23
Aug 19

Since April 2018 there have been no less than 15 hopeful homeowners opting to go down the house competition route in order to sell their home and maximise their financial return while doing so.

However, research by Winmydreamhome (WMDH) has revealed that just one of these has resulted in a lucky winner actually receiving the property in questions, with just a further six resulting in a cash payout and the remaining either refunding their ticket sales or the result still remaining a mystery.

Using information from the UK competition authority portal, Loquax, WMDH has looked at the chequered past of house competitions, how they have turned out and provided their tips on what to look for when entering to ensure it is a legitimate outfit.

The Good

As mentioned, just one house competition has seen the actual property given as a reward. Win a Feckin House launched in April 2018 offering the prize of a four-bed, semi-detached house in the village of Termonfeckin in the Republic of Ireland.

Valued at £280,000 it had by far the highest ticket entry price at £100 and sold just 8,000 tickets with those entering needing only to join the local G.A.A club in order to qualify for entry.

However, the gamble paid off for Vicky Hanratty from Drogheda who won the house once the competition closed in December 2018.

The Not So Good

Of the other 14 competitions, six struggled to sell the required number of tickets and instead gave the winner a cash prize, although the amount given and the basis of this amount were less than transparent. Win Fred’s Home in Bolton gifted just £7,000 to the winner having sold just 1,000 tickets at £10 a pop, while Cadivus, who offered a luxury flat in Kensington, gifted just £53,500 with the competition marred by transparency issues.

Win a Maida Vale Home ran for eight months selling 4,200 tickets at £25 each before gifting £79,350 of the £105,000 generated by these sales instead of the home.

Millionaire’s Mansion gave away £100,000 in cash after extending the competition for a year. While the number of ticket sales remains unknown £100,000 isn’t a bad prize, but it’s a far cry from the £2.3m house originally offered, with the competition winner also supposed to receive a Rolls Royce and £50k in cash.

Win a Mega Home gave away just £110,070 of the £750,000 generated via ticket sales after failing to gift the £3m home and also pulling their charitable donation and most recently, Raffle House gave away £173,013 after failing to sell enough tickets for the £650,000 home despite a string of extensions to their timeline.

The Bad

The bad include Win a House Club in Edinburgh who claim to have picked a winner but whose website has now vanished, much like House Prize Competition in Cheshire who have done the same. 2 Pound Home in Bristol who claim to have chosen a winner but are still taking money via an unsecured website and finally Win the Home that Jo Made in Scotland who announced a winner but it also remains unknown as to what was awarded.

The Ugly

Win Barns Farm Life and Win a Yorkshire Home are amongst the ugliest with the competitions closing down and the outcome either unknown or refunds given.

And despite a celebrity face fronting them, the one and only Mr Motivator and his Golden Ticket competition for a mansion in Jamaica and Win a Property Now, organised by F1 legend Eddie Jordan’s son but using his name, also closed down with Golden Ticket refunding those that entered and the outcome of Win a Property Now still unknown.

Top tips when entering a house competition

1. Do your research: Check out the company or person running the competition. Have they tried and failed before? Do they have any experience with property sales or house competitions? Is there any other information you can find to validate them or their company?

2. Deadline extensions: A hard one to know upon launch but a sure sign of troubled waters is if a competition continues to extend their closing deadline. This means they aren’t selling enough tickets and more often than not are just maximising ticket sales before closing without gifting the house.

3. The skill test: There is a whole host of legalities surrounding a house competition in order to avoid it being classed as an illegal raffle by the Gambling Commission. One vital one is that those entering must pass a skill test that a proportionate percentage of the population will fail. Many opt for a spot the ball competition or multiple choice. Anything that can be Googled in time to answer could see the competition find themselves in hot water. While ‘spot the ball’ does pass, this isn’t a skill test and is picked by a judge after you enter. This means it is actually complete luck whether you’re guess is right and isn’t the most legitimate or transparent method for those running the competition.

4. Ticket sales: House competitions are designed to make a profit and there’s nothing to be ashamed of in admitting this. However, if a competition refuses to reveal the number of tickets they’ve sold by the end or any other financial details, then this would suggest something isn’t quite right.

5. Terms and Conditions: Check the terms and conditions, they should be easily accessible and if they aren’t, again something isn’t quite right. When a house competition promises to ‘gift’ a sum of money if the required number of tickets aren’t sold they usually cover themselves by this sum coming after the running costs are removed. This means the competition can keep as much of the profit as they want to ‘cover’ costs without having to justify this sum, and so the winner not only loses out on the house but their fair share of the money. Make sure the alternative cash prize does not have “costs” taken out of it.

6. Third part financial controller: A legitimate house competition will use a third-party company to hold all finances during the competition. This ensures that the winner is paid their due first, then the chosen charity, before those running the competition are finally paid their share.

7. Charity Donations: Are the company making a significant donation to charity? some give just a tiny fraction to make it seem like they are supporting a good cause. Check just how much they are giving in the small print.

Marc Gershon of Win my Dream Home commented: “When you look back at previous house competitions in the UK and abroad, it’s clear to see why the public perception of the format is a negative one, with just one house awarded and a small handful gifting a cash prize.

"These competitions are a business venture at the end of the day and if not enough tickets are sold, a cash prize is an acceptable substitute. However, when it is done in a less than transparent manner with the financial details or ticket sales being withheld, you can see why those that do win still feel hard done by.

"A lack of understanding is the driving factor behind the poor running of these competitions and due to dodgy T&Cs, extensions to closing dates and inadequate skills test like spot the ball, there’s a lot to do to raise the bar in the house competition sector and get the public back on side.”

22
Aug 19

If we had the choice, what would our dream home really look like and what are the features we are obsessed with having in our homes?

Arlo & Jacob asked Brits what their dream home would look like both from the outside and in.

When it comes to the type of home Brits desire the most, the results are surprisingly modest with the majority of people wanting a 3-bedroom semi-detached house. Just 1.4% of Brits wanted a house with 6+ bedrooms and less than a third wanted a detached home.

Looking at the interior of the dream home the results show that Brits are keen to master a balance between modern and luxury, with the most desired features emerging as a fireplace and patio doors onto the garden, as well as smart appliances and a smart TV in almost every room.

The Kitchen

The survey reveals that the key feature Brits want in their dream kitchen is a kitchen island to socialise around, with 42.1% of people wanting this.

Over a third (37.5.%) want patio doors leading to the garden and an open-plan kitchen diner, which again allows for the kitchen to become a social hub of the home.

Technology is another key feature Brits want in their dream kitchen - over a third (32.3%) of people want smart appliances such as a smart fridge, dishwasher and washing machine in their kitchens.

The Lounge

Entertainment comes out as a top priority when it comes to Britain’s dream lounge, with just over half of Brits wanting a smart TV. These results come as no surprise with the living space being an area for us to relax after a long day at work. With the average Brit spending almost 10 years of their life watching TV, it comes as no surprise that a smart TV is a top feature for the kitchen, lounge and bedroom.

With relaxation being a key activity in the living space, Brits desire an open fire or fireplace (41.4%) and corner sofa (38.1%). Over a quarter of Brits also want big windows/doors looking out onto the garden, allowing plenty of sunlight to fill and lift the room.

The Bedroom

Privacy and space come out as two important qualities in Britain’s dream bedroom, with the most popular feature being an ensuite with over half (55.2%) wanting this, closely followed by a walking wardrobe and dressing room.

Brits’ dream bedroom results demonstrate the epitome of luxury, with 34.4% of people also wanting a balcony and nearly a quarter wanting a four-poster bed.

The Garden

Having a back garden is crucial for the British dream home according to our survey results, with over 40% of Brits wanting one. The most popular garden feature is a BBQ and outdoor cooking area for homeowners to enjoy entertaining guests, at 37.2%. A hot tub and swimming pool also came out in the top five features Brits want in their garden.

Interestingly, Brits are also aware of the cost of maintenance of gardens, which is shown by over a quarter of people wanting to have a simple and easy-to-maintain garden.

Interestingly, as lavish and dreamy as the chosen features are for Britain’s dream home, the majority of people are only willing to pay a maximum of £400,000 for it. Whilst this may be achievable in some areas of the UK, for cities such as London where the average house price is £460,000, and other locations, this figure is unrealistic and shows that Brits want an impressive home, but don’t want to pay the price.

Timothy Newsome, marketing director at Arlo & Jacob, commented: “Homes are a big part of raising families and socialising with friends - we spend, on average, around 45% of our lives at home. But the way we live is constantly evolving and our homes are always adapting to reflect this. At Arlo & Jacob, we conducted this research to find out what is really important to people when it comes to their ideal home. How are our priorities changing and how is this influencing the housing market? How are our homes adapting to accommodate and reflect changes in the way we live our lives?

"Our findings suggest that people are now seeking social spaces that serve multiple functions within the home, with a big focus on bringing people together and having the space to entertain and accommodate friends and family. Kitchens continue to be the heart of the home, with people wanting kitchen islands and open plan kitchen-diners to create space to come together as a family or with friends.

"While the classic semi-luxury elements, like ensuites and walk in wardrobes, are still popular there is a definite reminder here that one of the main things that make a house desirable is its ability to appeal to buyers’ self image. We’ve found that small elements like home-tech and on-trend interiors have a huge impact when it comes to the age-old question, ‘Can you see yourself living here?’

"While a smart washing machine and luxury rug may not seem like big selling points - especially when we consider these are things that are unlikely to remain in the property after the sale - it’s clear that these things help to build an image of living everyday life in the property, for potential buyers, adding personal appeal and a sense of aspiration.”

21
Aug 19

The north-south property divide is still favouring the south despite market uncertainty hitting the more expensive, southern regions the hardest, according to research by Springbok Properties.

Springbok looked at the number of property transactions and the average house price across the north and south over the last year, multiplying the average house price in each region by the number of transactions to find the average amount of property sold.

The research shows that when it comes to transactions the South has been struggling, with total transactions down 7.3% year-on-year, compared to just 3.3% in the North and 3.3% again in the Midlands and Wales.

When it comes to growth in the total value of sales, the South again is bottom of the pile with a annual drop of 7% in the total value, compared to a drop of just 1% in the North. The Midlands and Wales are the only team to see the total value increase annually with a change of 1%.

However, when it comes to the actual value of the property sold, the South remains firmly in front despite the year-on-year drop with a huge £138.37bn worth of property sold in the last year.

The Midlands and Wales rank next with just £37.79bn worth of property sold and the North ranks last with just £36.18bn worth of property sold in the last year.

A previous survey found that the majority of the UK think the Midlands is part of the North but even with the additional firepower of these two regions and Wales, the total value of property sold comes to just £73.97bn, having dropped marginally year on year and coming in at around half that of the South.

Founder and CEO of Springbok Properties, Shepherd Ncube, commented: “We’ve seen some much stronger market performances across the Midlands and the North since the EU referendum where transactions are concerned, and when it comes to the individual value of property, homeowners in London and the South East have suffered far worse at the hands of market uncertainty.

"However, as a proud citizen from the outstanding city of Manchester, it pains me to say that the South is still miles ahead when it comes to the actual value of property being transacted and only marginally behind on transactional volume when compared to the North, Midlands and Wales as a whole.”

19
Aug 19

Choices Estate Agents is launching a new offering which gives landlords the option to receive their annual rent upfront in one lump sum.

Launching later this month, the Advanced Rent Option (ARO) aims to give landlords more financial freedom to make a luxury purchase or expand their property portfolio.

The ARO is being offered through Choices Estate Agents and its associated brands using the Primary Tenancy service.

Subject to referencing, it can provide landlords with up to 12 months' rent in advance, minus standard letting agency fees.

Based on a property with a rental price of £1,200 per month, landlords could receive an upfront lump sum of £10,231 by signing up to ARO.

This final figure is calculated by discounting standard annual agent fees costs of £2,592, new tenancy setup fees of £395, a rent guarantee of £432 and an emergency maintenance float of £750 from the total annual rent of £14,400.

If a landlord wants to benefit from the ARO but already has a tenant in-situ, they can instruct Choices or any of their associated brands to carry out some background checks and re-reference the tenant, before signing an agreement with the agency.

Alternatively, Choices or its partners can manage properties with sitting tenants until the tenancy is over, before implementing the ARO for a new tenancy.

The ARO is not a loan, which means it does not depend on a landlord’s credit rating and there is no extra paperwork to complete.

Simon Shinerock, owner of Choices Estate Agents, commented: “The ARO provides landlords with a great opportunity to improve their cashflow.

“As we can see, for landlords letting an average property the ARO could help to pay for a holiday, with plenty of money left over to put towards an additional property purchase or paying off buy-to-let mortgage payments.

“Rental market conditions have been tricky for some time now and we want to provide landlords with a straight-forward way to wrestle back control of their finances.

“The cost of letting a property is likely to keep on rising, while the private rented sector will only become more regulated. With this in mind, landlords can benefit from receiving their rent upfront and start planning their future investment strategy accordingly.”

17
Aug 19

On Sunday 21 July this year, the Government announced that they had launched their consultation on the abolition of Section 21. The consultation, which will only cover England, will be open for 12 weeks closing on Saturday 12 October.

In the consultation, the Government proposes to remove Assured Shorthold Tenancies (ASTs) from the Housing Act 1988, essentially making assured tenancies the only type of tenancy available to landlords.

In the proposal that the Government has put forward, tenants will have the option of agreeing to a fixed-term assured tenancy, which means both parties are committed to a predetermined time or a periodic assured tenancy. In the case where a fixed-term tenancy has not been terminated by the tenant, or the landlord using the Section 8 Notice process, it is possible for it to be renewed to a new fixed term. If this doesn’t happen, it will automatically revert to an assured periodic tenancy.

If the decision is made by the Government to move forward with the proposed changes and they are passed into law, there will be a transitional period of six months before the law comes into full effect. So, if nothing else changes and this matter is prioritised, we could see it come into place either towards the end of next year or perhaps early in 2021.

Would the changes impact tenancies currently in place?

According to Iain McKenzie, CEO of The Guild of Property Professionals, there has been confirmation from the Government that the changes would not be retrospective. “What this means is that should the law come into place, it will not impact tenancies that are already in place at the time it is passed. So, landlords in these agreements will still be able to use Section 21 until the tenancy comes to an end. Any new agreement thereafter will then become an assured tenancy,” he adds.

What if the landlord or tenant wants to end the agreement?

If the landlord wishes to terminate an assured tenancy, they will have to give the tenant a Section 8 eviction notice based on one of the grounds specified in Schedule 2 of the Housing Act 1988.

McKenzie explains: “In the instance where the tenant decides to end the tenancy, they would have to give one month’s notice, but only at the end of a fixed-term tenancy or during a periodic tenancy, unless their agreement includes a break clause,”

A reformed Section 8 Notice process

If Section 21 is abolished, other aspects will need to come into play to protect landlords such as the improvement of the Section 8 notice process. The Government is proposing that the process for possession be accelerated, removing the need for a court hearing if unchallenged by then tenant.

McKenzie says: “There are several other changes that the Government will be looking to make to Section 8 to mitigate the loss of Section 21, such as adding a new ground into Section 8 for when a landlord wishes to sell the property or widening the current grounds to cover a landlord, their spouse, partner, or family member, should they wish to move into the property.”

It is also proposed to strengthen the current mandatory ground 8, which pertains to rent arrears, as well as ground 13 to allow landlords to use this if tenants routinely refuse access to the property for safety checks and repairs.

For tenants, the Government wishes to include the prescribed information requirements that currently exist via the Deregulation Act for the valid use of Section 21 in the Section 8 process to ensure their existing protection is maintained.

Impact on rentals

Even with the proposed amendments to the Section 8 process, with Section 21 abolished, landlords will feel they have fewer options when dealing with defaulting tenants – which will have repercussions on the rental market.

“If landlords feel they have less protection the likelihood is that they will become far more risk-averse and less likely to want to rent out their property. This could mean the supply of rental properties would decrease, which in the long term could push up rental prices. Landlords will also be far more stringent in their tenant selection process, meaning some tenants may find it far more difficult to find a place to live,” says McKenzie.

What should landlords do to prepare?

The Guild’s inhouse Compliance Officer, Paul Offley, says: “It is important that landlords have a workable process for obtaining possession where there is a justified need for them to do so. Any process which helps execute this process, whilst being fair to the tenant, has got to be seen as a positive move. Any change brings concern but providing MHCLG is working with organisations like The Guild and that they listen to the feedback they receive, then hopefully this will benefit all parties concerned.”

16
Aug 19

According to sales progression and communication tool mio, all parties involved in property transactions - including consumers and professionals - must do their bit to help limit delays to the exchange of contracts.
Exchange is the longest part of moving home
It's well-documented that the UK moving process is too slow, with buyers and sellers often facing long delays before they can get their hands on the keys to their new home.
The exchange of contracts - the final part of the selling process in which signed contracts are exchanged between both parties - can often be one of the most stressful and frustrating parts of the process for consumers. And, according to recent research, it's also the longest.
On average, the exchange of contracts takes 166 days - equivalent to 5.3 months - according to a survey of 2,000 homeowners conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Matterport.
The report suggests that for some unlucky movers, the exchange could take up to 25 months.
The survey calculates that the typical move in the UK takes 210 days (6.8 months), although official figures estimate that it is 126 days, just over four months.
Following the exchange, waiting to get a mortgage offer is the next lengthiest process at an average of 24 days, according to the study.
John Horton, product director of mio, had this to say: "When you consider how long the entire moving process - and particularly the exchange of contracts - is taking, it's no wonder the government has made a commitment to improve the home buying and selling process.
While this process is ongoing, it's up to estate agents, conveyancers and movers themselves to work collaboratively to prevent lengthy delays and keep the housing market ticking over."
What are the main causes of delays in the moving process?
There are many reasons why a property transaction could be delayed, but here are ten of the most common:

1: Mortgage offers expiring
2: Complications in other parts of the chain
3: Failure to agree timescale between parties
4: Loss of or defective title deeds
5: Delays caused by surveys and mortgage valuations
6: Not signing/returning documents on time
7: Incorrect or incomplete information on key documents
8: Lack of disclosure around a gifted deposit
9: Delays in searches being returned
10: Slow or lacking service from conveyancers/agents
What can buyers and sellers do to limit delays?
Consumers have an important role to play when it comes to reducing the chances of an elongated exchange process.
Horton explains: "Buyers and sellers can often become frustrated and feel isolated during the exchange, but they must stay engaged with the progress of the transaction. Being easily contactable, prompt in returning documents and flexible with dates can all help to stop transactions from stalling."
What's more, having realistic expectations and knowing the right time to chase agents or solicitors can also reduce unnecessary friction in the process."
What can agents and conveyancers do to speed up the process?
It's important for agents and conveyancers to be proactive and open to collaboration instead of working in a silo.
Horton adds: "Working together and being transparent can certainly help to reduce delays and keep things moving. Good communication is vital for property professionals, both in organising key aspects of the move and managing the expectations of buyers and sellers."
Horton says that agents and conveyancers who use technology to their advantage and take a more accessible approach towards sales progression can improve customer satisfaction and improve their chances of securing repeat future business.
How can technology help all parties?
Alongside the government's efforts to improve the home buying and selling process, technology will be crucial in opening up lines of communication, automating key processes and making transactions more transparent for all parties.

15
Aug 19

The latest data released by independent letting and sales agent, Benham and Reeves, looks at how much the unfortunate cost of landing a bad tenant can reach during the process of having them evicted from the property.

Previous research by the firm highlighted the increasing number of fraudulent lettings applications by rogue tenants, who no longer need pay if their application is denied due to the introduction of the Tenant Fee Act 2019. Benham and Reeves found that the number of false applications being detected by their team had already increased by 117% so far this year when compared to 2018 and the number of false passports being used had also increased notably.

This latest research looks at the detrimental financial impact a rogue tenant can have on a landlord's buy-to-let investment based on lost rent, the cost of refitting a kitchen and bathroom, redecorating and replacing the windows, the potential legal fees, as well as the additional cost of mortgage payments out of their own pocket while no rent is coming in.

According to Benham and Reeves, a rogue tenant takes roughly nine months in total to evict from the moment they enter the property to legally removing them. On average across the UK, that’s £6,111 of rent down the drain.

But it goes far beyond the rental costs and the vast majority of the time the apartment requires a complete renovation as rogue tenants often make off with everything they can or leave what they can’t take in a state of no repair. The two rooms that always see the most damage are the bathroom and kitchen and when you add the average cost of a new kitchen (£8,000), the average cost of refitting a bathroom (£4,875), the cost of redecorating (£2,900), new windows (£7,000), as well as the average legal fees of £3,000 required during the eviction process, you’re already looking at a hefty bill.

Couple this with the nine months of mortgage payments that you have to make out of your own pocket due to no rental income (£8,412) and the total bill comes to an eye-watering £40,298 - that’s 18% off your properties value wiped off in one hit.

However, in London where property costs are much higher, this total cost climbs to £58,091 for the average landlord in the capital - 13% of the average property value.

Prime central London is thought to be the capital’s biggest hotspot for rogue tenants and for those unlucky enough to find themselves facing the eviction of one, costs can run almost reach six figures.

Kensington and Chelsea is the most expensive area in the UK to rent or buy and having to deal with a rogue tenant for nine months will set you back £100,512, 8% of the average property value. In Westminster, the cost hits £86,885 with Camden, the City of London, Hammersmith and Fulham, Richmond, Islington, Hackney, Wandsworth, and Haringey all seeing the cost exceed £60,000. The lower cost of property in Barking and Dagenham means that while the bill is the lowest at £47,394, it accounts for the highest amount of property value wiped off at 16%.

Outside of London, landlords in Oxford and Cambridge are also facing a cost of more than £50,000 to evict a rogue tenant, a loss in property values of 13% and 12% respectively. In Edinburgh, Bournemouth, Portsmouth, Southampton, Cardiff and Manchester, landlords are still facing a bill upward of £40,000, with landlords in every other major city looking at a minimum cost of £35,000 or more.

Landlords in Glasgow, Belfast, and Derry would see the largest percentage of property value lost at 29% of the average house price!

Marc von Grundherr, Director of Benham and Reeves, commented: “Rogue tenants are a landlord’s absolute worst nightmare and apart from the stress and time consumed dealing with them, the financial impact can be crippling.

We’re not talking about a bad apple that doesn’t pay rent for the last two months of a tenancy and leaves a dirty protest on their way out. We’re talking about serious criminal organisations that know the letter of the law and every trick in the book to prevent you from getting rid of them, including how to stall the court date for weeks on end and how to deter the bailiff through threats of violence when they finally do call.

At the very least, you’ll have a dangerously overcrowded sub-let on your hands but more often than not it will be a brothel, workhouse or drug farm. We’re not kidding when we talk about the complete renovation and refurbishment of the property afterwards either, as they will take every single thing they can and destroy whatever is left.

Kitchens, bathrooms, and windows are often the main features targeted as they know that these are the most costly areas of a property to replace and more often than not they will smash appliances to pieces, disconnect pipping and shatter windows for no other reason than to cause the maximum amount of damage they can.

It’s an extremely deep-rooted issue that goes beyond the tenant, even as far as the bribery of the concierge and so you really are fighting from day one to get them out.

That’s why we can’t stress enough how vital it is to rent via an agent who conducts the proper checks through a qualified third party who is trained to spot even the most convincing of forged documents. Failing to do so can cost you thousands, even hundreds of thousands to put right.”

14
Aug 19

The latest data and analysis from UK HPI has revealed that average house prices across the UK increased by 0.9% in the twelve months to June, unchanged from May's figure.

On a non-seasonally adjusted basis, average house prices increased by 0.7% between May and June, the same as in May and June 2018. However on a seasonally adjusted basis, prices increased by just 0.1%.

The East Midlands was the English region with the highest annual house price growth, with prices increasing by 3.2% in the year to June. This was followed by the West Midlands, with prices increasing by 2.6%.

The lowest annual growth was in London, where prices fell by 2.7% over the year. Average house prices in London have now been falling over the year each month since March 2018, a period of 16 months. This compares to 15 months of prices falling over the year in London during 2008 and 2009, the period of the economic downturn.

As ever, the property industry was quick to react. Here's what they're saying:

Tomer Aboody, director of property lender MT Finance, says: "Would-be buyers and sellers are still waiting for Brexit to be resolved. Whether it is hard, soft, or no Brexit, the important thing is that a decision is made so people can get on with things. Sales volumes are relatively similar to last year and the couple of years before that because Brexit indecision has been going on for so long. This will improve once a decision is made, and pent-up demand will be released.

Prices have fallen slightly in London but not dramatically so. This average figure masks significant falls at the top end, where prices have come off by 10 or 15 per cent. If we have a hard Brexit and the pound is badly affected, foreign buyers will come back into the market as they will be buying 20 or 30 per cent off market value with a much stronger Euro, Dollar or Yen against the pound. This is likely to push volumes and values up."

Marc von Grundherr, Director of Benham and Reeves, commented: “The lowest rate of annual house price growth since the Brexit vote demonstrates the detrimental impact that our current political position continues to have over the sentiment of UK buyers and sellers, particularly those in London.

However, while other reports based on asking prices and mortgage approvals may provide a more sensationalist view, figures on sales completions suggest a market that is ticking over in neutral rather than careering off a cliff.

Transaction levels remain muted but steady and while prices aren’t accelerating, they are stable, and we are world’s away from seeing a market crash. A seasonal uplift in buyer activity over the coming months should see property price growth climb through the gears and depending on which EU exit we take; the market should return to full speed with ease before the year is out.”

Shepherd Ncube, Founder and CEO of Springbok Properties, commented: “The property market is certainly stuttering, and this won’t be welcomed by the nation’s homeowners but, of course, those looking to get a foot on the ladder won’t complain about a momentary respite in the escalating cost of doing so.

It’s important to note that we aren’t seeing a market freefall, far from it, but after such a prolonged period of notable house price growth, the market is now adjusting at a natural rate to align itself with the current climate.

As a result, the rate of growth in London and the South East continues to see negative movement while the traditionally more affordable regions of the UK remain defiant, registering healthy levels of growth across the board.”

Kevin Roberts, Director, Legal & General Mortgage Club, comments: “While house price growth in recent years has helped many existing homeowners build equity, for those looking to take their first steps onto the ladder, current prices have stretched affordability. Fortunately, help is available. The Government’s Help to Buy scheme has supported thousands of first timers onto the ladder and innovation from mortgage lenders has offered new and existing homeowners a lot of different ways to find a mortgage.

Lenders are increasingly finding new ways to help consumers meet affordability requirements and the low interest environment has helped many reduce their monthly repayments. Whether looking to remortgage or secure finance on a new property, speaking to an independent mortgage adviser is where the journey should start. These professionals have access to thousands of mortgage products and can offer bespoke advice, making them well-placed to find the solution most suited to the needs of the consumer.”

Josef Wasinski, co-founder of Unmortgage, said: “These figures won’t ease the struggle for the millions of reluctant renters who are crying out for a realistic route to get onto the property ladder. The sad reality is that the stability of homeownership is a distant dream for millions of hardworking, credit-worthy people.

When Brexit-related uncertainty’s added to the mix, the future looks bleak for would-be homeowners without either bank or mum and dad or hundreds of thousands of pounds in savings.

Without real and meaningful change to the UK’s housing market, too many would-be homeowners will remain locked out, effectively blocked from ever owning their own home.”

Sam Mitchell, CEO of online estate agent Housesimple, adds: “A summer slowdown isn’t surprising – we seldom see big spikes during the warmer weather. But, with the threat of a no-deal Brexit looming we could see considerable changes in usual seasonal property patterns in the months ahead.

The Halloween deadline is fast approaching and with that comes the fear and urgency of home movers to complete deals before we leave the EU. While the longer-term outlook remains uncertain, this is likely to stimulate a lot of buyers and sellers throughout the housing chain in the next three months – from first-time buyers all the way up to downsizers.

At a regional level, the Midlands has the highest annual house price growth. Favourable economic fundamentals has resulted in continued house price growth year on year, again showing the resilience of the property market in this particular region. Meanwhile, London’s ongoing price fall was toned-down in June after a dramatic drop the month prior, but the capital’s decline continues to weigh down on the overall UK average.”

Dilpreet Bhagrath, from online mortgage broker Trussle, says: “With house prices unchanged from May 2019, the property market still remains stagnant. And with a no-deal Brexit looming, this suggests that would be house-buyers are wary of committing to make the move.

However, for those that can afford to get onto the housing ladder, more borrowers are thinking strategically of how best to protect themselves against the ongoing Brexit chaos by locking into decade-long fixed rate mortgages1. And with some lenders offering longer term security products, this approach is possible.

As ever, it’s always important to consider any personal and future circumstances when securing a mortgage, and seek advice to ensure you’re aware of the available options.”

Mark Harris, chief executive of mortgage broker SPF Private Clients, comments: ‘It is steady as she goes for the housing market, which is no mean feat given that it is the summer months when things traditionally get quieter and the backdrop of Brexit uncertainty. London is still creating a drag on average house price growth, with prices falling 2.7 per cent over the year to June. However, this was an improvement on the May fall of 3.1 per cent, suggesting price falls could be slowing and the market stabilising.

Mortgage approvals rose slightly in June. Lenders remain keen to lend with a number cutting rates or easing criteria in order to encourage business. Remortgaging is likely to be particularly busy this autumn with many borrowers coming to the end of deals and lenders ready to pick up that business with long-term fixes in particular.'

Jeremy Leaf, north London estate agent and a former RICS residential chairman, says: "We are finding that the mood among many homebuyers and sellers is matching that in Westminster. Decision-making has been put on hold until more clarity emerges which is reflected in very little movement for property prices this month.

What is more concerning is the reduction in number and pace of transactions which are lower than this time last year with once again London acting as a drag on the rest of the market. Nevertheless, some are taking advantage of greater realism among sellers and on the plus side we have seen no evidence of widespread reductions on previously-agreed prices, or withdrawals."

8
Aug 19

There are three main ways that property investors could use a commercial mortgage...

...to fund the purchase or refinance of a property in which they have a trading business, investment in a commercial property that is let to other businesses for rental return and capital gain, or sometimes a commercial mortgage can be the appropriate solution for larger or more complex buy-to-let investments, such as apartment blocks or flats above commercial premises.

This guide will cover each of those areas, providing you with information, hints and tips.

The types of property covered by commercial mortgages can include:

• Retail units, industrial units and warehouses
• Single offices and office blocks
• Forecourts, petrol stations and car washes
• Public houses, restaurants, hotels and guest houses.
• Care/nursing homes, child day care nurseries

Commercial lending for owner occupied/trading businesses

Commercial mortgages for owner occupied property are aimed at trading businesses that want to purchase or refinance their own premises. They can cover a variety of property types such as retail units, offices, factory units or any commercial premises used by the business.

The maximum loan amount is normally 75%, but in some circumstances up to 100% may be possible. Interest rates start from around 2% over the base rate and lender fees from 1%. Repayment loans are typically over 20 years, but interest only facilities can be arranged. The funds can be borrowed in personal names, limited company, pension fund or trust.

Mortgages for commercial property investors

Commercial investment mortgages cover commercial or mixed-use properties that are being purchased for rental return and capital gain and lending can be against any type of commercial property, including offices, shops, industrial units etc.

With the right property, investors in commercial property can earn a good yield on a full repairing lease, with tenants generally tied in for longer periods than a standard AST, so they can have real stability.

The strength of a lease is an important consideration when it comes to a commercial property mortgage, but lenders are becoming more flexible on the types of lease they will allow on commercial properties. Traditionally, high street lenders would want a five-year lease on a commercial property, with no break clause, but the challenger banks reduced this requirement to two years and some lenders will now allow a rolling a lease, which can make the property more attractive to potential tenants.

First-time investors in commercial property will have a more limited choice of lenders, but it is still possible to source a good deal for a first-time investor and lenders will base their decisions on the strength of the tenant and the debt service cover.

Understanding what is required on leases and which lenders will consider different types of lease is one of the most complex elements of commercial property lending and property investors should speak to a broker that is a specialist in this area.

It’s also often the case that an investor may want to purchase a property in need of renovation before it can be let to tenants and so short-term lending may be required with a commercial mortgage providing the exit route and longer-term finance.

Commercial mortgages for residential property investors

Sometimes a commercial mortgage can be the appropriate solution for larger or more complex residential properties that are being purchased for rental return and capital gain. Lending can be against any type of multi-unit residential property such as apartment blocks, HMO’s, student lets or portfolios.

2
Aug 19

Firstly, let me repeat the words I said to Richard Bilton in a TV interview I did with Panorama at my office two summers ago (an interview which lasted just seventeen seconds): “There is no such thing as NO-FAULT Eviction under Section 21”.

There is always a reason why a landlord wants possession. According to the survey we carried out on LandlordZone, 58% of the time it is down to rent arrears and just 0.5% are because the tenant has asked for repairs to be carried out – known as ‘Retaliation Eviction’.

Most of the time tenants will not know the reason because landlords do not have to give one. There has never been any specific data, but The Lettings Industry Council is calling on its members to send out surveys to their landlords and letting agent databases to find out how many Section 21s are being sent out and for what reason.

As I have said in previous articles, from sitting in various meetings with trade bodies and landlord associations, the industry is coming together and has one clear message to the government: ‘Do not ban Section 21 until we have a clear understanding that the Court System or Housing Courts have sufficient investment to cope with the extra hearings, judges, administration and portals. We need better education tools for tenants and an overhaul of the bailiff system so that landlords are confident they can gain possession if required.”

This is the biggest change and threat to landlords in years. Much greater than additional stamp duty, Section 24 mortgage interest relief or the tenant fees ban. Whether it’s a landlord with one property, a professional landlord with a large portfolio or a big institutional investor in the Build to Rent sector, investors need confidence.

The Fair Possessions Coalition, which includes bodies such as ARLA Propertymark, Safe Agent, the Residential Landlords Association, the National Landlords Association and Landlord Action, have filed a response statement to the government with ideas on what Section 8 should look like, with clear grounds for repossession that are unable to be exploited by criminal landlords or unreliable tenants. We need a complete overhaul of the regulations and processes which enable landlords to repossess their properties if required.

Banning Section 21, longer-term tenancies and introducing a Housing Court are all linked and must work together. In fact, next week, I have MHCLG coming to our offices to shadow our Landlord Action solicitors, case workers, paralegals and support staff. We want to demonstrate the positives but also the challenges faced with the current system and offer our thoughts on what is needed for landlords in terms of better lead times, so that landlords can have confidence in buy-to-let in the future. The Ministry of Justice must invest.

If we look at 2018 statistics from the Ministry of Justice, in total 116,500 claims were issued, 71,500 from social landlords, 22,500 from private landlord using Section 8 with hearings and 22,500 for accelerated possession proceedings. Out of the 116,500 claims, 89,000 had possession orders granted, from which 60,000 went on to have a warrant issued and 32,000 were repossessions by county court bailiffs. The ministry of Justice last year made over £7.2 million in bailiff warrant fees.

But let’s breakdown the accelerated procedure (Section 21) figures from 2018.

- 22,500 claims were issued
- 18,000 went on to have possession orders
- 12,700 went on to have warrants issued
- 10,000 led to evictions under the accelerated procedure

Although we don’t know the exact figures because Section 21 is “no-fault”, we do know that a lot of these evictions are still as a result of councils encouraging tenants to stay put until they are evicted because of the chronic shortage of social housing. This puts the burden back on the landlord with lost time, rent arrears and stress for both the landlord and tenant.

So, my point is, what will happen to these tenants if Section 21 is banned? Although many Section 21 cases are down to rent arrears, this is not stated. If landlords are told to use Section 8 with a hearing and obtain a money order, the councils will then see that a tenant has incurred rent arrears and made themselves homeless, they will therefore be under no obligation to re-house them.

What impact will that have?

In addition, I predict that Section 8 hearings will double because landlords who would previously have used Section 21 will use Section 8. This will double the amount of court time before judges that is required, also meaning that a major recruitment drive of judges to deal with the increased number of hearings will be necessary.

I have been very vocal for many years on Section 8 and I strongly believe that when a money order is made, a County Court Judgement should be registered. This would help landlords to gauge if their tenants have had rent arrears possession cases made against them in the past and possibly save them from repeat circumstances, but I cannot see the government agreeing to this.

The government has now launched a 12-week consultation on Tenancy Reform in England which will consider proposals to scrap Section 21, improve the court system and an alternative process for regaining possession of a property via Section 8. This change is one of the biggest reforms in the PRS for many many years.

I urge as many landlords and letting agents to complete this survey and HAVE YOUR SAY NOW. I believe the number of participants in this survey will be one of the highest the government has ever received.

CLICK HERE to take part in the survey