Selling an empty house? Should you furnish it or not?

What’s the best way to sell an empty property?

 

Hard as it is to believe, soon Christmas will be over and it will be prime time to place your property on the market. That’s all well and good if it’s your current home and you can spend time tidying up and adding some warm, finishing touches to present it at its best.

selling your empty property But what about when it’s empty? Should you furnish it or leave it as it is? Unfortunately, there isn’t a one size fits all answer to this. However, if you go through the following list, you should get a better idea of what is best for your situation:

  1. The condition of the property 

Fixtures and fittings hide a multitude of sins. That’s not that I am suggesting for one moment that you should deceive potential buyers. Absolutely not. But in an empty house, issues that may not actually be that significant or major can look like a much bigger issue and become a distraction.

selling your home

Take a slight stain on the paintwork, a bit of mildew from condensation or a damaged bit of skirting board. With an empty house, they are very obvious and can become the focus of a buyer’s attention – even though they are probably easy to fix.

The other thing to consider is how an empty house portrays itself and what first impression it creates. Does it come across as a warm, family home or will the first impression be a damp, musty smell?

My advice would be that if you want or have to sell it empty, you should invest a little in making sure it’s gleaming and spotless, as well as smelling fresh and clean. That will mean you probably need to bring the decor up to a very high standard.

Whatsmore, don’t forget to consider the condition of any fixtures that are being sold with it – do they need refreshing or replacing? And make sure the property is kept well ventilated and smelling fresh. Could you use some scented home fragrance (but don’t overdo it of course) to ensure it smells nice?

Finally, do not forget the condition of the carpets, floors and curtains! These can and do often retain unpleasant odours and stains so professional cleaning may be required.

2. The condition of any furniture you could install 

You may not have the budget or resources to furnish the property you’re selling, in which case, you will have to follow the steps above and below. But if you are considering furniture, do think about quality and impressions.

A furnished house is great for those buyers that can’t see beyond what is in front of them, those that don’t have the vision to imagine it as their home. It helps them work out how a bedroom or sitting room could be laid out and to what extent their furniture will fit.

But shabby, battered old furniture, that you’ve sourced on the cheap, could do more harm than good when it comes to creating the impression of a warm and comfortable home. Think about your budget carefully and decide whether your money wouldn’t be better spent bringing the decor and empty interior up to standard.

3. Don’t forget the outside 

maintaining your property for sale Having talked about first impressions, you must not forget kerb appeal and the garden. It’s absolutely essential to keep the garden of an empty property well maintained – even in winter – so that it looks tidy. You should also consider outside lighting and any other little touches that may have an impact if a potential buyer drives passed for a quick look or for when they first arrive.

4. Photos and floor plans 

One of the most influential aspects of encouraging interest is, of course, the photographs or your property. Most buyers will decide whether or not to view, based on these.

It can be difficult to create the right impression with an empty room. You don’t necessarily get the perspective of a room, in the same way as you do with a furnished house, where there is furniture by which you can judge how big a room is.

Therefore, if your property is unfurnished, your floor plans are going to play an important role. Check that they are crystal clear and include each room and ask whether you can add any details to make them more illustrative.

5. Your buyers 

In much of this post, I’ve put the emphasis on the buyers looking for a family home but of course, that’s not always the case. Think about the different types of buyers you might attract. Is your property likely to sell as an investment property? Is it ripe for substantial improvements or alterations? Might it be converted into multiple occupancies? It goes without saying, these factors will make a difference as to whether or not furnishings will make a difference.

If you’re still in any doubt, why not give me a call and we can discuss your property and what the best way to present it is.

Graham Faulkner is Branch Director of EweMove Dorking

www.ewemove.com/dorkingHe’s bought and sold a lot of properties over the years and is also a portfolio landlord, as well as specialising in helping other landlords. Apart from his own experience and expertise, he can also recommend the right professionals, as tried and tested by him, to advise you.

Multi-award winning EweMove in Dorking is a residential property sales and lettings agency who pride themselves on being refreshingly different and standing out from the crowd. EweMove Dorking covers from Ockley to Oxshott.

Enquiries to 01306 406 506 or via email to dorking@ewemove.com

 

Advertisements

Calling all landlords – new Energy Efficiency rules from April 18

Calling all landlords – new Energy Efficiency rules from April 18

Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES)

In April next year, new Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) come into force. I blogged about this back in April this year and the fact that non-compliance carries a fine of up to £150,000!

So it’s very worrying to read research by EON which suggests 21% of landlords expect to have to spend over £1,000 on energy efficiency over the next 5 years.

Even more worrying is research by LetBritain that suggests 34% of landlords still don’t even know that they have to provide an Energy Performance Certificate for their property.

The new regulations – a quick recap

The 2015 Energy Efficiency Regulations set out minimum energy efficiency standards for England and Wales. These regulations mean that from April 2018, it will be unlawful to grant a new lease of a property if it has an energy performance certificate (EPC) rating below E, unless the property is registered as an exemption.

After 1 April 2023, landlords must register an exemption for any building with an EPC rating of less than E if they wish to let the building.

EPCs let the person who will use the building know how costly it will be to heat and light, and what its carbon dioxide emissions are likely to be.

For more information about the exemptions and non-compliance penalties, just visit our previous blog about Minimum Energy Efficient Standards (MEES).

energy efficiency certificate

Mitigating the impact

Back in April, I made the point that the regulations aren’t all doom and gloom, and forward-thinking landlords have the potential to increase rental and asset value by making energy efficiency improvements and combining these with other upgrades.

This remains the case, and having a highly energy efficient property (which therefore attracts lower bills) may make your property the stand out property for potential tenants.

Check any existing EPC

If your property has an existing EPC, it will highlight cost-effective ways to achieve a better rating.  This can be a good place to start a thorough review of your property’s energy performance and identify areas for improvement.

Next, check the basics:

  • Windows and doors. Poorly insulated windows can account for 10%+ of heat loss. Double glazed windows or secondary glazing can make a significant difference. Secondary glazing is not quite as effective as double glazing but is more affordable.

Also check areas prone to drafts such as doors, letterboxes and even keyholes. Replacing old doors to exclude drafts (and improve security) can be a quick win.

MEES

  • Walls and lofts. Consider the construction of the property. Older properties with solid walls as well as newer ones, with cavity walls, can both benefit from additional insulation. It can be relatively easily applied and make a big difference to energy loss.

Also, check the quality of the loft insulation and whether it is complete. Loss of heat through the roof can amount to a quarter of a property’s overall heat loss.

  • Boiler. Check the boiler and consider whether an upgrade is appropriate.
  • Solar panels (which help heat the house) may seem like a big investment but could make a difference long term.

It’s also worth exploring any other new technology which could have an impact long-term and be attractive to potential tenants.

For landlords who are worried about the costs, financial support may be available through the Energy Company Obligation if tenants meet certain qualifying criteria.

However, the most important thing at this stage is to be aware of your responsibility and to take the appropriate measures. Failure to do so, may not only open you up to the risk of a substantial fine but could leave you with a property that is empty and unrentable.

Graham Faulkner is Branch Director of EweMove Dorking

www.ewemove.com/dorkingHe’s bought and sold a lot of properties over the years and is also a portfolio landlord, as well as specialising in helping other landlords. Apart from his own experience and expertise, he can also recommend the right professionals, as tried and tested by him, to advise you.

Multi-award winning EweMove in Dorking is a residential property sales and lettings agency who pride themselves on being refreshingly different and standing out from the crowd. EweMove Dorking covers from Ockley to Oxshott.

Enquiries to 01306 406 506 or via email to dorking@ewemove.com

 

How to avoid a claim that an eviction was retaliatory

How to avoid a claim that an eviction was retaliatory

Back in July, I posted a blog about retaliatory evictions – landlords who evict tenants (or put up their rent) because the tenant has complained about something or asked for repairs to be carried out.

In that post, I outlined the current protection available to tenants as well as some basic steps that landlords should take to ensure they don’t fall foul of the law.

However, according to recent research, there has been a rise in claims against landlords for retaliatory evictions, some of which have been found to be spurious – a retaliatory claim of retaliatory eviction if you like. So, in this post, I thought it would be helpful to expand on my recommendations for what you should do as a landlord to safeguard yourself against such a claim.

A quick recap of the law

The Deregulation Act 2015 introduced protection against retaliatory eviction for tenants who have assured shorthold tenancy agreements entered into after the 1st October 2015. However, the protection will be extended to all assured shorthold tenancies from the 1st October 2018.

Under current provisions, landlords should provide an “adequate response” to a complaint within 14 days. Failure to respond and / or repair can result in a number of sanctions including the court refusing a claim for eviction, a court order to carry out the repairs / or the service of a notice of improvement and the possibility of hefty fines.

Protecting your position

  1. Make sure you have a written policy and procedure in respect of complaints and repairs. I would suggest that this records that you actively encourage tenants to report any issues and includes a system for making sure your tenants are asked on a reasonably regular basis, whether or not there are any repairs required or other issues. This is likely to include regular inspections by you as a landlord or by your agent.

Tenancy agreement advice- EweMove DorkingYour policy should also, of course, include what your intentions are in respect of both responding and ensuring the necessary work is carried out.

As a minimal requirement, I would suggest that your policy includes that you will provide a response to the complaint within 14 days at the very latest. If this is an issue, then you really ought to consider engaging the services of a managing agent to do it for you.

Of course, getting works carried out may take longer. However, always make sure you:

  • keep a written record to show what you’ve done and that you have done everything you could have done in order to get the works carried out as quickly as possible.
  • keep the tenants informed (preferably with a paper trail), every step of the way.

If, for any reason, the tenant is obstructive, ensure you also keep a written record of this too.

  1. Make sure your tenant knows about your approach and attitude towards reporting repairs as early as possible. It would be a good idea for tenants to sign your policy to indicate that they are aware of it but you also need to make sure it’s easy for your tenant to report a problem. Make sure they know how to do so, and continue, throughout the tenancy, to remind them that you take a positive attitude towards repairs.
  2. Make sure you know your legal repair obligations (both in respect of the exterior structure and the internal installations such as water, gas, electricity and sanitation) under Section 11 of the Landlord & Tenant Act 1985. If you’re not clear about any aspect, please get in touch.
  3. Make sure any agent you choose is both reliable and shares your positive and encouraging approach in respect of repairs.
  4. Keep a written record of works carried out and when.
  5. If you are thinking of evicting a tenant, for whatever reason, check that there is nothing outstanding before you issue your claim.

It’s a common-sense approach

Being positive and proactive in respect of complaints and repairs shouldn’t be an additional burden. In fact, it’s both essential and obvious, if you want to attract good, long-term tenants who treat your property well and keep it well maintained. Failure to be positive in your approach, not only opens you up to the possibility of a claim, it also means you are neglecting your own asset.

Graham Faulkner is Branch Director of EweMove Dorking

www.ewemove.com/dorkingHe’s bought and sold a lot of properties over the years and is also a portfolio landlord, as well as specialising in helping other landlords. Apart from his own experience and expertise, he can also recommend the right professionals, as tried and tested by him, to advise you.

Multi-award winning EweMove in Dorking is a residential property sales and lettings agency who pride themselves on being refreshingly different and standing out from the crowd. EweMove Dorking covers from Ockley to Oxshott.

Enquiries to 01306 406 506 or via email to dorking@ewemove.com

Have you protected yourself against rent arrears?

Have you protected yourself against rent arrears?

Protecting yourself against arrears

Research by the Residential Landlords Association suggests that 28% of landlords have experienced rent arrears in the last 12 months.

What’s more, earlier this year, a study by Your Move found that at least 9% of tenants across England and Wales were in arrears.

It paints a slightly bleak picture for landlords.

So how do you reconcile rent payments and collect both rent and arrears?

rent collection serviceDo you have an efficient, automated system or do you get out a ledger, spend several hours going through the books and several more chasing the payments?

And more importantly, what sort of impact is this having on your rental business and your stress levels?

Even the most efficient and well-organised landlords may find themselves dealing with a tenant who is in arrears and sometimes, with persistently late or non-payers, it can feel like the law is weighted heavily in the tenant’s favour.

All of which means, it’s very important to ensure you have the best possible systems to avoid arrears in the first place, as well as having protection in place in case the worst happens.

Prepare for late payment

Even the best tenants can fall into arrears sometimes so make sure you make provision for some arrears as you plan your annual costs. Otherwise, you may find yourself unexpectedly unable to meet your overheads.

As early as possible in your career as a landlord, build arrears into your financial plan. As you plan purchase costs and ongoing upkeep and outgoings, budget on the basis that you will only receive 10 out of 12 rent payments a year. This should give you a sufficient buffer to see you safely through any periods of late or non-payment.

Vet tenants and ask for a guarantor

A thorough vetting of any prospective tenant is essential. Most letting agents will do this for you but do check that their vetting process includes checking a tenant’s employment and previous landlord and in some cases, asking for someone to guarantee the rent payments. In fact, at EweMove we even go so far as visiting a prospective tenant in their current home because we believe that gives us a really good indication as to what sort of tenant they’ll be.

Insure against lost rental income

There are a variety of landlord insurance products available to help minimise your risk of loss. You will need to check the terms of any such policies to see what degree of tenant referencing they require, how much they will cover and whether that includes legal costs.

At EweMove we provide you with our own insurance and protection, namely with our Client Money Protection Insurance and if you’d like to know more about that, please get in touch.

Consider your collection process

This should include a written policy for dealing with late payment (including repayment terms) which you must stick to.

You should also try and make your rent collection as automated and efficient as possible: send reminders in advance of the day rent is due, collect rent by way of direct debit and have a system which tries to collect again if the first attempt fails.

And of course, regular reconciliation of payments due and made is another essential, so that you’re immediately aware if a payment is late.

But what if, despite your best efforts, the rent is still not paid?

dealing with rent arrears The first thing to remember is that you cannot evict your tenant yourself for non or late payment of rent. Indeed, you may be committing a crime if you do! Harassing a tenant can also result in criminal sanctions and fines.

Of course, you will need to contact a non-paying tenant promptly but this needs to be handled sensitively.  Find out what’s gone wrong and then you can establish the best way forward.

Your options will of course vary, from repayment plans to temporarily adjusting the rent or in the worse case scenario, applying to the courts for eviction. You may also want or need to take professional advice at this stage.

And remember, if you want to evict your tenant you will have to apply to the court for an order and there will be a period of at least two months even if you succeed before you get an order for vacant possession.

Graham Faulkner is Branch Director of EweMove Dorking

www.ewemove.com/dorkingHe’s bought and sold a lot of properties over the years and is also a portfolio landlord, as well as specialising in helping other landlords. Apart from his own experience and expertise, he can also recommend the right professionals, as tried and tested by him, to advise you.

Multi-award winning EweMove in Dorking is a residential property sales and lettings agency who pride themselves on being refreshingly different and standing out from the crowd. EweMove Dorking covers from Ockley to Oxshott.

Enquiries to 01306 406 506 or via email to dorking@ewemove.com

 

Should you use a letting agency?

Should you use a letting agency?

So, you’re thinking of becoming a landlord. But should you go it alone or engage a letting agency?

According to Property Checklists, there are over 400 rules and regulations governing a rental property and the relationship between a landlord and tenant. I haven’t counted them but I’m not surprised by that number. Property rental is a heavily regulated area and only going to get more so. And fall foul of the rules and procedures and it could cost you dear.

Of course, some landlords successfully go it alone but if you’re not sure whether you need the help of a letting agent, here are just some of the things we can help with.

Before you buy to rent

If you’re thinking of buying to rent, you should take advice from a local letting agent first. They’ll know what you can expect to get in terms of rental income and what the demand in your area is for different property types. This is a critical part of rental success which is often overlooked and a good letting agent will be able to recommend the best types of property to buy.

Getting your property ready

home safetyBefore you rent your property, there are a number of legal requirements that you have to comply with which include:

  • Protecting a tenant’s deposit within 30 days of receiving it
  • Installing smoke alarms on all floors and carbon monoxide detectors in any rooms with fuel-burning devices. Furniture should be flame resistant
  • Arranging a gas safety inspection if your property has gas and providing your tenant with a copy of the certificate
  • Ensuring the property has a valid EPC (Energy Performance Certificate), a copy of which again must be given to the tenant
  • Providing your tenant with a “How to rent” guide setting out landlord obligations and tenants’ rights
  • Ensuring any appliances at the property are safe
  • Updating the utilities
  • Ensuring you have a formal tenancy agreement. Although this is not a strict legal requirement, you would be extremely unwise to enter into a tenancy without one.

Failure to comply with the above could leave you facing a substantial fine or worse.

Finding and vetting tenants

finding tenantsThe next step of your rental journey is obviously to advertise your property in a way that attracts the right kind of tenants. Then you’ve got to show people around. This all takes time and a certain amount of know how.

In my last blog, I mentioned the importance of vetting prospective tenants and I can’t re-emphasis this enough. There are very strict and quite onerous Right to Rent checks which have to be carried out. You’ll also need to carry out financial checks but you may also have to check with their previous landlord or ask for a guarantor. At EweMove, we visit potential tenants in their current home to get an idea of what kind of tenant they’ll be.

But apart from finding prospective tenants, you’ll probably also want to find them quite quickly so you’re not left with a rent void but at the same time, you want someone who’s in it for the long haul, so you don’t find yourself looking for new tenants in 6 months’ time.

A good letting agency will have the resources and connections to achieve all of that in quite a tight timeframe.

Once your tenant moves in

Of course, as a landlord, your role doesn’t stop once your tenant moves in. You’ll need a proper inventory and a property check when they arrive but what about ongoing repairs and problems?

Our fully managed letting service which operates 24/7 (yes really) means you won’t get woken up in the middle of the night if something goes wrong or have to get involved in the day to day detail.

It also means you can be confident that your property is being well looked after and any works required are being carried out to an appropriate standard. Even after a tenant leaves, at EweMove we’ll organise the return of the deposit, checking the property, switching over utility bills etc.

Becoming a landlord can be a fantastic opportunity but it does involve a fair amount of ongoing hard work. Of course, you can go it alone but it’s really important that you take into account all of the above and whether you have the time and the know-how, before you decide to do so.

Graham Faulkner is Branch Director of EweMove Dorking

www.ewemove.com/dorkingHe’s bought and sold a lot of properties over the years and is also a portfolio landlord, as well as specialising in helping other landlords. Apart from his own experience and expertise, he can also recommend the right professionals, as tried and tested by him, to advise you.

Multi-award winning EweMove in Dorking is a residential property sales and lettings agency who pride themselves on being refreshingly different and standing out from the crowd. EweMove Dorking covers from Ockley to Oxshott.

Enquiries to 01306 406 506 or via email to dorking@ewemove.com

 

Are you paying for your children to live elsewhere?

Are you paying for your children to live elsewhere?

 If you are, you’re not alone

Back in March this year, research from Santander revealed that nearly 1 in 10 first time home buyers rely on grandparents for their deposit. And that’s 4 times more than the numbers who did so just 5 years ago.

In fact, 32% of first time buyers will use a family loan of some sort to help with the deposit and separate research by Legal & General and Cebr revealed that this year alone, parents will contribute £6.5billion towards a first time purchase by their child or children.

first time buyer Research has also revealed that most first-time buyers expect to pay a deposit of 32% of their annual salary, with some even expecting to spend as much as half their annual salary. And first-time buyers also expect to have to save for at least 5 years before they can buy.

Home ownership for the young has fallen

To add to an already worrying picture, research by the University of Cambridge and Anglia Ruskin University recently found that for 25- to 29-year-olds, home ownership has fallen by more than half in the last 25 years, from 63% in 1990 to 31% most recently.

And that means you may have to foot the bill 

Of course, these statistics highlight the continuing problems with a lack of affordable housing and low wages, which put many properties out of reach for young first time buyers. So it’s no surprise that buyers are turning to their family for help.

Bank of Mum and Dad But the Bank of Mum and Dad may now have to dig even deeper, as according to more recent research by Legal & General and Cebr, parents will be funding £2.3 billion of rental payments in 2017 and helping 9% of the UK’s renting population. That’s an average of £415 for every rental payment.

Add those statistics up and it’s estimated that parents will contribute some £8.8billion this year alone in helping their children to either rent or buy.

Good and bad news

The good news is that first time buyers remain resilient and optimistic. 10 million UK adults plan to buy their first home in the next five years. But the Social Mobility Commission is concerned about the impact these figures will have on those with lower incomes or with families who can’t afford to help, leaving their children unable to buy or even rent.

The answer?

There’s no doubt that there’s an urgent need for more affordable housing, different options when it comes to buying or renting and more flexible finance options. But resolving the problem is of course far more complex than that.

In the Social Mobility Commission’s State of the Nation 2016 report, they recommended a raft of measures including that the government should set a target of 3 million homes to be built over the next decade. They also recommended the sale of public sector land for new homes and permitting the development of green belt land.

Other suggestions included urging the government to rethink its starter home initiative, the introduction of tax incentives to encourage longer private sector tenancies and the redevelopment of the worst estates.

But meanwhile, back at the coalface…

Help to BuyWhich, if any, of these recommendations the government decides to implement of course remains to be seen and there’s certainly no quick fixes. So, with 10 million young adults planning to buy in the next few years, and others hoping to rent, it looks like the Bank of Mum and Dad may have to stay open for quite a while longer.

 

Graham Faulkner is Branch Director of EweMove Dorking

www.ewemove.com/dorkingHe’s bought and sold a lot of properties over the years and is also a portfolio landlord, as well as specialising in helping other landlords. Apart from his own experience and expertise, he can also recommend the right professionals, as tried and tested by him, to advise you.

Multi-award winning EweMove in Dorking is a residential property sales and lettings agency who pride themselves on being refreshingly different and standing out from the crowd. EweMove Dorking covers from Ockley to Oxshott.

Enquiries to 01306 406 506 / 01372 701 702, or via email to dorking@ewemove.com

How secure is your home?

How secure is your home?

Some basic home security measures to improve your security

how secure is your home Earlier this month, the Co-Op published the results of their survey into home security. It was a survey compiled with the help of a panel of ex-convicts and the headline findings were that:

  • “89% of ex-cons say [smart] connected homes will put thieves off
  • Ex-cons say 44% of thieves are opportunists so avoid tricky break ins
  • 20% of adults update their social profiles when they’re going on holiday”

So with that in mind, and if you’re thinking of just nipping out to pick up some milk without locking up, this blog is all about the things you need to do to improve your home security.

Doors and windows

home securityThis may seem an obvious starting point but in the majority of burglaries, the burglar gains access via a window or door. So here are 8 things you need to think about when it comes to gaining access to your home:

  • If you’ve just purchased a new home, consider having new locks fitted. There’s probably a master key or copies out there somewhere.
  • Consider the quality of your locks, doors and windows. It can take less than a minute for burglars to gain access and with most locks, all that’s needed is a crowbar or something that the burglar has found lying around, like a garden tool.
  • Deadlock bolt locks are best but take advice from a locksmith registered with The Master Locksmiths Association. Also make sure your doors are solid and silly as it may seem, dust your locks. A dusty deadlock tells a would-be burglar that you don’t use it!
  • Don’t just concentrate on your main entrance either. Make sure all your doors are solid and secure with sturdy locks.
  • Don’t leave a spare key outside. Such as under the mat or the plant pot. Again, most burglars know exactly where to look and it may invalidate your insurance.
  • Windows are also a weak spot, particularly if they don’t have locks. It takes less effort to force a window than a door and most neighbours don’t hear the sound of breaking glass. Locked PVC windows are the best deterrent.
  • Open windows are an open invitation to most burglars. The weather may still be mild but think twice before leaving all the windows open at night. According to the Co-Op survey, 55% of us do!
  • Lock your doors. Again, it’s easy to do – leave the front door unlocked while you nip next door or are in the garden at the back. But think twice because it makes you an easy target. 24% of householders leave their doors unlocked whilst at home, and over 44% have admitted to leaving their garden gates open. Don’t let it be you.

Smart Security

CCTV and motion activated lights are two of the best burglar deterrents. But according to the Co-Op survey, only 14% of UK adults say they’ve installed CCTV cameras and only 24% of UK adults say they’ve installed lights.

Fit a British Standard approved alarm system. Better style, with the all the smart technology now available, make security part of whatever systems you choose.

And if you’re going to be away, something as simple as asking a neighbour to park their car on your drive is sometimes enough to act as a deterrent.

Social security

home security It’s so easy to do and you probably already know you shouldn’t.  You go away on holiday or for the weekend and post photos on social media of the lovely time that you’re having. Photos of you at the airport or poolside, with a beautiful sunset.

But burglars have embraced technology just as much as you have and by posting those photos, you’re telling the world that your house is empty.

Similarly, think twice about leaving your family calendar on display. Can your holiday dates been seen from a window or if you were burgled – would one quick glance tell your unwelcome visitor when to return.

Inside security

Burglars are looking for small items that are easy to remove and won’t look bulky as they leave – like jewellery.  If you do have items of value, avoid hiding them in obvious places, like in your sock drawer or the bottom of a wardrobe. They’re the first place a burglar will look. Instead, consider investing in a safe.

These days, it’s not just your valuables that burglars are after. Personal information such as bank details, passports or even important or personal information on your computer (think wedding photos or work details) which can be ransomed make equally rich pickings. Keep laptops out of sight and remember your cyber security too.

Sleep tight

But don’t lie awake at night worrying about the chance of a break in. Only 2% of households are broken into each year. And if you’ve taken the proper precautions, you’ve minimised the chance of it happening it to you.

Oh, and there’s one last thing you could consider. It’s one of the Co-Op’s top ten deterrents – owning a barking dog! Good luck with that one.

Graham Faulkner is Branch Director of EweMove Dorking

www.ewemove.com/dorkingHe’s bought and sold a lot of properties over the years and is also a portfolio landlord, as well as specialising in helping other landlords. Apart from his own experience and expertise, he can also recommend the right professionals, as tried and tested by him, to advise you.

Multi award winning EweMove in Dorking is a residential property sales and lettings agency who pride themselves on being refreshingly different and standing out from the crowd. EweMove Dorking covers from Ockley to Oxshott.

Enquiries to 01306 406 506 / 01372 701 702, or via email to dorking@ewemove.com