Mistakes first time homebuyers should avoid.

Buying your first home can be a complicated process with a lot of steps to take, several interested parties involved, including the seller, estate agents and solicitors, to deal with and a lot of money involved.

With so much going on, it’s easy to make mistakes that can cost time and money. At Aria, we want to make buying a house as straightforward as we possibly can for our clients, so here is our guide to mistakes first time buyers should avoid.

Not checking your credit rating.

Having the cleanest possible credit report will make it much easier for you to get approved for a mortgage loan and will affect how much money you will be able to borrow, so it’s important that you make sure you access your credit report and take any steps needed to get it ready for a mortgage application. You can read our guide to improving your credit report here.

Not doing enough research.

There’s a lot of information you’ll need to know and understand when you’re buying a house. When it comes to applying for a mortgage there are a lot of questions you need to answer. What mortgage products are available? What deposit do I need? How much can I afford to repay every month? But it doesn’t end there. Make sure you have researched the house buying process and look into the property itself. How old is it? Does it need any work? What is the housing demand like in the area?

Not getting pre-approved for a mortgage.

It‘s not uncommon for prospective buyers to start looking at properties in a particular price range only to discover later that they won’t be able to borrow a big enough mortgage. This can set the whole process back while you reassess your budget and start looking all over again. To avoid this it’s a good idea to contact you chosen lender and ask for a ‘mortgage in principle’. This is a statement from a bank to say that would lend you a certain amount of money and will help you to clarify your budget.

Not getting a survey done.

Sometimes buyers will avoid getting a proper inspection done on a property they plan to buy. Sometimes they want to avoid the expense, other buyers fall in love with a particular property and rush to finish the deal. It is important to get a survey done, however. While the house may look superficially like it’s in good condition, a survey will reveal any hidden damage, like rotting floors, a leaking roof, or rising damp, which could affect the value of the property or cost you more to have fixed.

Underestimating total costs.

We’ve already talked about mortgage costs, but there are many other expenses you might have to cover when you’re buying a house and when you’re living in it. When buying, you’ll need to cover solicitors’ fees, survey costs, mortgage processing fees, and possibly Stamp Duty. Once you’re in the house you’ll have to pay for building insurance, council tax, utility bills, TV
licence and any maintenance costs, which you might not be paying in rented accommodation. Before buying it’s important to work out exactly how much you can afford to pay in living costs and budget accordingly.

Once you’ve checked your credit rating, worked out your budget and spoken to your bank, you’re ready to find your perfect home. Contact Aria Residential online at www.ariaresidential.co.uk
or visit us in one of our branches on the Lisburn Road in Belfast or in Templepatrick and find out how we can help you get your perfect home.

Why use Fast House Sale NI?

For most people planning on selling their home, the best option will be to use a conventional estate agent. For some sellers, however, getting the house sold as quickly as possible might be important. There are a number of reasons why this might be the case, they may be emigrating or dealing with debts, for example. In those cases Fast House Sale NI offers the best service for people who need to get a sale as quickly as possible.

It’s fast.

This might sound obvious, it’s in the name after all, but for some people selling their property it really is important to get a sale sorted as quickly as they possible can.

At Fast House Sale NI, we can agree an offer on your property within 24-48 hours and can complete the sale as quickly or as slowly as you like depending on your needs. Once we have made an offer it will remain valid for 28 days, so you have time to make your mind up, if you need to, and we never pressure you during that time.
Change of Circumstances.

Most people buy their home with the intention of staying in the property and making a life there, but sometimes circumstances change. Perhaps you bought your home as a young couple, but now you have a child on the way and the house just isn’t big enough. Maybe you bought with your partner and now you’re separating and want to move on from the house you shared. You might have found a new job and need to move before you start.

Whatever the circumstances, it’s important for you to deal with your existing property before you can move on. We can take the property off your hands as quickly as you need, leaving you free to move on.

It can save you money.

At Fast House Sale NI, we will usually offer around 80-85% of the value of your property. For some sellers this might sound like they’re losing money, but in some situations this can amount to a saving. Selling a house can be expensive in itself. You will have to have a valuation, there will be solicitor’s fees, the estate agent will have to get their share and, of course, you will have to keep paying your mortgage until the sale is completed, however long that takes.

At Fast House Sale NI, there are no hidden costs or catches. We provide a free valuation, consultation and we will pay up to £1000 of your solicitor’s costs. Selling your house to us is much cheaper than a conventional sale and you could save money on the mortgage as well.

So, if you’re in Northern Ireland and you need to sell your house quickly, call Fast House Sale NI now on 0844 846 8880 and we will make you an offer within 48 hours.

I’m Divorced & Need To Sell My House Quickly

I’m Divorced & Need To Sell My House Quickly

‘My divorce is dragging out due to a shared mortgage, can you sell my house quickly?’

So your marriage has ended and now you want to sort out your affairs, put the past behind you, plan your future and move on.


But there is a problem. There is a house to be sold and in view of all the other important issues to be resolved, the traditional estate agent/surveyor/solicitor route – which can be ponderous, tedious, expensive and prone to setbacks at any of the many stages involved – may not best serve your purposes .

So is there an alternative? Mercifully, yes.

Fast House Sale NI recognise that divorcing is a difficult enough process. They’re often asked, ‘can you sell my house quickly?’

They know it can be very painful and that it may turn nasty, sometimes descending  into something rather spiteful and vengeful where the emotion-charged desire for retribution begins to override the need for composure and a common sense approach in everyone’s best interests.

Experience has taught Fast House Sale NI that divorce is one of the principal reasons for enquiries about their service.

There is nothing complex about the procedure. The name is self-explanatory; Fast House Sale NI do what they say. They buy for-sale houses in Northern Ireland – quickly.

How? By cutting out as many as possible of the steps which slow the process down. And it is remarkable how much time and money – your money – can be saved by doing away with middle men.

So as well as being fast, it can be cost-effective. In other words, ideal for anyone who is divorcing.

Examples of some of those intermediate steps you avoid? Here is a list – and it’s not even exhaustive  – of a solicitor’s tasks ahead of completion:

Preparing and sending a sale contract with the ownership documents on loan to the buyer’s solicitor.

Helping the seller complete detailed disclosure questionnaires.

Applying for property certificates from the Department of the Environment and local council.

Applying for Bankruptcy and Court Judgement searches against the seller.

Applying to the Land Registers for searches against the seller to make sure all outstanding mortgages or registered debts are taken into account.

Then there is having the seller complete and settle detailed lists of fixtures, fittings and contents included or excluded from the deal.

Ensuring the seller has an Energy Performance Certificate.

Obtaining exact details of debts owed to the lender, estate agent, ground landlord and others in preparation for discharge on completion.

Considering any amendments to the contract after the buyer has signed once the contract has been received back from the buyer’s solicitor and settling any problems which have arisen.

Having the contract countersigned by the seller and put into legal effect by faxing a copy of the contract to the buyer’s solicitor.

Having the seller sign transfer documents in preparation for completion.

Then on completion day paying off all mortgages and charges against the property and applying for release documentation.

Informing the Rates Office of the buyer’s name and forwarding any refund to the seller.

Accounting to the seller for the net proceeds of the sale after debts and expenses are paid off.

Completing the registration of release documentation to free the property from previous debts.

And, finally, closing the solicitor’s file and storing it for 12 years in case of future disputes.


With Fast House Sale NI there are no such delays. Because it’s Fast House who buy the property, there is no waiting for a would-be buyer to sell their home before being able to complete the process. And with no estate agents involved there are no advertising costs, fees or commission to be paid.

Typically, Fast House Sales NI offer up to 80% of the current market value, though on occasions offers in the region of 85% have been made. This makes it a very good option for somebody who wants their cash quickly. Like a divorcee.

No delays, no viewings, no outlay, no hassle and a guaranteed 80% in your pocket right now.

It’s quick, it’s easy and there are no hidden costs.

Fast House Sale NI make an offer and pay all the other bills relating to the house sale.

With no legal fees and no estate agent’s costs, that’s all money saved.

And while it’s usually a six-eight weeks process, there have been examples of completion within four weeks.

And with no For Sale boards or adverts, discretion is guaranteed.

When the deal is done and the handshakes exchanged the cash is lodged in your bank account. Worst case scenario? Eight weeks.

So, ‘can you sell my house quickly?’ Yes, they can!

So if you are divorcing and need to sell your house quickly and discreetly, contact Fast House Sale NI. Now.

Is A Shark Promising To Sell My House?

‘Is A Shark Promising To Sell My House?’

There are all manner of reasons which can prevent or delay the sale of a property.

The state of the market, the preponderance of similar properties, the availability or cost of mortgages, the price you are asking and the condition of what you are trying to sell are just a few of them.

At this stage, the cost of mortgages ought not to be an issue. With the base interest rate continuing to creep along the fiscal ocean bed at an all-time low, mortgages have never been more affordable.

Currently the property market is stable, albeit that no-one is quite sure of what the future may hold in the wake of the Brexit vote. Meanwhile houses continue to sell.

So if you cannot attract a buyer, you have got to ask yourself why that might be? Is your asking price unrealistically high? Has it been marketed properly? Is the property in a bad state of repair? Could location be an issue? Honest answers will serve your purpose best at this stage….

If you are divorcing, emigrating, need to clear debts or have inherited a property, you could benefit from selling quickly rather than via the normal estate agent, surveyor, bank/building society, solicitor, route.

A Fast House Sale is carried out much more quickly than that, not least because it is guaranteed to be problem-free.


Simply because the process entails removing all of the intermediary steps and players, thereby enabling a smooth, swift, start-to-finish transaction.

A Fast House Sale minimises the stages at which things can become ground down. The roles of surveyors, lenders and solicitors are eradicated, making for a totally straightforward process.

So for anyone who needs to sell quickly, this could be just the solution for which they have been searching.

Put simply, Fast House Sales respond to your invitation to view the property you wish/need to sell. Having done so – at no cost to you – they will then make you an offer.

Normally this will be in the region of 80% of current market value of comparable nature in the same location. On occasions, however, the offer can be as high as 90%.

That offer price is guaranteed. Fast House Sales pride themselves on their reputation for integrity. That being the case, there are no last-minute subtractions in lieu of previously unmentioned ‘outgoings’ on their part.

With Fast House Sales, what you see is what you get and what you get is what you were offered and promised at the outset. If there are any late extra costs, those will come out of their pockets, not yours.

You may at some stage have had the misfortune of seeing a sale fall through as a result of a would-be buyer having themselves been let down by someone to whom they had been expecting to sell their home.

Again, that does not happen with a Fast House Sale. And that, too, is guaranteed.

The reasons for them being able to offer that assurance are: (a) they are not dependent on money from the sale of something else to finance the purchase of your home, and (b) there is no delay while they await the mortgage application approval of a bank or building society.

Thus, with a Fast House Sale there are no disappointments. They are not required to sell anything prior to buying from you, nor are they dependent on lenders advancing them money to finance the purchase of your property.

Nor will you be required to spend anything on refurbishing and redecorating the home you wish to sell. Since they operate a buy-as-seen policy,  if there is work to be done ahead of them putting the property on the open market at some future date, they – not you – will pay for that.

So, no monetary hiccups, no reliance on anyone else and no make-overs in readiness for viewings as there are no viewings. The only ‘viewers’ will be Fast House Sales team, with whom you are dealing directly each step of the way.

The decorative state of the property is not an issue. If they buy a home in need of substantial repair and upgrading, it will be because they recognise that, with their work and their money, it can become attractive further down the line.

Fast House Sales’ money will be in your account within weeks. In the interim, there will be no adverts or For Sale boards regarding the property, thereby providing you with total discretion. No-one will know you are selling. Nor will they know the price involved.

In keeping with their name, it’s all fast, easy, secure and guaranteed.

So if, for whatever reason, you want money quickly for your property, contact Fast House Sales and let them solve your problem.

The Belfast Property Market

We are in un-chartered economic waters right now, with the international market in a state of flux and the UK and the rest of Europe trying to come to terms with what the Brexit vote is going to mean for ordinary people.

The pound has plummeted against the dollar and the euro, making imports more expensive. Meanwhile the UK’s base interest rate remains marooned at an unprecedented 0.25%. Oil prices are soaring again.

Interest rates may change, the pound may increase – or continue to decrease – in value, greater inflation is probable, a return to recession is possible. In truth, with so many experts interpreting the same facts totally differently and contradicting one another’s forecasts every day, Joe Public does not know what or whom to believe. But come what may, people are going to need a roof over their heads.

So what is happening in the Northern Ireland property market now?
With offices in south Belfast and Templepatrick, Aria have a finger on the pulse, both in the city and 10 miles out into the country. And despite all the post-Brexit uncertainty, they are seeing clear evidence of a market which is strengthening steadily, in a responsible manner and at a sustainable rate. Hopefully the madness of 2005-07 when property prices went crazy has taught everyone a salutary lesson.

Northern Ireland people tend to be conservative by nature, inclined to weigh things up rather than stampeding into risky ventures. That being the case, most will welcome the news that the idea of buying a home simply to make quick money from selling it on again a relatively short time later appears to have had its day. For now at any rate. From working with ordinary people merely trying to sell or buy ‘a home’ – in the true sense of the word – Aria have seen a real change in attitudes. Instead of purchasing in the hope of making money from a quick re-sale, buyers’ decisions are back to being based on how and where they plan to live for some time to come.

So at the moment there is considerable interest in available property and the price it is fetching. Supply is an issue at certain levels, with demand outstripping availability. And that, in turn, is nudging prices upwards – but not in the way we saw in the mid-2000s. Right now you can sell and buy at a good market-based price. While there is an element of ‘wait and see’, particularly at the top end of the price bracket, interest in mid-range properties is encouragingly strong. This, of course, is destined to translate into sales and when it does, the money that produces will begin to filter through elsewhere on the property ladder.

In addition, there is more and more evidence of new-build homes. Those are attracting a lot of first-time buyers – young couples and young single professionals – into the market.
Many of those intent on buying are drawn increasingly to more and more advanced ‘turn-key packages’ whereby the purchaser gets to put their identity on the property from the outset by choosing their own fittings, kitchens and bathrooms, for example.

Meanwhile three-bedroom semis and smaller detached houses are sparking interest, too, particularly from growing families. Aria have discovered that with lenders now much more cautious than was the case a decade ago, in turn would-be borrowers have responded by being prepared to make sacrifices in order to put down the biggest possible deposit.  In the hope of minimising their outgoings, thus leaving a lot more of their disposable income intact, many are continuing to live with their parents.

There are some excellent mortgage products out there and obviously the more a borrower is able to put down, the better the deals and more favourable the rates they will be offered. With huge development sites having been bought in Comber and Newtownards, clearly there are fresh projects on the way, reflecting confidence in the state of the property market.  One reason for this optimism in the fact that the figures are making sense again. Something that, at the height of the boom soared to £200,000 can now be bought for £70,000. An attractive residence, realistically priced and therefore affordable equals genuine interest on the part of buyers.

The approach on the part of buyers and sellers alike is altogether more pragmatic. Growth is sensibly paced. We’re told that the price of houses may rise by up to 7.8% this year!

But the biggest single change is that we are back to a situation where people see their home as being just that – their home, not bricks and mortar out of which to make a vast profit very quickly,
Aria are leading the way in this, by keeping their eyes, and those of their clients, focused on reality – real homes for real people at realistic prices.

Aria Residential, Belfast Estate Agents

There are footballers and then there are FOOTBALLERS. They may, theoretically, be playing the same game but their ability to do so varies greatly.
While all players are restricted by the same pitch dimensions, use the same size and weight of ball and adhere to the same rules, for some reason the Irish League boasts none of comparable skill to Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo!

The same is true in every walk of life, of course. Sometimes there is a wow factor that sets the best apart from the rest. There are numerous labourers but very few master craftsmen.
That is why the latter stand out from the crowd. Fact.

When it comes to that general rule, estate agents are no different to those in other spheres. Which means there are some great estate agents – and others who are not. Now in straightforward language, an estate agent’s job is to facilitate and enable the sale and purchase of property. Sounds a pretty clear-cut role with little scope for flair or individuality. So why are some so much better at it than others? And just how big a difference does that make to the person trying to sell or buy a home?

Well, as with any situation in which someone excels, invariably you will find that as well as natural ability there is a work ethic, a drive to succeed, a commitment to excellence and, in pursuit of that goal, a willingness to go the proverbial ‘extra mile’.

That attitude is what separates winners from also-rans.

Aria Residential belong in the former category by virtue of their dedication to raising the bar in terms of the service they provide as estate agents. Having come into being just before Northern Ireland’s house market began to plunge into free-fall following the global economic crash of 2008, they really had to earn their spurs the hard way. With the market disintegrating and so many estate agencies competing for the meagre scraps off a fast-shrinking Northern Ireland property sales table, they knew that the only solution was to out-perform rivals by providing a quality of service that others were not offering.

‘Attention to detail’ became their mantra back then. And having seen it deliver results through the worst of times, they have never felt tempted to change it. Thus ‘Attention to detail’ remains their modus operandi today.

Their undertaking to up the standard in terms of what estate agents offer and do has seen them set new highs in a variety of ways. By embracing technology they have emerged as trailblazers in the field of property marketing in Northern Ireland. They specialise in social media advertising, so reaching the widest possible number of potential – as well as specifically targeted – property buyers and investors, be they traditional mum, dad plus 2.4 children family group or landlords interested in finding accommodation with rental potential.

As well as being so far-reaching – way beyond the range of any For Sale board or newspaper advert, for example – on-line marketing goes on 24/7.
Another of their services is that they have a bank of clients with specific requirements, so when an appropriate property becomes available they are able to match the two.
Aria also have made a point of recruiting staff who know about property and how the market works. As home-owners and investors themselves, those staff members know how it feels to be buying or selling a home.

Simple things, like Aria’s working hours, reflect their commitment to serving clients for whom 9-5, Monday-Friday is unsuitable. In addition, Aria put their money where their mouth is by paying the costs others charge the customer. In other words, no up-front costs, no advertising fees. Furthermore, if they fail to sell your house, they charge you nothing. As well as underlining the faith they have in their ability as estate agents, that provides particular motivation for them to deliver a sale!

They pride themselves on their knowledge of the market, too. There is no secret formula, there are no shortcuts; their know-how is down to sheer hard graft and thorough research. As a result, their valuations are realistic, so hastening sales. Their advice is honest and knowledge-based, too. They know what will attract or deter people who might be interested in buying or renting a property. They also know that a minor outlay can make a world of difference and prove to be a very shrewd investment.

In addition to their ‘Attention to detail’ mantra, Aria have four key words in their company ethos. They are listening’, ‘value’, ‘integrity’ and ‘innovation’.

So if you want to sell, buy or rent property, get in touch with them.

Should I Buy A House Or Rent A House? Aria Residential

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to the ‘Should I buy or should I rent?’ question.

In reality it depends on what you want to do, what you expect your home to be and its role in all the other areas and aspects of your life.

The current state of the property market – and, as a result, prices – is a huge factor, too, particularly given the fact that prices can plummet as well as spiral, a fact which many tens of thousands in Northern Ireland can confirm in the wake of 2008 and the negative equity crisis that followed. The repercussions of that are on-going, of course – the road to recovery will be a long one.

Finally, and perhaps most pertinently and importantly, is the matter of what is realistic for you in terms of what you need in tandem with what you can afford. To that end, are you thinking in terms of the next 12 months or the next 20 years?

So, let’s go through those points step by step.

Firstly, what do you want your home to be?
Is it as straightforward as a mere roof over your head for the foreseeable future, or do you regard it as being your castle – a good, enjoyable, safe, affordable ‘home’ in the true sense of the word. In other words, the place where you feel you belong and, because of that, love to be?

Or is it, first and foremost, an investment from which you hope to make money? And if it is the latter, in the interim do you see yourself treating that property as your family home and actually living in it for some time to come? Or might you be happy to move on as soon as there is some profit available?

Your attitude as to what a home is or should be will go a long way towards determining how you feel about owning or renting it. If you see a home as being nothing much more than the place to which you go after work and wherein you sleep, that does not suggest any great level of attachment to it on your part. In those circumstances, renting might make more sense at this stage.

Things, however, can change. You would not be the first fun-loving single guy or girl to have changed direction, decided to settle down and begun to view the world through very much more mature and serious eyes!

Note, too, that there is no shortage of owners who never spend a minute of their time in properties they have bought. That’s because they buy a home in which they see investment potential and rental income rather than with a view to ever living at that address themselves.

Note, too, that our fixation with home ownership is not one shared by everyone. Go to continental Europe and you will discover a much higher percentage of people who prefer to rent rather than tie themselves to a long-term mortgage commitment.

Secondly, what role do you see your home playing in the rest of your life? That’s a crucial question and the answer to it is that it depends on what stage you have reached and what hopes and plans you have regarding what happens next. What is your marital/relationship status right now? Do you have children? If so, at what stage are they education-wise? Pre-school? Nursery? Primary? Secondary? For those with children, proximity to school is a big consideration. Living somewhere which is going to entail a long haul to and from their seat of learning Monday to Friday – and Saturday, too, if they participate in sport – is hardly ideal. That one is pretty obvious.

If you do not have children at this point, but hope to start a family at some future date, it is vital that you factor this into your thinking, especially if there is a particular school you would like your offspring to attend.

Of course, location is all-important in each of the other areas of your life, too. How close to work would you be living if you were to buy or rent this property? Shops? Churches? Relatives and friends? Favourite sports club(s)?

Thirdly, what is the state of the property market in Belfast? And, indeed, in the rest of Northern Ireland? Is this an opportune moment to be buying? Or selling, come to that?

And if you plan to buy, how ready for that are you? Do you want or need to do so quickly, or can you wait to see how things unfold a little further down the line? Big questions, as the timing could end up saving – or costing – you a lot of money. Which takes us to the fourth and final point of what EXACTLY you want or need to do NOW.

Do you have to sell a home first in order to buy? Is bridging finance an option or a non-starter? Have you consulted your lender regarding a future mortgage, or sought expert advice about re-negotiating the terms of your existing loan? All things to be included in your thinking.

Or, if you are renting, have you made yourself known to a reputable, results-endorsed estate agency whose track record confirms their standing as experts committed to top-quality customer service and noted for their attention to detail? Their standing is boosted if they are able to add a portfolio of first-class rental properties plus unrivalled back-up and support.

If all of those ingredients are present you have the perfect answer to any property-related problem, whether you are renting, buying or selling property in Belfast.
Aria major in all three – renting, buying or selling – as well as offering bespoke advice and assistance en route to matching the right people with the right property in the right location at the right price.

Whether it is a short-term rental for just a few days or weeks , the long-term purchase of a property which is to be your family’s home or indeed anything else in between, Aria pride themselves on providing more than others by way of service and expertise.

Every customer enjoys that level of support; there are no gradations and no class distinctions based on the amount of money involved. If you’re renting a one-bedroom flat, a two-bedroom terrace house or a top of the range detached home, they undertake to treat you the same.

We opened with the question ‘Should I buy or should I rent?’
It varies from person to person, couple to couple or family to family depending on what you/they need, what you/they want and how much you/they are able to afford.

The answer, however, is the same, whether you rent or buy. For honest advice, genuine help and unmatched attention to detail designed to make renting or buying a stress-free process, contact Aria.

Buy-To-Let, Invest With Aria Residential

Not so long ago, buy-to-let was seen to be a sound property investment – a proven, productive and profitable piece of business.

On an industrial scale this entailed super-rich individuals or large consortia buying houses, apartments or flats, if necessary sprucing them up a little and then letting them out to reliable tenants whose rent covered the owner’s or owners’ mortgage repayments as well as providing surplus to be invested in more property or deposited in a pension pot.

Meanwhile, with property prices seemingly destined to go on rising, the landlords’ investment continued to grow in value.

In the vernacular, a nice little earner from whatever angle one viewed it. But at a much more modest level, houses, apartments and flats were bought by ordinary people, too. They included parents who saw the merits of providing affordable accommodation for their offspring who were studying at university. And they, too, saw that as an investment which would continue to increase in value. Others who entered the world of buy-to-let included young couples who, having previously owned two homes, moved into one when they married. They kept the second, however, turning it into a rental property which more than paid for itself whilst also appreciating in worth.

Then there were those who inherited property following the death of an elderly parent. Rather than rushing to sell the home left to them, they kept it on and rent it out.

It remains to be seen how any of those highlighted above will fare now that Chancellor George Osborne appears to declared war on the UK buy-to-let market which has mushroomed in size in recent years.

With speculators buying up swathes of property for rental in London in particular, he is moving to offset that trend, given that it is threatening to destabilise the economy in general and house prices in particular.

To that end he is in step with the Bank of England which also is acting to head off property speculators at the figurative pass. This follows a series of warnings by the BoE’s Monetary Policy Committee about the impact of high levels of mortgage lending to buy-to-let borrowers.

The figures underline the MPC’s concerns; from January 1 to September 30, 2015, buy-to-let lending soared by 10%, compared with a rise of just 0.4% in the owner-occupier sector.

In mid-2015 there were 1.7 million buy-to-let mortgages worth a staggering £201 billion. That translates as 16% of the UK’s residential mortgage market. In 2002 the share was 2%. By 2008 – when things went so disastrously wrong – it had risen to 12%.

As a result of this trend, the Chancellor has signalled his determination to restrict the size of loans to landlords. If he and the Bank of England are united on this one, mortgages advanced to buy-to-let property owners will be assessed strictly in accordance with the value of the property AND rental repayments on it.

That is because a major concern at this stage is that landlords may run into mortgage repayment problems in the not too distant future.  There are reasons for this anxiety, not least because landlords tend to take out interest-only loans. So if, due to them encountering payment difficulties, they chose to sell, that could see the marketplace swamped with for-sale properties, a scenario both George Osborne and BoE governor Mark Carney are very keen to avoid.

Between April 1 and June 30, 2015, a massive 85% of newly-issued buy-to-let loans were of the interest-only variety, so misgivings about that are understandable. Already we have seen the Chancellor make changes which mean less tax relief for buy-to-let property owners. To that he has added an increase in stamp duty, pushing it up by a full 3%.

So banks are becoming noticeably more cautious when it comes to lending for buy-to-let or second property purchases. Again, that is understandable, recent history having shown that buy-to-let mortgages are over two times more likely to end up creating problems for banks than those given to conventional owner-occupiers. To that add the fact bankers believe that landlords will pose a real threat to the economy in the event of a slowdown or downturn in the property market. Why? Because in the bankers’ eyes, when the going gets tough, buy-to-let landlords are much more likely to default than home-owners.

The BoE’s end-of-third-quarter 2015 statement confirmed those misgivings, stating: “Since 2010, rates of credit loss on buy-to-let loans in the United Kingdom have been around twice those incurred on lending to owner-occupiers. Assessed against relevant affordability metrics, buy-to-let borrowers appear more vulnerable to an unexpected rise in interest rates or a fall in income.”

With the rental sector growing quickly, first-time buyers are finding it harder to get a foot on the bottom rung of the property ladder. So that’s the circuit; more buy-to-let borrowers snapping up houses, flats and apartments and by so-doing gobbling up an ever-increasing percentage of the mortgage pie, thereby making it harder and harder for young would-be home-owners. But, in the background, the shadow cast by a bad repayment record coupled with vulnerability to changes in property prices or interest rates.

If you are a landlord worried about any of these issues, now is the time to seek help. Contact our team at Aria Residential, Belfast, phone 028 9059 9599

Can You Sell My House In Belfast?

Selling a property in Belfast

HERE in Northern Ireland there are some things that so deeply embedded in our make-up that now they are taken as being DNA-transmitted. One such example is our fixation with home ownership.

While our counterparts in Germany, France, Italy, Spain and much of Scandinavia may be happy to rent, to those in the UK and the Republic of Ireland, ownership remains all-important.

For years it was said that ‘an Englishman’s home is his castle’.

And over the years we have bought into the notion that it also applies on this side of the Irish Sea. Now we too aspire to home ownership. There aren’t too many examples of rented castles…

The numbers of houses for sale in Belfast, and the interest in them, mirror that reality. And although the crash of 2008, the recession which followed and the impact that had on house prices here momentarily derailed the ownership locomotive, little by little it has been getting back on track.

South Belfast in particular is on the up and up with properties in the Stranmillis, Malone and Lisburn Road areas much in demand. Things are buoyant in the east of the city, too, with Ballyhackamore now regarded as being a prime location.

When it comes to house-hunting, of course, much has changed in the past two decades. In terms of house-selling, gone are the days of reliance on an ad in the Tele and a For Sale board in the garden or else nailed to the wall above the front door.

We’re a much more sophisticated, technologically literate lot these days, with social media and on-line searches now our weapons of choice when we set about trying to sell – or buy – a property.

If they are to survive in what is a much-changed, highly competitive marketplace, Belfast estate agents really do have to be up to speed in order to meet the demands and expectations of today’s laptop, smart phone and tablet conversant house sellers and buyers.

Certainly Aria have risen to this challenge by appointing knowledgeable staff who are completely at home in that environment. In addition they have quipped themselves with the latest hi-tech gadgetry and offering 24-hour on-line access. Even their office opening hours eclipse those of rivals still stuck in the 9-5 era.
And they offer a number of additional services, all designed to make the whole house-selling process easy, straightforward, stress-free and successful. Call it a case of positive results via simplicity.

As per Aria’s approach to rental accommodation, attention to detail is everything when it comes to residential property sales. In other words, they insist on every box being ticked, with nothing being left to chance.

“Do that and you will sell the property,” is the mantra.

There is no doubt that trying to sell property can be worrying for those intent on matching their home with the right buyer. That being the case, working hand in hand with an estate agent who minimises the hassle whilst maximising the seller’s return makes sense.

To that end, openness, transparency and honesty are Aria watchwords.

They tell it like it is; their valuation of a property is based on how others of comparable standard in the same locality have sold. They provide evidence of how the prices those homes have fetched, for which reason the seller knows the asking price being recommended is realistic valuation and fair.

No exaggeration, no hopelessly unrealistic assessments, no promises which cannot – and therefore will not – be kept.

Free valuation is part of the service, incidentally.

With more and more people going on-line to find property for sale in Belfast, Aria have invested accordingly. Up-to-date technology, around-the-clock access, national and international marketing and support at every stage of the process are all part of the deal.

Aria offer honest feed-back as to possible modifications and improvements the would-be seller could make in order to boost the prospects of a sale. Again, it’s a case of tell-it-straight honesty rather than tip-toeing around the subject out of fear of causing offence or upsetting the vendor. If that bright red room with the black skirting board is a handicap, Aria will tell you!

In brief, they level with their clients, telling it like it is based on their knowledge of what modern-day buyers want and expect. That way, the desired result is achieved a lot more often – and a lot more quickly.

Because there is no shortage of houses for sale in Belfast, getting the selling process right is key.

The importance of first impressions cannot be over-emphasised, nor can the value-for-money return on an investment in a shampooed – or better still, new – carpet, a freshly decorated entrance hallway, the tidy-up of a garden or the removal of clutter that has been sitting in the back garden for months, or even years, and is never going to be a plus in the eyes of a potential buyer when it comes to selling points.
A for-sale house has to look attractive and here, too, Aria offer advice based on experience.

Having invested heavily in on-line know-how, high quality cameras and some of the latest technology, they are able to show any on-sale property in its best possible light – literally.

This means that if they have taken photographs which do not meet their standards of excellence, they will then take more to ensure that those who see them cannot fail to be impressed. Rest assured, therefore, that photographs which are too dull or show just half a bedroom because the camera used was not good enough to capture it in its entirety will not feature on any Aria site. They set the bar very high for themselves – and their results confirm that such attention to detail yields results.
They know that buying a house almost certainly is the biggest purchase most of us will ever make. For that reason Aria believe that anyone who uses them to enable that is deserving of the very highest level and standard of support.

In furtherance of their aim to be market leaders in Belfast estate agency, Aria also offer help – in purely practical ways – to those on whose behalf they are trying to sell.

If, for example, their analysis of a property for sale in Belfast is that the likelihood would be enhanced as a result of some minor work which will cost comparatively little in monetary terms, but would be very helpful in yielding an overall result, not only will they advise it – they will also arrange to have it done by a team of tradesmen they have at their disposal.

Belfast is awash with homes for sale and estate agents hoping to cater for vendors and buyers alike. Because selling property can be difficult, using those who offer that little bit more when it comes to detail and expertise makes good sense.
No up-front fees coupled with a modern, fully professional, 365-days-a-year marketing strategy and the ready availability of tradesmen capable of making quick, inexpensive, price-enhancing improvements to your property make Aria particularly attractive estate agents.

Lift the phone and let them maximise your asset, your price and your prospects by virtue of the second-to-none service they provide.

What Should I Look For When Buying A House?

There is no one size fits all answer to the question ‘What should I look for in a property?’

That is because in reality it depends on three key factors – and each of those varies from person to person.

Those factors and the questions arising from what you are looking for in property are:

(a) Are you intent on buying or renting? And if the answer is the former, are you planning to inhabit the property yourself or sub-let it to others?

(b) Your requirements, of course, will be determined by your particular circumstances. In other words, are you single or do you have a partner? If you do, are there young children, teenagers or young adult offspring in your equation? Or an elderly relative? Your answer here will play a big part in deciding how many rooms and how much actual living space you are going to need. Obviously that affects the buying, selling or rental price.

(c) What can you comfortably afford?
That last question applies in every instance, whether you are buying property for your own use or with a view to letting. It is applicable, too, if you wish to rent property as a tenant, for just as owners have a monthly commitment in the form of mortgage repayments to their lender, so too do tenants have a weekly or monthly outgoing in the form of rental payments to their landlord.
Whether you are buying or renting, a good, conscientious, market-informed, on-the-ball estate agent will be fully aware of like-for-like prices in the locality in question. If he/she isn’t, move on and find one who is. Quickly.
Why? Because your estate agent’s ability to value a property at a viable, realistic price and then market it to the appropriate audience is all-important. This is true whatever the nature of the property, because whether it is a house, flat or apartment, the same basic rules apply. Always.

Essential needs and demands vary. A young, single man or woman will have different requirements to a couple with the stereotypical 2.4 children and a dog. And when you then add in two or three ideal-world extras as to what would make their dream home, the buying/renting/letting scenario changes dramatically once again. People differ, ditto the sort of property they want or need.

So as was said at the outset, there is no one size fits all answer to the question. What you are looking for in a property is not necessarily the same as someone else with similar hopes, expectations or means, whether they are buying or renting.

For those attempting to sell – and in our still-uncertain post-Brexit climate that is likely to be more difficult than before – the role and importance of a time-tested and tried estate agent cannot be over-emphasised. Certainly, as things stand in the wake of the UK’s decision to leave the EU, anyone intent on selling is going to need the help of an expert capable of attracting their property’s true sale value.
Currently no-one is quite sure of how things are likely to pan out in the property market.

What is certain, however, is that nobody at this point is suggesting that house, flat or apartment prices are going to rise in the foreseeable future. Indeed, in some areas – notably London and East Anglia – they have been falling steadily in recent weeks.

According to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors’ (RICS) mid-July survey of UK estate agents and surveyors, there is more pessimism about the state of the property market than at any point since the late 1990s.

In June inquiries from would-be buyers were down for the third month running and there was also a sharp decrease in the number of sales agreed.
Some 36% more respondents to the Rics’ survey reported a drop – the lowest reading since the start of traumatic financial downturn in mid-2008.

It was the third successive month of fewer sales, which is a worrying pattern.
And hand in hand with those glum statistics, the supply of properties coming onto the UK market fell in every region – with the notable exception of Northern Ireland.

That Rics survey concluded: “This is the most negative reading for near-term expectations since 1998.”

For good or ill – and that will depend if you are trying to buy, sell or rent at this juncture – clearly all of these imponderables are going to have an impact on house prices and rental charges.

So if you are aiming to buy, sell or rent, contact Aria for help and information on the state of the market and avail of their expertise.