3 Wellington Park, Belfast, BT9 6DJ Estate Agents in Belfast : NI Homes Estate Agents
 

Frequently Asked Questions


ABOUT US

  1. What is the difference between using NI Homes Estate Agents and a conventional high street agent?
  2. What insurance do NI Homes Estate Agents hold?
  3. Do you have a health and safety policy?

1. What is the difference between using NI Homes Estate Agents and a conventional high street agent?

The main difference is that we offer value for money. Conventional estate agents with their flash offices have expensive overheads. As one client recently said "NI Homes Estate Agents are the Amazon of Estate Agents". We promise that what we save in overheads we will pass on to you.

Did you know that some of our competitors charge as much as 1.5% on sales and 10% on lettings? NI Homes Estate Agents are all about fair fees. That's why when you choose us you have the option of paying us a percentage or alternatively paying us a fixed fee.

A recent survey conducted by NI Homes Estate Agents found that over 96% of people start their search for a new home online. That's why we have invested in a state of the art website and advertise on websites including property pal and property news.

^ Back to top

2. What insurance do NI Homes Estate Agents hold?

Our company holds public liability insurance, professional indemnity insurance and commercial vehicle insurance. We can provide copies of all insurance certification on request.

^ Back to top

3. Do you have a health and safety policy?

Absolutely. We can provide you with a copy on request. We take health and safety very seriously. Our personnel are trained to exceptionally high standards. We also hold CSR and NEBOSH qualifications.

^ Back to top

SALES

  1. I'm in a hurry to sell for personal reasons. I know you guys are working hard to get my home sold but is there anything else I can do?
  2. My mortgage adviser has informed me that I don't need to have a survey carried out myself because the bank will do their own survey anyway. Is this true?

1. I'm in a hurry to sell for personal reasons. I know you guys are working hard to get my home sold but is there anything else I can do?

If you haven't already done so we would suggest that you appoint a solicitor now rather than waiting until your home is sale agreed. This will give your solicitor a head start in finding the deeds and all the relevant information.

^ Back to top

2. My mortgage adviser has informed me that I don't need to have a survey carried out myself because the bank will do their own survey anyway. Is this true?

The first thing is your mortgage adviser is most likely not a property expert. There are several different types of surveys.

Should you go through with your purchase the mortgage provider will arrange for a survey to be undertaken. This survey is only to ensure that should you default on your mortgage they will be able to recoup the amount they are lending you.

The mortgage provider will not conduct a comprehensive building survey. We would not recommend you purchase a property without having one of these carried out. Afterall you wouldn't buy a car without having it checked by a qualified mechanic.

The building surveyor will examine the property and its services. You will receive a detailed report listing any defects which were identified at the time of the inspection. You will also be advised if the property is likely to require any major work in the near future and furnished with an indication of the cost involved to undertake such works.

If you wish NI Homes Estate Agents can arrange a building survey for you at a discounted rate.

^ Back to top

LETTINGS

  1. What is this Tenancy Deposit Scheme everyone is talking about?
  2. What is an inventory report?
  3. Can NI Homes Estate Agents do an inventory / schedule of condition for me? If the tenant damages my property I want to evidence that my property was in good condition when the tenancy began.
  4. What is a periodic inspection?

1. What is this Tenancy Deposit Scheme everyone is talking about?

The Tenancy Deposit Schemes Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2012 require all landlords who take a deposit for a private tenancy on or after the 1st April 2013 to register the deposit with an approved tenancy deposit scheme. TDS Northern Ireland is a tenancy deposit protection scheme approved by the Northern Ireland Executive.

TDS Northern Ireland is designed to ensure that tenancy deposits are securely held and protected and that disputes about their return are resolved quickly, cheaply and fairly.

What do these regulations mean for landlords?

Any tenancy deposit accepted by a landlord on or after 1st April 2013 must be registered with an approved scheme (such as TDS Northern Ireland). The landlord or NI Homes Estate Agents must;

  • Within 14 days of receipt of the deposit register the deposit with an approved scheme;
  • and

  • Within 28 days of receipt of the deposit, serve prescribed information on the tenant and any relevant person

What if the landlord does not comply with the regulations?

Should a landlord fail to protect deposits and/or provide information in accordance with the regulations, this is a breach of the regulations and a landlord can be subject to a fixed penalty imposed by the district council of three times the deposit or a fine of up to £20,000.

^ Back to top

2. What is an inventory report?

An inventory report provides a fair, objective and impartial record of the general condition of the property as well as its internal condition at the outset of the lease of the property. When signed by the landlord and tenant it becomes a legally binding document and an integral part of the rental agreement.

What are the benefits of having one?

The importance of a professional inventory and statement of condition cannot be underestimated. Government advice indicates that inventories and statements of condition are "strongly recommended" as a means to reduce disputes about the deposit at the end of the tenancy.

Is the report aimed at the landlord or the tenant?

Because NI Homes Estate Agents are an accredited, independent inventory provider and produce objective reports, our reports may relied upon and used by the landlord, the tenant or the agent.

Can anyone prepare an inventory report?

All inventories should be prepared by a trained inventory provider. If you prepare an inventory you are leaving yourself open to criticism in terms bias. Remember, you need a signature on the inventory to prove that it is valid. You may also miss something vital which leads to a financial loss later on. Judges do not look favourably upon inventories prepared by landlords because they see it as an amateur attempt to fulfil a duty.

What do our inventory reports tell you?

Our inventory reports provide a clear and easy to follow statement of condition for each of the main elements of the property on a room by room basis, together with its contents if appropriate. It will comment on and highlight defects or aspects of poor condition that have been identified by the inventory provider. Defects in condition will either be described in the in the narrative of the report or evidenced in the photographs included in the report.

What do our inventory reports not tell you?

Whilst every effort is made to ensure objectivity and accuracy we will not provide a guarantee of adequacy or compliance. It will provide record that such items exist in the property as at the date of the inventory report and the superficial condition of the same. It is not a building survey, a structural survey or a valuation and it will not necessarily mention structural defects, nor will it give any advice on the cost of any repair work, or the types of repair which should be used.

What is inspected and not inspected?

The inventory provider carries out a visual inspection of the inside of the main building together with any contents and will carry out a general inspection of the remainder of the building including exterior cosmetic elements and any permanent outbuildings. Gardens and their contents will be inspected and reported upon. This inspection is 'non-invasive'. This means that the inventory provider does not take up carpets, floor boards, move large items of furniture, test services, remove secured panels or undo electrical fittings. Areas which are locked or where safe and easy access is not possible, for example attics or excessively full cupboards or outbuildings are not inspected.

Do I still need an inventory if the property is unfurnished?

Yes, because the inventory will also point out the condition of the walls, curtains / blinds, carpets, bathroom, kitchen appliances and the property as it stands. Some landlords believe that if their property is unfurnished, then they do not need an inventory, because there is very little that can be stolen, broken or damaged. However, just think about your beautiful white walls being painted pink and purple and the tenant leaves them in that state. Without an inventory if you deduct monies from the tenant's deposit without evidence and the tenant initiates legal action, you'll be out of pocket.

Why use photographs?

Our experience shows the best way to avoid misinterpretation and disagreement is by combining reports with photographs. Marks, scratches, stains and damage are photographed and serve to complement the written description and so avoid unpleasant disputes.

Who pays for the inventory?

A common arrangement is for the landlord to pay, but there is no hard and fast rule. There have been many cases whereby tenants have instructed our company for peace of mind.

^ Back to top

3. Can NI Homes Estate Agents do an inventory / schedule of condition for me? If the tenant damages my property I want to evidence that my property was in good condition when the tenancy began.

We can indeed. Its not a legal requirement to do so but it is considered best practice. With the new regulations in place governing deposits in our experience they are worth every penny. Inventories need to be of a certain standard. NI Homes Estate Agents are qualified to prepare inventories and are regulated by the Association of Professional Inventory Providers (APIP).

In the event of any disputes arising with a tenant you will want to be able to produce evidence which proves that a particular object was within the property on a certain date or that the damage in question was caused during the tenancy. For this reason a detailed inventory with accompanying photographs is highly recommended both at the start of the tenancy. This should be supplemented by a check-out report when the tenant is vacating.

Due to the time involved in preparing such reports an additional fee is charged for this service. However if you do not wish to avail of this our standard service includes:

  • One of our property inspectors will take digital photographs of all areas of the building. We will take responsibility for storing this documentary evidence and we will reproduce it for you should the need arise. This can then be used if there are any missing objects or damage for which the tenant will not accept responsibility.
^ Back to top

4. What is a periodic inspection?

A periodic inspection takes place during the tenancy to ensure that maintenance and repairs are identified and addressed in good time. Regular inspections can prove to make economic sense too as prevention is often less costly and disruptive than cure.

^ Back to top

PRACTICALITIES

  1. I want to list my property with NI Homes Estate Agents. What's the next step?
  2. I want to pay upfront and take advantage of your massive discounts however how do I know you won't run off with my money?
  3. Will you value my property?
  4. How will viewings of my property be conducted?

1. I want to list my property with NI Homes Estate Agents. What's the next step?

We would love to hear from you. Simply use the contact us feature on our homepage, drop us an email or give us a call.

^ Back to top

2. I want to pay upfront and take advantage of your massive discounts however how do I know you won't run off with my money?

We are a professional local company which is regulated by the RICS and the Property Ombudsman. Still unsure? Why not pay using your credit card. That way you will be protected by the Consumer Credit Act and in the event of any such issue arising you would be refunded by your card provider.

^ Back to top

3. Will you value my property?

Of course. We're really good at this. Listing a property at the correct price / rent is essential for success. We will arrange a mutually convenient time to visit your property and conduct an inspection. We will then provide you a report with an indication of what your home is worth along with our suggested asking price / rent. This service is free and you are under absolutely no obligation to instruct us.

^ Back to top

4. How will viewings of my property be conducted?

We want to offer our client's as much discount as possible. We love carrying out viewings and telling everyone how great your property is. However, if you want to save yourself some money you can easily do this aspect yourself. We simply liaise between you and the prospective party to agree on a mutually suitable time. If you do go for this option we will still take all the enquiries and handle the negotiations for you.

^ Back to top

MAINTENANCE ISSUES

  1. We had several ceilings plastered a few years ago to cover unsightly cracks. After forking out the money we now have a bunch of hairline cracks. They haven't got any worse in the last 6 months but they look awful. Is there anything we can do to fill them neatly? We really can't afford to have them replastered.
  2. I had a dripping water tap. This has now been repaired. However I have noticed a stain on the enamel of my sink directly beneath the water tap. What can I do to get rid of this?
  3. How can I reduce the steam in the bathroom. It really annoys me. I can't afford to get a tradesman to devise a solution.
  4. I have had my home broken into recently. Have you any handy tips that might help me?
  5. I have a lot of holes to drill in my new house. We have it newly decorated so I'm worried that I'll get dust every where and get in trouble with the wife. Have you any tips?

1. We had several ceilings plastered a few years ago to cover unsightly cracks. After forking out the money we now have a bunch of hairline cracks. They haven't got any worse in the last 6 months but they look awful. Is there anything we can do to fill them neatly? We really can't afford to have them replastered.

You don't need to replaster. The hairline cracks are from existing cracks that were plastered over. Apply self-adhesive joint tape or FibaTape over the cracks and then a coat of fast-set joint filler over the tape. Once the fast-set filler dries, simply give it a quick buff with sand paper and repaint.

^ Back to top

2. I had a dripping water tap. This has now been repaired. However I have noticed a stain on the enamel of my sink directly beneath the water tap. What can I do to get rid of this?

We would suggest cutting up a lemon and rubbing a piece over the stains. It usually does the trick.

^ Back to top

3. How can I reduce the steam in the bathroom. It really annoys me. I can't afford to get a tradesman to devise a solution.

You can reduce steam in the bathroom by simply running cold water into the bath before turning the hot water on. Another advantage to this is the less steam, the fewer mould spots there will be.

^ Back to top

4. I have had my home broken into recently. Have you any handy tips that might help me?

Unfortunately break-ins are on the rise. There are lots of things you can do help protect your property.

  1. Invest in an intruder alarm. This can be set-up so that even when your not at home you will receive a text message or a call to advise you that the alarm has been activated.
  2. Make sure your house looks secure. During an evening when the family are in, go outside and see how the house looks (which curtains are open, which lights are on and so on). This is how the house should look when you are out for the evening. Just leaving the hall light on isn't enough.
  3. Plant hedges and build walls in such a way that the entrance to your home can always be seen from the road.
  4. Take the back-door keys with you when you go out. A burglar may be able to break a small window to get in but will need to be able to open a door to get your stuff out. It is less risky for the burglar to use the back door than the front.
^ Back to top

5. I have a lot of holes to drill in my new house. We have it newly decorated so I'm worried that I'll get dust every where and get in trouble with the wife. Have you any tips?

It depends whether you are going to be drilling into a wall or a ceiling.

If it's a ceiling simply push the drill bit through a yoghurt pot to stop the dust from falling in your face and all over the floor. If it's a wall you can get a post-it note fold it in half so that it makes a right angle, stick it to the wall just beneath where you intend to drill. This will catch the dust for you. If you are doing lots of drilling you could use an envelope instead. You will just need some masking tape to attach it to the wall.

^ Back to top