Sarah Singer, a senior negotiator at Caxtons Chartered Surveyors, has been awarded the Best Letting Agent in Gillingham by allAgents in their 2017 People's Award for Customer Experience.
allAgents.co.uk is the UK's largest customer review website for the property industry where clients rate their letting agent depending upon the level of service they receive. Reviews comprise an overall ranking for the agency; responder's comments; agent's fees and the name of the negotiator that handled the transaction. allAgents then use the information when judging their annual awards.
Caxtons is delighted that Sarah has been rewarded in this way. Alan Stewart, Director & Head of Residential Lettings
& Property Management said that he is not at all surprised Sarah has received this accolade as she always goes out of her way to ensure that clients are provided with the best possible service.
Of 94 residential lettings and management property agents in the Canterbury, Kent area Caxtons is officially *number 1, having secured the most 'new instructions' in the 10-week period between 7th November 2016 and 17th January 2017.
According to latest statistics from Rightmove, with 294 instructions, Caxton beat its nearest registered rival into second place by a massive 120 more instructions. The total number of new instructions during the period was 611, meaning that Caxtons managed to capture almost 50% of the available 'new instruction' market.
In addition, and across the same time-period, Caxtons came top of the 'let agreed' table. Of the 66 registered residential lettings and management agents' offices in the area, Caxtons secured 89 of the 164 total residential properties let during that time – well in excess of 50% during what is traditionally a quiet season for moving home.
Duncan Reeves, Associate Director at Caxtons, said "We are delighted that both our Canterbury Student Lettings and Residential Lettings teams are reaping the rewards of all their hard work.
The past six months have been tough for the property sector, not only in Kent but country-wide. There has been much uncertainty following the referendum vote and new legislation has, and will, affect landlords and buy-to-let property. This means we, as residential lettings and management agents, have to be extremely diligent, professional, efficient and cost effective at what we do. And we not only have to please our landlord clients, but their tenants too.
"Kent is a lovely county to work and live in and Canterbury is a busy and desirable residential and university destination. At Caxtons we will continue to ensure we look after both landlords and tenants to the very best of our ability. And even if their time in Canterbury and the surrounding villages and towns in Kent is short, we will help them find - and hopefully enjoy - their new homes."
*Rightmove Intel Report statistics
By Charles Oliver BSc MSc FRICS FAAV MEWI FCIArb
If you are a leasehold flat owner you probably have a lease that began with a term of more than 21 years. Typically leases begin with 99 or 125-year terms. If you have a long lease you should be aware that as time goes on, the value of your lease will go down.
But did you know that it could be difficult to sell your flat, particularly when the lease has fewer than 60 years left to run? Why - because most purchasers will have difficulty getting a mortgage on the property.
In order to improve your situation, and as long as you and your flat qualify, you are entitled to extend your lease by an extra 90 years at no rent, but you must have owned the flat for 2 years (although that does not apply if you are collectively buying the freehold*).
The fee to extend your lease will depend on how much ground rent you pay, and how long your lease has left to run; the shorter the lease, the more you pay. The price takes account of the loss of the ground rent income to your landlord and the fact that he will have to wait a further 90 years before receiving full market rent. If the lease has less than 80 years to run, then the price will increase as the calculation also takes account of the value of your flat now and after you have extended the lease because your landlord is entitled to half of the increase between the value of his and your interests added together, before and after your purchase, called "marriage value". You will also have to pay all legal and surveyors costs.
In order to extend your lease there is a procedure with strict deadlines that must be followed. You are entitled to ask for information about the landlord, and he is entitled to visit the property to value it. The landlord may ask for 10% deposit (of the price offered by you, the leaseholder) and proof of your entitlement to extend the lease. Before you begin make sure you have your documents available and your finance ready to pay.
An alternative option would be to *purchase the freehold from the landlord. As long as the building qualifies, the landlord is not protected, and the required number of qualifying tenants wish to participate, then you may join together and oblige the freeholder to sell to a nominee purchaser or Right to Buy company that you or your solicitor will set up to buy the freehold. You will then own a share in the company and you and the other tenants will jointly become your own landlord. Again there is a strict procedure that must be followed. This procedure is known as enfranchisement.
The fee to achieve a 'buy out' is almost the same as for extending the lease, except the landlord will lose the rental income completely, and it will be the value of all of the leases that are taken into account.
With both freehold purchase and lease extension, if you cannot agree the price to pay, then the matter must be referred to the independent First-tier Tribunal within a six-month deadline to decide the terms.
If the landlord plans to sell the freehold to someone else, he must give the tenants of the block first refusal before selling, as long as there are at least 2 flats, at least 50% of the building is residential, and a majority of the tenants qualify. If he plans to sell by auction, the leaseholders must be given four months' notice so that they can reserve their right to match the winning bid.
There are many long-term advantages to extending your lease or jointly buying the freehold – not least the value of your flat upon sale - but it can be a complicated procedure so take advice from a professional who knows about enfranchisement.
Charles is an associate director of Kent Based Caxtons Chartered Surveyors and specialises in valuations, landlord and tenant negotiations, expert witness reports, compulsory purchase and leasehold enfranchisement valuations. Caxtons Professional Services team has the expertise to help you with all your property needs.