

Another lesson – inspect the property yourself frequently to check all is well. 


  1. GET THE PAPERWORK RIGHT

Do the paperwork documents properly and professionally. They protect you if anything goes wrong. And if you don’t know what to do, learn!

Things to consider:

·        Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement
·        Right to Rent Checks
·        Credit Checks and Referencing
·        Inventory of the property
·        Copy of the Government’s ‘How to Rent’ Guide
·        A Gas Safety Certificate
·        The electricity and gas meter readings
·        Information about Government-approved Tenancy Deposit Scheme.
·        Tenancy Deposit Registration
·        Energy Performance Certificate
·        Electrical Inspection Record
·        Contact Details for the Landlord
·        Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarm checks
·        Rent collection details
·        Deed of Surrender at the end of a tenancy


  1. REMEMBER THAT BOTH TENANTS AND LANDLORDS ARE HUMANS

Because we are people, things sometimes happen in our lives that are not great. 
Be understanding - but not a mug. 
Learn the difference between someone who is having genuine hardship issues and work with them to come up with a solution.

If you encourage them to always be honest with you when an issue arises, you can work through it together. An example of this might be: “My boss has had a payroll problem and my wage hasn’t gone in yet, sorry, my rent will be a few days late.” 
I am fine when people are honest with me and tell me that they are working their way to a solution. As long as it doesn’t happen too often!

However, on the other hand, some people are just full of bullshit.

Some tenants tell you outright lies that would make Pinocchio blush. Work out when someone is just trying to take the piss out of you. Then deal with them appropriately!

And remember: people treat you exactly how you allow them to.

I remember one time, the aforementioned debt tenants (sourced by those pesky letting agents!), both working, and both on a couple of packs of expensive cigarettes a day, said me that they were struggling to afford the rent - so would I reduce the rent by £100 a month?!

What?!

Are you joking?

Would my own mortgage company accept that cheeky proposal?

Like a broken bit of rope: I’m a frayed knot.

I’m not a charity, and I have my own bills to pay.

So although they were nice people, they had to move somewhere more affordable. And their many debt chasing letters still go to the house now, several years later.

Sad, but you’re not responsible for the way other people conduct their affairs. So don’t be a mug about it! 





9.     BE CLEAR TO TENANTS ON EXPECTATIONS

Tenants have a wide, varying spectrum of opinions on what is ‘acceptable’ - in terms of cleanliness, behaviour, and especially at the end of a tenancy “returning the property back in a lettable state”. Give them clear guidelines of what is expected and what is not tolerated.

My most recent example is on a tenant changeover. I did indeed give them a list of what was required, including a requirement to have it professionally cleaned. (which they ignored!)

They had cleared the house, but not cleaned it; it was filthy, but worse of all stank throughout. I had to say to her: “I can’t rent it out like that, the whole house stinks of dog piss!”. And she replied “Ohhh, I thought you’d say that…”  REALLY?!?!!

A neighbour informed us why, after they left: apparently they had had several dogs instead of the one they were allowed. Thus every floor covering, pristinely laid brand at the beginning of the tenancy 3.5 years earlier, had to be ripped up and replaced. All the house had to be scrubbed and repainted.

Tenant deposit, which they most definitely did not get back: £650. 
Total cost to myself to put house back to a lettable state: £1069.01.

Lessons learned, which I have since implemented:

-        Don’t leave a landlord inspection more than a year! There was only one dog there last time I went in!!

-        Give standards sheet at beginning of tenancy and when they give their notice. Remind them it needs to be exactly how it was when they moved in.

-        Note on inventory smell of rooms, plus condition of items, ie brand new/ installed May etc.

-        Do a video tour inventory as well – difficult to dispute something they see on screen. Send them this when they hand in their notice.

-        Take a larger deposit!


  1. THE BEST THING ABOUT BEING A LANDLORD?

You genuinely have the power to improve someone else’s life by providing them with a home.

There’s no better feeling for me than handing someone keys to their new home when they previously had nowhere.

You are enabling them to have a stabilising factor in making their life better.

So despite all the chaos, paperwork, stress, maintenance, costs, and occasional tenant issues, there’s a very good reason that I, and many other landlords do this line of work.

We’re helping people!

Kellyann specialises in giving great returns to private investors through property investment. 
For further details, see the website at www.kellyannmartin.co.uk