Average deposit rises above £50k

Average first-time buyers need to put down a deposit of more than £50,000 to secure a home, claims new research.

Figures from mortgage advisor L&C Mortgages show the average deposit is now £51,821, which could rise to £65,930 in five years and £81,468 in a decade.

London buyers are also expected to need to increase their deposit substantially to around £250,000 within the next ten years.

However, the study also revealed 25 per cent of first-time buyers have not yet saved anything towards a deposit and are not optimistic about stepping on the property ladder in the near future.

“With this research predicting that the size of deposits required could rise considerably across the country, first-time buyers could be forgiven for giving up hope on owning their first home,” said David Hollingworth from L&C.

He added it makes sense for buyers to save as big a deposit as possible because of the more favourable mortgage deals for those with a larger down payment – although Mr Hollingworth saving is “easier said than done in today’s current climate”. 

 


Interest rate rise deterring young homeowners

Many young homeowners are being put off moving up the property ladder because of concerns over future interest rate rises.

eMoov found 56 per cent of those aged 25 to 34 are worried about the financial impact of making monthly mortgage payments.

The recent decision by the Bank of England has seen the base rate of interest rise from 0.25 per cent to 0.5 per cent - the first increase in a decade.

However, a number of property owners have not been deterred by making a purchase, although 60 per cent of London owners said they do not plan to move in the future.

Russell Quirk, chief executive officer of eMoov, explained there are some young property owners who have fears about the interest rate hikes, but he added the “majority have weathered the financial implications and the marginal hike has made it easy enough to do so”.

 


Govt announces new fund for homes

A new £25 million fund has been created to encourage the building of high-quality and well-designed homes.

Housing minister Alok Sharma revealed local authorities can now benefit from the Planning Delivery Fund which will support developments aimed at creating new properties in areas where supply is limited, but demand is high.

The fund is part of the government’s overall plan to create 300,000 new housing each year by the mid-2020s. Other initiatives include the creation of 14 garden villages to provide areas of attractive housing, strong infrastructure and accessible transport links.

“Locally led developments have enormous potential to deliver the scale and quality of housing growth that we need. By supporting our local authorities, we will be able to unlock more homes where people want to live,” said Mr Sharma.

It is expected the first allocation of the funds will total £11 million and cover the financial years 2017/2018 to 2018/2019.

 


Buyers fail to get their dream home

Many house buyers realise within three months of moving that their new home is not their dream home.

New research from home interior company Hillarys concluded one in three buyers have regret after buying a property - with five per cent then seriously considering selling up and moving again.

A number of issues were the reason for turning a dream property into a nightmare home, including noisy neighbours, poor condition and heavy traffic.

 “There’s nothing more exciting that finding your dream home, but then there’s nothing worse than moving into your dream home and realising it’s not as much of a dream as you had hoped,” said Tanya Irons, spokesperson for Hillarys.

She added: “Whether your neighbours are unbearable, the house is falling down around you or the traffic outside is loud and constant, the smallest thing can make the dream come crashing down. It’s always worth being realistic as nothing’s ever perfect and you need to make the most of the situation.”

 


Longer tenancies could bring benefits.

Incentives to encourage landlords to offer longer tenancies could play a key role in boasting the UK rental market.

Chancellor Philip Hammond has announced plans for a consultation to assess the impact of encouraging more landlords to offer long-term tenancy agreements, as well as whether it will support the Build to Rent sector.

David Cox, chief executive of the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA) believes more support for secured tenancies could be a possible move for the industry.

“We are pleased that the government will consult on longer term and more secured tenancies, this feels to be in line with the holistic approach they are taking towards the rental market,” said Mr Cox.

Fareed Nabir, chief executive officer of online lettings app LetBritain, believes may landlords could be tempted by tax incentives and it could offer stability for the country’s long-term renters, especially younger people who feel they are unlikely to become homeowners. 

 


First-time buyers underestimate buying costs

Many first-time buyers do not accurately estimate the cost of buying a home, according to a new study.

Research from Aldermore revealed often those stepping on to the property ladder underestimate the cost of buying and the associated costs of become a homeowner.

The deposit remains the top obstacle for first-time buyers, with many underestimating the amount needed by 31 per cent.

Other unexpected costs come in the form on solicitors and home surveys, with 40 per cent spending an additional £2,334 on such services.

The time it takes to save a suitable deposit was also underestimated by potential homeowners, with 58 per cent believing they would reach their goal within five years, with just 51 per cent achieving this and 16 per cent taking more than eight years.

 “It is clear there is a divergence between perception and reality when it comes to the house buying process. This often means those looking to buy are under estimating the associated costs as well as the time it could take to complete, especially with first time buyers expecting it to take four years on average to save for a deposit,’ said Charles McDowell, commercial director of mortgages at Aldermore.

“This lack of understanding clearly has financial implications but it can also take its toll emotionally.”

 


Fall in landlords accepting Universal Credit tenants

There has been a fall in the number of landlords willing to let to tenants who are claiming housing benefit or universal credit, shows new research.

Figures from the National Landlords Association (NLA) reveal just two in ten landlords will let properties to those in receipt of benefits – down from 34 per cent in 2013 to 20 per cent.

The NLA’s study also showed two in three landlords who did let to housing benefit recipients say tenants have fallen behind in rent payments over the past year.

Landlords represented by the NLA have already expressed concern about having to deal with the Universal Credit administration system, as well as the time it takes to secure direct payment of the housing part of the Universal Credit.

Richard Lambert, chief executive officer of the NLA, said: “Underlying all the problems with Universal Credit is the freeze on housing benefit rates, which means that the housing element of Universal Credit is simply insufficient for many tenants to be able to cover their rent.

“The decline in social housing means that some of the most vulnerable in society can only turn to the private rented sector. We have long called for the freeze to be scrapped as it creates a barrier that prevents claimants from securing the housing they need.

“If the government is serious about helping then it needs to press pause on the roll out of Universal Credit, and fix its underlying problems. Otherwise more and more people will find themselves homeless as the proportion of landlords who consider themselves able to house those who need it most will keep on falling.”

 


Get your home show ready

If you plan to start 2018 with the prospective of selling your property and moving, then it may be worth thinking about the changes you need to make now to make your home attractive to buyers.

With the market remaining competitive, it is key to make sure your house is looking its best to ensure it attracts those purchasers who are motivated to buy.

Be honest

While you may think your home is perfect, it does pay to take an objective look at the property. Maybe the wallpaper has seen better days or is the lawn looking a little overgrown? Just smarting up a few things can have a real positive impact on buyers’ first impressions.

Small little DIY or touch-up projects can undermine a home and often buyers do not want a whole host of tasks to tackle when buying a property.

It is a good idea to ask yourself what sorts of things you'd want to see in a prospective home and compare how your property measures up.

Neutralise the decor

The perfect home for a potential buyer is a blank canvas, so make sure you take steps to neutralise the property, so it appeals to the most buyers.

Decluttering and removing anything that makes your home seem too quirky is a good start. While beige walls may be boring, it could make it easier for people to imagine themselves living there.

Also remember to make sure your home is tidy - buyers can often take a negative view of homes that are untidy and may perceive it as being smaller than it is.

Finishing touches

It could be those little extras that convince a buyer to put in an offer. Invest in some new cushions or replace those tired curtains. Popping a bunch of nice fresh flowers in a vase can also be a good way to add an extra welcoming detail to those looking for their next home. 

 


How do tenancy deposit schemes work? [Photo: -Oxford- via iStock]

Tenancy deposits have become something that tenants simply see as part of the reality of renting a home over the last few years, particularly since they have become a legal requirement of the private rented sector. However, despite the fact that all new tenants are having to pay a deposit before they move in - normally amounting to around six-weeks worth of rent - the majority of people are still not all that clued up on how the schemeswork. 

For example, did you know that landlords have a legal obligation to have the money secured throughout the tenancy, or that there is an official route for disputing any deductions from your deposit at the end of your tenancy?

Here, we take a look at the deposit protection schemes, and all that tenants need to know before they pay a deposit on a new rental property. 

Deposit protection

In 2007, the government brought in a new change to the rental market that meant all deposits paid by tenants in the private sector had to be protected under a government-approved scheme. In England and Wales, if you are renting a property, your deposit should be protected under one of three schemes;  the Tenancy Deposit Scheme, MyDeposits and Deposit Protection Service.

Your landlord or letting agent should also let you know which of these schemes they are using. If you have not received details within 30 days of your payment being made, get in touch with the landlord to make sure your deposit has been correctly protected. It is a legal requirement that they let you know. 

Where is your deposit?

As well as knowing what scheme is being used to protect your tenancy deposit, it's important that you know how it is being held. In England and Wales, there are two methods of protection, known as custodial and insurance schemes. 

Insurance schemes are the rarer of the two, and see the landlord pay a fee to make sure the deposit is protected. They keep the money in their own account throughout, allowing them to accrue any interest, and deal with the tenant directly when it comes time to move out. 

The more common method of protection is known as custodial. In these schemes, landlords and letting agents see the money from a tenant held in a secure account. This means that neither landlord nor tenant has access to the money at any time until the tenancy comes to an end, at which point the landlord can authorise the payment be released to the tenant, minus any deductions. 

Deposit deductions

For any number of reasons, there are times when a tenant moving out will not receive all of the money they put down as a tenancy deposit. In these cases, deductions are often made for things like damage, loss of property, unpaid bills or professional cleaning. 

However, tenants should know that they have the right to dispute these deductions under the deposit protection schemes. If a landlord says they are taking money off for damage to something the tenant knows they didn't damage, they can provide evidence to a third-party mediator, who decides whether or not the deduction is fair. 

Arguing against a deduction can increase the time it takes to get any of your money back from your tenancy deposit, but it's important for tenants to know that they do have a vehicle for challenging rulings to protect their money.

 


How to avoid common pitfalls when marketing a property [Photo: adempercem via iStock]

When it comes to selling a property, it's more important than ever that you get your marketing messages, and your ability to carry out viewings, absolutely spot on. Low supply means that sellers are in competition more than they've ever been in the past, and to get ahead, you need to make sure you have the best strategy in place. 

One way to undo all your hard work, however, is to fall into some of the most common pitfalls that can emerge in property sales. Here, we take a look at a few of these and how falling victim can negatively affect your ability to sell your home this year. 

Be realistic

If you've lived in your home for any time at all, chances are you'll have developed a bit of an emotional attachment to the place. But it's important not to let this get the better of you when you are looking to sell. 

Do your homework to work out what properties in your area, and similar houses, have been selling for in recent times, as well as taking into account the current state of the market. And don't let your heart lead your head. At the end of the day, you want to make that sale, and overpriced properties tend to hang around on the market for far longer. 

Be honest

You might be a little nervous about issues that have affected your home. Damp and other forms of damage can often put off a seller, so it's understandable that divulging such information can be difficult, but it's important not to get caught up in hiding stuff. At the end of the day, the information will still come out in the buyer's survey, so it's best to be honest from the off. 

The same applies to any descriptions you write about your house. There's no point, for example, marketing your home as having three spacious bedrooms if the first person to come to a viewing is going to see straight away that one is a cramped box room. Be more honest from the off, and your chances of finding success will be much higher in the end. 

Don't let the camera lie

The ease of taking pictures and uploading them has made it easier than ever to advertise what your home has to offer, so it's important to take advantage of this. If you don't have images of your house in your listing, or not enough, then chances are that your potential buyer will click on a listing that does. 

However, it's also important to remember not to misrepresent your home in the pictures you use. Some people might be tempted to take a photo from a flattering angle to make the room look bigger, or even to stretch a photo to enhance this illusion. But at the end of the day, the buyer is going to find out eventually what the home looks like in the end, so you need to be honest from the off. 

Don't get complacent

Another common pitfall when it comes to selling a home is to get a bit too complacent with how the place looks before someone comes around to see it. It's especially easy to fall into this trap if you've had a property on the market for some time, and despite lots of people coming to see it, no one has made an offer yet. 

It's always advisable to do your best to make your home look as presentable as it can. Buyers will expect a little "lived in" atmosphere to be present, but remember, you want to impress them, so you need to make sure that before any viewings, you clean up, put away any clean washing and give the place a quick once over, including using an air freshener, to make it look and smell perfect. 

 


Why are more young people renting than ever before? [Photo: iStock/fizkes]

In recent years, the number of people who choose to rent homes rather than buying them has been rising consistently. One of the main drivers behind this has been young people, who are by far the largest demographic in the private rented sector these days. 

According to recent Savills data, the number of tenants in the UK private market at present is around 5.3 million. Of that number, 1.5 million are aged between 25 and 34-years old, making this demographic the most prominent. But what is the reason for this, and why do young people increasingly choose to rent rather than buying properties? Here, we take a look at a few of the most common reasons. 

Cost and saving

While there are many young people who prefer to rent rather than buy homes, there are also those who simply cannot afford to buy, or who see the cost as a challenge to overcome. One of the main reasons for this is that the typical buyer needs to be coming to market with a ten per cent deposit, which means needing around £20,000 before being able to buy. 

For many, this is simply unaffordable, while for others renting offers them the chance to get their own place, while also being able to afford to save up to become homeowners further down the line. 

Convenience and freedom

Another huge reason many people of millennial age choose to rent rather than buy is because they want the convenience that comes with being a tenant. More than ever before, young people are coming out of school and university with their eyes on building a career, and for many, this is the single most important aspect of their life. 

Being a tenant rather than a homeowner allows them the freedom to do this, as they can make career choices they could not make if they were tied to an area by their house purchase. When it comes to moving home, it's far easier to move from one rented property to another than waiting to sell a house, which can prohibit the ability to further their career. 

Uncertainty

Young people are probably more financially savvy at the moment than they have been at any time in the past, and for this reason, many are adopting something of a wait-and-see attitude to the market, which means renting rather than owning property.

Whether it's the implications of Brexit on the housing market, the potential for interest rates to rise - taking mortgage payments up with them - or the uncertainty around capital gains, many young people are seeing the next couple of years in the housing market as a period that needs to be waited out. As a result, many are choosing to rent rather than buy, allowing them to make a measured decision in the future regarding when would be the best time to get on to the property ladder.

 


How to prepare your house for a sale in the busiest months of the year [Photo: BrianAJackson via iStock]

Autumn, and in particular October and November, has become the traditional busiest period of the year for the property market. While many would probably expect the summer months to be busier, it's autumn, and its placement between the school summer holidays and Christmas, that sees more people looking to buy homes than at any other time of year. 

This reality, however, means that sellers, as well as buyers, come out in force throughout the autumn period, and as a result, it's vital that anyone looking to bring their home to market stands out from the crowd. In a world of easy-access property portals hosting thousands of adverts, it's important that your home stands out, and this starts with properly preparing your home for being shown. 

Here, we take a look at a few quick things you can do to make your home stand out and prepare it for the busiest time of year. 

A lick of paint

The first thing anyone will see when they are looking at your home, either online or in person, is the exterior, so you need to make sure it shines and grabs the attention. This means ensuring that your garden fence and front door have had a quick lick of paint. It's an easy job, but it can make all the difference, giving the exterior of your home the ability to make the all-important first impression a good one. 

Tone it down 

You may well think that your unique sense of style makes your property highly desirable, but when it comes to the time to sell, it's important to be pragmatic about things. Take a step back and look at your decor, and ask if it's something that's likely to appeal to everyone. If you have a colourful home, it can be a good idea to tone it down a little to appeal to a higher number of people. White, beige and other neutral colours on the wall are easy ways to give your property the ability to wow everyone. 

Natural light

The photos that the estate agent takes of your home will make or break your property listing, so you need to make sure they are as attractive as possible. The best way to do this is to bring as much natural light into the rooms as possible. It makes them look more spacious and bright, which is a huge bonus in the eyes of buyers. To make this a reality, you can take out curtains and blinds from rooms that don't necessarily need them, maximising the light exposure in each room. 

No clutter

Another top tip for making your home stand out in images online is to ensure that you keep clutter throughout to an absolute minimum. You may have a lot of stuff at home that you treasure, but this means nothing to your buyer, and if you've got a lot of stuff sitting around, it really can make your home look cluttered. Space is the number one concern for buyers these days, and taking out any unneeded items is key to highlighting the space that your home does have to entice buyers.

 


Strong communities at the heart of Britain's happiest places to live [Photo: iStock]

The south of England has been shown to be the happiest place to live in the UK, as part of a new survey that highlights community spirit and access to fantastic amenities as the drivers of a content resident. 

Rightmove this week published the results of its latest Happiest Place to Live survey for 2017, which surveyed 17,000 people, asking them how pleased they are with the place they live. It was discovered that Leamington Spa in the West Midlands is currently the happiest town in the country, narrowly taking the lead from last year's winner, Leigh-On-Sea in the south-east. 

Overall, the south of England was found to be the happiest part of the country, with six of the top ten towns and cities located in London and the south. Tunbridge Wells, Epsom and Richmond upon Thames all featured in the top ten. 

The drivers of happiness in these towns was found to primarily be the sense of community that they manage to foster, while access to amenities is also an important factor. Things such as having good schools nearby and access to a doctor tend to be what people want most from their towns. 

Rightmove’s Research Manager Abiola Oni comments: “We’ve looked at the connection between each of the factors and what contributes to how happy people say they are overall, and it’s the people in an area and how someone feels about living there that makes the biggest difference.  

"So the strength of community spirit, people feeling like they belong and that they can be themselves are all more important than the services and money that they have, though these do still contribute to overall happiness.”

Other factors that can make people feel happy about their town include the fact that people feel like they belong in the town, which goes a long way to making sure they feel settled and at home. 

 


Average asking price rises 1.1% as seller confidence grows [Photo: bjeayes via iStock]

The average seller in the UK property market is getting more confident, and is now asking for a higher price when putting  their home on the market as a result, new data shows. 

According to the latest report released by Rightmove this week, the average asking price across England and Wales in October stands at £313,435. This is 1.1 per cent, or more than £3,000, higher than recorded in September, indicating growing confidence. 

The asking price across England and Wales is also up by 1.4 per cent when compared to October last year, and the monthly and annual growth are both very positive, coming after September experienced a 1.2 per cent fall in asking prices. 

October is typically one of the busiest months of the year in terms of the number of homes sold, and this is reflected in the fact that there is a consistent trend of rising asking prices in this month. It's the 16th consecutive year in which Rightmove has recorded a climb in asking prices in October, but 2017 marks the highest monthly growth recorded since 2014. 

However, while confidence is high in the market at the moment, Miles Shipside, Rightmove director and housing market analyst, pointed out that it could well be misplaced. Even though sellers feel like they can get a good price for their home, the number of agreed sales is falling. 

This could be an indicator that there are fewer buyers around than there typically are at this time of the year, which could potentially mean that sellers are not able to command the prices they expect for their homes. 

In the north of England, the data shows, the number of agreed sales has dropped three per cent since September, while in the south, there has been a fall in the same time of some 7.9 per cent.

 


North-south property market divide continues to show large discrepancies [Photo: Rawpixel Ltd via iStock]

London and the rest of the south of the UK may not have had its most impressive year in terms of the property market, but the north-south divide that has been evident in the sector for some times is continuing to show. 

According to official data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), analysed by eMoov, London continues to be home to the nation's most expensive properties, while the cheapest are found in Wales. 

One trend that eMoov has identified is the large gap that exists between the average price per square metre in these two opposing regions. 

The average cost per square metre of a flat in London now sits at £6,500, which is double the price that was seen in 2004. Across England and Wales as a whole, the price per square metre of properties has increased by just 2.7 per cent in that same time. 

It means that the gap between the lowest price per square metre recorded and the highest is a staggering £18,000 at present. In Kensington in Chelsea, the average price per square metre is £19,400. However, in Blaenau Gwent in Wales, the price is less than five per cent of this at just £777.

Russell Quirk, chief executive of eMoov, said: "Of course, it is no surprise that an over-inflated London market leads the way in terms of highest price, despite a slowdown in price growth in recent times, and while £2,305 a square metre is a high price to pay to get on the housing ladder, this research also shows that across England and Wales there are many far more affordable options."

He said it is the affordability of certain parts of the UK that has helped to keep the property market growing in uncertain times, such as the last year, when places like London have been starting to slow in activity.

 


London likely to reclaim its property market dominance in 2021 [Photo: iStock/johnkellerman]

London's property market has experienced one of its weakest years in recent memory in 2017, seeing slower rates of house price increases, and even the occasional slump in values. However, this is only a temporary reality likely to right itself in the next few years. 

According to the latest report released by KPMG Economics, one of the biggest factors that has been holding back the capital in the last few months is the political uncertainty, particularly that surrounding Brexit, that people continuously have to deal with. 

This turbulence leads to buyers waiting to see what will happen before they make a move, and sellers lowering prices when they perceive demand to be dropping. However, the good news from KPMG is that this is only a temporary problem for London. 

The city has long been well known for its thriving property market and the fact it can come through problematic situations - such as the economic crisis of 2007 - relatively unscathed, and it seems that this will be the case once again after the Brexit dust settles. 

KPMG predicts that for this year, house prices in London are likely to increase by just one per cent. It said that the situation will worsen a little in 2018 as well, when prices could fall by one per cent. 

However, in the year that the UK leaves the European Union officially (2019), prices are going to start gaining pace once again, and should climb in the capital by 2.5 per cent. This is a trend that will continue for a few years after as well, with 2020 and 2021 seeing values rising by 3.9 per cent and 4.4 per cent respectively, allowing London to take back its position as the fastest growing property market in the UK. 

"London's property market isn't just made up of people's homes. Foreign investors plough money into property in the capital as it is seen as a safe haven asset, and they will continue to do so after Brexit, especially if sterling remains weak," said KPMG's chief economist Yael Selfin.

"If the UK's exit from the EU is done in a positive way, we're likely to see demand for property in the capital rise as it will remain one of the most vibrant and exciting cities in Europe," he added.

 


Average rental prices rise 2.1% in the space of a year [Photo: iStock/fizkes]

The average price of renting a home in the UK has risen markedly in the last 12 months, according to the latest property market index. 

Data released by HomeLet in its September publication shows that the average tenant in the UK's private rented sector is now having to spend £927 per calendar month to get themselves a property. It said this marks an impressive 2.1 per cent rise when compared to the same month a year ago. 

It's a similar story in the capital, where the price of renting a home has climbed to £1,593 per calendar month. This was a 1.9 per cent rise when compared to September 2016. The good news for London is that this is a continuation of the trend reversal seen last month. 

London had experienced four consecutive months of rental prices falling earlier in the year, but in both August and September, the average price paid by tenants has climbed compared to 2016. This indicates that the capital could well be seeing the stability it has craved in 2017 at long last. 

Overall, HomeLet said, over the past year, the average rental price paid by tenants has climbed in 11 of the 12 regions, with only the south-east having seen a drop compared to 2016 (0.1 per cent). 

HomeLet’s chief executive officer Martin Totty said this latest data shows the market returning to a period of rises, and speculated that additional costs for landlords could be driving this change. 

"It wouldn’t be surprising if landlords, seeing their own current and anticipated cost increases, seek to pass these costs on to tenants to preserve the returns from capital they have invested in residential property assets," he said, adding that landlords nationwide have had to contend with a "deluge of higher costs" in recent times.

 


House prices not hugely impacted by Brexit process in Q3 [Photo: iStock/narvikk]

Brexit has always been a word to fear in the property market, if forecasts and predictions are to be believed. But according to a new report, the start of the Brexit process and negotiations has actually had very little impact on the market at all. 

In fact, the data published by Halifax Bank shows that the average property price is actually rising at its fastest rate across the UK since the triggering of Article 50 by the government earlier this year. 

Halifax Bank said that in the three months to the end of September this year, the average price of property across the UK rose to a new high of £225,109. This represented a 0.8 per cent rise in September, as well as a 1.4 per cent increase when compared to the end of the quarter before. 

However, perhaps most significant is the fact that house prices are now four per cent higher than they were at this time a year ago, indicating that Brexit, and the start of the process for real in 2017, has not had the impact that many would have expected it to have before the referendum.

While prices are rising at a promising rate, however, experts are warning that it may be a little too early to start celebrating just yet. Russell Galley, managing director of the Halifax Community Bank, said that even though prices have risen well, the rate of growth remains slower than at the start of 2017. 

On top of this, Jonathan Hopper, managing director of Garrington Property, said rises are still not as consistent as the market would be hoping for. He said momentum remains "patchy" and that even though prices are heading in the right direction, there is too much in the way of wavering to suggest any long-term trends have started. 

 


More than a third of buyers make a snap decision after one viewing [Photo: monkeybusinessimages via iStock]

A growing number of people in the UK property market are making "six-figure decisions" on the back of just 30 minutes of time spent viewing properties, a new study has found. 

According to First Direct, people are now spending an average of more than £226,000 on properties, and many are doing so on the back of just one visit to the property. 

It said that 36 per cent of people will conduct just one viewing of a home, lasting 30 minutes or less, before they decide to take the plunge and make an offer. This is a quickly increasing number, and indicative of a continuously more competitive market, where buyers have to make snap decisions to stay ahead of the competition. 

The number of people who only view a property once now outnumbers those who take a more traditional approach to buying. The survey shows that only 26 per cent of buyers nationwide will now undertake three viewings of a prospective home before they make the decision whether to buy or not to buy. 

First Direct says that the new trend for a shorter decision-making period for buyers means that a growing number of people - those who only view a home once - are spending an average of some £7,530 for every minute they have visited the property pre-purchase. 

Joe Gordon, head of First Direct, said: "Every week thousands of home buyers are making six-figure decisions based on one quick tour of a property. Unfortunately, a lot of buyers then find they’re faced with expensive repair and renovation bills because they hadn’t done thorough checks beforehand."

He added that while the pace of the market at the moment means it's understandable that buyers feel like they have to make a snap decision, the fact remains that buying a home is the biggest financial commitment the majority of people will ever make. For that reason, it's always vital to make a reasoned decision when it comes to making an offer.

 


First timer mortgages on the rise as approvals grow [Photo: Courtney Keating/iStock]

The mortgage market has enjoyed huge improvement over the last year, and first-time buyers have been some of the biggest beneficiaries of this growth, according to new data published this week. 

Research from e.surv shows that in the past 12 months, the number of mortgages approved for house purchases has grown by a significant 7.8 per cent. 

This is likely due to the slowing of the market in the aftermath of Brexit throughout summer 2016, but it shows that there has been a real improvement since then, and that the sector has bounced back well from a difficult challenge it faced last year. 

However, while the market has grown in general over the past 12 months, it is those who come to market with a small deposit - primarily first-time buyers - who are seeing the best improvements in lending conditions. The e.surv data shows that the proportion of all loans being approved for first timers is a rather impressive 20.3 per cent, up from the 19.6 per cent seen in August 2016.

It also marks a large growth in activity from small deposit buyers when compared to the tail end of last year. As recently as December 2016, the proportion of mortgage lending being afforded to these buyers was as low as 16 per cent. 

Richard Sexton, director of e.surv, said: "The UK mortgage market is in a much healthier position than a year ago. Approval rates are 7.8 per cent higher year on year and first-time buyers are taking more of the overall market. 

"A year ago the market was dealing with reverberations of the Brexit vote, but the past 12 months have seen a strong recovery for the mortgage industry and the outlook for the future looks more settled," he added.

 


Top reasons renting is a better option than buying for skilled young professionals [Photo: iStock/Oko_Swan0murphy]

For years, we've been told that young people simply cannot afford to get onto the property ladder. With the average age of first-time buyers edging ever closer to 35, and the number of people who own their own home falling below two-thirds for the first time, it would appear on the surface that youngsters are being forced out of the market. 

However, this is not the case for everyone. There are five million or so people currently living in privately rented properties across the UK, and while there are, of course, some who are doing so because they cannot afford to buy, for others, it's a lifestyle choice. 

Skilled young professionals, who value the career ladder above the property ladder, are increasingly choosing to rent rather than buy when they come out of university and embark on their quest to find their dream job. So if you're a young professional thinking of your own next step, what are the benefits of doing this, and why should you consider renting over buying a home?

It's more accessible

For young people who are straight out of university, London is often the dream. Many young people see the capital as the perfect place to kick off their career and work towards the high-flying roles they've always wanted. But moving to London as a youngster is incredibly difficult. To buy a home, you're looking at having to get a mortgage of at least half a million pounds, and you'll probably need about £50,000 in savings for a deposit, which makes it a costly venture. 

However, if you choose to rent, you can move to your desired area much sooner, and it also allows you the chance to save up for that mortgage in years to come without having to compromise on where you live now. 

It's flexible

For career driven young professionals, one of the big fears around buying a house is the lack of mobility that comes with being an owner. Not only is it hard to sell your house in the current market, the chain that comes with doing so can often hold you up, which is not ideal if you've been offered a new role elsewhere and need to move fast to further your career. 

This is the reason many young people choose to rent when they are building themselves their dream career. Being a tenant means they can move at much shorter notice than they could as an owner, which is a big plus point when it comes to moving up the jobs ladder. 

Responsibility

Young professionals are busy people. Straight out of university, many people just want to throw themselves at work and immerse themselves completely in their new industry. But owning a house can add different stresses that take you away from this, and for many, this is the reason they choose to rent rather than buy their own home. 

For example, if your boiler happens to break down as a homeowner, not only is it costly to get the repairs done, it can also be a long and stressful process. You need to find someone who can fix it, book appointments, take time off work and go through the whole process of getting it repaired yourself. However, as a tenant, maintenance and repairs is something that is dealt with fully by the letting agent, meaning young people are free to get on with their life and their career, as well as not having to worry about the price associated with getting things fixed. 

 


Image credit: PRImageFactory via iStock

Purchasing a second property is an exciting time for any homeowner, as it shows they are moving up the property ladder and potentially putting themselves in a position to trade their current accommodation for something better.

However, it can come with a number of organisational challenges, not least of which is the question of what to do with your first home. For many, the initial instinct will be to sell up, whereas others might prefer to keep hold of the property in order to rent it out. Both approaches have notable pros and cons, so it's well worth taking the time to consider all of them before coming to a decision.

The benefits of renting
Property owners who choose to let out their first property rather than selling it on usually do so due to the considerable potential for long-term financial gains associated with this approach.

By turning your first home into a rental asset, you'll be able to guarantee yourself a regular source of income, with the property generating profits from rent even after taking into account any mortgage fees you might still owe. Moreover, it allows you to hang on to a potentially valuable asset and build up a property portfolio over time.

If the property is in an area where prices are on the rise, you stand to benefit from considerable capital gains over time as the asset becomes more and more valuable; what's more, it offers the additional flexibility of knowing you still have a place to return to if you're expecting to come back to that area at some point in future.

Why selling might be better
For some, selling their first home when they buy their second will be a no-brainer, because they will want to use the proceeds from the sale to finance the new purchase. However, there are other reasons why selling might be better than renting.

Notably, the gains associated with being a landlord are offset by the fact that it requires a considerable amount of work, as you'll still be financially responsible for the property and will need to carry on looking after it as part your legal duties to your tenant. If you find that you're having trouble finding reliable tenants, it's also possible that it could become a financial drain, rather than a generator of profit.

It's also worth remembering that generally, it's easier to avoid having to pay capital gains tax when you only own one property; as such, you should bear in mind that if you choose to sell the home some time after purchasing a second, it's much more likely that you'll be hit with a hefty tax bill.

Which approach is right for you?
Ultimately, this is a question you'll have to answer for yourself, based on your individual circumstances, goals and needs. The important thing is that you make sure you take the time to do the necessary research and seek professional guidance, whichever option you ultimately choose.

 


Renewed calls for Stamp Duty reform that would see sellers pay [Photo: designer491 via iStock]

Calls for Stamp Duty to be changed in a way that would greatly assist first-time buyers have been renewed ahead of the government's upcoming Autumn Budget speech. 

Some have called for ministers to scrap the property tax altogether in order to encourage more people to buy homes, but the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) said it would be a far better solution to simply have sellers, rather than buyers, pay Stamp Duty on homes. 

If this was done, the organisation said, then the £11 billion that is raised by the property tax every year would still be going into the public purse. However, it would ease the burden on particular on first-time buyers and encourage them to get onto the ladder when they might have previously seen it as being too expensive. 

"It’s widely accepted that stamp duty adds a burden to any home owners seeking to move, especially first-time buyers, because they must pay the tax as an immediate upfront cost together with finding a deposit and paying surveyors and solicitors fees and so on," said Phil Hall, AAT head of public affairs and public policy.

He added that the way the tax works at the moment "stunts mobility" and halts the building of more homes, which only makes house prices rise even higher. He said that the move towards owners, rather than buyers, paying Stamp Duty instead would be a "relatively simple way of solving these problems". 

The main problem that many newcomers to the market face is that Stamp Duty is usually an upfront fee costing them multiple thousands of pounds. And when this is coupled with a mortgage deposit and estate agent and solicitor fees, it's something that many cannot see themselves being able to afford.

 


Buy-to-let mortgage brokers still not aware of new landlord lending criteria [Photo: Courtney Keating via iStock]

New rules for lending to landlords who have larger property portfolios are due to come into effect later this year, changing the checks that brokers need to undertake when it comes to lending for the purposes of buying rental homes. 

However, in spite of the fact the rules were first announced in 2016, nearly half of all specialist buy-to-let brokers understand what the new criteria are and what it will mean for their own business practices after October. 

According to a study by OneSavings Bank, only 54 per cent of those brokers surveyed said they fully understand what the new rules will entail, both for portfolio holding landlords and themselves. But 46 per cent remain in the dark, with 31 per cent saying they do not know what the new criteria are, and 13 per cent even saying they had no idea about when they will come into play. 

Shockingly, two per cent of brokers have not heard anything about the change to the rules at all. 

Under the new rules, landlords who have a portfolio of more than four properties will face even more scrutiny when they try to obtain further buy-to-let mortgages. Brokers will have to provide detailed data about each of the properties in their portfolio, including cash flow information and the associated costs of running multiple tenancies. 

"Brokers have had to get to grips a with a huge amount of regulatory change over the past 18 months including seismic changes to mortgage tax relief and stamp duty, so it’s understandable that some are still playing catch up, but with the deadline looming, now is the time to buff up on the new rules and make sure clients are ready to comply," said Adrian Moloney, sales director at OneSavings Bank.

Those who are aware of the implications of the changes are foreseeing big changes for their operation, including more administrative work. However, they also say there is a much better chance that it will mean a greater number of opportunities.

 


Falling London asking prices pull down the nationwide average [Photo: iStock/johnkellerman]

The average asking price for property sales in the UK experienced its first fall at this time of year since 2013, new data shows, but September has also seen a rise in sales as a direct result.

According to findings from property portal Rightmove, the average asking price nationwide fell by some 1.2 per cent, or £3,660, this month. This is the first time in four years that it's dropped at all in September, with London at the forefront of this decline. 

In the capital, asking prices have fallen as the city continues to adapt and readjust to changing market conditions. In Kensington and Chelsea, asking prices fell by as much as 14.3 per cent month on month, while in Camden they are down by seven per cent compared to August. 

The extent of the drops in asking price in London can be seen clearly when it's excluded from overall data. The average fall without London across England and Wales is only 0.5 per cent, and although this is still heading in the wrong direction in the eyes of sellers, it paints a clearer picture of the market nationwide. 

The good news is that although those looking to sell are having to temper their expectations, the fact that asking prices have experienced a dip has encouraged more buyers to come to market. The average asking price now stands at £310,003, and this has helped to swell demand in all regions. 

Compared to last year, there are now 4.8 per cent more transactions for house sales taking place, showing that when the prices drop, the market experiences a surge in the number of buyers who find it more affordable. 

Miles Shipside, Rightmove director and housing market analyst, said: "With competition among lenders to lend, increasing wages and the lowest level of unemployment since 1975, buyers are still keen to buy if the property is worth the money and well presented. 

"If more sellers appreciate that sensible pricing is the best way forward, then this will help to maintain good levels of buyer activity despite the uncertain political outlook."

 


Homes more affordable in many areas than before the credit crunch, data shows [Photo: Norasit Kaewsai via iStock]

Back in 2007, before the credit crunch hit and saw property prices across the country tumbling, the market had reached a peak, with the valuations for houses hitting the highest level they had ever reached. For years afterwards, prices struggled to get back to where they had once been, before finally achieving it in the last few years. 

However, even in spite of the fact prices are now generally at all time highs across the country, new evidence suggests that homes across many parts of the country are now more affordable than they were before the credit crunch struck. 

According to data published by the Yorkshire Building Society recently, as many as 54 per cent of local authority areas across the country have seen wages rising faster than house prices since 2007, leaving properties generally more affordable than they had been previously. 

However, while there are some that are seeing improvements in affordability, other areas across the nation are struggling somewhat, with homes increasing in value far faster than people's income levels. According to data from the report, the best performers have seen improvements in affordability of 42 per cent, while other areas have got 61 per cent less affordable in the same period. 

There remains a distinct gap in the UK when it comes to the conditions experienced in the north and south of the country. While some areas of the north and into Scotland have seen house prices fall to as little as four times the yearly income average, some in London continue to creep towards being 20 times more expensive. 

"Unsurprisingly, the data shows that there is a distinct divide between the north and south of the country when it comes to housing affordability, but this has become even more pronounced since the financial crash," said Andrew McPhillips, Yorkshire Building Society’s chief economist.

"However, the north of England, Wales and Scotland present a different picture entirely, with many places, such as Edinburgh, Peterborough and Birmingham, becoming more affordable than they were before the credit crunch," he added.

 


Average property prices in the UK rise 5.1% as the market continues to thrive [Photo: iStock/G0d4ather]

Property prices across the UK continue to improve, as the market defies political instability and Brexit-related issues over the past year to retain its reputation as a very strong asset class. In the 12 months to the end of July, it has been reported, property prices rose by as much as 5.1 per cent. 

This means that the average property price as of the end of July was £226,185, according to the latest report from eMoov. It said that July's prices were also up by an average of 1.1 per cent when compared to June, showing continued strength and health across the market. 

However, while the UK as a whole has experienced a real rise over the past year, there are some areas where prices are starting to slow, albeit still headed in the right direction. For example, in London, prices were up by 2.8 per cent year on year to the end of July. However, when the rest of England is considered without the capital included, prices rose 5.4 per cent in the same period. 

Nationwide, data also shows that sales figures have been rising, and contributing to the growth in prices paid. In the past year, the number of houses sold across the UK has risen by as much as 8.3 per cent, showing a real increase in demand. 

Overall, Russell Quirk, chief executive officer of eMoov, said the positive data showing growth across the whole of the last year since the European Union referendum is evidence that UK property is so strong it can just shake off factors that threaten to damage it.

"A sustained level of growth can now be expected and it is unlikely that any further developments in the Brexit process should dampen this. Although the market has taken a wobble, UK homeowners should rest assured that the worst is now behind them and we won’t be seeing a repeat of the 2007 crash," he added. 

 


Third of people moving to new homes experience problems with broadband [Photo: iStock]

A third of people who move house in the UK have experienced a delay when it comes to getting their broadband connections up and running, a new survey has discovered. 

According to findings published by Citizens Advice, many people who move home are having to wait well beyond the promised installation date before their connection is live, with some even facing a delay of more than two weeks.

The most common problem that people face when they move to a new home comes when their connection is transferred, and it turns out not to be as fast as they would have expected. 15 per cent of people said this is something they have personally experienced. 

On top of this, as many as 11 per cent of respondents said they have had to deal with internet installation engineers making multiple visits to their property before any problems were rectified, while nine per cent said appointments with installers were regularly rescheduled or cancelled. 

In the modern world, those who move house can no longer afford to wait for their internet installation to be completed. People these days use the internet for things like online shopping and the streaming of video content, while others even work at home and rely on a steady, fast connection to get their job done. 

"People paying to have their broadband set up all too often face big setbacks. Moving house can be a difficult and stressful experience and delays in getting the internet can make this worse, if providers fail to keep to promised dates or engineering visits don’t materialise," said Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice.

"It is fundamentally unfair that in some cases customers are paying for a service they don’t receive for weeks or even months at a time after moving," she added, pointing out that many people rely on broadband to kick off their new life after moving home.

 


First-time buyers contributing to bigger share of the UK's mortgage market [Photo: eskaylim via iStock]

The number of first-time buyers getting themselves onto the housing ladder in the UK appears to be on the rise, according to new data, which shows a rise in the volume of buyers with a small deposit being approved for mortgages. 

Those who come to mortgage lenders with a small deposit are typically buyers who are making their first foray into the housing market. And according to the latest report from residential chartered surveyors e.surv, the volume of approvals for buyers with a small deposit rose to 19.6 per cent of the market in July.

It marked an impressive rise from the 18.5 per cent that was recorded in June, according to the data, as the overall volume of mortgage approvals rose by 6.7 per cent year on year. It shows a marked rise in market activity when compared to a year ago, when the number of buyers fell dramatically in the aftermath of the Brexit vote. 

"The mortgage market is in a much happier place than 12 months ago when, in the aftermath of the UK’s vote to leave the European Union, activity had stalled as buyers and sellers took a pause for breath. One year on and we have seen approval levels bounce back," said Richard Sexton, director of e.surv.

However, even though there has been a rise in the proportion of the market commanded by small deposit buyers, the fact still remains that it has seen a drop compared to earlier in the year. The peak for 2017 was in April, when more than 21 per cent of the market for mortgages was commanded by newcomers. 

These buyers still fared better than those with large deposits of more than 60 per cent of the value of their home, however. According to the data, in the year so far, those coming to the market with a large deposit are seeing their proportion of the market stagnate somewhat.

 


Top tips for finding yourself the perfect UK rental property [Photo: cnythzl via iStock]

Renting is becoming one of the most popular ways to live, with almost five million people now living in privately rented properties across the UK. However, while renting is more common than it has ever been, it's still important as a tenant that you make sure you get it right, and have a good experience overall. 

Here, we look at a few top tips for finding the perfect UK rental property for you. 

Getting to work

If you work in London, then chances are you won't also be living in the capital, or at least not in the centre of the city. For this reason, as a tenant, it's vital that you consider work when you are choosing somewhere to live. After all, there's no point in finding that ideal family home or bachelor pad, only to find later that your commute to work takes several hours each way. 

For every house you view, make sure you ask the letting agent, or even just Google, what your options are in terms of transport. Whether it's the distance to the nearest Tube station, the regularity of buses or ease of access to the motorway, knowing how you will get to work each day is one of the most important aspects of choosing a home for any commuter.

Work/life balance

While work is important, it's also vital that it's not everything. You don't want to be choosing to live somewhere that has good access to work, but doesn't tick any of the other boxes you might want it to in terms of lifestyle. 

Remember, you've got to have fun in life, and wherever you choose to live will have a big part to play in this. Whether you are a fan of clubbing, someone who likes a good pub quiz, or just a lover of the high street, make sure that you strike that balance between being able to get to work, and having a good life away from the office that you can enjoy. 

What do you prioritise?

Everyone prioritises different things from their rental home. For some people, just having somewhere to lay their head after a long day at the office will be enough, while for others, their rented accommodation has to feel like home. When you're looking for the perfect place to rent, don't settle; ask yourself what matters to you, and make sure anywhere you choose to live delivers what it is you're looking for. 

Whether it's large bedrooms, a fancy kitchen, on-street parking or fast internet, the number of things you might be looking for from your home are endless, but it's vital that no matter what is important to you, you identify it early and make sure you prioritise this when you are viewing potential places to live. 

Who to rent from

It's also important that you know who you should be renting a property from before you decide to sign up. The majority of rental properties in the UK these days are let by agents, and for this reason, chances are you will be dealing with an agent. However, there are some people who still rent with a private landlord separately. 

For those who want a rental period where they just get left to do their own thing, landlords can be a good idea on their own. But for the majority, it's far better to rent from a letting agent, who will be able to deal with maintenance and repairs far quicker, letting you have an easier way of life.

 


Number of UK property mortgage applications hits record high [Photo: Courtney Keating via iStock]

Mortgage approval rates are continuing to climb across the UK, with the number of people being given the green light for lending in order to get onto the property ladder hitting a new record this year. 

According to the latest findings published by Intermediary Mortgage Lenders Association (IMLA), the second quarter of this year has seen a surge in successful applications. It said that in the three-month period, as many as 88 per cent of the mortgage applications done through intermediaries were approved. 

This was an increase of 13 per cent when compared to the same quarter a year ago, and shows that there is a real push for homeownership in the UK, with lending being a strong part of this. 

The surprising thing is that this comes at a time when the property market as a whole was thought to be under pressure from the various factors causing political uncertainty across the UK. In spite of political happenings like Brexit and the hung parliament in quarter two, however, the market is now enjoying its strongest period for approvals ever recorded. 

And this is a trend that is likely to continue for the rest of the year as well, with intermediaries increasingly confident about what the future holds for the mortgage lending market in the UK. The survey shows that as many as 96 per cent of those surveyed believe the outlook is bright for mortgage borrowing.

"While the second quarter of 2017 was dominated by political speculation and campaigning, any resulting uncertainty was not enough to send the mortgage market and the determination of aspiring home owners off their course," said Peter Williams, executive director of the IMLA.

"The percentage of successful applications continued to grow across the board, a testament to the ability of the intermediaries to match consumers with suitable products in what is an increasingly complex marketplace," he added.

 


First-time buyers increasingly pushing the UK property market forward [Photo: iStock/andresr]

First-time buyers are becoming one of the main drivers of growth in the property market across the UK, with a larger proportion of valuations being carried out on their behalf than at any time in the last few years, new data shows. 

According to findings from the Connells Survey & Valuation in its monthly report, half of all property valuations carried out in the month of July were done on behalf of those who were looking to get onto the ladder for the first time. It said this marked a significant rise of six per cent when compared to the five year average, showing the impact that new buyers are having on the market as a whole. 

John Bagshaw, corporate services director of Connells Survey & Valuation, said newcomers to the UK property market are helping it to grow, perhaps more than they have done in the last few years. 

"Demand from first-time buyers is supporting the housing market at the moment. People are eager to get on the property ladder, with record high employment and competitive mortgage rates. But this doesn’t mean it’s an easy task to get a foothold in the market. Economic conditions are still tough," he said. 

The findings were also supported by the evidence that shows first-timers are spending more on property than they have done in the last few years in order to get onto the ladder.

In June, some 36,000 mortgages were approved for first-timers. This marked an increase of some 22 per cent when compared to May, and six per cent against the same month last year. 

It also means that lending to newcomers to the property market has now hit its highest recorded level since November 2006, showing that there is, perhaps, once again a growing intention to own property among the younger elements of the population. 

However, Mr Bagshaw said first-timers still need support. "The increasing cost of living and house price inflation are making it harder to save for a deposit. House prices are around eight times higher than earnings and they’re rising twice as fast. With the value of a typical property rising £10,000 in a year, first-time buyers still need help," he said.

 


International property investors remain undeterred in the face of Brexit [Photo: Alija via iStock]

Britain has long been a fantastic place for overseas investors - particularly institutional buyers - to put their money into property. Strong returns and long-term health mean the UK property market is seen as one of the strongest in the world, and despite the current political uncertainty, it would appear that this attitude is not going to change any time soon. 

KPMG surveyed 60 of the biggest institutional investors from across the world who put their money into the UK from overseas. It found that as many as 46 per cent intend to continue with their investments in the UK on the same level to which they have become accustomed, in spite of the fact the government triggered Article 50 earlier this year, officially starting the Brexit process. 

In addition to this, 44 per cent said they will continue to invest, but perhaps on a slower basis than they have done in the past, while the UK negotiates the Brexit path. And only ten per cent believe their companies will stop buying property in the UK entirely. 

This is good news for the property market, and shows the reputation that it continues to enjoy on an international scale, as well as indicating that the market should have the backing to power through the uncertainty that Brexit will bring with it. 

Andy Pyle, UK head of real estate at KPMG, said that in the coming years, the UK’s departure from the EU will undoubtedly have an effect on the UK property sector, but added that precisely how this will unfold is largely unknown at present. 

"Uncertainty naturally has an impact on the industry’s attitude towards investing in the UK, but these attitudes also vary by investor, the origins of capital, investment strategy and the stance on Brexit," he added. 
 

 


Sales of development land in London soared in Q2 of 2017 [Photo: Branislav via iStock]

The UK's property market is experiencing  something of a mixed year in 2017, with the political uncertainty fostered by both Brexit and a snap election which gave no definitive result meaning that people have had a more tentative approach. 

Sales figures have stalled somewhat, and the number of landlords expanding their portfolios, particularly in London, has fallen. However, while there are some areas of the market that have suffered amid the uncertainty, there are others where this has not been the case. 

According to a new study carried out by real estate advisors CBRE, investment in land for development, especially in the capital, has experienced a spike in the last few months. This will be good news for the government, which has placed housing, and the building of new homes, near the top of its priority list. 

CBRE said that in the second quarter of 2017, investors spent an impressive £722 million on development land in London. Not only did this mark the best three-month period since the vote to leave the European Union (EU) a year ago, it was also a massive rise on the quarter that came before. 

When compared to the January to March quarter, the April to June period marked a 48 per cent rise in development land by investors, which signals the intent to bring more properties to market over the next few years. 

The report states that the trend for growth is expected to continue throughout 2017, adding that overseas investors are increasingly seeing the capital as valuable once again. 

"Looking forward, we expect land sales across London to remain above average for the remainder of 2017. Overseas investors will continue to take advantage of current market conditions whilst also capitalising on the current exchange rate," it said. 

In terms of what is expected to be developed, CBRE expects to see a continuation of trends seen in the last few years, where mixed use residential and office spaces are becoming more common. 

 


Five questions to ask yourself before you choose to rent a property [Photo: iStock/monkeybusinessimages]

Renting a home is more popular than ever before, with nearly five million homes now in the private rented sector across the UK. The ease of being able to rent a home and move at the drop of a hat has encouraged an increasing number of young people chasing their dream career to wait before they buy their own property, and instead rent their home. 

However, before renting, whether it's for the first time or you're just moving home, it's a good idea to make sure you know exactly what you want, and what you need, from your experience. Here, we take a look at a few key questions you should be asking yourself before you choose your new rental home to make sure you find the ideal place to live. 

What's my budget?

Before you start to look for a new rented property, you need to know what you can afford to spend month-to-month. It's easy to see a listing and fall in love with the house or flat, but if you rent somewhere that costs a little too much, you could end up struggling to make ends meet. Take a look at what you spend on accommodation now, and ask yourself what you can afford to spend so you don't end up out of your depth. 

What's important to me?

When you go to a viewing, you will have the opportunity to not only see the property and analyse if it's somewhere you could see yourself living, but also to dig down and ask the letting agent some probing questions. Take this opportunity so you can really tell if the home is right for you, but also make sure you ask yourself what is going to be important to you as a tenant. Are you looking for fast internet speeds, for example, or does the nightlife nearby really mean a lot to you?

Is it practical?

That area you've just found your dream flat in may well be the hip, trendy part of the city you've always dreamed of living in, but you need to always be asking yourself how practical it is to live in any given place you view. Examples of things to consider is how close it is to amenities (especially for those who don't drive) and how well connected it is in terms of transport to make sure you can get to work easily on a daily basis. 

How long do I want to live there?

Before you move in somewhere, you might also want to ask yourself how long you intend to live in the property before moving somewhere else. If it's a long-term thing, where you intend to stay for a few years, then you may consider looking at somewhere you are allowed to decorate, and where you can bring your own furniture. On the other hand, if you're only looking for something for the next six months to a year, then you can afford to be less picky and go for something that comes fully furnished and ready to go. 

Who am I renting from?

Finally, it can also be a good idea to ask yourself who you will be renting from. For many people, the best option is to rent from a letting agency or property management company, because they want the easiest possible tenancy. While those with a private landlord may have the chance to interact more and conduct their own maintenance, decorating and repairs more freely, tenants who want an easier lifestyle should opt for the efficiency that comes with working with a letting agent or property manager.

 


UK property listings suffer a fall for the second month in a row [Photo: iStock]

The number of properties listed for sale in the UK has fallen for the second month in a row in July, the latest market data shows. It means that the expected rebound post-election, which we normally see when the country's political sector starts to stabilise, has not yet materialised. 

Perhaps a result of the fact there was no clear winner in the snap election held in June is to blame, but according to the latest data from HouseSimple, the market has yet to react in this familiar way. As a result, in July, it reported that the number of properties for sale in the UK housing market fell by 1.6 per cent in July. 

This follows an even bigger fall in June, when new listings were down by 0.9 per cent compared to May, although this figure would have been more expected, thanks to the election falling at the start of the month. 

London saw some of the biggest drop offs in new supply of homes in July, with the capital experiencing a fall of some four per cent month on month when compared to June. 

Alex Gosling, HouseSimple chief executive officer, said the fall in new homes coming to market is a result of people having decided to wait and see what happened at the election. When the result delivered no clear winner, those who had decided to sit on what they had then saw no real vision of how to move forward. As such, they have yet to react. 

"Right now it feels like sellers aren’t really sure what to do. There is so much negative press around Brexit and very little confidence in the government after such a calamitous election campaign; and fear and uncertainty is weighing heavily on house price growth," he said. 

"We were expecting to see a late spring boost in new properties being listed in June and a stronger than usual early summer, but neither has materialised. Sellers are in limbo."

 


Home ownership trumps happiness for many new UK property buyers [Photo: iStock/cnythzl]

There are many things that young people need to compromise on when it comes to getting onto the UK property ladder for the first time. Be it the location they want to live in, how many bedrooms they are looking for or the size of the garden, there has to be a bit of give when it comes to demands for first-time buyers. 

However, new data has shown that many people in the UK who are looking to buy their first house are not only happy to compromise on the home, but also their happiness. For a growing number of people, owning property appears more important than being content. 

A survey by L&C Mortgages found that 1.8 million people around the UK have stayed in a relationship they might not otherwise have stayed in because they wanted to own a house. Meanwhile, 11 per cent of those who are not on the ladder at present said they would stay with their current partner regardless of feelings if it meant being able to buy property. 

It was also discovered that 44 per cent of those who said they had stayed in a relationship to buy a house remained with their partner for more than a year longer than they would have done if getting onto the property ladder had not been a consideration. 

In addition to this, 40 per cent are still in the relationship they stayed a part of to get a house, while 15 per cent said they had stayed for two years more than they would otherwise have wanted to. 

"The fact that so many people view staying in a relationship they perhaps don’t want to be in as one of their only options for getting onto the housing ladder is indicative of the struggle people face when buying their first home," said David Hollingworth from L&C Mortgages.

Some of the problems new buyers find when the time comes to get onto the ladder for the first time include high deposits for a mortgage, which can be anywhere between ten and 25 per cent of the property's value, and solicitors' fees, which can creep into the thousands.

 


First-time buyers happy to compromise on their needs when buying UK property [Photo: oneinchpunch via iStock]

First-time buyers in the UK property market are typically having to compromise on what they want their first home to be when it comes to getting themselves onto the property ladder, a new survey has revealed. 

According to Post Office money, things like the number of bedrooms in the home, as well as the overall size, type and location are all things that new buyers will have to consider changing when they are looking to get themselves a property. 

Among those surveyed who had bought a home in the last two years, it was discovered that the most common compromise comes in location, with as many as 70 per cent saying they had bought a home a minimum of 26 minutes away from where they had originally planned to. 

Other things that first timers said they had compromised on included the property having a suitable garden, which five per cent said they had been happy to change, and the availability of parking, which three per cent had changed their mind on. 

Overall, as few as 16 per cent of people who had got onto the ladder in the past two years said they had managed to do so without having to compromise at all on their expectations or desires. This shows that compromise is a big factor when buying for the first time. 

And despite it being a challenging prospect to get onto the property ladder, the largest proportion of those surveyed said they felt like the experience of becoming a homeowner had been a good one. The Post Office Money data shows that as many as 44 per cent said they had found it a joyful or exciting experience. 

This was compared to just 24 per cent who said it had been an overly stressful experience, 12 per cent who said it was frustrating, nine per cent who found it daunting and four per cent who were left exhausted once they had finished buying. 

Owen Woodley, managing director, Post Office Money, said of the survey results: "We’re seeing that first-time buyers approach the market with enthusiasm and flexibility. Our data also shows that 62 per cent of home sales are still in areas across the country that remain within reach for those looking to take their first steps on the property ladder."

 


Are property 'speculators' returning to the British property market? [Photo: iStock/andresr]

For some time now, property investors in the UK, be they domestic or overseas, have been putting their focus on the private rented sector. Thanks to the increased demand from tenants and the growing yields it has to offer, the rental market has become one of the most mainstream assets around. 

However, over the past few months, an older trend in UK property has apparently been emerging once again, as an increasing number of short-term owners start to surface in the sector, gaining prominence once more. 

Property speculating is a term that is also known as flipping, where people buy homes and then sell them again in a short period of time to maximise profits and make the most of quickly rising house prices. And according to a report in the Financial Times, it's a practice that is once again becoming more common across the UK. 

According to Countrywide data, it said, more than 30,000 flats and homes across the UK, with a value of more than £5.5 billion, were sold more than once in the past year to the end of April. It said that when this happens, it's a sign that someone has flipped the property. Countrywide believes that in the past 12 months, the practice of speculating on properties has hit its highest levels for more than a decade in the UK. 

Although it still has a long way to go to hit the highs of 2007, when just under £10 billion worth of homes were flipped across the country, the UK has seen a return to a practice that seemed to have been on its way out over the past few years. 

However, activity in this sector has also started to shift away from London, with the data showing that in the past few years, it has been those in the north who have flipped homes more often. Only two of the top ten regions in the country for the practice are in the capital, with the north-west and Yorkshire having become the best place, it would appear, to indulge instead. 

“There has been a big shift away from London and towards places where prices are growing a bit more. It is a story about where people think prices will grow,” said Johnny Morris, research director at Countrywide. 

“It’s about the recovery in the housing market outside the south of England — the market in the Midlands and north has picked up in the last 18 months or so, making this more attractive and more financially viable for people to do.”

Leeds and Manchester have both passed London in the past few months when it comes to flipping activity, while Barnsley and a few places in the south, such as Reading, have also become more popular places to flip properties in the last few years.

 


Stamp Duty payments increased by 17% in 2016 [Photo: designer491 via iStock]

The amount of Stamp Duty paid by those buying homes in England and Wales increased markedly in 2016, reversing the trend of decline that was recorded between 2014 and 2015. 

According to the findings of a study by Lloyds Bank, the total spent on Stamp Duty for the whole of 2016 was £8.3 billion. This was compared to the £7.1 billion that was spent on the tax in 2015, meaning there was a rise of some 17 per cent in the space of just one year. 

The reasons for this rise include the fact that more homes were sold for higher than the Stamp Duty threshold in 2016, as well as the fact that the government changed the rules on housing tax for buy-to-let homes, which saw landlords pay a three per cent levy whenever they were buying property. 

The research from Lloyds Bank also shows that there has been a rise in the number of young people who pay Stamp Duty when they are buying their first home. Traditionally, these properties cost too little to be charged Stamp Duty, but in the last few years this has not been the case. As a result, Lloyds said as many as 78 per cent of newcomers to the market paid Stamp Duty last year. 

It marked a real rise when compared to the start of the century, when only as many as 47 per cent were paying the property tax. 

This rate rises even further when it comes to London, however, where 100 per cent of buyers getting onto the ladder for the first time will be forced to pay Stamp Duty thanks to the price of the property. 

"Rising house prices have caused Stamp Duty payments to continue to increase despite the reforms that came into effect from December 2014. As a result, the £8.3 billion raised in Stamp Duty in 2016 was more than £2 billion higher than at the peak of the last housing boom in 2007," said Andrew Mason, Lloyds Bank mortgage products director.

 


5 things you should always check with your landlord [Photo: iStock/Alex459]

With more than 4.5 million homes now in the rented sector across the UK, there are more tenants than there have ever been. In fact, less than two-thirds of people now own the house they live in as renting has become an ever more popular way to live. However, one thing to remember when you become a private rented sector tenant is that there are far more rules that need to be followed when you are living there. 

And when it comes to making any changes to the property or your living situation, there are things you need to check with the landlord or letting agent first. In many cases, failure to do so could lead to your lease being void, and the landlord could ask you to leave, so it's always better to ask, and be safe rather than sorry. 

Here, we take a look at a few things it's always better to check with your landlord. 

Internet installation

Fast internet speeds are one of the most important things anyone wants out of their home these days, so more than ever before, the UK is turning towards fibre connections. The problems can come when it's time to have these installed. Fibre normally requires new connections to be installed and this can take some drilling to happen. Always check with the landlord that you are allowed to make such large changes or you risk serious trouble in their eyes.

Pets

Again, a much more common query these days as more people see rented accommodation as home, as opposed to just somewhere to live. It makes sense that anyone who has a pet would want to move it in with them at some point. But remember, many landlords don't like the risk that comes with a pet living in their property, so always double check before you make the move. 

Moving in

It's not just pets that tenants want to move into their new place from time to time. It may well be the case that you've met someone, started a relationship and want to live together. In most cases, landlords will be fine with this, but you always need to check so they can update the tenancy for insurance purposes. So never just chance it and always make sure you've made the call before you choose to move anyone in. 

Maintenance

When something goes wrong in a property, tenants are often worried that it'll take the landlord a long time to rectify the problem. However, before you give in to the temptation of just doing it yourself and getting someone in to repair the issue, remember to clear this with the letting agent or landlord. In many cases, they will be happy to let you do so, but it's always worth getting clearance first. 

Decorating

Finally, because rented properties are like home to many people, a growing number of tenants now want the chance to be able to decorate when they move in somewhere. This is not always possible, but most landlords will allow it if you ask them first. Simply put together a little plan of what you intend to do to make it a bit of an easier one for them to approve without the worry of you doing something garish and over the top. 

 


How to ensure you get your asking price when selling your home [Photo: iStock/oneinchpunch]

Hitting asking price when you're selling a home can be a bit of a difficult ask when it comes to the current market in the UK. With fewer buyers around and uncertainty in the market, asking prices are staying relatively flat across the country, according to the latest data from Rightmove, and more people are having to drop their asking prices than in recent years because they want to make the sale. 

However, when you are selling your beloved home, you want to make sure you get as much possible for the property so you're not losing out and feeling like you've been short changed. This is particularly true when it comes to a home that you've lived in and loved for years. So here, we take a look at just a few tactics you can employ to give yourself a better chance of finding a buyer and getting the full asking price for your home. 

Choose the right time of year

You can't always choose when you move home, and you really can't choose when someone comes along who will fall in love with your house and want to make it their own. But what you can do is try to bring it to market at the right time of year. The biggest reason people reduce their asking price is because they want to make sure they make a sale after months of frustration. However, if you put the house on the market at busier times of year, such as summer, then you will have more eyes on the property, and a much better chance of making a sale as a result. Try to avoid winter and late autumn, and look towards the better weather, when more people are happy to be out and about looking for somewhere to live.

Maximise the kerb appeal 

If you are looking for the highest possible price for your home, what you need is for someone to fall in love with it and immediately envisage themselves living there. In order to make this happen, you need to make sure the home makes the right first impression with potential buyers and makes them want to move in no matter the price. The first time they see the property will shape what they think of it, even if only subconsciously, so you need to make sure the property is working on the outside as well as the inside. Paint the fence and the front door, make sure to sweep up and cut the grass, and ensure that all clutter is removed from the garden to give the home that fresh look that will bring the buyers flooding in. 

Make the most of space

Space is a huge deal for the majority of buyers in the UK, and people want to know that they are getting as much for their money as possible. Somewhere that is lovely to look at but very small may just turn away the right buyer, while somewhere bigger gives them exactly what they were looking for, and they won't ask you to drop the price. To make the most of space, always take some time before listing your home to remove as much clutter as possible, clear out any furniture that doesn't necessarily need to be there and let in light where you can to create the illusion of a much bigger space. Chances are, if this impresses the buyer, you're far more likely to get your asking price. 

 


Five crucial pieces of information to include when you're selling your home [Photo: iStock/andresr]

When you're selling a home in the modern world, one of the most difficult things to do is to stand out from the crowd and make yourself the best option for anyone to buy from. Among the plethora of homes for sale on property portals, being the one that people choose can be a hard thing to achieve. 

However, if you include all of the most important information that people are looking for from sellers, you actually give yourself a far better chance of being the house that they might just come to view. Here, we take a look at a few crucial things you should always include when listing a property to improve your chance of selling. 

Internet speeds

It's a surprising entrant in any list of things that house buyers are looking for, but various surveys released in the last couple of years have shown that the age of streaming TV and music has increased the need for a faster internet connection. And buyers want to know before they make a move that their potential new home is going to be able to support their lifestyle. So always look to include details of what average speeds in the area are like, as well fibre availability. 

Transport links

Fewer people now live and work in London than ever before. Now, it's more common for people to choose to live in a suburban area - where buying or renting a home is cheaper - and commute in. For this reason, it's an absolute essential to mention as many transport links as possible in your property listing. Talk about road networks, buses and train stations to give your potential buyer as much information as you can. 

Council tax and bills

As well as the money that will be spent monthly on mortgage payments, people generally want to know what their outgoings will look like when they move in. For this reason, it's a good idea to make sure you mention, at the very least, what the council tax bill for the property is like. Those who want to go one step further can even include details of the average gas, electricity and water bills to give buyers more of an insight into what they might need to pay overall each month, should they move in. 

Schools

An essential if you are selling in an area that attracts families, one of the most common things people want to know before they commit to a home is that their kids will have access to good schools nearby. As a seller, it's therefore very important that you include these details in the listing for your property. You don't need to give every detail, but let people know what schools are nearby at least, so they can do their research during the decision making process. 

Boiler health

New boilers can be one of the most costly things to buy, and if it breaks, it's hardly a problem that you can just ignore. Buyers face charges into the thousands of pounds if a boiler needs fixing, and the last thing anyone wants is to face that in the weeks after they've moved in. You can give your buyer peace of mind, however, if you include details of the last time the boiler was replaced, repaired or service, so they know they can trust it to last a while. 

 


Buyers paying a premium for a home with a park view in towns and cities [Photo: iStock/monkeybusinessimages]

Park views are becoming more popular with those purchasing homes in large towns and cities across the UK, with the average buyer having to pay a high premium for a home that overlooks a park. 

According to a recent study conducted by HouseSimple, the fact that there is a shortage of premium space around parks in these areas has created competition between buyers, and that means prices being hiked for those looking to secure those properties. 

It said that the average property around a park goes for a third more than other homes in the area. This means that buyers are having to spend an extra £78,400 on average when they are looking to secure a park view from their home. 

In fact, in some towns and cities where there is a serious shortage of homes with a park view, houses can be sold for as much as double. This includes cities such as Sheffield, Liverpool, Cardiff, Glasgow and Middlesbrough.

Homes overlooking Endcliffe Park in Sheffield command the highest premium on average, according to the report, which showed that buyers would have to spend 121 per cent more to secure a home there. 

Other parks that can see buyers pay similar premiums include Liverpool's Sefton Park, and Heath Park in Cardiff, both of which see prices 110 per cent or more higher than the average for their areas. 

"In large urban areas where many properties don’t have a garden or access to a communal garden, living near public parks or green spaces is often one of the top wishes amongst buyers," said Alex Gosling, chief executive officer of HouseSimple.

"That high demand inevitably impacts on the price people will pay, but many buyers may not realise just how much of a premium they could be paying."
  

 


Million-pound property sales spread out of London as house prices rise [Photo: Highwaystarz-Photography via iStock]

For years, the vast majority of homes that were sold for a million pounds or more were located in London. The capital's ability to sustain its own housing market that almost operates as a separate entity from the rest of the country, and the rises that have happened therein over the years, meant that nearly all of the most expensive properties in the UK were located in London. 

According to the latest report published by the mortgage firm Private Finance based on Land Registry data, the ripple effect from London means that house sales for more than a million pounds are spreading into nearby counties. This trend has seen Hertfordshire, Surrey and Essex welcome a swell in the number of more expensive homes in recent years. 

So common are house sales of this value, that Private Finance believes that 2017 will be the first time ever that more than half of the UK's million-pound property sales in one year are outside of London. 

Shaun Church, director at Private Finance, said that one of the reasons for the spread of sales away from London is the rise in house prices. People who would have previously been able to buy a million-pound home in London can no longer afford to buy the same properties, as they have become much more expensive. 

"Sustained house price growth in London means that even for many highly paid professionals, a large family home in the capital is now out of reach," he said.

"With buyers looking further afield as a result, this has contributed to significant growth in the number of million pound plus transactions in areas like Kent, Essex and the Home Counties, which are all within easy commuting distance of London," he added. 

The data also indicates how the million-pound plus market has grown over the last five years across the UK. Private Finance said that between 2011 and 2016, the volume of sales at above this threshold increased by 195 per cent.

 


Brexit uncertainty is having an impact on property market, experts claim [Photo: iStock/jmiks]

When the UK voted to leave the European Union last June, it was predicted that it would affect a number of sectors, with British property being one of the hardest hit. Experts forecast price drops, buyer numbers plummeting, and rising numbers of tenants. 

However, the doom and gloom that was predicted never quite materialised, with the market showing that it has a resilience and underlying strength that can carry it through. In spite of this, experts say the market has suffered slightly, with growth far slower this year than it has been in the past. 

According to the economic outlook report from PwC, the price of properties in the UK has still been rising so far in 2017. And it said that this is likely to continue for the rest of the year, although it will do so at a slower rate than in recent years. The forecast says that the average property could sell for £220,000 as of the end of this year, which would be £8,000 higher than in 2016. 

However, it's the rate at which house prices are growing that shows where the Brexit effect has come into play. In 2016, the average house rose in value by as much as seven per cent year on year. In 2017, this is expected to be markedly lower, with increases of just 3.7 per cent on average. 

The good news moving forward is that after the Brexit uncertainty comes to an end, the market should return to stronger growth. PwC predicts that in the next eight years, we should see the average price of a home hit £300,000 nationwide. 

"There are still downside risks relating to Brexit, but there are also upside possibilities if negotiations go smoothly and the recent eurozone economic recovery continues. We expect the UK to suffer a moderate slowdown, not a recession, but businesses should be monitoring this and making contingency plans," added John Hawksworth, chief economist at PwC.

 


Nearly half of UK property owners have carried out major work in the last 5 years [Photo: iStock]

People in the UK property market are increasingly turning to renovations in their home, as they look to improve the value of their stock, as well as giving themselves a higher quality of life in general when they live there. 

This is according to a new report, which shows that nearly half of all UK property owners have carried out major renovation works on their residence within the past half decade. According to the GoCompare Home Insurance study, some 43 per cent of owners said they had carried out such work in the last five years. 

Two old favourites lead the way when it comes to the most popular jobs to have done in the home. According to the data, bathrooms and kitchens, both of which are the most important rooms when it comes to selling a property to a buyer, come in top of the table, with some 39 per cent and 38 per cent of respondents respectively having had work carried out in these rooms in the last five years. 

And it seems as though Brits are getting more on board with what they think a buyer might want down the line, with energy efficiency and comfort also performing well. The data shows that some 34 per cent had central heating installed or upgraded, while another 26 per cent said they had double glazing fitted in the last five years. 

Other popular works for Brits to have carried out included adding an extension to their home (17 per cent), having solar panels fitted (12 per cent) and converting the attic into a new room (ten per cent). 

GoCompare, however, warned people that as renovations on this scale become more popular, it's important that owners remember to inform their insurance company whenever they are carrying out work, with only 41 per cent saying they had done so on their last job. 

"While you don’t need to inform your insurer about routine decorating or maintenance, you should inform your provider if you’re planning on carrying out any major building or renovation work, otherwise you could risk invalidating your policy," said Matt Sanders, home insurance spokesperson for GoCompare.

 


UK property price growth remains flat in June, but rises annually [Photo: iStock/roberthyrons]

The price paid for properties in the UK has remained largely static in June in terms of monthly price growth. However, data shows that year-on-year, prices are still climbing at a more impressive rate. 

According to the latest property market index released by Home.co.uk, the average price of property across the UK has climbed by 0.2 per cent in June. It shows a continued period of relatively flat growth in the 2017, as the UK continues to feel the pinch in relation to worries around Brexit negotiations and what they will mean for the property market. 

However, when compared to the same time last year, the average price of houses in the UK has grown by a much more impressive 3.3 per cent. It shows the underlying health in the market and the fact that even when the sector enjoys a relatively slow period, the long-term prospects remain far stronger. 

It's a different story in London, however, where flat price growth is a much longer term reality. According to the report, the capital experienced rises of just 0.1 per cent in June this year, while on an annual basis, prices have remained much the same since July last year. 

One of the issues is that there are fewer buyers looking to get onto the ladder at a time when they are uncertain about the political position of the UK in times to come. This comes at the same time as there has been a five per cent leap in available homes, pushing price growth down. 

Doug Shephard, director of Home.co.uk, said: "The UK property market has clearly entered a period of stagflation. Our data suggests that home price growth has been lower than inflation for six consecutive months," adding that it's the regions that continue to push the market forward, as opposed to London.

 


UK property landlords call for govt to overturn tax changes [Photo: designer491 via iStock]

The majority of buy-to-let owners in the UK property market are knowledgeable about changes to taxation imposed by the government on the rental sector over the last year, but most want to see the extra charges reversed by ministers. 

Last year, the government brought in a new fee that made it more expensive for landlords to buy property in the UK market, when they added a three per cent levy on top of Stamp Duty for any home bought for the purposes of letting. On top of that, Westminster then brought in new rules this April that sees those who invest in property unable to deduct mortgage interest from their taxable income. 

And now, a new report published by Paragon Mortgages has found that nine out of every ten landlords in the UK property market are fully aware of the implications of these changes, and what it means for their own investments. However, in spite of this, they still want to see the government reverse the charges and make it more affordable for them to operate in the market. 

The fear is that as new tax laws come into force for landlords, the extra costs of buying and owning rental properties will be passed down to tenants, who are forced to pay more in a market where affordability is already being stretched. 

"Higher tax charges for landlords have combined with a general increase in uncertainty to drive confidence levels down," said John Heron, managing director of Paragon Mortgages. 

But, he did say there are positives, however, in the market in spite of these problems. "Whilst there are signs of lower demand it would appear that property yields are being maintained and that void periods are close to historic lows," he said. 

As well as looking for the government to overturn tax changes, the landlords surveyed by Paragon also said they would like to see an exemption from capital gains tax and stamp duty for landlords who register themselves as limited companies; a practice that many are now starting to favour.

 


Govt schemes to boost buyer numbers still failing to assist the most in need [Photo: iStock/apomares]

Over the past few years, the government has put in place a number of schemes such as Rent to Buy and Help to Buy, designed to increase the number of people in the UK who own their own home. It was thought that bringing in such schemes would mean those who would otherwise not be able to afford to become homeowners would be able to do so. 
 
However, a few years on, and it seems that these schemes are still only helping better off buyers get onto the ladder, and those who desperately need help if they are to ever become owners, are still unable to afford to climb onto the property ladder. 
 
In a new report published by the Social Mobility Council and carried out by researchers at the London School of Economics, it was discovered that the average Help to Buy buyer is earning far more than the average person. It said that they are typically bringing in more than one and a half times the working age median income. 
 
This means that those who are able to buy through schemes such as Help to Buy are still among the better off in the country, with those who earn an average wage, or lower, still being missed out by schemes designed to improve ownership levels. 
 
What is perhaps most surprising about the data is that many of the people who managed to buy through the Help to Buy scheme would have been able to do so even without its assistance. According to the report, three in five of those surveyed said they would still have purchased a home even without help. 
 
"While it is welcome that the Government is acting to help young people get on the housing ladder, current schemes are doing far too little to help those on low incomes to become homeowners," said Alan Milburn, chair of the Social Mobility Commission.
 
He went on to say that while it is extremely positive that the government has put in place plans to help young people find their way onto the property ladder, at the moment, the execution of the schemes is poor and needs to be reassessed.