Holborn Property Meet – Property Markets Updates

Holborn Property Meet – Property Markets Updates

 

We keep delivering great content at the Holborn Property Meet, with our director Francesco leading the market updates.

Francesco is one of the Co-Founders of the networking group and is a true believer in the power of connections.

If you have questions regarding property investment, or run a property related business and want to meet clients or other likeminded professionals, join Francesco at the monthly Holborn Property Meet events.

In the last couple of months, investors, architects, lawyers, agents, and even complete newbies have gathered around Francesco to hear about AGAPE’s latest developments and our readings of the market.

In particular, if you want to find out how we can help you in your property journey, don’t hesitate to contact us

We are here to help agents or landlords rent or sell their properties fast, help investors connect with the right projects, and help all property professionals maximise exposures to a qualified customer pool.

At the next Holborn Property Meet, join us there and see for yourself!

Now Accepting Bitcoin!

Now Accepting Bitcoin!

From today we are aiming to bring UK property into the digital and decentralised 21st century by accepting bitcoin!

We’re piloting bitcoin, the world’s most widely used digital currency, as a purchase option on AGAPEHOMES.com because we’re incredibly excited to bring you the choice and flexibility this payment option offers.

As a pilot scheme, we are also considering bring about rent payments in cryptocurrencies for our tenants, which could truly mean taking our property portfolio into the 21st century!

I’m excited to share that in the coming weeks we’ll be offering special promotions where customers will be able to save 10 percent off on our consultancy projects when paying with Bitcoin!

If you want to make a purchase with us or want to discuss payments in bitcoin now, simply email us at info@agapehomes.co.uk and tell us which service you are interested in.

We will respond as soon as your email is received with a unique reference number, which you will be able to add as a text message onto a transaction, and with the DISCOUNTED price in bitcoin.

At that point, simply send payments to our address and the deal is sealed!

So just what is Bitcoin?

Bitcoin is a distributed peer-to-peer network offering a payment system based on  a completely digital currency. Bitcoin payments can be made easily from anywhere in the world, and offer reduced payment processing costs. Bitcoins can be transferred instantly and securely between any two people in the world.

 

How do I get started with bitcoin?

To acquire bitcoin, you’ll need to create a bitcoin wallet on a site such as LocalBitcoin or Coinbase, or exchanges such as Kraken or Bittrex. This is the account from which you can send and receive bitcoin. Once you have a wallet, you can purchase bitcoin on those websites. Bitcoin can also be mined, though this requires high levels of processing power.

 

How can I support you in bringing Bitcoins into property services?

Please, send a bitcoin donation to our address and share this article to support our efforts in bringing landlords and property companies into a decentralised currency world!

 

Corporate Lets

Corporate Lets

Corporate Lets

A different rental strategy for single let properties

What exactly are corporate lets?

Corporate lets, also known as company lets, are tenancy agreements that exist between a landlord and a limited company. A person (or people) will still reside in the property, but the company will be named as the tenant, and the occupant will be a sub-tenant or licensee.

Companies most commonly rent properties in order to provide short-term accommodation for contractors or members of staff who are temporarily relocating. This provides several benefits over hotel or bed and breakfast accommodation, such as the costs saved for the company and the enhanced quality of living for the member of staff.

Why corporate lets?

According to the Prime Location blog, corporate lets are not only common for companies in need of housing employees, but also among the expatriate community. The landlord’s concern is that the various costs are paid, and that the company is fully accountable for any default of payments of any of these costs.

Popular locations in London include Notting Hill Gate, Holland Park, Chelsea, Knightsbridge, Kensington, Croydon, parts of the West End, the City, Wapping and Docklands. However, corporate lets can happen anywhere a company needs (or is happy for) their employees or guests to live. Especially important for companies are good transport links to the sites where their employees must go. Due diligence is a must here and we recommend having the property listed on major property portals as well as privately pitched to possible company candidates (especially to their HR departments).

Right to rent and residents’ checks

Under the Immigration Act 2014, landlords are required to check the immigration status of prospective tenants and face penalties if they let their property out to tenants who are not eligible to live and work in the UK.

According to the Home Office, landlords offering corporate lets will not be required to conduct right to rent checks, as ‘right to work’ checks are already conducted by the company, who will be the liable party should the occupant’s immigration status be called into question

Tenancy agreements

Many companies have their own tenancy agreements, which they insist on using. However, the landlord usually reserves the right to review and propose amendments to the agreement. In the event that the company does not have its own agreement, the landlord’s agent should be able to provide one. In this case, both parties reserve the right to review and propose reasonable amendments. If an agent is not involved, the landlord should produce an agreement from a solicitor.

You don’t necessarily need a solicitor to draft the agreement and in our opinion you should, in any case, be the one propising the clauses in it. Having said this, you should definitely have someone qualified in property law to check your lease and confirm it is both exhaustive and legally sound for what you need.

Remember that break clauses, renewal conditions, deposit, rights over the property, allowed residents, and every single aspect of the tenancy MUST be defined on the lease. THERE IS NO HOUSING ACT to fall back onto if you forget to specify “what happens if…”

Since the Housing Act doesn’t apply, you can only terminate the tenancy at the expiry of the term (if there is no renewal) or with a notice to quit.

Licensing and HMO rules

With the right agreement in place, a corporate let can be an amazing tool to get around licensing fees and local HMO restrictions. The right agreement for this would prevent the company from subletting and would limit the number of occupiers to below the “mandatory” licencing scheme. This worked for us in the areas where we operate, but we strongly advise you to check with your local council first. We always ask for a written (email) confirmation from the licensing department stating that no additional licensing is needed when the property is used by a corporation but no one is actually RESIDING there.

Getting finance

Corporate lets are trickier to negotiate than assured shorthold tenancies. In addition, once the lease is signed, the landlord has no say over who occupies their property (unless the lease specifies who the allowed occupants are and the landlord reserves the right to approve any change to these). Between these factors and the more antiquated legislation that governs company lets, buy-to-let mortgage lenders often shy away from funding this type of investment, viewing it as higher-risk than more traditional tenancies.

An alternative arrangement, which is becoming more common, is the company-sponsored let. In this arrangement, the tenant will be the occupant; he or she will sign a standard assured shorthold tenancy agreement, and the company will pay their rent. The tenant and not the company will be held responsible for any damages to the property, and the tenancy will be subject the more modern provisions of the Housing Act 1996.

The problem with the latter arrangement is that most of the legal advantages that a corporate let allows would not actually apply: the occupiers would in fact be tenants on ASTs. HMO rules, council licensing, deposit protection, protection from eviction, automatic renewal, right to quite enjoyment, right to exclusive residence, and so forth will all apply to the tenancy.

Here at AGAPE Properties we have secured finance on properties let on a corporate basis by using commercial mortgages (we often use them anyway because we are a company and not an individual landlord) and by making the company that rents from us disclose in advance the details of the property occupiers. This way we avoid individual people becoming tenants on ASTs and we can still operate legally withing the terms of our mortgages.

Checking the company

It might feel safe to assume that a company will be a more reliable tenant than an individual, but you should check a corporate tenant as diligently as any other.

  1. Use the Companies House service to get information about the company such as its registration details, previous names and directors’ details.
  2. Request, from the company, details of the employee who will be occupying your property and consider credit-checking them.
  3. Also request rent guarantees from one or two company directors and conduct credit checks on the guarantors.
  4. Take a damage deposit. Note that you needn’t protect this in a deposit protection scheme, as the requirement to do so applies only to assured shorthold tenancies. If the company will not pay a deposit (which many prefer not to do), you may need to ask that they sign a letter of indemnity against unpaid bills and damages, or that a clause to this effect appears in the lease. You can also state in the lease that the deposit will also cover unpaid rent

Finding tenants

Companies that frequently relocate employees often have internal relocation services that are administered by human resources departments. Other companies might use external specialist relocation agents to find properties for their staff.

Relocation agents tend to look through established lettings agents in order to find properties, so ensure that you use an accredited letting agent or estate agent to source your tenants.

To maximise your visibility, though, you may also want to advertise the prperty directly to companies that could need a pied-à-terre in your area. Ask to their HR departments, send emails to them, hung posters and fliers in local hospitals or big construction sites. You never know when the right person will spot it.

Managing the property

Many corporate tenants expect (and indeed pay for) premium service, providing which might quickly become difficult for the DIY landlord. Agents on the other side may be clueless about what to do or charge a fortune for inexpensive things such as company referencing. First of all you would need a commercial lease, not an AST, and many agents may not know any more than you do about these, especially for a residential property used in this specific commercial way.

Below we provide a checklist for things you need to know before deciding how to use an agent. At this point, though, it is vital to remember one thing: agents should be providing you with a service worth your money. Don’t take their standard offer on something that is not standard! You tell them your terms: DECIDE WHAT YOU WANT THEM TO DO AND BE WEARY OF “ALL INCLUSIVE” PACKAGES. Here at AGAPE we usuall employ our agents on bespoke deals, rather than signing up for what is best for them.

We often take care of taking professional pictures, referencing tenants (which for companies is very easy and free on companies house), arranging for inventories and drafting contracts ourselvels (often outsorcing all of the above to specialists who are anyway chaper than the agents). We then counter-offer a reduced fee to the agent by highlighting that they will only have to show the property around, list it on Rightmove and Zoopla and “sell it” to the right tenants. Sometimes agents’ packages are actually competitive in price, but ALWAYS make sure they KNOW WHAT TO DO with commercial leases and corporate let managemet.

Final checklist:

If you decided that corporate lets would help you maximise the returns from your portfolio, here is a final recap of what you need to do:

  1. Check if the property in a suitable location for either banks, construction companies, hospitals, universities, or other corporations with staff needing to relocate for medium to short periods. Ask HR departments, enquire with several letting agents or sometimes just “pop on site” and ask.
  2. Make sure the property is furnished and ready to go (down to TV, fast broadband, and often an all inclusive rent)
  3. Take professional pictures
  4. Make sure you understand the legal framework of corporate lets: read the relevant Acts (see legislation below) and speak to your solicitor if you are still confused.
  5. Make sure you have arrangements for an inventory to be taken (or that you know how to take a PROFESSIONAL one yourself)
  6. Negotiate a deal with an agent to have your property listed and marketed: remember that even if they say “we offer this rate”, you can always COUNTER OFFER.
  7. Whatever service you outsorce, make sure you have a good and trustworthy relationship with the other party
  8. Make a deal with a property manager, a handyman, or local tradesman so that property issues can be resolved quickly and without you running around like a madman
  9. Advertise your property on the open market, ideally on SpareRoom as well (as a whole property) and make sure you email companies about your service
  10. Agree on the terms of your tenancy and write or agree upon an appropriate lease (you can download one of our templates below, for free)
  11. Don’t let the tenant push you around, especially their accountancy department: it’s a business and they will try to squeeze the best conditions for them out of you. DON’T UNDER-SELL YOUR PROPERTY and only ever agree on terms that would work for you and for the extra management that this type of tenancy requires.
  12. Sign the lease only after the director or company officer has signed and initialled on behalf of the tenant (we use an online platform to facilitate this) – don’t forget to attach any addendum or gas safety certificate to the contract to be signed
  13. Take the first payment: you might need to invoice them for it.
  14. Have an inventory taken when the company take possession and ask them to sign it.
  15. Arrange for the right contacts to be provided to the company (such as agents, managers, handymen, and so forth) and set the house rules clear
  16. Be professional: firm and resolute but also customer friendly – the company is now your client and you want good clients to stick around and recommend you 😉
  17. Ask for a testimonial for when you will need to advertise again to other companies.
  18. Don’t forget to pay all the bills you promised to cover.
  19. …If in doubt: email us -> info@agapehomes.co.uk

**Free copy of our company let lease template**

Sign up below to download our latest commercial lease for free: you can adapt it to your property and make sure you don’t forget any bit you want cover.

Also make sure you check the legislation you are referring to, such as: The Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, The Landlord and Tenant Act 1954The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998.

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Download “Company Let Tenancy Agreement – Blank”

Download “Addendum form to lease contract”

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AGAPE joins forces with Holborn Property Meet

AGAPE joins forces with Holborn Property Meet

This week has only just started and it’s already rocking for us!

First, my personal accreditation from the London Landlord Accreditation Scheme and their national sister UKLAP has finally come through.

Then, we forged an incredible new partnership with the Holborn Property Meet, that will see me joining the organisation board of one of the fastest growing property meets in the City.

As a matter of fact, we also sold a property for one of our clients this week and are looking at restructuring our portfolio in Brighton to finally move into the HMO market ourselves.

I really can’t wait to getting started with all these new adventures in property.

Of course, this is just the beginning and I know the road ahead is still long. However, AGAPE is continuing on its steadfast growth and becoming part of the Holborn Property Meet hosting team will bring the game to a whole new level.

Fancy checking us out at our next networking event?

Join us at our next night! https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/holborn-property-meet-may-tickets-33780501389

Your ticket will include a complementary glass of wine and food canapé.

We are very much looking forward to seeing you there.

 

Francesco

 

 

Want to make £1000 today?

Want to make £1000 today?

We are looking for our next project. And we are happy to award £1000 to whomever helps us find it. Please read on if you want to know more about our finder’s fee scheme.

In the meantime, a little snapshot of our company. We are a fresh and dynamic property development and investment firm that has been refurbishing and redeveloping homes for the last 3 years.

Our mission is to offer quality developments for our buyers and tenants and bespoke investment opportunities for our investors.

We have now nearly completed our latest project and wanted to share a few pictures from the site.

With only one day left to completion, here is a sneaky preview of what we are set to achieve:

As you can see we are still finishing it off, but it already looks much better that what we initially found:

If you are curious about knowing how we can turn a house around in just a month, on a budget, and with this sort of results: get in touch! info@agapehomes.co.uk

Now, for the finder’s scheme: We are currenty looking for a 3 / 4 bedroom house with 2 receptions in Croydon or surrounding areas. We can buy very fast if the price is reasonable. Once, we even exchanged contracts just 2 weeks after agreeing the terms.

The ideal property right now would be something in needs of works or a quick sale or both, because we will need to carry out an extensive redevelopment program on it regardless of its present conditions.

If you own or know of a house that may tick these boxes, please let us know at 07469 455 030 or info@agapehomes.co.uk
We award £1000 to anyone who links us up with a propery we end up purchasing.
Have a great day.
Francesco

Learn with your eyes

Learn with your eyes

Humans have a natural bias for what’s aesthetic and well designed.

As property developers we should always aim at creating a well designed product. Improving the design of our properties (both aesthetics and use of space) is in fact the strongest weapon we have to:

1) Stand out from te crowd

2) Ensure clients’ satisfaction

3) Increse profit and decrease expenses in the long run

Of course, if the scale of the project is large enough, investing in design consultation from a specialist design firm may be one of the best ways to make sure your property product stands out in an increasingly competitive market.

However, smaller projects too should receive the appropriate attention to ensure the best clients (either tenants or buyers) will choose them over the competition.
At AGAPE we monitor the market all the time during our property searches and we noticed that many “newly refurbished” properties often end up being reduced and then sold or rented for not that much more than old tired ones. If they are sold or rented at all.

Almost always these properties happen to be what we call “magnolia disasters”. I’m sure we’ve all seen one of these: a property with a basic brown new kitchen, a brown cheap carpet, white square tiles in the bathroom and magnolia paint throughout.

Contractors call it “the blank canvas” and surely enough following this blueprint saves developers a few hundreds when refurbishing. As a matter of fact this model is so widespread that properties that have been “modernised” according to its standard are EVERYWHERE.

Now, here is the question: in a discount supermarket filled with unknown brands and similar packages, what do customers use as a reference for making a choice? Price, obviously.

Other question: why do people often end up buying something when going through a market, even if they had not planned for it?

Here the answer is less straightforward, but research in human psychology shows that people’s choices are often driven by their emotions first and only subsequently justified by reason.

Street food sellers have known this for thousands of years and my first lesson as a fruit market salesman was precisely that: “Make sure the stall is covered with luscious, colourful, abundant fruit -and offer loads of little tasters”

The bottom line is: in absence of a distinct set of appealing features, products can only hope to stand out because of being cheap.


When people choose to buy or rent a property they are making a purchase. Unless they are investors themselves, they will ask themselves 3 questions:

  1. Do I see myself living well here?
  2. Can I afford it?
  3. Is this the one I like the most? (If so and can’t afford it, am I sure I can’t afford it?)

A well designed property will tickle prospective buyers’ or tenants’ senses like the fresh produce on a full market stall. If it’s aesthetically pleasing, the property will push them to justify small defects, on the other hand an anonymous design will make them more inclined to haggle or even move on altogether.

Good design in the form of intelligent use of space and ease of use/access to the various features and fittings will then ensure that maintenance is minimised and that the living space becomes bigger (and appears even bigger).

This is not just some abstract idea: this is something we are all subject to and MUST be aware of all the time!

Sometime ago I moved home myself and it was definitely a sobering experience that pushed me to invest even more in making sure AGAPE’s design expertise is second to none.

As it turned out, despite being a property developer myself, I could not help but looking at properties with different eyes because this property was going to be My partner’s and My “home“.

This is one subtle difference between most property developers or builders and prospective tenants and buyers. The first ones look at properties as houses, the latter as homes.

(Can you see WHY the above kitchen is NOT appealing? Would you know how to quickly turning it around through well design, without overspending?)
During my few years of experience with AGAPE I must say that, unfortunately, one of the phrases I heard the most from both trades and agents is “you don’t need to spend to make such and such become that nice! at the end of the day this is not your home”. Usually they say this to justify a certain price and make you believe you can make more profit (and give them more money) if you save on certain cosmetic changes.

At the very beginnings of my career in property, I even listened to this advice once or twice.

Oh boy! How I wish now I had paid someone with more design experience back then to advise me better. Every penny I saved by listening to that advice at the start of my career I have later on lost with interest.

Thankfully, I quickly learned from my mistakes and I have since invested both in my personal design knowledge and in AGAPE’s range of consultants. Now, as a company, we have made of delivering quality properties that are also well-designed homes our company motto.

We are also here to assist others because we believe that sharing our knowledge will help both other investors, in their growth within the property market, and our brand, in establishing itself as a synonym of quality property development.

For those who want a 1-to-1 design advice on their developments/refurbishments, we have now launched a new product in our investment store (see Invest section of this website).

For those who want to check us out first, you can reach us at info@agapehomes.co.uk or go to our Contact us section. Calling or emailing us is free and you’ll be under no obligation to purchase any of our services.

Finally, for those of you who like to constantly learn from the world around us, here is a tip: look for good design or well-designed details in buildings around you. Then take pictures and notes!

You’d be surprised at how many sources of inspiration you’ll find: the boutique HMO where your friend lives in, your local airport, a new build designed by a big development corporation, the flat of an interior designer who hosts parties in your neighbourhood, and so on…

Here are some pictures I took recently with my phone as a source of inspiration for AGAPE’s team:







See you next time for another property top tip from AGAPE PROPERTIES.
-Francesco

AGAPE supports meditation and yoga for the prisoners of the UK!

AGAPE supports meditation and yoga for the prisoners of the UK!

This month we decided to pledge our support to the British charity The Prison Phoenix Trust by setting up a monthly contribution. The Prison Phoenix Trust is a charity that encourages prisoners in the development of their spiritual welfare, through the practices of meditation and yoga, working with silence and the breath.

The Prison Phoenix Trust offers personal support to prisoners around the UK and the Republic of Ireland through teaching, workshops, correspondence, books and newsletters – and to prison staff too. They work with people of any faith, or of none, and honour all religions.

According to a research article by Bilderbeck et al. published by Hindawi Publishing Corporation, there is emerging evidence that the practice of yoga may play a significant role in prison rehabilitation programmes. On top of this, we believe that just because a person has made mistakes -admittedly, sometimes big mistakes- we should not simply lock people away and forget about them. We should all, as a community, help one another overcome life’s dark moments and become better people day after day

Our director has worked alongside the ex Probation services (now called C.R.C.) back in 2015. At the time, he was working with the charity User Voice to improve the rehabilitation services provided to ex-offenders in the community and he has since remained very sensitive to the cause of improving the way the justice system treats convicted people.

“I am both a meditation and a yoga practitioner myself -said Francesco in the office today- and I know this stuff is powerful! Supporting the PPT and their work with the people society often forgets about is something we should all be proud of in this company.”

You can support PPT too, or just find out more about who they are on their website.

An insight into the company…

An insight into the company…

AGAPE Properties has two souls: we are home developers and we are investors. And we want to be the best.
Our core belief is that we should always stay true to the meaning of those two words. Developing for us means improving, offering what was not there before, transforming for the good of the community and of our clients: it’s a creative process and a work that should always try to leave the world a bit better off than it was before. Investing, on the other hand, means devoting one’s time, effort, energy and resources to a particular vision, with the expectation of a worthwhile result.
Profit? Money? That’s just a means. A part of the process. Indeed we need money to fuel or projects, and both us and our investors rightly expect a return on the initial financial input, but for us it’s not really about the sheer profit: it’s about building a solid legacy for our future and for our families.
This is what we believe, and this is what we work for: increasing the standards of leaving of our clients by providing quality homes, whilst ensuring investors get all the knowledge they need to invest safely and a healthy return on the capital invested.
For our tenants, we want to offer the best homes. We believe that both the design and the quality your home matters and that, even if you only rent a room for a few weeks from us, you should feel like that is not just a dwelling: but your home.

For investors and co-investors, we source exclusive opportunities on a daily basis. Our range of services includes the whole spectrum of brick and mortar investments. From packaged hands-off deals in properties we acquire, refurbish and rent out for you, to Joint Ventures and Lead Sourcing. We will advise you on all the possible aspects of your investment and make sure the short, medium, and long-term benefits of any recommended strategy match your unique requirements.

For home-owners and landlords, we provide a full list of services to help you achieve what you need in the most effective way. We can purchase properties quickly, if this is what is required, or we can work with your property over a period to achieve the best return whilst giving you peace of mind. We like to think creatively but effectively and to be realistic on each deal – our aim is always to deliver or over-deliver what we promise.

Our belief is that by working locally but reaching globally, we can connect the right people with the right properties. We strive for delivering bespoke quality properties since we believe that, by tailoring our products to the demands of the market, we can best serve both the investors and the end users.

New Website 2017

New Website 2017

It’s 2017 and AGAPE Properties keeps growing and promoting quality property developments across England and Wales.

After a fantastic 2016, where we entered the commercial property market and tackled our first commercial building redevelopment, we are now busy developing in Croydon, where we have set out to provide new high spec residential accommodation for a fair rental price.

Today we inaugurate our new website and feel really good about refreshing our online presence. We hope that this beautifully designed page will better reflect our company values, which aims at providing both high quality and great design in each and every development we undertake.

We thank our little sister AgapeSoft for this beautifully designed website and welcome any feedback about the new style.

— You can find more info about AgapeSoft on their web page —