As I sit here gazing out at the antics of the greedy starlings and blackbirds fighting it out on the suet balls and seed feeders, I’m reminded we only have this joy every spring into summer. The newly fledgled families of birds come down to feed in the gardens – spoilt for choice in both habitat and feeding stations. But for the humans it is not such a tale – I have never known there to be such a hue and cry about the lack of affordable housing before now. The tiny pockets of brownfield sites are being snapped up before they’re even on the market. Infill apartments and tiny developments are making our towns and cities look much more attractive, taking away many an abandoned eyesore. Freeing up rental and purcahse properties has to be a priority in cities like Bristol that has always been very popular and the housing shortage is chronic.
I was doing a cousin a favour the other day – driving him to a major teaching hospital in Cambridge, for some exploratory work. This poor chap has really had a hard time of it lately and I couldn’t bear the thought of him trying to do that journey on his own. So in the car we jumped, to the park and ride, then on two buses in the city to the actual hospital. Whilst waiting for the 2nd of these buses, we were conveniently near the busiest set of letting agents I’ve every seen. There were students buzzing about, parents of students, foreign travellers, all wanting to find the perfect flat or other property. Some were temporary status, just wanting a few weeks; the others were patiently trying to get their longer term futures sorted out. In each case the agents seemed very patient and very pro active.
When a young couple I know were courting, all they dreamed of was having rooms of their own that had no parents hovering over them all the time. They went to the same university and have been together for nearly 15 years. After university they got jobs with very good prospects; one settled into his career as a graphic artist with a huge advertising agency. The lass was unsettled and changed tack, to take a law degree and eventually secured a training contract for being a lawyer. The amount of money spent on rent is eye wateringly huge. They eventually bought a town house right out in the suburbs – far enough away to feel like the country. They decided to up sticks and move to Bristol – wow what a difficult job. they needed their very proactive and helpful local agent to locate any property for rent or sale. So popular is that area now that gazumping is back big time!
There are so many benefits of living down in the south west of this country – it is generally considered to be a much more favourable climate down there – something to do with the sun beating down longer and more consistently. It is also a very relaxed area – the Bristol city centre is jam packed with bars, bistros, restaurant, eateries of all kinds, nationalities and flavours. Together with the thousands of lovely coffee bars and social cafe areas, Bristol never fails to provide the number one reasons for wanting to move to a particular area. The hospitals and public services are busy, efficiently managed and the schools have a charm of their own. The only problem can be housing – getting on to the list of a trustworthy, fully experienced agent for either the rental or sales market is the best thing you can do. Saves time and much fruitless searching.
There are so many things about property matters these days that set it apart as a career to be considered. Meeting lots of people, on the renting, buying, selling sides. Getting the job done well needs expertiese and a lot of work behind the desk. Taking lettings in Bristol for example. This is a seriously popular part of the country and always a shortage of rented property causes the price to be high at all times. Student lets are not easy to find and it takes quite a lot of firm negotation and much diplomacy on the part of the agent to get all parties happy. I know a couple who have been on an agent list for two years trying to get the right kind of property in that area. Moving out of the city is sometimes the alternative to a long sit on a waiting list.
There is such a lot about property in the news at the moment. We have the scandal of new housing developments being sold with dubious lease hold agreements that will double or treble within 10 years – this is something new to me. I have bought and sold 6 homes so far and never heard of having to buy ino a leasehold agreement on any of them. I do wonder however if sometimes the solicitor or other conveyancor has tried pointing out this arbitary issue but the buyer, dead keen to get on the property and mortgage ladder, doesn’t listen or can’t comprehend what is being spelt out to them. I am pretty sure any property legal team would make a point of bringing something as serious as a leasehold issue to the attention of their client. Ensuring each client fully understands what they are undertaking is always top of a professional legal eagle’s list of priorities.
I have several pals are in the middle of house moving. There seems to be a thing about first time buyers who think they have their mortgage in place when they start looking at your house, but when contracts start being presented in earnest, amazing complications arise. Two such couples have had this occur to them. They have got so far down the line, have somewhere super-duper to move up to, but then a hitch occurs. In the bad old days, it might have been suggested that so as not to lose the new place, they took out a bridging loan to cover until their buyers could complete. Wooh, that seemed like a pretty crazy thing to undertake with 16 to 19% mortgage and bank rates, but these days, it probably is not so mad. The bank rate is still less than 3%, but a bridging loan is still a major risk, especially if the buyer turns tail and leaves the party altogether!
So much stuff needs doing at this time of year – near year end for some businesses. There are the tenant agreements to look to, ensuring everything in each of them meets current bylaws and that any new safety regulations are catered for. Being a landlord is a much more serious matter these days. There used to be a comedy programme on tv called Man About The House, about a dishy young chap who shared a scruffy flat with two seriously cute female flatmates. The landlady has the hots for the guy and the landlord for the girls. It is a 1980s comedy, so no pc at all!
Being able to catch up with this programme on catch up also highlight the serious lack knowledge or interest in tenancy safey laws – everything was done on a shoe string and the less spent on their flat the happier the landlord was.
When I watch any daytime tv it is always the lifestyle section I go to first. My sort of default mode. I just love seeing the ones where couples or families buy up some delapidated property at an auction and during the course of the show we see snippet of progress and trah lah, at the end of their segment, there is a really amazing, gleaming and stunning property, now worth thousands more than when they scraped together that one off payment.
The posh flats in very popular cities are my favourites – seeing the dirty, scruffy, unkempt places they take on is amazing. Real dossers’ dumps most of them. One thing they don’t show is how the landlord finds out about all the legal stuff needed to rent out to tenants. Especially a house of multip occupancy. Tenant safety and comfort has to come first, whether the landlord likes it or not.
I have a couple of relatives who have lived in various parts of the uk, one being self employed contracts themselves out to various big authorities as a consultant. The kind of work they do is long term and can keep them in places for 4 or 5 year stints. For this reason they tend to be provided with accommodation for part of all of their tenure on the job.
Of all the places they have lived, outside London, it seems that the Bristol and Bath areas have been their favourites. They seem to sing the praises of the areas and had lovely flats in each. They seem to enjoy the penthouse style, at the very top of the block. So long as the management company looks after any block of flats, keeps the communal areas in good nick, and ensures fire safety regulations are adhered to, they love the feeling of space up there!