Welcome to your May edition of the Fish Need Water newsletter!

Here’s what we’ve got coming up:

  • Thinking of selling? Springtime is the best time!
  • Landlords: you can’t do this alone!
  • All the latest need-to-know news.
  • Top tool: Google Maps and how it can help you as an investor.

When’s the best time to sell your property?

You probably see a lot of year-on-year sale price comparisons in the papers – and they usually show that prices are going up (especially when looking at London-specific data). Those comparisons don’t take an overview of the year as a whole though – they look at this month compared to the same month last year.

And that’s important to know, because it hides something rather interesting and very useful when you’re selling your property: prices don’t just rise steadily throughout the year – they have peaks and troughs. To give an example, in November 2014 average prices in London were actually down compared to the previous four months, even though prices were up compared to November 2013.

So how can you make sure you’re selling at a peak time of year, when you can get the most money for your house? Luckily, the peaks and troughs of the housing market are fairly predictable: springtime is the best time to sell (followed by autumn), and summer and winter are the worst times.

Should you definitely get a wriggle on and put your property on the market, though? Well, that depends…

  • If you’re moving up in the market, buying and selling at peak price could actually work out worse for you: if the more expensive house you’re buying has increased by the same percentage, that leaves you worse off even if you pocketed more from your own sale.
  • Remember that the generalisations about sale prices are just that: generalisations. If there are major roadworks going on outside your house slap bang in the middle of spring, it’s likely to have a negative effect on your house price – regardless of what the stats say.
  • Generalisations also ignore your location: boroughs, postcodes and even individual streets can buck the trend depending on what’s going on locally.
  • If you’re not ready to sell, don’t. Rushing to put your home on the market could mean that it’s not in its best state to attract its top price anyway, and it could also rush you into finding your next home.

It’s useful to know that selling in spring is likely to get you a good price, but it’s only one factor. If you want to get the full picture of what’s likely to be best for your particular property, just hit “reply” to this email and we’ll be happy to help.

Landlords: build a team for less stress and easier rewards!

Property investment requires a lot of different skills to make the process as smooth, easygoing and profitable as possible – and it’s unlikely that you’re an expert in them all!

That’s why it’s important to build a team: you can focus on doing what you’re good at, and hire other people to do the rest.

So what sort of “team members” might you need?

Well it goes without saying (we hope!) that a good letting agent goes a long way: pricing the rent accurately and replacing tenants quickly when they leave is essential to maximise your return on investment, and they can spare you a lot of headaches by managing your property effectively too.

Who else?

You want a great solicitor on your side – someone you can use again and again, who gets to know you inside-out and understands your preferences and needs. If you’re not sure where to look for your solicitor, we can recommend some great ones. Alternatively, head to an online property community for advice.

A handyman or builder is also a great asset to any team. You want someone who’ll pick up the phone to you at any time to fix whichever shelf has fallen down or whatever door is sticking. My Builder is a great place to start your search: you can hire someone for an odd job, see how they perform, then use them on a regular basis for future work.

You probably need a mortgage broker too. A good broker will place you with the most appropriate product for your circumstances – which might NOT be the one that appears to have the cheapest rate. Again, we can recommend some excellent brokers to you.

Once you’ve invested a little effort in building your team, they’ll keep on saving you heaps of time and money for years to come – and you’ll wonder how you ever managed without them!

Property news

It’s been a busy ol’ month…

April house price average at all-time high of more than £286,000. And in London, the average asking price for March was £594,585. Supply and demand, kids.

Election uncertainty and higher taxes affecting prime London property market. The “regular” property market may be up up and away, but higher taxes and election uncertainty have caused buyers to put the brakes on their purchases of prime properties.

London regeneration scheme that thinks inside the box. By “box”, they mean “recycled shipping containers” – and it’s a thoroughly interesting idea…

We can afford to buy a flat in London – but should we? Do you agree with the answer to this reader’s question?

Six property hotspots to watch: the top London growth districts tipped to rise by 2018. Eat your heart out, Zone 1!

Our useful tool of the month

Google Maps. We’re pretty sure you already use it, but are you aware of its benefits for property investors?

Here are some use cases:

  • Before you even go for a viewing, you can use Street View to “walk around” the local area and see what it’s like.
  • You can type in the address of your potential property and the address of a nearby school/attraction/local amenity and see how long it will take to get there by car, public transport and on foot – all useful information when marketing to potential buyers or tenants.
  • You can create a “custom map” with all the local amenities and attractions “pinned” on a map – something you can send new tenants as a nice gesture. Find out how to create a custom map here.

Visit Google Maps.

The end! (Until next month.)

We’ll be back in June to look at how the General Election has affected everything property-related – and how sellers and landlords are bearing up.

Speak to you soon!