Hello and a warm welcome to our June newsletter.
May became possibly the most significant month of 2010 with the General Election and the UK seeing a coalition Government for the first time since 1974 with the Tories and the Liberal Democrats taking power.
Following Lucinda Newell’s campaign trail commentary last time, her views on the “new order” of things are in this edition.
Our editor has also undertaken an interview with Ruth Carter who is Senior Lettings Negotiator at our Bedford office and so now we have a little more insight into this lively character!
We are also delighted to report that figures from the UK's leading property portal Rightmove show that Lenwell really are the areas leading lettings agent with our Dunstable office having the most "click throughs" to full property details of any sales and letting agent in the Dunstable area during April.
In simple terms this means that a Lenwell property for rent is more likely to be viewed by a prospective tenant than a property with any of our competitors.
Constantly Striving to Improve The Service
During 2010, following our acquisition of Dunstable Property Lets, we have seen a significant increase in call volumes and have recently introduced a call overflow service. Utilising our VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) telephone system, every call to any of our offices is answered within 5 rings and if a local office is unable to answer within that time (e.g. all the staff are on the telephone or have an office full of customers), a central resource answers the call, takes a message and emails the local office. In exceptional circumstances the overflow handler will contact the local office on an emergency number (for example where a tenant has called and stated they are delayed in attending an appointment).
In addition, our sophisticated telephone system routes all calls according to the client or customer type and, in the case of a call being received from a tenant where a balance is outstanding, the call goes directly to our credit control department. This system benefits our landlord clients by being part of our vigilant and integrated approach to collecting arrears.
Our credit controller contacts each tenant (in arrears) by: Telephone; Email and SMS text messaging. We have written our own software that now enables our credit controller to keep landlords informed by regular email of how each debt is being dealt with.
Communication is key at all times but, in the case of an arrears situation, it is vital. At Lenwell we believe in ensuring that our landlords are kept totally informed of the situation on their property at all times. Our ongoing investment in technology ensures that cases where arrears arise are dealt with quickly and efficiently and this significantly improves a positive resolution in such situations.
Letters are sent using our hybrid post management system which prints some correspondence (for example our landlord statements) in a dedicated print server station near to where a landlord lives and envelopes and sends the letter. This reduces time in our office as no enveloping, printing and franking having to be done and frees time to actually talk with clients and customers.
In addition it provides a computer record that we can access confirming that the letter has been delivered (for example, if the letter is refused we immediately know about it). It also makes best use of Green technology and is the greenest way of us sending a letter.
The Lucinda Newell Column
To be seen pottering along the highways and byways of Luton in her Mini Clubman, her trusted Scottie Malcolm at her side, our super sleuthing property rental expert Ms Lucinda Newell is on the case on your behalf!
Well, what an interesting time we live in. I am only just getting over the excitement of the General Election and its immediate aftermath. I stayed up late on the Thursday to see the first results and then woke on the Friday to find that no single party had won an overall majority and that we were going to have to endure a few days of “horse trading” to see who could form a Government.
This is the first “hung parliament” since 1974 when coalition talks failed and a minority Labour Government had a short lived time in office.
After the expenses scandal that saw Margaret Moran step down in Luton South there was much publicity surrounding Esther Rantzen who stood as an independent and on an “anti sleaze ticket” Unfortunately for Esther the voters were more interested in the main issues and re-elected a Labour MP, Gavin Shuker. Still, as they say, that’s life!
My friends at Lenwell tell me they now cover a geographic area that encompasses some twenty Parliamentary Constituencies across Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire and Northants, eighteen of which are Tory seats with just the two Luton constituencies (North and South) in Labour hands. It’s a good job blue is one of my favourite colours!
The new Conservative, Liberal Democrat Government (I hope it gets referred to as ConLib rather than ConDem which sounds almost fatal!) have got some difficult decisions to take on the economy and are likely to raise Capital Gains Tax significantly. I am not going to panic and look to get rid of my rental “nest egg” properties, believing that as the economy recovers so will yields improve for investors.
A budget has been called for the 22nd June and so we will all be on the edge of our seats that afternoon. No doubt my favourite sherry will incur more duty charges and Malcolm is hoping that his favourite dog biscuits remain affordable!
Already the new Government has signaled the death knell for Home Information Packs which may see some greater liquidity in the sales market. Those funny Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs)will be staying though in order to both satisfy our friends in Brussels and, importantly, as part of building awareness of “green issues” and raising standards of insulation and energy efficiency on both owned and tenanted properties. Don’t forget, EPCs are available from each of the Lenwell Offices, who will be more than happy to help!
I am fascinated by the current political noises but equally glad that I prefer to take my holidays in our beautiful country. At least my summer break won’t be threatened by clouds of volcanic dust. Not in the Cotswolds, I hope!
“May you live in interesting times” is said to be an English translation of a Chinese curse. I’m not sure about that but we certainly do.
Come on Malcolm - Walkies!
I love to hear from my readers so let me know your thoughts - email me at email@example.com
Meet the Team
Name: Ruth Carter
Role: Senior Lettings Negotiator at the Bedford Office
How long with Lenwell: I’m a senior lettings negotiator and I’ve worked for Lenwell for two very happy years. Before joining Lenwell I worked for another letting agent in Luton.
Typical Day: As you might expect there is no such thing as a ”typical day” but my job is to value rental properties and put them on the market. I deal with the majority of negotiations and new landlords. I book viewings and create the advert on a weekly basis.
Favourite part of your role at Lenwell: Without doubt, I enjoy the Valuation side of my role here at Lenwell. I still get a real buzz out of putting properties on the market.
Ambition within the Company: To have the contribution that I make recognized within Lenwell and to see that it really makes a difference to the company as a whole. I know that if I continue to work hard, Bedford will be the most successful office that Lenwell has – as well as the best!
So why the Bedford Office is the best? We work incredibly hard at getting to know all of our clients. We are very professional, but also warm and fun and I think people feel that when they come into the office. We like to think that when Landlords and Tenants come to Lenwell in Bedford, they walk in clients and walk out friends.
What person in the world do you most admire and why: I admire my mum of course but I also admire Lord Alan Sugar and Sir Richard Branson. I like success stories and what I admire most about them is that they started from nothing and have created business empires to be proud of.
Likes and dislikes: I like watching The Apprentice, the Lion Man and A Place In The Sun. I also enjoy going out to eat and socialising with friends. I recently found a new bistro and wine bar in Bedford. It’s called Boccelli’s and I eat there a lot. I dislike football and sports.
Funniest moment: One of my funniest moments was whilst at a property on a viewing and the front door lock broke. This left the female viewer and I trapped in the property. I had to eventually climb out of a very high sash window and force the door open to let the lady out.
Favourite place in the world: I love Southern Italy and Antibes in France. I’m also partial to a bit of sailing in the Caribbean! Basically I like anywhere that’s sunny with good food, lots of lovely wines and nice breads and cheeses!
Personal: I’m single and still “playing the field”. I’ve managed to last twenty eight years without being proposed to because, as yet, nobody will have me but actually I think they’d be lucky to get me!
I have three brothers and a sister. One of my brothers lives in Australia and I miss him very much.
Buy to let lending set to rise dramatically
The independent market analyst Datamonitor has published a new report, ‘Buy-to-let Mortgages and the Rental Sector’ which forecasts that while gross advances will remain flat in 2010, they are set to rise dramatically by 2014.
The key findings are:
• Investor confidence will be bolstered by the stabilisation of house prices
• Demand for rental property amongst tenants is rising faster than supply
• Rents are starting to stabilise
• Since the start of 2009, a greater proportion of landlords have bought rather than sold property
• Just two lenders currently account for 80 per cent of buy-to-let lending
• Arrears and possessions have been no higher in the buy-to-let sector than in the market as a whole
• Supply of mortgage finance will be unable to satisfy investor demand
The report forecasts that gross advances will remain flat this year, rising to £15.8 billion in 2012, £20.2 billion in 2013 and £25.6 billion in 2014. Council of Mortgage Lenders figures show that buy-to-let gross advances totalled £8.5 billion in 2009.
Nigel Terrington, Chief Executive of The Paragon Group, comments on the report, “Buy-to-let lending hit its lowest level since 2001 last year and the market is dominated by just two lenders. Investor demand has never been the issue, it has always been mortgage finance supply, which has been severely restricted since the closure of the wholesale funding markets.
“There are a number of socio-economic and demographic factors that will drive demand for rented property in the future, such as inward migration, the rate of new household formation and the composition of those households, growing student numbers and a greater propensity to rent amongst young people. The private rented sector needs to expand to cater for these growing markets, yet it is being inhibited by the lack of available finance.”
The Health & Safety Executive have launched a new website which gives all sorts of up to date information on Gas Safety. It is a useful resource and provides guidance and answers to questions on this important aspect of residential letting safety.
The new website can be found at the following link: Gas Safety