Student Halls or Student House?

By the end of your first year at university, there is usually one question on everyone’s lips – student halls or student house? Choosing the right student accommodation can be a daunting task, particularly if you are unfamiliar with the property market and the advantages and disadvantages of these two property types.

We pride ourselves in connecting people with properties and our team of friendly estate agents have the experience and local area knowledge to help you make the right decision.  Whether you were born and bred in Sunderland or you’re new to the city we will take a proactive approach to helping you find the best student accommodation Sunderland has to offer.

In this article, we explore the pros and cons of student halls and shared student houses, helping you to make an informed decision and start enjoying student life in all its glory.

Know what to expect from halls

The majority of student halls offer the basic amenities you need to enjoy life in your first year of university and subsequent years, however many are shocked by the fact that most student accommodation in Sunderland and the rest of the country consists of a bed and storage space, with access to a shared kitchen and bathroom.

There are however several new developments popping up in the City that provide more luxurious amenities including en-suites, super-fast Wi-Fi and upgraded communal areas.

Research really is the key when deciding whether to continue living in halls or take the plunge and move into a shared student house and the team at Hackett Properties have got their fingers right on the pulse of student accommodation in Sunderland, so let us do the hard work for you and find a property that matches your requirements, personality & budget.

Partner with the right agent to find a shared house

Living in a shared student house is a great option and offers plenty of opportunities to meet new people outside of your course or even outside of your university.  Second year students will often want to break away from life in the halls and enjoy some familiar home comforts.  More personal space, less people sharing your amenities and in general, a quieter place to hang your head at the end of a long day at Uni.

Finding a shared student house that is well placed for life on campus, close to amenities like shops and public transport, and positioned to take advantage of the area’s nightlife, isn’t easy on your own, however with the help of an estate agent you can find the perfect combination.

If you would like help finding your next student accommodation why not give us a call or pop into the branch and we can discuss your requirements in more detail.  Sunderland has so much to offer we will undoubtedly be able to find you a property where you can balance your studies and your social life with ease.

 

Is Furnished or Unfurnished Better for an Annual Rental?

As a landlord with a single property or portfolio of properties, there are many decisions to make before renting to a tenant. Deciding whether to offer furnished or unfurnished accommodation is just one of the dilemmas faced by landlords everywhere, but which one should you go for?

As one of the leading letting agents in Sunderland, we work with landlords and tenants across the North East to ensure the property rentals we offer are of the highest standard. Here we explore the benefits of going furnished or unfurnished so you can let your property with confidence.

Why go furnished?

There are several benefits to furnishing your property on behalf of your tenant. Basics such as tables and chairs, sofas, beds and wardrobes, floor coverings and kitchen appliances are extremely expensive and often tenants cannot afford to foot the bill for essentials like these. So, for many, opting for a furnished rental brings added convenience and cost effectiveness and on average, furnished flats tend to let more quickly than unfurnished, which means more revenue from your annual rental.

Furnishing your property may be an upfront expense but it can also be a more attractive prospect to many and it is also an investment, as once one tenant moves out you still own the furniture and can offer it to future tenants. From a tax perspective, reliefs are available for the purchase of furniture for rental properties.

Why go unfurnished?

Unfurnished properties can be less problematic for landlords in the long run as insuring furniture and keeping on top of the maintenance of the items can also be an added burden for many landlords, and concerns over the wear and tear of furniture is a common issue.  Of course, there is also the problem of taste, unless you opt for a completely neutral colour palette and style of furnishing, you run the risk of putting potential renters off if they don’t like your taste.

Tenants buying furnishings of their own also tend to rent for the long term with the expense of buying and moving such items making it more economical for them to stay in one place.

What about part furnished?

Want to harness the benefits of both, then part furnishing a property may offer a happy medium. Our letting agents in Sunderland can help you make these vital decisions about your rental property, contact our team today on 0191 510 9950 or email enquiries@hackettproperty.com. Alternatively, please pop in branch to chat to a member of our property rentals team, we’re open six days a week!

What does Brexit Mean for House Prices?

Following the shock result to leave the European Union and a whole summer of uncertainty, Brexit watch continues into the New Year as many people looking to sell or buy question what our departure means for the housing market. There have been a number of headlines spouting doom and gloom then glory for UK house prices, but with so many opinions so easily spoken it can be difficult to get the facts we need about Brexit’s impact on property.

Here our Sunderland estate agents cut through the noise to give you the latest on the property sector post-Brexit.

House prices are stabilising

Whilst the bigger picture regarding under what circumstances we are to leave the EU is still a closely guarded secret of the government, the latest house price growth statistics suggest that the market is stabilising. UK house prices have actually risen, and are now 7.7% higher than the same period in 2015. The average house price is now £218,000 according to the latest data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), which was an entirely unexpected outcome considering the Brexit vote and, prior to this, stamp duty changes that came into force during the new tax year.

In addition to the biggest house price increases being witness in (yes, you guessed it) London and the South East, eastern England also saw huge rises, and as a result the area is the fastest rising region in terms of its house prices.

Property sales continue to fall

House prices may be rising but don’t get out the champagne just yet if you are looking to sell your property. The number of property sales are falling, and these lower levels are likely to continue as we welcome the New Year. Whilst buyer confidence is returning, the uncertainty of where the country will be in months’ or years’ time means buyers are more cautious about where they spend their hard earned money, and making a huge investment like purchasing a property is a scary feat for many.

Into 2017 and beyond

Whilst house price growth continues and demand cools, house prices are predicted to become subdued and remain flat until 2019. The uncertainty over Brexit negotiations is having a huge impact on the property market, however that being said, while uncertainty does indeed loom, experts see little risk of large corrections or changes to current house prices. The latest forecast predicts slow growth for the North East in particular making it a very affordable place to buy, with house price growth set to stabilise by 2018 and grow by 1 to 3% by 2020.

If you’re thinking about buying or selling your property but are a little uncertain given the current economic climate, why not pop into the branch and have a chat with one of our friendly team who can provide you with the help, guidance and advice you need to make an informed decision.

Buying a property? New Build or Old House?

It’s one of the dilemmas faced by many home buyers, and the debate between old versus new never gets tired. Whilst most of the time the decision between opting for a new build or a period property is down to personal preference, there are many reasons that can be highlighted to defend or damn the purchase of either. Almost every house hunter is driven by value for money, and exploring the advantages and disadvantages of each before you even begin your search can really help you determine the basics of what you are looking for.

As a leading estate agent in Sunderland, we have a portfolio jam packed with old and new properties, but the question is, should you go for something old or something new?

Second-hand homes win on space

New build homes are getting more and more compact as developers look to make the most of every square foot, and on average new builds are actually 20% smaller than properties constructed in the 1970s with saleable staples like parking for two cars being just one of the things sacrificed today.

In comparison to house builders in Europe, UK developers build the smallest homes due to the lack of regulation regarding size. There is no lower limit on size for new builds in the UK, which means developers can opt for maximum density and minimum space.

Chain-free and easy

The dreaded chain can cause untold issues for buyers in the UK, and is a primary reason for delays with exchange, that’s why the prospect of a chain-free property buying experience courtesy of a new build is so appealing. As long as the house is constructed, your move in date can be scheduled in as little as a month, which is a breath of fresh air for those blighted by what appears to be a never-ending chain.

Cheaper to buy but there’s a catch!

Due to the homebuyer schemes currently available from the government, it is more affordable to purchase a new build, especially if it is your first home. Under Help to Buy, thanks to the loan provided by the government, buyers need to save just 5% of the property’s value as a deposit, which is a far cry from the 20% or more usually demanded when accessing finance to purchase an older property. In addition to the low deposit, the Help to Buy scheme also guarantees no interest for the first five years on the 20% government loan amount, which can be paid back when you sell.

Whilst new build homes can be cheaper to buy and more accessible, the investment potential of a new build can often be far less than a second-hand home, after all who would want to pay over the odds for a used new build when they could buy a shiny new one that has never been lived in?

Old property or new build, you decide, and our team of Sunderland estate agents can help you make the decision that is right for you, your family and your budget. Contact us today for further assistance.

Student Survival Guide: Top Tips for Shared Living

The house share is one thing that we all look back on with fond, and not so fond, memories when recalling our student days, and for those currently or on the verge of taking on shared living, house sharing is still a reality. As leading providers of student accommodation in Sunderland, we pride ourselves on our portfolio of new student properties, many of which provide the little luxuries that the generation that have been there and done that could only dream of, but there are still some top tips that will certainly come in handy when sharing your new home.

Choose the right housemates

Whilst this point isn’t applicable to most first year students, having the power to choose your own housemates in the second or third year is one that should not be taken lightly. If you’re considering sharing with friends, then choose a friend that you have survived at least one holiday with, it can be a great indicator for flat sharing. Whether you are sharing with friends, acquaintances, classmates or strangers, consider that whilst you loved to party during your first year, there are times during latter years that you will need to wind down and study – no matter how hardcore you are! – and choose accordingly.

Set some house rules

We’re not talking anything strict here, but exercising common courtesy and polite manners are musts, in fact in this instance it’s always the simple things that create a comfortable atmosphere when house sharing. Being able to communicate efficiently with your fellow housemates is also integral, particularly where the monthly bills are concerned. Whilst communicating quickly and clearly is the key to handling any disputes that arise before they get out of hand.

Cleaning up after yourself is another house rule worth considering. This basic etiquette rule will definitely go a long way whatever your or your housemate’s personal habits. Sharing the communal chores will help everyone to stay sane also.

Give each other space

It’s safe to say that what makes student life so great is having a memorable experience outside of the classroom and your housemates are certain to be a part of that. However, at the same time it’s important to give each other space, after all not everyone is a morning person, whilst at the other end of the scale, not all individuals are night owls. Embrace each other’s quirks, and enjoy the experience.

We have lots of student properties just waiting to accommodate you and your housemates. View our latest student accommodation in Sunderland by visiting www.hackettproperty.com/students or pop into our office in person, we’re open six days a week!

Choosing the Right Estate Agent

Whether you are trying to find the perfect property to buy or to rent, want to move onto pastures new by selling your existing home, or are looking to expand your own buy-to-let portfolio as a fledging or experienced landlord, your estate agent can provide that vital link to exactly what you need. There are so many estate agents in Sunderland however which makes choosing the right one for you particularly daunting, and no wonder, it is a decision that can make or break your next property move.

Here we reveal our top tips for sorting the wheat from the chaff and finding the estate agent that can make your property dreams a reality.

Get started with a shortlist

Shortlisting a select number of estate agents is the best place to begin, and as well as asking friends, family members and neighbours for recommendations, it is also worth noting the agent boards that you have seen in person whilst out and about. Staying local is another great way to select an agent that knows your area inside out, and as estate agents in Sunderland we pride ourselves on knowing the property market inside out and bringing a wealth of in-depth local knowledge to our clients.

Narrowing down your shortlist is a little trickier, look for agents that have good reviews, a more extensive range of services, a longstanding presence in your area, and agents who belong to an industry body, such as the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) or Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).

See them in person

Once you have chosen one or two agents from your shortlist, skip the phone calls and the emails, and pop in in person, it is a great way to make sense of the services that they offer as well as the expertise and helpfulness of their staff. Don’t be shy about relaying what you need from your agent, this will help them to help you as efficiently, effectively and affordably as possible.

Ask lots of questions throughout this assessment phase, and even make a list of queries beforehand to run through. Any good estate agent will be happy to answer them.

Be clear from the outset

At Hackett Property, we exercise a truly transparent service from the very beginning. From our fees to the finer details of our service you will be clear from the outset. We work with people from all walks of life from professional tenants, families and students to commercial clients and landlords based both in the UK and overseas.

Find out more about our range of property services, by getting in touch today or pop in branch to speak to a member of our team directly.

Great News for the North East Property Market Despite Brexit Fears

The Brexit has dominated headlines across multiple industries, but one sector that has been thrown into the spotlight has to be ours. Our team of estate agents is constantly asked by buyers, sellers, tenants and landlords alike what’s in store for the North East property market as we leave the European Union and adjust to life ‘on our own’, but a recent study by consultant Oxford Economics means there is good news on the horizon with house prices throughout the region set to rise over the next 15 years.

Local house prices to double by 2030

Whilst the market down south, and in London in particular, is always experiencing dramatic fluctuations, the story has been very different in the North East of England and surrounding regions, where slower progression has been felt. Today the average price of a house in the North East is £162,345, a figure that represents an impressive 95% increase compared to average house prices in 1985. Researchers at Oxford Economics forecast that this price will double by 2030 to £277,558, which means calling on our estate agents to make a property purchase could be a rather profitable investment.

The study has not only increased buyer confidence in what is an uncertain time for our country, but could inspire a business boom, meaning our commercial and residential clients could benefit as a result as business owners and homebuyers look for a more desirable place to work and live.

How does this compare to prices in the South East?

As always the divide between North and South still remains and in London after this same 15-year period the average home will cost £1 million. The rest of the UK will also see prices rise at a faster rate, and on average the cost of a home will rise by 19% to £536,338.

Again this divide may not be a bad thing for the business community and as London wages struggle to keep up with the living cost surge, our region could benefit from what Oxford Economics is referring to as ‘reverse brain drain’. The reverse brain drain will result in an increasing number of people and businesses being priced out of their South East base and in search of more affordable premises travelling away from the capital.

Want to capitalise on the growth potential of the commercial or residential property market? Our Sunderland estate agents can assist with a range of high quality lettings and sales services. Browse our website or contact us direct for further details.

UK Interest Rates Cut to 0.25% – What Does This Mean for You?

Life post Brexit has been filled with rumours, scaremongering and shocking predictions regarding us entering a new recession, and whilst the future is no doubt an uncertain one, with the ripple effect of our EU exit affecting multiple market sectors, much is being done by the Bank of England (BoE) to ensure that any impact felt has minimal negative effects.

The latest measure introduced is the cutting of UK interest rates, which have been slashed dramatically from 0.5% to 0.25%. The cut is the first of its kind since 2009 and represents a new record low, but why does the Bank of England deem it necessary? And what effect will it have on tenants, homeowners and property purchasers like you? As a leading estate agent in Sunderland we’ve made it our mission to find out…

Post Brexit measures

The interest rate cut isn’t the only tactic being used by the Bank of England to cushion the blow as we negotiate the terms of our exit from the European Union. In addition to the new, record low interest rates, the BoE has indicated that further cuts to rates could be made if the economy does take a turn for the worst. To stimulate growth within the economy further banks will be forced to pass on this low interest rate to households and businesses, which means savings for you.

Good news for mortgages and savers?

The cut does mean savings can harnessed but as usual there are some negatives. The new 0.25% rate will save the average homeowner £22 a month on their mortgage, however those with pricier properties may reap more rewards due to automatic tracking. The rate will also make affording a mortgage easier and as a result getting onto the property ladder more accessible than ever thanks to these monthly savings, so now could be the perfect time to enquire at a Sunderland estate agency like ourselves.

Whilst there is some good news for homeowners and homebuyers, the new rate will mean less annual interest when it comes to your savings. For example, those with a savings pot of £10,000 will earn £25 less in interest during this period.

If you are thinking of buying or renting a property of your own, our Sunderland estate agents can assist with the latest market knowledge and an extensive property portfolio to boot. Contact us today for further help and advice.

The Conveyancing Process Made Simple: A Home Buyer’s Guide

The legalities that go hand-in-hand with purchasing a property of your own can be difficult to grasp, but understanding these and conveyancing as a whole will ensure you go into the buying process with your eyes wide open. As time served Sunderland estate agents, we have helped thousands of commercial and residential clients make their mark on the local property scene and now we’re here to help you make sense of the conveyancing process by answering some of the most frequently asked questions on this subject. Read on to discover more…

How is the term “conveyancing” defined?

Conveyancing is the legal and administrative processes that go into transferring the property ownership titles of a plot of land or building from one party to another. These processes begin as soon as you make an offer on a property and it gets accepted, and continues until you have signed the contracts and handed over the money that you offered. Conveyancing is handled by the solicitor, property lawyer or licensed conveyancer that you hire to act on your behalf, and many solicitors specialise in this area of expertise.

What steps will my representative go through to complete?

Choosing a solicitor or lawyer with specific expertise and qualifications in conveyancing is vital, after all, as you will see, conveyancing is particularly complex. The process begins with the completion of vital searches with local authorities and utility companies, which will reveal whether any building works are due to take place in your new property’s vicinity, if any sewers run close to the property and if the area in which the property is located is deemed at risk of flooding.

Another integral part of your representative’s role is to advise you on any costs that will be incurred as a result of you buying the property, this includes stamp duty. Your representative will also check all contracts drawn up and delivered by the seller’s representative, documents that will state every last detail of the purchase from the sale price to the boundaries of the property.

What is the average cost of conveyancing?

The overall cost of conveyancing will depend on the value of the property you are looking to buy, the sale of a flat is certain to be considerably less complicated than the sale of a mansion. On average, conveyancing costs will be approximately £850; online conveyancers are available for a reduced fee but the quality of service may vary. It is possible to undertake your own conveyancing, however you may find that £850 is a small price to pay for a complicated and time consuming task.

Enough about conveyancing, you need to find the home of your dreams first! Check out our diverse property portfolio to get started and please don’t hesitate to contact our Sunderland estate agents for further details.

 

Everything Prospective Homeowners Need to Know about Help to Buy

Getting onto the property ladder is a notoriously difficult journey for many, with the need to save a hefty deposit and pass your prospective lender’s mortgage affordability tests more crucial than ever. As one of the leading estate agents in Sunderland, we make it our mission to advise new and existing clients on all aspects of the property purchase process, including providing access to the financial guidance they need to secure the home of their dreams. In this post, we take a closer look at Help to Buy, a government scheme that is making the market more accessible for first time buyers and those moving onto a bigger and better property.

About Help to Buy

Help to Buy was officially launched in April 2013 introducing the Equity Loan part of the scheme to those buying for the first time and individuals moving up the property ladder. Help to Buy Equity Loan scheme will be available until 2020, and provides a loan of up to 20% of the property value to accompany the 5% deposit you gather. Thanks to this combined 25% deposit you can access mortgages with more attractive rates thus making it more affordable for you in the long run.

Repaying your equity loan

Provided by the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA), this 20% contribution is repayable, and is interest free for the first five years and charged at 1.75% in year six. The rate then climbs by 1% annually plus any increase incurred due to inflation.

If you don’t repay the equity loan borrowed and wish to sell, this stake is simply reclaimed from the value of the home, which can be a concern if your home ends up in negative equity.

What’s the catch?

The Equity Loan scheme is only available on new build properties worth up to £600,000, and unlike other schemes delivered by the government to make home ownership more accessible, there is no maximum income requirement. The property however must be your permanent and only residence, which means it cannot be used to invest in a buy-to-let property.

Unfortunately, participation in Help to Buy doesn’t get you out of applying for a mortgage and undergoing scrutiny when it comes to your finances via your lender’s affordability tests so make sure that you can realistically cover your monthly mortgage repayments and have a good credit score.

The Mortgage Guarantee

The Mortgage Guarantee is the second part of Help to Buy, and again this was introduced to make it possible for those with smaller deposits to purchase a home of their own but this initiative does have a few differences. Introduced in October 2013, the Mortgage Guarantee is accessible to those wishing to buy a new build or existing home, however the purchase value limit is the same. Again buyers will need to raise a 5% deposit and this time the government will provide a guarantee of 15% of the property value to your mortgage lender to offer greater peace of mind and lower rates.

The Mortgage Guarantee is only available until the end of this year so hurry to take advantage of this Help to Buy option.

Need further advice on property buying or want additional information about a property you have seen in our portfolio? Contact our estate agents in Sunderland today.