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5 golden rules for letting your home

Thinking about letting your home to make a little extra dosh? Here's how to get the best bang for your buck.

Along with politicians and journalists (*a-hem!*), estate agents are among the least trusted professions in the UK. There won’t be a single Muddy reader who hasn’t been at the sharp end of a last minute fall through deal, or hidden costs that cripple you for the month. I still shudder when I think about those Foxton’s teens in London, driving those racing green Minis in their shiny suits, trying to rent, and later on, sell me all kind of rubbish.

It feels like the housing market in Bucks & Oxon has been in neutral for the last few years, waiting for a decision on Brexit to give it the push start it needs. But now with Brexit going ahead and some of us following new dreams in new places this year, letting out your property is worth considering.

But who to ask sensible advice from? My money’s on Mark Crampton Smith, owner of College & County in Thame and Oxford, whose calling card is ‘ethical lettings’ (and from this month, also ethical sales too – the agency is about to launch into the buying/selling market). College & County has won several Sunday Times lettings awards on the back of its refreshing approach – there are no hidden costs or charges at all and that’s a promise (*thud*).


So, what’s the easiest way to rent out your home to a brilliant tenant for the least hassle and the best return? Spill the beans Mark, we’re all ears.

Is there any money in renting out property these days?

Definitely, but only if you get your borrowing rate right. If you’re borrowing less than 65%, then it’s still a really viable source of income. The rental profit in Bucks and Oxon is 4.5%, which makes it a win-win situation for the buy-to-let market.

But hasn’t Brexit stuffed up the housing market? 

The housing market has been tricky for the last few years, but we’re now seeing the so-called ‘Boris Bounce’. People are feeling generally more optimistic, and we’re already seeing more transactions. It’s a good time to enter the lettings market, or to buy.

And I’m not going to get hit by increased taxes?

No. Partly because these are only really aimed that those borrowing at higher rates (90%+), in order to deflate the increased housing prices.  If you’re letting one or two properties, you’ll be fine. We always recommend reading up – you can find more info from HMRC here.

Okay, so where are the local hotspots to rent out or buy now?

Winslow is a good option for investing right now thanks to the new station, which will increase connectivity into Oxford. Bicester and Haddenham are still performing well due to the transport links into London; people are still moving their families out of the smoke and then commuting back in. Even though people are working from home more and more, people still need to travel back into the ‘hub’. Don’t rely on the new Expressway from Oxford to Cambridge though – who knows what’s happening with that! Twenty years ago it was rural properties that commanded a premium, but now people want the best of both worlds, they want amenities, so towns like Thame will perform very well in terms of property investment.

When’s the smartest time to rent out, or sell, my property? 

It really depends on the property. If you’re letting out a family home in a good school catchment area, then you want your property on the market by early summer at the latest, as parents want to move in ready for the start of the school year. Smaller properties like one bedroom flats are less time dependent, they’re popular all year round. 

If you’re managing your own letting, try not to start leases in November or December. It’s not a great time for the market, so if your tenant chooses not to renew you could be stuck with an empty property for months. Wait until the new year when more people are moving. 

Be careful of estate agents who just stick your place on the market ASAP – it might not be the right time for you. That’s one of the ways we’re different and more ethical in our approach – we’ll always advise on the best time regardless of whether it means waiting a month or two.

My parents are downsizing and wants to move out of the old family home. Should they sell or rent? 

Again, depends! It can often be cheaper to let out the family home and then rent a new, smaller property rather than going down the selling route, as they’ll be hit with stamp duty and expensive fees, but it’ll always depend on your circumstances. Make sure you and your parents get solid impartial advice before making a decision. 

Finally, what’s the one thing you want our readers to know?

Good, independent advice should always be free. Don’t give in to the sharks!

College and County, Oxford: 9-10 St Clement’s St, Oxford, OX4 1AB. Tel: 01865 722722. Thame: 55 North St, Thame, OX9 3BH. Tel: 01844 260201. 

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