Securing your new home

Moving into a new home is one of life’s most exciting milestones and while it may not feel as exciting as choosing new sofas or deciding who to invite to a housewarming party, paying some attention to the property’s security will help you feel more settled – and may even result in cheaper insurance premiums.

When you’re compiling your ‘to do’ list as you move in, you may find these 6 essential security changes useful:-

  1. Change front door locks: the handing over of keys always marks the end of one property ownership and the start of a new one but there’s no way of knowing whether past owners have retained a spare set, or whether neighbours may have keys too. Changing the front door locks should be up there with reading the meters as a default moving-in ritual. Always opt for a five-lever mortice lock with a BS heart-shaped Kitemark that meets the BS 3621 criteria – the gold standard in door security and a requirement from home insurance companies in order to secure a cheaper premium.
  2. Change or replace a key safe: key safes have grown in popularity  – used by forgetful teens, cleaners and carers, among others – but with many unlocked with a simple 4-digit code that’s easy to share and remember, it’s wise to change the code or replace the whole box.
  3. Install a safe: a fireproof safe is a great addition to a new home – especially for high value items of jewellery, spare keys and valuable documents – but any safe must be fixed securely to a wall or the floor for it to be effective.
  4. Secure windows & other entry points: anything that’s broken, jammed or missing should be repaired. This could include fixing a window that is stubbornly ajar, reinstalling a fence panel that’s blown down or replacing a patio door that doesn’t lock.
  5. Change the alarm code: ask your solicitor or agent to verify if the property you are moving into has a burglar alarm. If so, request that the operational instructions are left at the property, although many manuals are available to download online if you know the make and model. Make replacing the alarm code with something new a priority.
  6. Don’t overshare on social media: moving day is exciting and it’s news you may want to share online but do so with restraint. By all means document your first few days in a new property but it’s a good idea to share photos and details within private groups, and not publicly.

Other security measures for moving day & beyond

  • Update your home and contents insurance so cover starts at your new address as soon as you move in
  • Hang curtains or blinds as quickly as possible
  • Don’t leave valuable items in unlocked vans or cars on moving day
  • Find out whether the property is in a Neighbourhood Watch area
  • Don’t leave empty boxes for new TVs and gadgets in plain sight on recycling day

We’re experts at managing moving days, so if you have any question about the order of events, timings, collecting keys and keeping your possessions safe, just ask!

Are you guilty of sabotaging your own sale?

While an estate agent will do everything in its power to ensure your home is marketed to the right people, catches the eye of buyers and is priced attractively enough to encourage offers, sellers can also help themselves.

As a company that has sold hundreds of homes, we were very interested in the results of a new survey commissioned by GoCompare Home Insurance. It specifically asked home buyers and would-be purchasers what puts them off most when looking for a new home.

Tellingly, many reasons why a home may not sell were facets that, while out of the control of an estate agent, could easily be rectified by the seller. Taking joint first place in the top 20 reasons why a property for sale is rejected was damp patches or stained walls/ceilings, with 52% of those questioned saying this was off-putting (the other was no garden, which is probably the hardest point to address by anyone).

In second spot were bad smells, including pet odours, cigarette smoke, damp and food, with 50% of respondents citing this as a property turn-off. Other fixable issues that discouraged buyers included a property in a poor state of repair (45%); unfinished building work (38%); a dirty house (31%); untidy rooms (18%); overgrown gardens (18%) and a dated/over-the-top décor or carpets (12%).

The survey results indicate that first impressions really count, even though it’s a cliché in estate agency. The problem with a poor outward appearance is that it’s hard to see the true potential of the property underneath, while dubious stains and damp patches could give the impression there’s something more serious going on – even if the discolouration is merely superficial. Unfinished DIY or building work is also off-putting as the cost and effort involved in completing the projects is a barrier for many potential buyers.

Other aspects under a seller’s control that may be sabotaging a sale may need a little effort and diplomacy to fix. Neighbours are a bone of contention among buyers, with rubbish strewn in the garden next door (46%), a dilapidated neighbouring property (40%) and a student let adjacent (33%) are all red flags for those on a viewing.

Also of concern are connections – especially if the property is in a broadband blackspot. Of those questioned, 44% said an unreliable broadband service would be a deal breaker, while a poor mobile phone signal would put off 35% of hopeful buyers.

Even if a purchaser is keen to look past a property’s flaws, they may want compensation and could offer well below the asking price. Tidying, cleaning and repainting are quick fixes that will dramatically improve the chances of achieving your asking price, while switching to the provider of your area’s best broadband service and knowing the mobile operator with the strongest signal will win over those who’ve been online to check speeds and coverage.

If you would like a property valuation, together with honest advice about selling your home, contact us today.

Student lets leapfrog other property investment prospects

September can only mean one thing – back to school. While the concerns of younger students include pencil cases and packed lunch boxes, undergraduates will be thinking about more serious matters, such as where to live.

Student lets are big business for landlords, even for institutional investors. The Financial Times recently reported on Blackstones – the world’s biggest commercial landlord – offloading offices and retail units so it could bid to buy student housing operator, GCP Student Living.

Even for the humble one-property landlord or investment novice, there are gains to be made in the student let market. A shortage in traditional ‘hall’ accommodation, coupled with the desire to live with like-minded undergraduates in a freer environment, has buoyed the private student rental market.

A recently published student living index found that growing demand was behind student rents increases of almost 20% over the last 12 months. Students in Leicester were most affected, with a £188 rise in their average monthly rental costs.

The ability to increase rents is important when it comes to yields and there is good news for those aiming for the university market. Analysis of 5,000 student lets between January and July 2021 found that yields were climbing steadily, with marked gains in the North East, the North West and the South East.

Investing in a town where there is a single university has also been proven to be a good strategy, with research revealing 7 out of the top 10 cities for the best student rental yields only had one main university. Swansea came out as the top location, with landlords enjoying student yields of +9.56%, followed by Hull (+8.68%) and Sheffield (+7.58%).

If your head has been turned by the attractive student let market, here’s some advice about appealing to undergraduates:-


  • Operate compliantly


If you’re hoping to run a house share, also known as an HMO (House in Multiple Occupation), you’ll need to check with the local authority about a license to operate and also familiarise yourself with the extra compliance required when renting to multiple households.


  • Consider fully furnished


Students like fully furnished properties so they can move in with just the basics. Budget for buying furniture and ensure anything you purchase second hand, or are given meets fire safety regulations. When offering a fully furnished student let, an inventory will be especially important.

  •  Minimise financial risks

Don’t hesitate to ask for a parental guarantor or a whole year’s rent upfront. This is quite normal in the student let market, giving landlords a greater degree of financial security and less chance of arrears.


  • Offer brilliant broadband


With many lectures remaining online, reliable and fast broadband is on the top of every students’ housing wish list. Installing the very best WiFi could be part of a ‘bills included’ package, should you choose to follow this path.


  • Students are driven by location 


Think about the property’s location when looking to purchase a student buy-to-let. The holy trinity of places to be close to include the university campus, shopping facilities and any social centre – walking distance is preferred as students will not necessarily drive or own a car.


  • Don’t hesitate in marketing


It’s never too early to market your student let. Competition for the best properties can be fierce and as a result, many students will look for a place to live in the autumn, ready for the following academic year.

We are well versed in helping landlords get ready for the student market. If you would like advice on compliance and HMOs, setting the rent, how to operate a ‘bills included’ let, working out yields, how to find tenants and managing a student let with the minimum of fuss, talk to us today.