Chris Hope, Dawsons Senior Director

To buy or rent – the great debate that rumbles on

It is one of life’s great debates that often dominate our lives year on year: is it better to buy your own home or rent someone else’s?

The simple answer is: there is not right or wrong decision, but financial trends – a stable or unstable economy – will often dictate that decision.

Here Chris Hope, Senior Partner at Dawsons Estate Agents, weighs up the pros and cons of the buy or rent conundrum.

“People are always asking what is the best course of action when it comes to buying or renting,” said Chris.

“Of course personal circumstances will always dictate and every four or so years the buy/rent debate shifts one way or the other.

“To be perfectly honest at the moment it is probably a 50/50 scenario when looking at a decision to buy or rent.”

Just to put into context Chris gives an example of a three-bedroom terrace in the Morriston area of Swansea.

At around £100,000 to buy that would give you a £385 per month on a typical 25-year mortgage with a 10/15% deposit. That would compare to £500 rent per month.

“So looking at the averages there is not a great deal of difference when you take in consideration the buyer’s initial outlay with a deposit,” reflected Chris.

“Looking at it historically – 20 years ago those that rented were those who couldn’t afford to buy.

“But whereas there has been a social status element with owning your own home it’s nowadays become a lifestyle choice. Renting is now socially acceptable, and to put that into perspective in our Marina Office we only have one or two lettings properties at any one time. The demand is that great.

“Renting now gives young professionals flexibility. The fact the house needs painting or decorating is not longer and issue. You can just move!

“The culture has definitely changed – renting is a socially accepted way of living. Renting has given people freedom and gives you flexibility and latitude, especially when a career may take you around the country.”

But where rent gives you flexibility and no real ties buying is seen more and more as an investment. For instance fairly recent figures from Santander Bank indicated that ‘lifetime renters’ who never manage to climb on to the property ladder are likely to hand over around £300,000 to private landlords during their lives.

“But rental does look attractive especially when you look at people who have bought at the wrong time have been caught in a negative equity situation – that brings it’s stresses and strains,” added Chris.

“Despite that, compared to other countries such as USA and Germany we are still largely a nation of homeowners. Some people see an investment in a property is an extra pension at a time when pensions cannot be relied on to fulfil financial needs in retirement.

“There is still an advantage on buying a property because of the basic economics of what it costs to buy compared to cost of rent.

Having a mortgage-free environment is a comfort blanket.”

To put that into perspective a recent survey from HSBC talked of a growing divide between property ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’.

Analysing that the generation of owners who bought in the early 1980s tended to become mortgage-free at 56. Recent buyers – average age 29 – are expected to be mortgage-free at 60, whereas young people who say they do not expect to be able to buy until age 35 are likely to be approaching 68 before they own a home outright.

In conclusion Chris says: “There is no right and wrong to be honest – but it changes its balance determined by financial stability.”

Continue reading

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Estate agents’ duo celebrate special accreditation

Corey Ashford and Jaki Staddon from Dawsons are celebrating after becoming accredited Relocation Agent (RAN) specialists.

The accreditation was awarded by RAN and is achieved by completing a comprehensive online training programme.

Corey is based in Dawsons’ Marina Office while Jaki works out of the Gorseinon office.

RAN, a national network of relocation agents of which Dawsons is a member, introduced the training programme to ensure each of their members provides the very highest customer service to those relocating around the UK.

“We take staff development very seriously and Corey and Jaki’s Relocation Network accreditation is a great example of what can be achieved when staff are supported properly to improve their skill set,” said Dawsons Senior Partner Chris Hope.

“Of course, having a Relocation Agent specialist in a team is also great for our relocating customers.”

Jaki said: “I am proud to be part of Dawsons who are the RAN selected agent aiding clients who move out of our area and reassuring them that the agents we refer them to are of the same high standard as ourselves.

“We expect to provide trust and quality of service and along with other elite agents across the country, we aim to provide a special service to ease the transition of clients relocating.”

Corey said: “Involving our clients with other RAN agents across the country makes the transaction progress a lot smoother as we can keep a close link with the other agents involved in the chain.

“Being an Accredited Relocation Specialist gives me a great starting point, which no other local agents can offer, for my future development within the company.”

Richard Tucker, RAN’s Managing Director, says it is important to have reputable local RAN agents such as Dawsons.

“Selected by us as the best independent estate agent to represent the Network in the Swansea area spanning as far as Llanelli, Dawsons have proved themselves as the area’s local expert,” said RAN’s Managing Director Richard Tucker.

“So with the addition of an in-house Relocation Network specialist, they have gone one step further to provide relocating buyers and sellers with the very best customer service.”

Continue reading

dawsonscoffee

Estate agent hosts coffee morning to raise money for cancer charity

Generous staff at Dawsons Estate Agents raised £300 for Macmillan Cancer Support from a special coffee morning and cake sale.

The event at their branch in Walter Road was inundated with visitors from surrounding offices and members of the public.

“We organised it because I don’t think there is one member of staff here who has not been affected by cancer in some way or another,” said Branch Manager Nicola Fulford.

“All the cakes, cup cakes and sponges were donated by staff and friends. So it’s a big thank you to them that they made the morning possible.”

Added Nicola: “We were delighted by the generosity of everyone including those passers by who just came in off the street. Even our window cleaner came in for a coffee and a cake!”

Dawsons Senior Partner Chris Hope: “A big thank you should go out to Nicola and her staff for organising such a successful event and for such a great cause.”

Continue reading

Dawsons Marina11032014_19

Leading Swansea estate agent gets the Relocation Agent Network seal of approval

Dawsons Estate Agents has announced that they have been selected to be part of the Relocation Agent Network, an independent network of agents serving Wales, England and Scotland.

The independent estate agent is now officially Swansea’s Local Expert, and while continuing to deliver a range of property services from their eight branches, Dawsons will provide the national touch to ensure those looking to move in or out of the area have the expertise they need to make their transition with confidence and clarity.

“We are privileged to have been selected as the ‘best of the best’ within Swansea and Llanelli,” said Chris Hope, Senior Partner at Dawsons.

“Besides dealing with clients’ relocation needs, there are many advantages to being involved in such a scheme. With regular forums of representatives from individual regions, Dawsons is in a positive position to receive first-hand information regarding how market trends are changing giving us and our clients the means to adapt to current market conditions.”

As a Relocation Agent Network member, Dawsons will be able to provide great agent contacts for clients moving to a new area. Their representatives will even individually introduce those looking to relocate to an agent so they can get the information they need to make a sound decision about their new home area.

“Those selling will also have a distinct advantage thanks to direct access to the network of motivated buyers who are moving from other parts of the country into Swansea and Llanelli,” added Chris.

“These buyers are initially only introduced to Dawsons as agents of the network, therefore Dawsons clients get the first opportunity to find the right buyers who are moving into the area from around the country.

“No other Swansea or Llanelli based agent can offer this unique service, and we look forward to helping clients throughout the region find their next new home, whether they are moving into the area or a little further afield,” explained Chris.

Continue reading

dawsonsfacepainting

Estate agent joins in Mumbles summer night’s extravaganza

Staff at Dawsons Estate Agents office in Mumbles offered free face painting, balloons and sweets as part of the village’s Summer Night’s Dream event on Thursday night.

Newton Road was shut to traffic from 6pm until 10pm on Thursday evening with a host of activities going on including a Samba Parade, a general street parade and The Wave Stage.

“We were busy all night. We gave away more than 60 balloons and it was great to see so many families out and about in Newton Road having so much fun,” said Mumbles Branch Manager Tom Hope. Continue reading

dawsonsjosummerfieldtalbottrio

Expanding South Wales Estate Agents make key Sales Director appointment

Leading Estate Agents Dawsons has made a significant appointment by announcing Joanne Summerfield-Talbot as Director of Residential Sales.

It is a challenging new role that Dawsons has created due to the need to provide ‘excellent customer service’ in conjunction with improving sales success and the overall expansion of the company.

“Joanne will be responsible to research and communicate with other estate agents across the country, looking to utilize new ideas to improve the overall ‘buying/selling experience’ of the Swansea estate agency market within Dawsons,” said Dawsons Senior Partner Chris Hope.

“We already have a Director of Residential Lettings in Ricky Purdy and we felt we needed to counter balance that with a Director of Residential Sales and Joanne fits everything we were looking for in someone with expertise in both sales and management. She is a perfect blend to direct the sales department.

Joanne, 49, began her career in estate agency in 1983, working her way through the ranks to senior manager at a well-known independent agency heading up their Swansea Sales operation.

She joined Dawsons 12 years ago, initially in their Auction Department before becoming manager at the firm’s Gorseinon Branch in 2007, enjoying great success year on year.

“Due to the continued success and expansion of the company the role of ‘Director of Residential Sales’ has been created and I am so thrilled to be given the opportunity by the Partners,” said Joanne.

“Of course there will be challenging times ahead as in all industries.  However, I feel I am more than ready and capable to meet the demands.

“I have a particular interest in training and the development of staff and systems so as to collectively ensure what organisation changes/business policies and legal compliance are necessary, in our ever changing industry.  So as to maintain our number one position as Swansea’s leading estate agent competing in future property markets. “

Joanne’s daily activities will include being the day-today point of contact for Dawsons’ eight sales branches, as well as recruitment, training and continuous development of all sales staff, reviewing and implementing new business policies and ultimately driving Dawsons forward to maintain Dawsons as Swansea’s leading agent.

Continue reading

viewshot

From run-down house, to dream family home – one family tells their home story of a self-build project

We were so glad to hear from one of our families who bought a property from us and transformed it into their dream home. They saw potential in a small run-down house in the village of Pwll and began to convert it into their ideal home that ticked all of their boxes. Now they reflect on their journey through the whole process.

Elgin Road in Pwll, an area that wouldn’t first come to mind when searching for a dream home, is where our vendor found their “forever home” after exhausting the property market to no avail.

After what our vendor would describe as a moment of madness by her husband, the pair found themselves in a little village called Pwll facing an “old tiny run-down house.” Our vendor’s reaction was “why on earth would he bring me here?”, but her husband asked her to look beyond the house and there it was, a breathtaking view that sealed the purchase of this tiny run down house within just five minutes of being there!

This was the moment in which they decided this was the location for their dream home, and that they were going to build that dream home to match and to enjoy with family and friends.

The benefit of building your own home, according to our vendor, is that you can make your criteria ‘tick sheet’ a reality. Our vendor’s tick sheet was quite lengthy and included many factors that had prompted their plans to move, factors such as needing space for their three young teenagers to hang out with friends, whilst also wanting to be close to their ageing parents.

viewshot

Elgin Road is a home that offers something for all members of the family; it boasts generous room sizes and a self-contained living accommodation that’s ideal for a teenager or relative to live in. This is all without mentioning one of the main focuses of the build, the property’s outstanding views. The lounge and bedrooms have their own balconies where the family can sit out and admire the same view that convinced them to buy what they will always know as “the tiny run-down house”.

lounge 1deckingbedroom

The family are now able to enjoy a once unthought-of location that has links to the millennium costal path, beach walks for the dogs, and strolls to the local pub for a quiet evening meal and drink, all within just a five minute walk.

Has this family’s venture got you thinking about your next property?

Dawsons_004

Support for Mortgage Interest – the changes under the radar

With the changes in buy-to-let tax relief and the potential rise, yet again, in interest rates dominating the economic headlines, you could be forgiven for missing a small but important change made by the government during the 2015 summer budget.

It has not been shouted about, nor has it been explained particularly well but, within the next three years, some rather dramatic changes to the Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI) benefit are to be enacted.

Oliver Adair of Mortgage Advice Bureau discusses the benefits of SMI, the changes that are to be made within the next couple of years and how they could, potentially, affect home-owners.

What is Support for Mortgage Interest?

SMI can assist home-owners with the costs of their mortgage payments, though it should be noted that the scheme will not pay off your mortgage for you.

It will, however, contribute to paying off the mortgage interest.

The government will make interest payments on the first £200,000 of your outstanding mortgage directly to your lender for the period of time that you cannot afford to.

The amount that the government pays is based on its own specific interest rate known as the SMI Rate. This currently sits at 3.12 per cent but, with interest rates set to rise in 2016, this will increase alongside the Bank of England Bank Rate.

Can anyone apply for SMI?

To take advantage of the scheme, you need to be on some form of income-based benefit such as income support, Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA), employment and support allowance or pension credit.

Once these benefits stop, through you returning to work or working more hours, the government will stop making SMI payments.

Importantly, whilst there are no caps or limits for other benefits, if you are claiming JSA and have applied for SMI, you should be aware that the government payments made to your lender will only last a period of two years.

So, what changes have been made?

After claiming SMI, the first payments are made 13 weeks after application. However, it was announced during the Summer Budget that, from April 2016, this first period will be dramatically increased to 39 weeks after the home-owner has applied.

Particular notice should also be paid to the word “benefit” as, form April 2018, SMI will become a loan.

Why is this important?

Simply put – it is a loan. You will have to pay any money you get given back, plus interest (albeit at particularly low rates).

It is still in its early stages and is not yet confirmed but, if made law, anyone claiming SMI will have to pay back any amount that the government pay into their mortgage when they return to work or when they sell their property.

Seek advice…

With these changes potentially having a large effect on home-owners, it is important to speak to a professional mortgage adviser who will be able to guide you through the next steps in making sure that you receive as much help as possible.

Treherne

Leading Swansea estate agents warns landlords on new Welsh Assembly rules

Dawsons Estate Agents are advising on a dramatic and imminent change in lettings legislation that will mean landlords and letting agents throughout Wales having to be licensed.

The exact date of that implementation has yet to be announced by the Welsh Assembly Government but Rent Smart Wales, the WAG agency providing guidance and information for landlords, agents and tenants, was launched ahead of the implementation of the Housing (Wales) Act 2014.

The new legislation and Rent Smart Wales will replace the existing voluntary scheme, which has been operated by Cardiff Council on behalf of all local authorities in Wales.

Although the Rent Smart Wales website is not yet fully operational agents and landlords will be able to apply for licences through it.

The scheme will require all private landlords to register both themselves and their properties. It will allow tenants to check whether their landlord is registered.

If the landlord wants to manage their own property, they will need to undertake training and demonstrate they are “fit and proper”.

Landlords who do not have a licence to manage their own properties would have to appoint a licensed agent to manage the property on their behalf. The agent will also have to undergo approved training.

Basically, if you own or manage a house in Wales, occupied by someone other than yourself in return for a rent, this new law will almost certainly apply to you.

After the first year of operation, enforcement powers will be introduced in autumn 2016, including fixed penalties and prosecutions.

Rent Smart Wales aims to raise standards in the private rented sector in Wales with the introduction of a new law requiring the registration and licensing of landlords and agents.

After the initial year of operation, in autumn 2016, the range of enforcement powers in the Housing Act (such as fixed penalty notices and prosecutions) will be introduced.

Landlords and agents found to be ignoring their new obligations will have action taken against them by local authorities and the licensing authority.

dawsonsawardpic

South Wales estate agency takes gold at national award ceremony

Dawsons Estate Agents are celebrating after picking up a prestigious national gold award at a ceremony in London.

The renowned south Wales property firm has been named Wales Lettings Agency of the Year at The Lettings Agency of the Year Awards 2015 in association with The Sunday Times and The Times and sponsored by Zoopla Property Group.

Dawsons received the award from six-time world champion marathon ace, Paula Radcliffe MBE at a glittering ceremony at The Lancaster London Hotel opposite Hyde Park where 550 agents from across the UK had gathered.

The award has shown steady progression over the last few years – in 2013 Dawsons won bronze and last year silver.

Ricky Purdy, Director of Residential Lettings, said: “Winning this prestigious award really is an achievement, and is acknowledgement to our staff of their efforts and high service standards.

“Winning silver in 2014 gave our department and staff the goal of gold in 2015, what great recognition of the work involved so to achieve this target.”

But he said Dawsons would not be resting on their laurels.

“We`ll continue to improve, add to our systems, and raise the bar of customer service,” insisted Ricky.

“Of course, the reasons for this are for the benefit of our current and future clients, with Dawsons continuously striving to emulate the industries leaders meaning staying at the top of lettings within Wales is now our new objective.”

Award winners were decided following a rigorous and thorough judging process by a panel of 20 industry experts who assessed initial entry submissions before conducting an extensive review of the entrants, which included over 150 hours of telephone interviews and independent mystery shopping exercises.

The whole of the judging process was overseen by The Property Ombudsman, Christopher Hamer, and David Cox, Managing Director designate of ARLA acted as Arbiter.

The panel of judges commented: “Dawsons has the largest branch network in its location and it has achieved its market share through a mix of targeted marketing and excellent word of mouth referrals.

“The team achieves an exemplary viewing-to-let ratio and accuracy of rents quoted. Brand awareness winning new instructions alongside extensive retention activity for their valued existing clientele is key.

“Landlords can access a number of services such as bespoke insurance services. Dawsons has also worked hard to build affiliations with many professional bodies and it leverages these associations for the benefit of tenants and landlords.

“Dawsons has jumped from the bronze in 2013, to silver in 2014, and to the gold this year – its success is well deserved.”

Now in its sixth year as a dedicated competition, these awards have become widely recognised as the most prestigious and difficult to win, especially as there were more entrants than ever before this year.

Continue reading

Swansea & south Wales estate agents blog