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Main Feature; 2012 HomeLink Stats: A Good Year
SALES; Current Local Statistics
Our predictions for 2013 Housing Market
LETTINGS; Tenancy Deposit Scheme is now in force
2011 Rental Index Regional Map
MORTGAGE NEWS - lending reaches 4 year high

FEBRUARY 2013
MAIN FEATURE
2012: A good year for HomeLink, let’s make 2013 even better!

So we see estate agents closing continually, letting agents popping up everywhere then vanishing as quickly as they appear, Remax in total freefall with many agents jumping from the sinking ship and calling themselves The Scottish Property Centre; new name, same people, same problems for all I can see. But whilst all this carnage takes place HomeLink strides on and delivers a 21% increase in turnover.

How has HomeLink managed a 21% turnover increase whilst other agents struggle, downsize, and even close shop. Well it was mainly down to increased sales. HomeLink had a sales volume increase of 56% compared to 2011, but yet the press still reported doom a gloom.
While most agents sit and wait for the market to recover, HomeLink was pro-active, finding ways to help people get their property onto the market. Then, as we always have done, we gave people the proper advice about the value of their property and how to sell it. It’s not rocket science, its simply putting the client first.

Our average sales time was 46 days! Yes you heard it right, 46 days. So properties are selling, there are more buyers out there, but it is still very much a buyers market. So what if your property has been on the market longer than 2 or 3 months? Well firstly don’t panic, some properties do take longer to sell for various reasons, as long as it’s getting viewers it will eventually sell. Again how do we achieve this? And again it is simply putting the client first, making sure the property is presented well, and making sure enquiries are handled properly.

So what about 2013, well we predict our sales volume increasing again, maybe not by 56%, but by another reasonable amount. HomeLink will be moving forward again, selling and renting property for happy clients. We are already the No.1 agent in North Lanarkshire, so if you want to sell or rent your property, and know you will always get the best advice, or have been wondering if you can get a mortgage, then HomeLink is the place to come. Our record speaks for itself.

FEBRUARY 2013
SALES

Current Local Statistics
Average Sold House Price in North Lanarkshire : £107,057
Average Sold House Price in Scotland : £159.310
North Lanarkshire Annual House Price Change :   -1.5%
Scottish Annual House Price Change:  -2.3%

Breakdown:

Airdrie £107,940
Bellshill £88,478
Coatbridge £95,683
Motherwell £119,941
Shotts £74,237
Wishaw £94,754

FEBRUARY 2013
SALES NEWS

Predictions for the Housing Market in Scotland in 2013

We are very optimistic about the housing market in North Lanarkshire in 2013. So what's the outlook and why do we feel this way?

Most hearteningly in the past year we have seen a huge rise in the proportion of property sales taking place at the more affordable end of the property market. This is almost certainly a combination of prices having become more affordable, first time buyers having managed to gather a deposit and the increased availability of good mortgage products for these buyers.

We have also witnessed a general increase in sales across the board, from the most affordable to the most expensive of properties on our books, and we would put this down to a general increase in confidence in the property market after a significant period of many people watching and waiting. Life goes on as they say!

Even as I write this, our negotiators are busy dealing with a number of offers that have come in.  Given that many of our competitor firms are struggling, it's a great sign that people continue to want to offer at this time of year and also that sellers are continuing to book-in valuations with HomeLink.

Moving into 2013, unless something significant changes in general economic conditions, we expect that prices will remain stable and that the upswing we have seen in the number of properties we are selling in the second half of 2012 will continue throughout 2013 which is good news for everyone in the property market.

FEBRUARY 2013
LETTING NEWS

The Tenancy Deposit Scheme Regulations - Now In Force

Well the tenancy deposit regulations are now in force and causing chaos within the private rental sector. In our experience most DIY landlords aren’t aware of the regulations or do not know how to implement them or that they are liable to pay the tenant 3 times the rental amount if the deposit is not lodged with a deposit scheme. And believe us, tenants will become wise to this situation and use it to their advantage.

We see letting agents going to the wall, or changing their names, why, because the deposits have been spent to keep their business’s up and running and so don’t have them to deposit into a Scheme. But what about the DIY landlords who have done the same, with large portfolios, but none of the deposits, they can’t fold up or change their name.

We truly believe it is imperative that DIY landlords, or Non-Managed landlords look more closely at having HomeLink manage their property, including our PROPERTY CONDITION GUARANTEE. There are too many loopholes built into the regulations that favour the tenant and will make it increasingly difficult for landlords to claim damages incurred by the tenant.

And even if the landlord has conducted all inspections properly including having them signed off by the tenant, proper inventory, ideally video evidence, and have provided proper accounts of the expenditure for the items claimed and the relevant depreciation of the asset over the term of the tenancy, we believe it will be at least 30 days for the landlord to get hold of the deposit, meaning he or she will have to correct the problem with their own money first.

Here are some basics regarding the regulations that you need to know:

What is a tenancy deposit?
A tenancy deposit is a sum of money which a landlord may ask a tenant to pay at the start of a tenancy, and which must not amount to more than two months rent. The landlord holds the money as security against the tenant not meeting their obligations in connection with a tenancy or occupancy arrangement. The tenancy agreement should set out the circumstances in which the deposit may be withheld by the landlord at the end of the tenancy. For example, the landlord may decide to keep some or all of a deposit if it is needed to pay for:

· damage the tenant has caused to the property
· cleaning bills if the property has been left in poor condition
· bills that are left unpaid, for example fuel or telephone bills
· any unpaid rent.

What is a tenancy deposit scheme?
A tenancy deposit scheme is an independent third party scheme which has been approved by the Scottish Government to hold and protect tenant's deposits until they need to be repaid at the end of the tenancy.

What does the introduction of a tenancy deposit scheme mean for landlords?
The regulations require that a landlord must pay deposits into an approved scheme and ensure that the money is held by an approved scheme for the duration of the tenancy. Evidence of registration with the relevant local authority must be provided when the deposit is paid over.

The tenant must also be provided with specific information about the tenancy, the deposit and the scheme that will be protecting it.

What happens if a landlord doesn't comply with the tenancy deposit legislation?
A tenant can take a landlord who doesn't protect the deposit with a scheme or provide the required information within the specified timescales to court. Where satisfied that a landlord has not complied, a sheriff can order the landlord to pay the tenant up to three times the deposit.

How will deposits be returned at the end of a tenancy?
The landlord should apply to the scheme for repayment of the deposit after the end of the tenancy, giving details about how much should be repaid to the tenant. The scheme administrator will write to the tenant asking them to confirm whether they agree with the application, or whether they wish to dispute the amount. If the tenant agrees, the scheme administrator will repay the deposit accordingly.

How long will it take to return the deposit?
Where the tenant agrees with the landlord’s application, the deposit will be repaid within 5 working days. The return of deposits may take longer where the amount is disputed, or the landlord or tenant cannot be contacted, or do not cooperate.

What if the landlord applies for the return of the deposit and the tenant is not contactable?
On receipt of the application for repayment, the scheme administrator will write to the tenant to confirm whether they agree, or whether they wish to dispute the amount. If no confirmation is received from the tenant within 30 working days, the scheme administrator will repay any amount claimed by the landlord within 5 working days of the end of the 30 working day period. Any amount due to the tenant will be held by the scheme in case the tenant contacts the scheme to apply for it at a later date.

What if the landlord doesn’t apply for the deposit?
The tenant can also apply to the scheme for repayment of the deposit. Where a tenant does apply for the deposit, the scheme administrator will write to the landlord to notify them of the application and amount applied for. If the landlord agrees to the amount applied for by the tenant the scheme administrator will repay the deposit within 5 working days. If the landlord does not agree with the tenant’s application, or make an alternative application within 30 working days, the full deposit is repaid to the tenant within 5 working days of the end of the 30 day period.

What happens if a landlord/agent wants to claim on the deposit for damages that occur midway through the tenancy?
The Regulations do not make provision for deposits to be returned other than after the end of a tenancy or for the purposes of transferring it to another scheme.

FAILURE TO COMPLY WITH TENANCY DEPOSIT REGULATIONS

What happens if the deposit is not submitted to an approved scheme and/or information not provided to the tenant?
A tenant may apply to a sheriff court for sanctions against the landlord for non compliance with the regulations.If the sheriff is satisfied that the landlord has failed to comply, they must order the landlord to pay the tenant up to three times the amount of the deposit and may order that the deposit is submitted to an approved scheme or information provided. The sheriff will have discretion to take the individual circumstances of each application into account when deciding the amount of financial penalty that should apply.

The critical element in all this is if you make a claim against the deposit, the tenant has to agree the amount. In our experience if a landlord is claiming anything against the deposit the tenant will always contest it and be as awkward as possible. Now when dealing with an agent we are always working on the landlords behalf, looking after your interests, but the deposit scheme administrator is not. How many deposits will end up lying in limbo because neither side will be able to agree. There is a process in place seemingly to deal with this, but this whole monster that is the Tenancy Deposit Scheme is meant to be free, so what is going to pay for it? Interest earned from holding the deposits to begin with.

If you have any questions regarding any of this then speak with HomeLink, as always we are acting in our clients best interests and always have a solution.

Further information
Information about the regulations and tenancy deposit schemes can be found on the Scottish Government website at http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Built-Environment/Housing/privaterent
A copy of the Tenancy Deposit Schemes (Scotland) Regulations 2011 can be found on the UK legislation website at www.legislation.gov.uk.

Interesting Letting Facts...

• Tenants are earning an average of 0.3% less than in December 2011
• The average age of a tenant increased by 1.7% over the past 12 months to 34.2 years

FEBRUARY 2013
2011 RENTAL INDEX REGIONAL MAP

The regional map shows the monthly and annual changes in agreed rental amounts for each region of the UK.

2011 RENTAL INDEX REGIONAL MAP

FEBRUARY 2013
MORTGAGE NEWS: WHAT'S RIGHT FOR YOU?

UK Mortgage Approvals hit 4 Year High

Mortgage approvals hit a four year high in January thanks to a combination of falling mortgage rates, a wider range of mortgages available to borrowers and an improvement in lender confidence, according to detailed research released this morning by e.surv chartered surveyors.

e.surv’s latest Mortgage Monitor reveals mortgage approvals climbed 17% from 55,785 in December to 65,184 in January, making it the strongest month for house purchase lending since February 2008. It also marked a 13% improvement on January last year. It is the strongest indication yet that the mortgage market is beginning to recover and regain some of its pre-2008 health.

Falling rates and a wider range of mortgages for first-time buyers were the catalyst for the improvement in January. Over the winter a number of major lenders launched their cheapest ever fixed rate mortgages, which quashed mortgages rates on 2 year fixed deals down from 4.44% to 3.92%. The cheaper funds delivered to lenders’ balance sheets by the Bank of England’s Funding for Lending Scheme was the root cause of the improvement in lending conditions. Since FLS launched, lenders have introduced more than 300 new house purchase mortgages.

The improvement in first-time buyer numbers is reflected in a sharp increase in the number of purchase loans on cheapest properties. The number of loans on more expensive property increased at a much slower rate, illustrating how the improvement in lending in January was focused mainly on first-time buyers.

Richard Sexton, business development director of e.surv chartered surveyors, explains: 'These are the most encouraging signs for the mortgage market since the financial crisis. After an inauspicious start last autumn, Funding for Lending has come good. It has flooded lenders’ balance sheets with cheaper funds, which has encouraged them to reduce mortgage rates to record lows and roll out a much wider range of mortgages for high loan-to-value borrowers. It is helping clear the logjam in the first-time buyer market.

The hope now is that January isn’t just a flash in the pan. There are plenty of reasons to believe it won’t be. Funding is cheaper. Borrower finances are better. And the Eurozone crisis lies dormant. All of this bodes well for the rest of the year. Lenders are more confident, and have been emboldened by Funding for Lending and by the relaxation of the speed at which they have to construct capital buffers.

Much will hinge on the economy. If it slides into a triple dip recession lots of the confidence which has been built up over the last few months will evaporate and the recovery will go up in smoke. There are also concerns over the government’s plan to electrify the ring fence between retail and investment banking. The voltage from this could shock lenders into focusing their efforts on restructuring their businesses, rather than on where it is needed: on new lending.'

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HomeLink Estate and Letting Agents Ltd. Registered in Scotland No. 388657    
     

Coatbridge Office
18 Main Street
Coatbridge, ML5 3AE.
Tel 01236 700248
Tel (Lettings) 01236 808340
Fax 01236 700291
Email coatbridge@homelinkproperties.co.uk

Motherwell Office
100 Merry Street,
Motherwell, ML1 1NA.
Tel 01698 264422
Fax 01698 264462
Email motherwell@homelinkproperties.co.uk

Mortgage Office
96 Merry Street
Motherwell, ML1 1NA.
Tel 01698 264430
     
Cumbernauld Office
2 Spey Walk
Cumbernauld, G67 1DS.
Tel 01236 723399
Fax 01236 700291
Email cumbernauld@homelinkproperties.co.uk
Wishaw Office
308 Main Street
Wishaw, ML2 7NL.
Tel 01698 264422
Fax 01698 264422
Email wishaw@homelinkproperties.co.uk
Opening Hours
MON - FRI: 9am - 5:30pm (voicemail after 5.15pm)
SAT: 10am - 2pm

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