A snagging and handover service, as we call it, is unique to new build properties and is especially important for many of Complete’s clients as they live overseas and are not readily available to inspect their property purchase when it nears practical completion. New build property is often purchased off-plan before the construction even takes place and therefore it is important that the buyer checks it has been completed as per the specification linked to the contract before they pay over their final monies to the developer.

In the UK, when completion notices are served which is usually giving 10 or 15 working days’ notice of completion then the selected agent is invited on behalf of the client to conduct a snagging inspection. This very important visit checks that the property is ready for habitation and also that it has been delivered as per the contract. It is usual for there to be some snags or minor defects and the developer will endeavour to have these rectified by completion. Rarely there are major snags and contractually the developer needs to rectify these by completion. The person conducting the snagging inspection will also make sure that property has been constructed as per the floor plan and that there are no irregularities. In Germany, it is common to have at least two pre-handover inspections and this process can take a number of weeks from start to finish.

After completion, when the client has paid 100% of the purchase price then the handover is conducted and the agent will collect the keys, the statutory documentation such as electrical safety certificate, EPC, gas safety and warranty information. In Germany the communal parts are not always finished at this stage and a retention is held by the solicitors until these are fully signed off. There may be some minor snagging or defect items for the developer to attend to however the developer is contractually obliged to rectify these within a reasonable time-frame, and in a professional and workmanlike manner.  There is then an ongoing defect period of either 12 or 24 months, within which any defects should be attended to by the developer.

The buyer will receive a report done on handover which will include photos of the flat so the investor can see the finished product.

If the purchaser of the property is not able to undertake the above then it’s important that they contract someone to do this on their behalf and this should be an agent that is familiar with the process, has an eye for detail and ideally has an ongoing relationship with the developer. If this process is not followed sufficiently then there is a chance that completion could occur without the majority of snagging having been attended to and therefore this will delay the tenanting process and possibly incur extra cost for the owner.

Complete regularly undertake these inspections on behalf of clients purchasing in the UK and Germany and therefore are familiar with the process. The charge is dependent on the size of the property and often a discount will be given if the client is also using Complete’s lettings and management services however this is market specific and client specific basis.

The Complete Zeitgeist 2019

The zeitgeist compiled by leading global residential asset investment specialists Complete Prime Residential is a creative, insightful and thought-provoking collection of concepts in residential real estate investment and management of your properties. Providing an A-Z of all things real estate in the spirit of now get your own copy of The Complete Zeitgeist 2019.

Gas Safety | What landlords must do 

It is important to note that you are putting the lives of your tenants and their guests at risk from carbon monoxide poisoning or potential explosions if you fail to carry out annual gas safety checks.

Under Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998, anyone who lets a property on a lease or licence of less than seven years is considered a landlord and has a responsibility to ensure the gas appliances, fittings, flues and pipework is maintained and safe for their tenant and their guests to use.

The legislation requires that every 12 months a Gas Safe registered engineer inspects, tests and certifies that any gas item within the property are safe. The landlord must supply a copy of this certificate to every tenant within 28 days.

Arranging access, finding a suitable engineer and allowing time in case there is an unexpected problem has always been tricky for landlords and their agents when booking gas tests, until now.

From 6th April 2018 in England and Wales, under the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) (Amendment) Regulations 2018, you can have the annual gas safety check on each appliance or flue carried out up to two months before the date the check needs to be carried out but still retain the original deadline date as if the check had been carried out exactly 12 months after the previous check.

Much like the UK’s road worthy Ministry of Transport test (MOT) you require on your car in the UK, if your first test is carried out on 7th July 2018 and you have a re-test on 7th May 2019, you do not then need another test until on or before 7th July 2019.

The two-month allowance is also permitted when you replace an appliance. Let’s say you replaced the boiler on 7th May 2018. As per the above example, you would not need to have the boiler retested until 7th July 2019 with the other gas appliances and installation.

This means landlords can avoid losing up to two months life from their annual gas safety record, which often cost up to £160 per visit in London.

Sam Tabor | Associate Director, London

Gas safety is just one of the topics covered by the second edition of the Complete Zeitgeist 2018, with useful snippets, further information and discussion topics essential for the global residential investor and landlords. Download your copy of the Complete Zeitgeist now.

K is for Know How | Just how valuable is an agents knowledge for clients?

K is for Know How in the second edition of the Complete Zeitgeist, and having an expert understanding of the needs of clients with a global portfolio, Anna Langford, Global Operations Director based in London gives her thoughts on the value of know how.

Running the Client Services Team at Complete means that I speak to a lot of potential clients about our Lettings and Property Management services. Whilst we are competitively priced in the market place, we find some potential clients are solely focused on fee rather than our ability to manage their property effectively and, crucially, our ‘know how’. The best agent is generally not the cheapest!

Whilst we understand that cash flow and value for money is key for property investors, so is the ability to trust your agent and understand that they have the correct systems and knowledge in place to protect their asset. This can often mean not falling foul of regulations. As a global lettings company we are aware of everything from deposit protection regulations in Chicago, where it is easy get sued by a tenant if a number of complex regulations are not followed, to Berlin where the local authorities have just imposed new regulations to ensure that buildings are properly ventilated in the event of a fire, which is obviously at the forefront of everyone’s minds these days.

The UK market, where Complete manage the highest volume of properties, has seen an unprecedented amount of new regulation in recent years and it can be difficult keeping up with all of the changes. Most recently we have had the General Data Protection Regulation and new Anti- Money Laundering Regulations which both come with large fines if not properly managed and kept on top of. The safety of tenants is also paramount and whilst we already have strenuous Gas Safety Regulations, and Legionella risk needing to be assessed, we can only expect this to continue in the future and become more onerous, potentially in the form of more wide ranging electrical safety tests.

So to sum up, I always try to suggest to potential clients that they should research the agents that they choose so they are not just fee focused. This could be by a recommendation or failing that there are a number of online review portals such as All Agents or Google reviews that can be used to ensure peace of mind in selecting the right agent.  Occupancy rates, customer service and ‘know how’ are what I think Investor landlords should focus on to protect their assets for the long term.

Anna Langford | Global Operations Director

The Complete Zeitgeist is now in it’s second edition following the success of the first in 2017. Full of useful information for landlords and investors, the Complete Zeitgeist also discusses a number of important considerations and key questions within the real estate industry such as population, the environment and sustainability.

Read our handy checklist and tips on what to look out for when instructing an agent and download your copy of the Complete Zeitgeist now.

Best Practices for Long Term Investment in U.S Real Estate

It is widely accepted that investing in real estate is a sound financial decision, but for new investors, the practice may seem daunting, especially considering the competitive nature of the industry.

This is particularly the case with investment in unfamiliar markets and for investors considering developing a real estate investment portfolio in the United States, there are a number of factors to consider to get the very best from long term real estate investment.

If you’re planning to make long-term investments in residential, rental or other property, educate yourself and commit to working hard to earn success. Here are a few best practices to help you get started as a real estate investor.

Know your market

As with any profitable business venture, effective real estate investors first “acquire an in-depth knowledge of their selected market(s),” according to an online article from Forbes magazine. You should develop a viable business plan that takes into account the current trends and conditions affecting the regional U.S real estate market. These include the unemployment rate, consumer spending habits and mortgage rates, to name a few.

Maintain high standards

A savvy real estate investor must strive to keep high standards, both in terms of integrity and customer service. As Forbes points out, referrals generate a significant amount of business in this industry. If you don’t show respect to your clients, partners, renters, or other people with whom you have business relationships, word will get around, making people hesitant to work with you in the future. The same goes for when you do not maintain impeccable ethical standards or conduct fair business. A poor reputation is an excellent way to lose potential customers.

Willingly accept assistance

When the need arises, turn to others whose skills or expertise could help you strengthen the business aspects of your U.S real estate investment. For example, taxes will account for a large portion of your annual expenses. Putting your finite time and effort into understanding complicated tax laws in the United States may not be worth the return. That’s where working with a reputable accountant can be useful to save money in the long run while you put your time to better use. Likewise, other complex issues may require counsel from a lawyer, mentor or colleague. Smart real estate investors know when to find and embrace other peoples’ expertise, according to Forbes.

In the end, there is no “sure thing” when it comes to U.S real estate investment. You will encounter risk, as well as challenges and time-consuming responsibilities. Working hard and staying focused can help you to achieve your goals of becoming a knowledgeable and successful real estate investor.

Complete in the U.S 

Complete partner with Platinum Properties to manage our clients portfolios in the New York Area. As specialists in New York residential sales and lettings markets, we are proud to partner with Platinum Properties on a number of projects with many clients, with a relationship that allows us to work together to deliver our clients the very best expertise in managing their real estate investment portfolio in the United States.

For more information on our partnership, and to discuss ways we can assist with the management of your portfolio and real estate investments in New York, please contact Jody Roberts in our Hong Kong office on 852 3965 9300
or email jody.roberts@complete-ltd.com

How to Furnish your Buy-to-Let Investment Property

As a Client Services Executive, I am talking to clients on a daily basis about their investments and what works best in terms of letting those units quickly and maximising their returns. One of the most common areas for questions is furnishing.

Although some markets don’t require that investment properties are furnished, in many cases tenants do expect that they are fully furnished and ready to move in to, and we know that well-furnished properties attract a better standard of tenant who will often remain in the property for longer, and on average, they tend to let much quicker than their unfurnished counterparts.

To help with those decisions, I have come up with a list of top tips for furnishing your investment properties.

 

Choose a style that will appeal to your target tenants

Before marketing the property, do some research and ask your agent the type of tenants that will typically rent properties in that area and be clear on the type of tenant you wish to attract. A young professional tenant will have different needs and expectations from a young family and so it’s important that you chose the right styles most appropriate to your target tenants.

Opt for modern, durable finishes

Whilst it might be tempting to buy in the most expensive, high end furniture and fittings on the market, in many cases this is an unnecessary expense. Equally, trying to save money by sourcing much cheaper options might be false economy, as these will wear much quicker and require replacement much sooner. Poor quality furnishing might even result in longer void periods and effectively result in lost rent. Opt for clean, modern and durable finishes and chose high quality furniture appropriate to your tenant type. In many cases, specialist furniture providers will offer furnishings specifically for buy to let properties.

Don’t make it personal

It’s an easy trap for many buy-to-let investors to fall in to, but don’t buy furniture that suit your own personal style. Whilst you might have exceptional taste, overly personalised furnishings may put off some tenants and make the property more difficult to let. Modern, neutral and clean should be guiding factors.

Don’t under-furnish or over-supply

Take a moment to think about what your tenants will actually need, or what you would expect to find in the property when you move in. Cover the day to day essentials and have a look at things like kitchen packs and cleaning equipment and include those in your furniture inventory. It might even be helpful to provide one or two soft touches. Some nice artwork or soft furnishings can make all the difference in completing the overall look and feel. At the same time, don’t over-furnish and clutter the property. Keep the inventory useful and helpful, but simple.

Don’t forget blinds

This is absolutely critical and you should factor in the additional costs of window dressings to this avoid major pitfall in letting the property quickly. Tenants will expect blinds or curtains in all rooms and not providing these will inevitably result in longer void periods and difficulties in renting the property quickly. Leaving the tenants to install their own window dressings might even result in property damage which could result in rather high costs to repair.

Keep it fresh

If it has been a while since you had installed the furnishings, it might be worth considering updating and replacing them to bring the property up to date, and up to standard. Although the furniture might not need replacing entirely, new mattresses and new sofas will appeal to new tenants moving into what will be their new home.

Equally, updating or refreshing the décor will be helpful if some time has elapsed since its completion. For older properties, it may be worth considering a programme of refurbishment and updating throughout to appeal to more attractive tenants, improving the units rentability and returns.

Be compliant

However you decide to furnish your property, it is essential to ensure that they are compliant. In the UK, all furnishings and fittings must meet the requirements of fire safety regulations and blinds and window dressings will also need to ensure they are complaint with particular child safety regulations.

 

We work with specialist suppliers of furniture and offer our clients a range of packages with hand selected items most suitable to the market, and to the particular development to always ensure that we are sourcing the best possible tenants in that market, and maximising the returns on your investment. Our property management team work with a number of specialist contractors and can provide a project management service for more extensive refurbishment programmes.

Whether it’s a brand new development or an existing asset, you’re more than welcome to get in touch with me and ask me how we can help furnish your buy-to-let investments.

 

Madilaine Rowley

Client Services Executive