HEAD OF RENTALS AT AYLESFORD INTERNATIONAL
Q.I believe the agent letting my house is overvaluing it. I've compared my property to other similar houses on the market and they all are significantly cheaper. Should I change agent?
A.It is important to keep a dialogue with your agent who will be able to tell you why your property is not letting. It could be the lack of demand is caused by the economic climate and therefore the price should be adjusted – the rental market changes daily and some larger properties have come down in price recently. There are other factors to take into account: it may need redecorating or refurbishing, the furniture may be letting it down, or maybe even the lack of furniture. Perhaps the property is too individual. You may have spent a lot of money on a beautiful hand painted Chinese dining room wall and dark maroon reception room which looks lovely in the evenings, but neutral, light coloured painted walls and modern kitchen and bathrooms are more likely to attract a potential tenant. Your agent may be giving you advice that you do not want to hear, but remember that they should have experience with other properties similar to yours and should know what is important to tenants. If you feel that your agent is not giving you the correct advice, I would recommend that you discuss this with another agent and then decide if you wish to bring them in as well or switch agents completely.
Q.I have had the same tenant in my property for over five years now. I have never raised the rent as they are very reliable tenants and good people. Now my agent is urging me to charge a higher rent. What should I do?
A.Having a long-term excellent tenant is very important, however, there comes a time when you need to look at the investment and decide if you should increase its potential. After five years, redecoration and perhaps other works need to be done. It may be that it is time to upgrade some of the fittings, (put in new kitchen appliances), upgrade the bathrooms or lighting, or even just replace the carpets. All this will attract potential tenants at a higher rent level. It is also important to factor in the time that the property will remain un-let, including remarketing time to ensure you can cover any mortgage or outgoings during this period. I would also speak to your tenants directly and explain the situation. They may be prepared to pay more rent rather than find somewhere else (inevitably at a higher price) as well as the costs of relocating. You could include some upgrades while they are there or on holiday, which will benefit both parties. I would suggest that you discuss this with your agent first so as to agree on the best strategy.