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HomeLet Agent’s Newsletter

Issue 14 December 2009

workingtogether

Introducing Landlord’s Insurance+ Tenant’s Contents Insurance+ sales double! A testing year for the lettings industry An update from HomeLet Managing Director, John Boyle And much more…


This edition... Welcome to this bumper edition of Working Together, the HomeLet newsletter. This includes our regular feature by HomeLet Managing Director, John Boyle, news on the launch of our brand new product and much more. We love to here from you so if you’ve got any feedback on any of our features why not send your thoughts through to us at marketing@homelet.co.uk

A testing year for the lettings industry In early 2009 the fall in house prices and subsequent downturn in the residential sales market obviously generated a lot of media attention. But as we know supply and demand issues and increased competition have caused 2009 to be a difficult and testing year for the lettings industry. ARLA have recently reported an increase in the number of new instructions which is promising for all letting agents. Also, the NAEA recently released figures showing an increase in the number of people viewing properties for sale. This could continue to influence competition in the lettings market as estate agents, who turned to lettings when sales ground to a halt, begin to shift their focus back to sales. Even though ARLA have reported an increase in lettings instructions the more recent recovery in house prices has caused many reluctant landlords to end tenancies rather than renew them, so that they can put their properties back on the sales market. So, for now at least with excess lettings stock decreasing at a steady rate, the lettings market seems to be stabilising once again. Although we’re seeing improvements, the property market as a whole is still in a fragile state. Savills, for example, are predicting a 7% drop in house prices in 2010. This combined with the lack of mortgage finance could stifle the sales market in 2010 and again this could impact the balance of supply and demand in the lettings market.

‘There has never been a more important time to ensure that your business stays ahead of the competition’ The difficulties faced by the sales market have also caused many potential buyers to change their perspective when it comes to renting a property. An increasing number of younger tenants are now looking at renting as a long term arrangement, rather than the traditional stop gap whilst they save to buy a house. The recent increase in house prices will only exacerbate this, because many first time buyers still can’t afford to get on the property ladder. I firmly believe that throughout 2010 and for the foreseeable future the number of privately rented homes will increase in the UK, filling the gap in the shortage of housing and of course providing ample opportunity for letting agents. Although I’m positive about the future it’s safe to say that no one can rest on their laurels. The lettings industry is a fast moving environment and in the current economic climate, there has never been a more important time to ensure that your business stays ahead of the competition, by making the most of what HomeLet can offer your business. As margins are squeezed the products and services that you can offer your landlords through HomeLet have never been more essential. Take Rent Guarantee for instance, according to statistics released by Landlords Assist nearly 75 percent of all residential landlords in the UK face the challenge of dealing with tenants who have fallen into rental arrears.

John Boyle, Managing Director of HomeLet With unemployment remaining high and not set to recover for some time the risk of rent arrears is something that every landlord faces. Being able to guarantee your landlords rent with a HomeLet Rent Guarantee gives your landlords the assurance that if anything does happen, we’ll pay the rent and our in-house Claims & Legal team will take care of them. 2009 has been another successful year for HomeLet. We’ve made a range of improvements to our service and launched several new products, including the extremely successful Tenant’s Contents Insurance + and the all new Landlord’s Insurance+. This is further proof of our commitment as the market leader to provide you with an unbeatable service. Finally I hope you all enjoy the festive period and I wish you all a prosperous 2010.


We’re even better Our business evolves around our customers and we’re always looking for ways to improve our market leading service. So, following the success of our last Customer Satisfaction survey, we’ve recently run our second survey for 2009, to find out exactly what it is you like about the products and services we provide. We’ll use this information to make even more changes. We’ve been working hard this year to make sure we’re constantly improving the service we offer you and make changes following your feedback. As a reminder, here’s a selection of the things we’ve improved or changed this year: We released a new product, Tenant’s Contents Insurance+, which is even more affordable and allows up to three tenants to share the same policy. Sales have doubled, which means we’re paying out more commission to you than ever before. We extended our insurance line opening hours: Monday to Friday 8.30am to 8pm and Saturday 9.30am to 1pm, so your landlords and tenants can reach us at a time that suits them. We improved our automatic Tenant’s Contents quote, making it easier for you to sell insurance and earn commission. We reduced the price of Prestige Rent Guarantee by 25%, making essential cover even more affordable.

We changed our referencing criteria, to speed up our referencing service by removing the previous employment check. To help the environment and speed up our referencing process we switched to document imaging, so we’re now a paperless office, even if you fax us. We made it possible to renew Rent Guarantee policies on Connect so now you can view and manage all of your Rent Guarantees online, which is quicker and easier. We released a brand new landlord’s insurance product, Landlord’s Insurance+, this means that you can offer your landlords a product that’s like no other on the market, and earn commission. We introduced the HomeLet tenant blacklist and now cross reference applicants with previous HomeLet Rent Guarantee claims. This is something that other credit agencies can’t provide.

As you know we love to hear from you and welcome any feedback you may have on our products and services we welcome new ideas too, so contact us at customerfeedback@homelet.co.uk to let us know what you think.


Introducing... Landlord’s Insurance+ When it comes to taking the risk out of property rental, HomeLet is the specialist. We’ve been in the industry since the birth of Buy-to-Let, which means we have more experience than anyone else! We’ve used this experience to develop Landlord’s Insurance+. We now offer great cover, with more features at a better price!

HomeLet Becor House Green Lane Lincoln LN6 7DL

HomeLet Becor House Green Lane Lincoln LN6 7DL

HomeLet Becor House Green Lane Lincoln LN6 7DL

HomeLet Becor House Green Lane Lincoln LN6 7DL

telephone 0845 117 6000

telephone 0845 117 6000

telephone 0845 117 6000

telephone 0845 117 6000

telephone 0845 117 6000

fax online

cludes:

fax

0845 117 6001 homelet.co.uk

online

0845 117 6001 homelet.co.uk

fax online

0845 117 6001 homelet.co.uk

fax online

0845 117 6001 homelet.co.uk

fax online

HomeLet Becor House Green Lane Lincoln LN6 7DL telephone 0845 117 6000 fax online

0845 117 6001 homelet.co.uk

Our range of insurance solutions for landlords also includes:

Our range of insurance solutions for landlords also includes:

Our range of insurance solutions for landlords also includes:

Our range of insurance solutions for landlords also includes:

Our range of insurance solutions for landlords also includes:

• Landlord’s Buildings Insurance • Landlord’s Contents Insurance • Emergency Assistance • Prestige Rent Guarantee • Legal Expenses

• Landlord’s Buildings Insurance • Landlord’s Contents Insurance • Landlord’s Contents Insurance for Unfurnished Properties • Prestige Rent Guarantee • Legal Expenses

• Landlord’s Buildings Insurance • Landlord’s Contents Insurance • Landlord’s Contents Insurance for Unfurnished Properties • Emergency Assistance • Legal Expenses

• Landlord’s Buildings Insurance • Landlord’s Contents Insurance • Landlord’s Contents Insurance for Unfurnished Properties • Emergency Assistance • Prestige Rent Guarantee

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HomeLet is a trading name of Barbon Insurance Group Limited which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority. Registered in England number 03135797. Registered office address: 4-9 Highview, High Street, Bordon, Hampshire, GU35 0AX. B141 12/09

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18/11/2009 12:12

HomeLet is a trading name of Barbon Insurance Group Limited which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority. Registered in England number 03135797. Registered office address: 4-9 Highview, High Street, Bordon, Hampshire, GU35 0AX. B142 12/09

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Agent Stamp

HomeLet is a trading name of Barbon Insurance Group Limited which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority. Registered in England number 03135797. Registered office address: 4-9 Highview, High Street, Bordon, Hampshire, GU35 0AX. B143 12/09

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18/11/2009 12:12

Agent Stamp

HomeLet is a trading name of Barbon Insurance Group Limited which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority. Registered in England number 03135797. Registered office address: 4-9 Highview, High Street, Bordon, Hampshire, GU35 0AX. B144 12/09

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• Landlord’s Buildings Insurance • Landlord’s Contents Insurance • Landlord’s Contents Insurance for Unfurnished Properties • Emergency Assistance • Prestige Rent Guarantee • Legal Expenses Agent Stamp

HomeLet is a trading name of Barbon Insurance Group Limited which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority. Registered in England number 03135797. Registered office address: 4-9 Highview, High Street, Bordon, Hampshire, GU35 0AX. B145 12/09

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Designed by Optima Graphic Design Consultants 01522 522 773 www.optimadesign.co.uk

B140 12/09

Agent Stamp

The full range of insurance solutions for landlords includes:

Designed by Optima Graphic Design Consultants 01522 522 773 www.optimadesign.co.uk

HomeLet is a trading name of Barbon Insurance Group Limited which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority. Registered in England number 03135797. Registered office address: 4-9 Highview, High Street, Bordon, Hampshire, GU35 0AX.

Agent Stamp

Designed by Optima Graphic Design Consultants 01522 522 773 www.optimadesign.co.uk

Plus don’t forget that insurance premiums for your let property are often tax deductible!

Designed by Optima Graphic Design Consultants 01522 522 773 www.optimadesign.co.uk

Plus don’t forget that insurance premiums for your let property are often tax deductible!

Designed by Optima Graphic Design Consultants 01522 522 773 www.optimadesign.co.uk

Plus don’t forget that insurance premiums for your let property are often tax deductible!

Designed by Optima Graphic Design Consultants 01522 522 773 www.optimadesign.co.uk

Plus don’t forget that insurance premiums for your let property are often tax deductible!

Agent Stamp

0845 117 6001 homelet.co.uk

Plus don’t forget that insurance premiums for your let property are often tax deductible!

Plus don’t forget that insurance premiums for your let property are often tax deductible!

• Landlord’s Buildings Insurance • Landlord’s Contents Insurance for Unfurnished Properties • Emergency Assistance • Prestige Rent Guarantee • Legal Expenses

Designed by Optima Graphic Design Consultants 01522 522 773 www.optimadesign.co.uk

perties

HomeLet Becor House Green Lane Lincoln LN6 7DL

18/11/2009 12:12

Landlord’s Insurance+ is cheaper

• 29% cheaper on average than our current product

• 50% cheaper than Endsleigh in 45% of cases

• 8% cheaper on average than Endsleigh

• 51% cheaper than Lets-Cover (underwritten by AXA) in 70% of cases

• 28% cheaper on average than Lets-Cover

Comparisons are based on standard policies where available during the 3rd quarter of 2009

Landlords are exposed to more risks than they may realise and that could mean that a standard household insurance policy won’t provide the cover they need, that why Landlord’s Insurance+ includes:

• Easy quote process – no re-build value needed, £500,000 cover as standard (Buildings)

• Contents insurance for furnished and unfurnished properties

• Discounts for managed properties

• Loss of rent and re-letting costs for up to two years

• Emergency Assistance cover included as standard

• Malicious and Accidental Damage by tenant upgrade options

• Variable excess options - including nil excess

We’ll happily call your landlords and one of our experts will explain the benefits of a specific policy whilst you relax and earn commission. So, if it’s important for you to deliver a better service, and generate additional revenue streams and you’re not offering insurance already then contact your HomeLet Representative or call us today on 0845 117 6000.

We offer unique discounts if a landlord’s property is managed by a Letting Agent, making it even easier for you to promote Landlord’s Insurance+ and earn commission.

18/11/2009 12:12


home

insurance referencing reports accounts information help

connect Connecting our businesses… We know how much our letting agents love Connect and as you know we’ve made a range of improvements to Connect already this year. But, that’s only the beginning! There will be plenty of exciting new changes coming soon. We’ve been listening to you and throughout 2010 we’ll be making sure that our online system is unbeatable.

What have we done so far? Actions speak louder than words, so here’s a reminder of just some of the changes we’ve already made…

• Simple online Rent Guarantee renewals, making it even easier for you to protect your landlords • The ability to print a completed application form, saving you time when an applicant is in the office • You can now send attachments when you ‘email an assessor’, so information goes directly to the referencing advisor completing your reference • We’ve improved our postcode finder, so it’s even more efficient • You can now print pre-populated Case Complete sheets, saving you time

We’ve given you 24 more reasons to

♥ Connect since July!

What’s coming soon? We’re updating the image and usability of Connect making it even more user friendly and easier on the eye.

• Soon Connect will tailor online applications depending on your tenant’s circumstances. So for example, if your tenant’s retired we’ll only ask for pension details. This means that there’s no confusion and rather than completing a full application you only need to enter what’s needed, speeding up the referencing process.

• You’ll soon be able to download and print the Signed Declaration page on its own, saving paper.

• You’ll be able to log on guarantor applications even before the tenant’s reference is complete, so if you know one is needed we can work on both applications at once, saving you time.

• You’ll be able to submit company application forms online

We want you… Your feedback is essential to the improvements we’re making to Connect so if you’ve got any suggestions please send them through to us at customerfeedback@homelet.co.uk

VAT Change Remember that on 1st January 2010, the VAT rate is switching back to

17.5%.


Insurance… made easy In a competitive market, insurance is often an under rated revenue stream, which as well as generating income can also differentiate your service from your competitors. We want to work smarter, not harder and by making sure that you have the FSA status that best suits your business needs is one way we can do this. Many agents have chosen to change their status to Introducer Appointed Representatives (IAR). Here’s a reminder of what this means:

• Your customers can still transact insurance business with us • You still receive commission on every sale • There’s no annual return or complicated paperwork for you to complete • There’s no need for specific training, saving you time to focus on your business

Becoming an IAR gives you the flexibility to earn insurance commission more easily than ever before. We’ll help you to understand what will work best for your business. Want to know if you’ve got the right FSA status for your business? Then speak to your HomeLet representative, they’ll be happy to talk you through the various options.

Did you know… • During Christmas 2008 the UK consumed approximately 10m turkeys, 25m Christmas puddings and 35m bottles of wine! • HomeLet Premier agents earn 25% commission on insurance sales? (we couldn’t resist putting this one in) • The average a family spends £170 on Christmas dinner alone


Tenant’s Contents Insurance+ sales double! In June we launched Tenant’s Contents Insurance +. As well as providing great cover our Tenant’s Contents Insurance+ policy also covers up to two additional tenants who are named on the tenancy agreement. This doesn’t apply to students, but it could save your tenants a considerable amount of money. At the same time we supported you with new literature and worked with you to sell insurance. As a result sales have more than doubled. This means that we’re paying out more commission than ever before. So, if you’re not selling Tenant’s Contents insurance+ already why not contact your HomeLet Representative to find out how easy it is!

Could you offer your tenants more? We asked 1st Call Sales & Lettings Managing Director, Daniel Chambers, how his team incorporate Tenant’s Contents Insurance+ into their business model. ‘We bring up contents insurance early on because it fits in naturally to the conversation. In many cases insurance is simply something that tenants haven’t considered or they assume that the landlords insurance will cover them. ‘As an example we often mention mobile phone insurance. Tenants can often pay up to £7 a month just to cover their phone, yet they leave thousands of pounds worth of contents unprotected. The 1st Call Sales & Lettings team, receiving the Best New Business Award at the Southend District Business Awards

‘We mention HomeLet’s competitive prices, but the main focus is always the peace of mind that being insured brings, not only for the tenant but also for the landlord. If something unexpected happens they can both rest assured that the tenant’s contents are covered.’

Are you an award winning agent? HomeLet are the proud sponsors of the Estate Agent and Letting Agent of the year awards 2010. We’re delighted to be supporting the Awards especially because the awards are voted for and judged by the most important people in any property transaction - landlords and tenants. The Awards ceremony will be held in April and be hosted by Channel 4’s Phil Spencer. So, if you haven’t entered yet, why not visit estateagentoftheyear.com, we look forward to seeing you there.

Could you be receiving an award from Phil?


Christmas opening times At HomeLet we’re committed to providing you with great service no matter the time of year. So it’s business as usual for most of Christmas and New Year. But here are the dates that are affected Thursday 24th December 2009 - Open for business until 1:00 PM Friday 25th December 2009 – Closed Saturday 26th December 2009 - Closed Monday 28th December 2009 – Closed Friday 1st January 2010 – Closed Saturday 2nd January 2010 – Closed Don’t forget that Connect is still available 24/7 throughout the Christmas period. We wish you a prosperous 2010 and look forward to working together with you in the coming year.

Follow us on twitter Over the past year we’ve noticed an increasing number of letting agents using twitter to list properties, promote their services and discuss industry news and hot topics. We tweet the latest property news so, if you want to keep up to date (even if you’re not on twitter yet) why not visit http://twitter.com/HomeLet and follow us.

Say no to 0870 As you know we changed all our 0870 numbers a few months ago to new low cost 0845 numbers. The majority of our 0870 lines have now been disconnected. So please make sure that you update your phone lists or speed dials, we’d hate to miss your call.

Not a HomeLet agent yet?

Referencing helpline: 0845 111 2222 Referencing fax number: 0845 142 0265 Insurance helpline: 0845 117 6000 Rent Guarantee Renewals: 0845 142 0264

Not a HomeLet customer yet? Then why not call our New Customer team today on 0845 155 7999 we’d love to talk to you about what we could do for your business.

(Remember you can now renew Rent Guarantees online, using Connect) Rent Guarantee helpline: 0845 111 2222 Technical support team: 0845 345 2348 Compliance helpline: 0845 113 9015

Why not cut out this section and keep it as a handy reference?

HomeLet is a trading name of Barbon Insurance Group Limited which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority. Registered in England number 3135797. Registered office address: 4-9 Highview, High Street, Bordon, Hampshire. GU35 0AX HL 1184 1209


Homelet Newsletter working together issue 14