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‘Ethical’ buy-to-let investment puts money into affordable homes

A property investment claiming to be an ethical alternative to buy-to-let helps individuals invest in affordable housing.

Reap, which stands for Real Estate Annuity Plan, aims to offer people a regular return on their cash while using the money to tackle the housing crisis.

The scheme is offered by Equfund, whose core business involves bringing empty properties back into use.

It uses investors’ money to offer loans to social enterprises providing affordable housing.

Minimum investments start at £15,000 and people earn 3% a year on their cash.

What are the advantages of the scheme?

Following a raft of tax hikes and new regulations, the buy-to-let sector is no longer as appealing to investors as it once was.

Reap enables people to invest in property without all the associated hassle of being a landlord and the risk of having no income during void periods.

It provides a fixed regular income for investors with no hidden fees.

All properties are covered by rent guarantee insurance, so investors still receive an income even if the tenant falls into arrears.

The initial investment period is for five years, after which investors can access their money after giving 90 days’ notice.

People can also gain satisfaction from knowing that their savings are being used to help others.

What are the downsides?

Perhaps the biggest factor investors should be aware of is that investments in Reap are not covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme in the way that traditional savings providers are.

The scheme pays single account holders compensation of up to £85,000 to cover money they lose as a result of their provider going insolvent.

Reap points out, however, that its loans are secured against properties, and it never lends more than 85% of a property’s value, offering investors some security.

Investors’ legal interests in properties are also registered with the Land Registry.

Reap invests in affordable housing, so its rents are deliberately set at a lower level than market rates.

As a result, the 3% return you receive on your money, while higher than you would obtain from a fixed rate savings account, may be lower than the yield you could achieve by purchasing a buy-to-let property.

Finally, while the scheme does not have some of the disadvantages of investing directly into property, such as maintenance costs, investors will also not benefit from any increase in property values.

What other property investments are there?

Property ISAs offer an alternative for savers who would like to gain exposure to the housing market.

The tax-free investments, such as the one offered by Zoopla’s partner, pool investor’s cash into a REIT and use the money to purchase buy-to-let homes across UK cities.

Unlike Reap, investors benefit from both the rental income and any increases in the value of the properties purchased.

However, the return is not guaranteed at a fixed amount, as is the case with Reap and you can only invest up to £20,000 each tax year.

Top 3 takeaways

  • A property investment which claims to be an ethical alternative to buy-to-let helps individuals invest in affordable housing.
  • Reap uses investors’ money to offer loans to social enterprises providing affordable housing.
  • Minimum investments start at £15,000 and people earn 3% a year on their cash.

At Check 4 Houses we are passionate about providing a professional, reliable service that is as stress-free as possible.

Please give us a call on 01252 819725 or contact us for a free, no obligation valuation of your property as well further advice and support. You can also download our Selling Guide.

From our head office in Fleet, we sell properties in FleetFarnboroughAldershotBasingstokeCamberleyYateleyFarnham and beyond. We can sell your home from just £699 or 0.5% +VAT – saving you thousands in agency fees.

Beat the pet pong and sell your home

So you have taken the plunge to market your home for sale, many people have viewed your home but so far no offers yet. The feedback is favourable yet the house still remains unsold…

If you have pets and find yourself in this very situation – read on. People returning from a viewing are very forthcoming with their feedback and would be happy to say that the property doesn’t have the desired downstairs loo or that the garden just isn’t big enough for their 3 children to happily play in. However, if the house smells of dogs or cat’s people can be totally put off but in most cases they just won’t say. This is because we are nation of animal lovers and people know it can be a sensitive issue. The trouble is it can put people off from returning.

Unfortunately, the pet pong often permeates the whole house, although many owners aren’t aware of it because they get so used to it. Visitors however will usually be able to quickly sniff out the fact that they are entering a house where dogs or cats live.

Of course, considering how much joy they bring, dealing with muddy paw prints and hair on the furniture is part and parcel of living with a pet, but there are steps you can take to help minimise the whiff factor.

But a word of warning dogs and cats like to be able to smell themselves in their own home, so the house should always smell of them at least a bit. Over cleaning to the point of completely removing the smell could lead to pets marking their territory and this ‘wet’ outcome is far more undesirable!

So how do you stop your whole house smelling of Dogs & Cats?

  1. Wash the cats/dogs beds
    Make sure the bed is odour resistant or at least washable. Usually, beds have a washable cover that you can slip off and put in the washing machine.
  2. Wash everything regularly
    If you let the cats and dogs on the furniture – we suggest using throws that can be easily removed and washed thoroughly.
  3. Brush the smells away
    Groom your pets regularly rather than bathing them. You can keep their coat clean without washing out their essential oils. Bathing can cause problems and make matters worse.
  4. Check their ears and teeth
    Smells particularly from dogs don’t just come from a dog’s coat; they can also travel from their ears and mouth, so check these regularly. Do take your pet to the vet if you smell or spot something that could be a problem.
  5. Use an air purifier
    Air purifiers can cut down on airborne odours, and a good one will not only filter particular matter but also will kill bacteria and fungi in the air.

At Check 4 Houses we are passionate – not only about our furry friends! But also about providing a professional, reliable service that is as stress-free as possible.

Please give us a call on 01252 819725 or contact us for a free, no obligation valuation of your property as well further advice and support. You can also download our Selling Guide.

From our head office in Fleet, we sell properties in Fleet, Farnborough, AldershotBasingstokeCamberleyYateleyFarnham and beyond.

We can sell your home from just £699 or 0.5% +VAT – saving you thousands in agency fees.

10 top tips to instantly improve your home – and sell ability

1. Paint your front door (easy)

When potential buyers arrive at your home, the front door is the first thing they see. It’s also the most often neglected area of a home. A new look entrance can be achieved in a simple weekend project involving the preparation to the door and then the application of two well-applied coats of paint. You may want to consider a new look for your door – if you currently have a high gloss dark coloured door, would a matt finish in a pastel shade suit your home and make it stand out from your neighbours. While you are tidying up the front door also think about the general area. Replacing the house number adds a nice finishing touch.

2. Repaint a room (easy)

If your home feels tired this can easily be resolved by just repainting one room and this job can usually be completed in one day. After you have chosen your colour you need to ensure you have the correct type of paint. If you are painting a kitchen or bathroom you should remember that the paint has to be suitable for a high humidity environment, vinyl silk emulsion is a good choice. The key to achieving a good finish is good preparation; this is essential before you start any painting. Before you start remember to fill any cracks with smooth decorators filler, and then rub down when the filler has dried. Ensure all the walls and paintwork are dust free and then wash them all with sugar soap and rinse with clean water. After protecting all your furniture you are ready to start painting, start with the ceiling, move onto the walls and then do the woodwork. If the first coat does not produce the desired finish you may need to apply a second coat.

3. Declutter your home (easy)

This advice is often given when you are preparing your home for sale but it can be relevant to any time. In the busy lives we all lead it is very easy to accumulate piles of paperwork or possessions we no longer require. A cluttered home will appear smaller and it won’t be a relaxing place to live in. Be sensible about this project though, it makes much more sense to break it down into separate rooms, don’t get so motivated you try and tackle the whole house – the motivation will soon diminish! Before you start designate an area for items to go to a charity shop, and another area for general refuse. Start working in one area, don’t do more than a couple of hours and come back and finish the room before moving on. Once this room is done it will motivate you to conquer the others!

4. Clean the grout in your bathroom (medium)

Over the years the grout in your bathroom can become dirty and this results in a bathroom that looks grimy. As grout is porous it easily absorbs dirt and grease and the chemicals contained in soap and shampoo. Although it can be a long slow task cleaning the grout will easily return your bathroom to its former glory. The first method to try is to use an old toothbrush and a specialised cleaner to tackle the grime. If the cleaner has anti-mold qualities it will help to break down the mold and also help to stop it reappearing. If possible try to keep the room ventilated, as the fumes from some cleaners can be toxic. If this method doesn’t produce good results you can purchase a grout remover and carefully remove the existing grout. You can then apply a topcoat of new grout and the bathroom will look like new.

5. Lay a wooden floor (medium)

Adding a wooden floor to your home adds a highly desirable finish to a room and is also a great finish to live with. Laying the floor is a DIY task that anyone with simple skills can do, you just need a willingness to plan, be able to work methodically and some patience! There are hundreds of different types of flooring available, and choosing one designed for DIY will help you in the task. Many floors simply click together allowing you to produce a perfect finish. Before you start ensure you have all the tools you need, and also purchase the correct underlay – you also need to decide which way you want the floor to run. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to lay the floor, many boards comes with a simple locking mechanism to join the boards together with a perfect join. You will probably need to cut the final boards to fit, and then either reapply the skirting board or apply a wooden baton to cover the expansion gap.

6. Decorate a feature wall with wallpaper (medium)

Adding a feature wall to your home can add a very modern aspect to any room and liven up your interior, and if this is your first time wallpapering doing just one wall is a good introduction. Choosing a high quality thicker paper will allow you to produce a good result easier, and a plain textured paper is an easier choice than one requiring pattern matching. As with most DIY tasks good preparation is the key, ensure your wall is cleaned, washed and dry. You can now start to cut your paper; the lengths should be cut around 100mm longer than you require allowing for trimming. If you have a paper with a large pattern hang the first piece in the center of the room, otherwise start in a corner. Remember to follow the manufacturer instructions when choosing which paste to use. After the first piece gradually work your way to the edge of the walls, cutting each piece as you go until you have completed the wall.

7. Put up shelving / create storage (medium to easy).

Every home needs storage and adding shelving to your home can help you get organised. There is a huge selection of shelving available and you can have them in wood, MDF or glass – they can be either bought ready-made or you can buy the materials and make a shelf that will fit exactly. Before you begin to hang the shelves you need to know what type of walls you have. For brick or concrete walls you will need to use heavy duty wall plugs, if you have stud walls you can either screw into the stud or use hollow wall fittings. This is one place where it is definitely worth spending extra money to get decent quality fittings. Another important thing is to ensure you know if there are any pipes or cables in the wall, you can buy a tester to help you with this. You can now mark the position of your brackets and after using a spirit level to ensure they are even, drill the holes and mount the brackets using the plugs and screws. You can now add your shelf and remember to screw it to the brackets to add extra rigidity.

8. Install coving (medium)

Adding coving to your home will give any room a finished look and it can add a nice architectural detail to plain rooms, especially important if your home is recently built. Coving is available in several different materials and price ranges. Polystyrene is the cheapest and easiest to install but it will require more painting and due to its construction it can be damaged easily. The best quality coving is made of plaster and requires less painting; it can also be purchased in many authentic period styles. Before you start the job you will need a saw and a coving mitre block to cut the corners. Start on the longest wall, cut the coving it to length and after applying good quality coving adhesive place the coving on the wall. To ensure a good fix you can use small nails above and below the coving to hold it in place until the adhesive has set. You can now move around the room using the mitre block to cut the angles for each corner. When you have finished you may need to apply some filler to the joints to get a smooth finish before you decorate. You can then apply a couple of coats of paint to finish the job.

9. Hang a new (internal) door (hard)

Many homes, especially new builds, are often fitted with inferior quality internal doors. Upgrading the doors to higher quality is a medium skill DIY task that immediately improves the appearance of your interior. Internal doors are available from many DIY stores or you can have them made bespoke, although this option will produce more solid doors that may require more people to install them. After removing the old door you may need to cut the new door if needed, prepare for the new hinges and fittings and then hang the new door. This part of the process is usually much easier if you can have two people helping, one to hold the door while the other fixes it in place. You should now decorate the new door if it requires painting, and then finish the job by attaching the new door handles.

10. Hire a handyman for a few hours (very easy!!)

If you have a list of jobs you want to get done but really don’t know how to do them, don’t just keep putting them off – consider hiring a handyman for a few hours. A handyman service can help you with plumbing, electrics, decorating or any general household DIY you don’t know how to do. Start by taking a walk around your home to list everything that you think needs doing as if you are going to hire someone; try to get everything done at the same time. Then seek a recommendation – try asking on Facebook first, or if not perhaps speak to a neighbour, or simply find a handyman via the Internet. When you agree a price for the work make sure to ask how long it will take. On the day they visit ensure everything on your list is done, and then sit back and enjoy your home.

The changing face of estate agents – Fleet & Farnborough Connection Magazine

From bricks to clicks and hybrids.  Estate agents have certainly changed over the years.

Check 4 Houses founder and director Paul Hemmings spoke to Fleet & Farnborough Connection magazines about what a hybrid estate agent means.

Can you really get the best of both worlds?

Click on the image to read the full article and find out.

Connection magazine - the changing face of estate agents

For any more information on how to sell your property or a free, no obligation valuation of your house, flat, apartment or bungalow please give us a call on 01252 819725 or contact us.   We can sell your property from as little as £599 or 0.5%+VAT, saving you thousands compared to high street agents.