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09Jun



We are delighted to report the latest data focuing on average house prices, the total number of sales and the size of the market around the country, focusing on the hotspots within the South West.


The figures are based on the latest data from the Land Registry House Price Index which helps to form a picture of the region’s housing markets. While there is no single measure which provides a complete picture of the market, below are 20 areas with statistics on the total value of all property transactions in the past year. This has been calculated by multiplying the average value of homes by the number of sales.






Market snapshot:


  • The district with the largest market is Cornwall which saw £2,044m worth of transactions in the year to January 2017.
  • This was followed by Wiltshire with £2,028m worth of sales over the same period.
  • The district with the highest overall average house price was Cotswold where prices sit at £352,300, which is 54% above the national average.
  • The market with the highest number of transactions was Cornwall with 9,378 sales occurring during the period.




Where have house prices increased the most? Here are five districts with the highest annual capital growth.



09Jun

Election result 2017: what will it mean for the housing market?

The UK wakes up today to the shock news that there is a hung parliament with no party winning the required 326 seats to form a majority. Clearly the decision to call a snap general election has backfired with the original 15 percentage point margin between the two major parties in polls materialising as just a 3-percentage point margin.


There will be a period of uncertainty as the new government forms. We have a good idea of what a Conservative minority government may look like for the housing sector from analysing their manifesto and previous commitments and what we do know is the housing sector needs a government that understands the housing crisis needs to be a priority. 


What should we expect from Teresa May and the Conservatives as the largest party in the House of Commons in the housing sector? 


In a recent report it was alleged that a higher percentage of homeowners thought that the Tories policies were more relevant and sympathetic to homeowners, but do sales and lettings agents working in that sector feel the same? 


So what should we all expect in the next four years? 


It is very unlikely that the government will amend or reverse changes to Stamp Duty, why would they? It is raising extra income for the treasury. It is also cooling the UK housing market and reducing transactions levels enabling first-time buyers to get onto the property ladder. 


The proposed tenant fee ban concluded its consultation process on the 2nd June and the outcome will be delivered shortly.  The ban has already been implemented in Scotland and Wales and so it appears it may be a foregone conclusion. 


But the real elephant in the room is the announcement within the Tory party manifesto that they intend to hold a full housing review, with particular emphasis on the cost of moving. They intend to make it cheaper for customers. Although in the short term this may be sidelined by other priorities, at some point this pledge will be delivered.


Is there a vendetta against the sector? Or will the Conservatives be considered a party that estate agencies can rely on to produce policies for growth? 


None of us, unfortunately, know the answer to that.


Source: Iain Mckenzie, CEO GUILD OF PROPERTY PROFESSIONALS


01Apr

The Improvements That Add Value to Your Home


The beginning of April marks the start of National Home Improvement Month, the time of year where home owners are encouraged to improve their homes, whether they are selling now or looking to sell in the future. So, what advice can we give you on how best to add value to your home?


As National Home Improvement Month starts, NAEA Propertymark (National Association of Estate Agents) offers advice on how property owners can add value to their homes by making improvements.

National Home Improvement Month encourages home owners to improve their homes this April. Whether you are selling now or maintaining your home to sell in the future, there are many small home improvements you can address to keep your property in best shape for when the time comes to sell-up, advises NAEA Propertymark.

Mark Hayward, Chief Executive, NAEA Propertymark, says: “Faced with a difficult housing market, updating and maintaining a property is more important now than ever for homeowners. Whether you need more space but can’t afford to move, or want to put your house on the market, you should be making the most of what you’ve got. You can be on a budget or willing to spend, there are always innovative improvements that can be undertaken which will successfully increase your home’s value”. 


NAEA Propertymark’s 10 top home improvement tips to increase the value of your home:

1. Mirrors

If you cannot add a skylight or build a conservatory to brighten up your home, there are simple yet effective ways of creating light through the use of a few mirrors. Hanging mirrors opposite windows tricks the eye into thinking there is another window there and maximises the impact of natural lighting. Another illusion when capturing light is to reflect it into any darker corners, to make your property look bigger and brighter.

2. A pristine and private garden

Giving your garden a makeover can go a long way. Start by tidying away any litter, mowing your lawn, removing all perennial weeds and cutting back overgrown trees and shrubs.

Once you have made the space look attractive, try and create a feeling of solitude. An open, clutter-free space is appealing but privacy is essential. Consider growing trees or adding boundary fences and walls, which can go up to two metres without needing planning permission. Another option would be to assemble a structure in the space such as a pergola. As well as creating privacy, this is a great way to separate areas of your garden for socialising and to extend the use of your garden into the colder months.

3. Opening up space

Opening up living space is becoming more and more popular, particularly for the kitchen and dining room. Combining the two into one large room creates a sociable space, great for the whole family to enjoy. Knocking through walls to create this open-plan living space is an effective way to add value to a property because a larger space is not only trendy but more useful. However, it is important to remember the practicalities with this, as many consumers still like the front room philosophy that can be used for special occasions or to be used for privacy by the adults. 

4. Makeover the kitchen

An attractive, hygienic and fresh looking kitchen is essential. Start by painting the cabinets to give a fresh look and replace doors and handles if needed. Improve kitchen storage where you can; a larder for example is hugely attractive among house-hunters. Make sure there is adequate lighting as well, it’s very easy and cost effective to install under unit lighting. Finally, ensure that any floor tiles are well fitted and a colour that is easy to maintain and keep clean.

5. Get rid of busy wallpaper

With each potential house buyer having varied tastes in patterns and texture, certain wallpaper designs can be seen as overwhelming. Wallpaper can also be difficult to remove which could lead to people being put off by if they are looking for a home to move straight into. We recommend using paint and keeping colours neutral, making it a simpler job for the next homeowner and the property overall becomes more appealing. 

6. Replace doors

First impressions count. The front door of your home can say a lot about the rest of the house to viewers seeing it for the first time. If you cannot afford to replace the door, make sure it looks attractive by giving it a power wash or a fresh lick of paint.

7. Converting the loft

A loft conversion is a more expensive improvement yet probably gives back the best value for money. Most lofts can be easily converted and expanding the house upwards offers homeowners an extra bedroom for growing families or a space for extra storage. Adding an extra bedroom can give huge value to your home, particularly if it includes an en-suite bathroom.  Remember to seek planning permission before undertaking this work though. 

8. Be energy efficient

Fitting your home with energy efficient appliances can add value to your home by promising to knock the costs of bills. With a huge variety of new products on the market for this, it’s increasingly becoming a key feature for new homes.

9. Double glaze the windows

Noisy roads can impact the value of a property. It will keep the home warm and keep the noise out, even if it’s near a main road.

10. Install a fireplace

A fireplace can bring a lot of character to a room and creates a focal point. It’s also practical; the warmth from the fire allows you to reduce the use of your central heating which will lead to savings on your energy bills.



28Feb

            


If you haven't ever heard of Japanese Knotweed, the Environment Agency describe it as "indisputably the UK's most aggressive and destructive plant".


Growing up to an inch a day, Knotweed has the ability to mature rapidly across a large surface area, with the slightest trace causing continuing problems.

Japanese Knotweed (or Fallopia Japonica) is a large, invasive plant species which finds its way into the fabric of a building, e.g. joints in concrete, cavity walls, weaknesses in broken mortar between paving slabs or bricks, and in severe circumstances, can cause major structural damage to properties.

In a landmark legal case, Network Rail is now facing compensation claims after they ignored pleas by residents to remove the Japanese Knotweed growing on its land after it encroached on to their homes.

Neighbours Robin Waistell and Stephen Williams saw the value of their homes halved after the weed spread into the foundations which resulted in Mr Waistell unable to sell his house. It is virtually impossible to secure finance on land or property with Japanese Knotweed on or adjacent to it as UK banks and lending institutions will not give mortgages on properties affected by knotweed.

After a four-day hearing at Cardiff County Court, the rail giant was ordered to pay £4,320 to each of the men to treat the knotweed and £10,000 each in compensation for the fall in value of their homes. The judge added that if the knotweed was not treated, they could also claim for the full drop in value, a substantial £66,000.

So, what advice can you give on how best to spot and tackle Japanese Knotweed?

Knotweed is often identified during site surveys. Whilst it may look small and contained, do not underestimate the scale of the potential problem; the plant can grow up to nine feet in height and roots up to three metres deep. It is important to have the plant treated as soon as possible to avoid further growth and prevent the property sale from falling through.

Financially, eradication of Japanese Knotweed can become costly if left untreated.

For more information, our useful guide on Knotweed sets out eight top tips on what to look out for and how to deal with the plant.


Source: NAEA PROPERTY MARK


27Feb

Government Response to Starter Homes Consultation

                       


Over the last twenty years the proportion of under 40 year olds who own their home has fallen by over a third, from 61% to 38%.


The Housing White Paper, Fixing Our Broken Housing Market, sets out the Government’s plan to help over 200,000 people become homeowners by the end of the Parliament through its programmes.

To coincide with the release of the housing white paper, the Government also released the results of its consultation on starter homes.

For young aspiring home owners who would be unable to obtain a mortgage for the full market price of a home, the Government is committed to ensuring there is a range of affordable homes to support their aspiration to buy. Starter homes will be an important part of this offer.

Starter homes are targeted at first-time buyers, between 23 and 40 years old who are unable to get a mortgage for the full market price of a home. Sold at least 20% below market value, the Government’s aim is for starter homes to be sold to those who are genuinely committed to living in an area.

The average market price for homes bought by first time buyers in November 2016 was £180,000 across England outside London and £422,000 in London. After discount, each starter home will cost no more than £250,000 outside London and £450,000 in London. The Government expect starter homes to be entry level properties priced in line with the local first time buyer market.

In May 2016, NAEA Propertymark responded to the DCLG consultation on starter homes, questioning the affordability of Starter Homes, despite their 20% discount. We also raised the issue that there was no reference in the consultation to the size of starter homes and therefore local authority planners should consider policy to reflect the changing demographic of first time buyers.

The Government has decided not to implement a compulsory starter homes requirement on councils at this point in time. The Government said they will commence the general duty on councils to promote the supply of starter homes and bring forward regulations to finalise the starter homes definition and monitoring provisions.

Consultation results

The Government will restrict the sale and sub-letting of starter homes following initial sale and will set out its plans in regulations. NAEA suggested that the restrictions on the sale and sub-letting of starter homes for the planned 5 years following initial sale should be longer.

Government have carefully considered the arguments for a longer repayment period and as a result, the restricted period will be 15 years (a period of between 8-15 years was suggested in the consultation). The Government will also incorporate a mortgage requirement through the regulations. This would require a minimum 25% mortgage and enable the use of home purchase plans in this requirement.

Flexibility will be given over the age restriction to joint purchasers looking to buy a starter home. When one purchaser is under 40 years old but the other is older than 40 and both are first-time buyers, they will be eligible to buy a starter home. Injured military service personnel and those who partner has died in service will be exempt from the age restriction.

The starter homes requirement and off-site commuted sums

The Housing and Planning Act 2016 allows for off-site commuted sums to be made in lieu of starter home provision. This would mean that local planning authorities must agree to an off-site contribution for purpose built private rented sector housing and specialist older people’s housing.

NAEA Propertymark were among the supporters for the use of commuted sums to deliver starter homes where the local planning authority agrees.

Monitoring and reporting

The Government will include a monitoring requirement on the number of starter homes granted planning permission. Local planning authorities will have the option to annex the starter homes monitoring requirements to their Authority Monitoring Reports (AMR). Reports will be required to be published on an annual basis, however to allow more flexibility, Government have not yet specified the date for the production of the first report. 

Housing White Paper

Following a consultation in December 2015, the Government will change the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) to allow more brownfield land to be released for developments with a higher proportion of starter homes.

Through the Housing White Paper, the Government are consulting on proposes to amend the NPPF to introduce a clear policy expectation that suitable housing sites deliver a minimum of 10% affordable home ownership units. It will be for local areas to work with developers to agree an appropriate level of delivery of starter homes, alongside other affordable home ownership and rented tenures.

The Government are also consulting on their intention to make clear through the NPPF that starter homes should be available to households with an income of less than £80,000 (£90,000 for London).

The housing white paper consultation is open for responses until 2 May 2017. 

What's next?

The Starter Home Land Fund will be committed to supporting the preparation of brownfield sites and development in rural areas – 30 partnerships with local authorities were announced on 3 January 2017, with further partnerships to be developed in due course.

Starter homes now sit alongside the Government’s efforts to build other affordable home ownership tenures (shared ownership, Help to Buy and Right to Buy). The result of these changes mean that the Government has changed its focus from starter homes, to a wider range of affordable homes. 

Housing Minister Gavin Barwell said:

“This government is committed to building Starter Homes to help young first time buyers get on the housing ladder. This first wave of partnerships shows the strong local interest to build thousands of Starter Homes on hundreds of brownfield sites in the coming years. One in three councils has expressed an interest to work with us so far.”

SOURCE: NAEA PROPERTY MARK


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