Friday, 23 May 2008

What to do with the house while we are away...

Right from the beginning we knew that going away for 12-15 months was going to mean we would need to do something with the house. Options were 1) keep it empty – no rent/no costs, 2) sell it – possibly not a good idea in the current climate, and besides we have a really good mortgage deal!! Or 3) rent it out – the popular choice, but you really need to set your mindset.

We have finally gone for the rental option. Benefits being:

  • Rental income offsets the mortgage – a big plus, and means we can go away with less financial pressure.
  • Your house gets used, cleaned and hopefully cared for!
  • You limit the storage requirements for things, if you were to sell up
  • For us specifically, we get to keep our wonderful 10yr mortgage deal.
  • It’s a new experience – being a landlord – so why not?

All the guidance suggests that if you are going to rent and go away, then vacate your place early and rent while still in the country. This will give you some chance of getting the Tenant you really want, also any teething problems can be ironed out. However this could pose a problem as you have to live somewhere yourself!! We are in a wonderful position as my mum and Dad live 20 miles down the road, and therefore we have been able to move out a year before departing and move in with them – Thanks Mum/Dad!

Despite having them so close by we have gone for a fully managed rental service with our chosen agent – Oulsnam (a local group in the West Midlands) . They offer a fully managed service which I personally think is the best option. They will promote, let and manage the relationship with the Tenant, all we have to do is count the cash in, and authorise any works that might be required. Our house is 4 years old, so the hope is that not a lot of work would be needed. Fingers crossed.

A really good site to check out is the career break site - they have loads of current info. Summary thoughts are:

  • Start six months before you NEED to rent (your departure date). Even rent some where yourself if required.
  • Meet at least 3 agents before you decide who to go with – remember if you are going fully managed, your house is in their hands, so don’t be attracted by the highest rental quote, think about the company.
  • Management fees run at around 10%
  • What you leave in a furnished house is the landlord’s responsibility to maintain and therefore cost to repair. Think about what you leave.
  • Make sure the issues of income Tax are resolved. If you are away for 6+ months, you can claim tax exemption – the Inland Revenue have a form for this – NRL1. Have not done this yet so can’t tell you how the process is.
  • Sort your buildings contents insurance out, you will still need some.
  • ENJOY THE TRIP, don’t worry about the house.

I will post more as we go; currently we have started packing and will keep things updated.

Friday, 2 May 2008

A year to go!

Right well here we are, check point No. 1 approached and passed!! We have a year to go before Urvi and I depart for RTW 2009.

It is strange; a lot has been done so far, mainly related to saving for the trip, and setting the itinerary. There is still loads to do, and judging by the pre trip action plan I have set up – which now contains over 200 actions! – we are gonna by busy.

The main thing to say at this stage is I can honestly say plan early and get moving with the plan. As a planner by profession I really enjoy this, and have set up endless spreadsheets setting out what we need to do and by when. The trick is to do things in time, and don’t leave it to the last moment.

Emotionally is it a great feeling to know that this time next year we will either by on our trip or so close that we could almost touch it! Now the fun will really start.

Of course all this fun is not without cost, it is almost like having a 2nd full time job, as the evenings and weekends often go in sorting plans out, re-planning and then actually carrying out the plan!!! We have also undertaken some practice treks and plan to do a number of weekend treks before we go, lets see how much we actually do!! More posts on these as we go.

We are then also renting our house out, so will embark on getting this sorted, there is a wealth of info on the web about how to rent your place out when you embark on a trip like this, it is clearly worth doing but has its pitfalls and once again, get things sorted early is the motto (more on renting in a bit).

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