The Inside Edge
More and more it seems people are renting accommodation instead of buying. For first time buyers the reason is simple, the initial outlay. The average property in the UK is valued at around £240,000, so with a 95% mortgage you’re looking at a £12K deposit. Add to this the costs involved, such as arrangement fees and stamp duties, and you could well be looking at paying over £15K upfront. The next problem that immediately arises is repayment fees. The greater percentage of the property that is mortgaged, the higher the interest payments. In other words, if you take out a 95% mortgage you are deemed to be a greater risk than someone who has taken out a 70% mortgage and as such, you will pay more interest.
Rising house prices
Part of the problem is caused by house prices rising at a far greater speed than inflation. The average house in the UK is around twice the cost than in 1980 (allowing for inflation). This has led to more and more of those who earn less not being able to get on the property ladder, with properties going to those with more money, who in turn rent out the properties, thus leading to a nation of renters.
According to the Guardian owner occupation has been steadily declining for several years, with private renting increasing at the same time. Some of the reasons for this are obvious. Many people are having their incomes frozen or have pay rises that aren’t keeping up with inflation. As a result, mortgages aren’t as easy to obtain as they once were and more and more are being forced into renting.
With the lack of social housing, more people are having to opt for private renting, which is also becoming more expensive due to the basic economics of supply and demand. The more people that want to rent, the more landlords can charge. There is also the issue of a housing shortage. The population is on the increase and houses are becoming harder to find. With this, house prices are still rising and as such, more and more people will struggle to get on the housing ladder. Unless this issue is addressed at some point in the future, there doesn’t really look like an end in sight and the reality is that the nation will see more people renting and less buying.
Camberwell estate agents are one of a large UK network and can help you to find a home, whether it’s renting or buying, or even buy-to-let.
In today’s budget the Chancellor announced more support for people wishing to buy their own homes, but will it make things easier for you and how can you go about saving up a deposit of your own?
The additional support for would-be home owners comes in two forms. Firstly the New Buy scheme is being expanded. This scheme helps buyers secure a mortgage by reducing the level of deposit that you have to raise on your own.
It’s effectively an interest free loan from the Government which you can put towards your deposit and pay back when you sell the house. This scheme will be available to anyone buying a new home under £600,000. The second support mechanism will be launched in 2014 nd will be a guarantee provided to banks against mortgages, effectively allowing banks to reduce deposits to 5% without taking on so much risk. Think of it as an insurance policy for banks.
So where does this leave you?
If you are thinking about buying a house you will likely still have to raise some kind of deposit – whether it’s 5% or 25% – so how do you go about saving this?
One way is to get an ISA in each tax year so you can put your savings into an interest free savings account.
For 2013/14 the annual ISA investment allowance will be £11,520, of which £5,760 can be saved in a cash ISA and the remainder can be invested in a stocks and shares ISA. If you do not use your ISA allowance for a given year then you lose it, so it can be prudent to use your allowance each year to maximise your tax free savings.
In a competitive rental market, every landlord will want to do the best they can to ensure an attractive rental rate. A key issue to consider is whether it’s worth furnishing a property – or not. It’s no small decision of course, furnishing a property requires a major commitment, and a lot of cost – so it is really worth doing it? We weigh out the pros and cons to help you decide what the best way forward for you is.
Why furnish – the pros
Presenting a fully furnished property immediately creates an attractive first impression – one that tenants can imagine moving into straight away. For many tenants, a furnished property is a cost-effective solution, as they don’t need to invest in providing their own furniture themselves – in fact, most tenants will look for a furnished property as a priority when selecting a place to live. As a result, furnished properties are often let a lot sooner than unfurnished properties, saving both the landlord, and the tenant, a lot of time and hassle.
Furnishing can be a costly endeavour – but with careful thought and planning, this can be a worthwhile investment. After a tenant leaves, the furniture still belongs to you, and you can use it yourself – or choose to pass it on to future tenants. To ensure longevity, it’s worth investing in high quality staple furnishings, that are both attractive and practical. Key items include those that will receive the most amount of wear and usage, such as a good quality chest of drawers, bedding, and living room furniture. Rather than going for trend-led designs, classic styles that can easily be adapted to individual tenant’s tastes are a better choice.
What are the cons?
While furnishing a property creates an attractive first impression, for some tenants and landlords, choosing to keep a property unfurnished is a better option. The advantage of this is that it can attract tenants who wish to stay on a longer term – for tenants who invest in their own furniture, they may prefer to avoid the costly and complicated process of having to move again.
Letting tenants choose their own furniture also removes the hassle of checking for wear and tear, by leaving the responsibility to tenants themselves. By allowing tenants to pick and choose their own surroundings according to their own tastes, they’re also likely to be less problematic, as they’ll be happier with their home.
Is there a middle way?
The middle option is to leave it ‘part-furnished’. This gives both you and your tenants the flexibility to invest in key basics which they might not want to source themselves – such as beds, wardrobes and heavy kitchen units. This allows your tenant the choice to select other items which they can choose according to their own tastes and styles, giving them a feeling of involvement in their own home – without being forced to invest extensively in furnishing the property themselves.
However you choose to furnish your property, it’s important to protect both you and your tenant. Ensure that all furnishing and appliances meet up to date safety standards – while this is not a legal requirement, it does help to prevent any issues arising in future. It’s also worth investing in insurance for any furniture you buy – again, while it’s not an official requirement, it certainly gives you some practical protection for your property.
A guest post by commercial property management specialists Eddisons.
The credit crunch impacted on many investment areas and commercial property was no different. However, the sector is now becoming a viable option again, as investors look for more stable options, with cash and bonds returns continuing to fall. But where it was once the opportunity of capital growth that drew investors to commercial property, it is now rental income that pulls them in. So, what is it about commercial property rental income that makes it such an attractive proposal?
Whilst figures vary slightly throughout the UK, commercial property can yield in the region of 6% per year. What is more appealing is the length of the contracts that commercial property can command. Whilst residential property tends to be rented on a 6 or 12 monthly basis, landlords of commercial property can expect contracts of 10 or even 20 years. This obviously offers great stability to the landlord and plenty of time to negotiate a new contract or find a new tenant should the current one signal their intention to leave.
The value of UK commercial property decreased a national average of 2.3% during 2012. Although property prices in London fared much better, they still remain 21% below their peak price of 2007. This of course mans that there are some good deals to be had by investors. With the construction industry still struggling to recover and few new buildings planned, the demand for commercial property is increasing and will continue to do so in the coming years. Even once construction levels do increase; it will be some years before the properties are ready to welcome tenants. The situation will only help to strengthen the hand of commercial landlords and the rental figures they can command.
All UK commercial property has index-linked rent reviews that are carried out on a regular basis. This allows rental figures to stay in line with increasing prices; thus protecting against inflation. This low risk investment is further sweetened by the fact that tenants are responsible for the upkeep of commercial property, which is not the case with residential property. This hands off landlord approach is desirable to investors with other business interests to juggle.
Easy Entry and Exit
Commercial property does of course tend to be more expensive than residential property, but the prices are not a barrier to anyone looking to invest. Property funds and Real Estate Investment Funds (REIFs) offer a route into the sector; allowing investors to buy shares to the value that suits them. Should the investor wish to liquidate their assets, this arrangement also allows for a quicker and simpler exit; with shares being much easier to sell than a whole property.
The UK commercial property sector is currently in a strong position; with increasing rents and low capital prices providing investors with solid yields. There is no indication that this will change in the longer term, making commercial property a viable addition to your portfolio.
Work on the multi-million pound Crossrail is underway, with completion currently scheduled for 2018. Crossrail is set to link Maidenhead and Heathrow with Shenfield and Abbey Wood, passing through Ealing and central London, and is expected to bring with it a huge range of benefits. This includes a boost for the property market in and around London as well as wider economic benefits.
Real estate agents are predicting a significant boost in the value of properties along the new Crossrail route, with some London estate agents expecting increases of around 10 percent as a result of the new service, whilst others predict increases of up to 25 percent. Once Crossrail has been completed and is fully functional, many homeowners with properties along the route will see their property values soar. This is due to rising demand from the likes of traders, financial workers, and others who want to benefit from convenient access to central London.
Another major benefit that is expected to stem from Crossrail is increased foreign investment. This could include more foreign businesses moving into the area as well as increased property investment, both commercial and residential. Officials believe that Crossrail will play a big part in the level of foreign investment in and around London in years to come, and the service has been described as being a key part of London’s plans when it comes to growth and expansion.
Some of the wider benefits that could affect property prices
It is thought that in central parts of London, the service could see up to two dozen trains an hour in operation at peak times, each of which boasts the capacity to hold 1500 passengers. This will relieve a huge amount of pressure on London’s roads, as it will help to ease congestion considerably, which could also have a knock on effect on the property market both in terms of demand and values.
Crossrail is also likely to bring many more jobs into the area, partly due to new businesses and investments, and this could boost property demand further. A report carried out late last year on behalf of Crossrail indicated that there were plans to build many new homes and commercial premises close to the new stations. Eight of which are set to be built in central London and Docklands.
The Thames Valley Chamber of Commerce said that the service would have far reaching positive effects for London and some of the surrounding areas, not only in terms of property values and increased business investment but also in terms of regeneration, employment, and improvements to the local economy.
London has and always will be a very attractive location for investment, with figures released recently showing that overseas buyers are still very enthusiastic about buying property in the capital. Research by Knight Frank shows that in 2012, £2.2 billion worth of property was bought in London by buyers from overseas.
Overseas interest in London property is certainly nothing new; the UK capital offers some of the most sought-after locations in the entire world, but it may come as a surprise to some that the practice is still so popular in the current economic climate.
It appears as though there have been many buyers in countries where economic performance has bucked the trend and remained stable. The research shows that people from 52 countries all over the world bought property in London in 2012. The biggest share was surprisingly from Singapore, which accounted for 22% of the sales. It’s important to note that these percentages are ranked in terms of the number of transactions, not their value. Buyers from Hong Kong also proved to be great in number, accounting for 16% of sales. There were also considerable purchases from buyers in Russia, China and Malaysia.
Insecurities in the Eurozone have actually been of a slight benefit to the London property market, as some European investors have chosen to diversify by buying property not directly tied to the euro. The pound being relatively weak has also helped foreign investors buy property here in the United Kingdom.
It’s not just financial security and investment which is attracting overseas buyers either. Aside from the fact that London is consistently ranked as one of the most important cities in the world, the education opportunities are second-to-none. This makes the capital one of the best destinations to send aspiring children and students. London’s multicultural credentials also help it to be accommodating to nearly any nationality.
Aside from house purchases, the rental market from overseas is also very strong. Again, this is linked to the education prospects. While there may have been 52 different nationalities that bought property in London, there were in fact 77 that rented last year. Indeed, the number of foreign nationals living in the capital is extremely high; there are more Europeans living in London than the entire population of Frankfurt. There are also more French Londoners than there are French people in the city of Cannes. This is why French schools have cropped up in some of the more affluent areas.
While those in the UK might still be struggling to finance a home purchase or sell their home, with many looking for a quick house sale in order to get what they want, it appears as though overseas buyers are contributing to the slight improvements we’re currently seeing in the market. There are still a variety of incentives around for first time buyers, but more still needs to happen for UK nationals to start buying in force again, especially with the price of housing in London.
Come winter, we go into hibernation. The majority of our days are spent indoors where we can huddle around a warm heater or blazing fireplace. We find ourselves lounging around on the couch much more often, slippers on and tea in hand.
Coffee tables are the centrepiece of any lounge room. They’re where your remote lands, your tea cools and they’re where you’ll find some of your most interesting books. Instead of instantly reaching for the remote tonight, pick up a book that’s going to grab your attention with a combination of stunning imagery and great writing. This particular genre of book, known as ‘coffee table books’, are aimed at anyone who wants to flick through or do some light reading on just about any topic.
So what are the best coffee table books to add to your collection in 2013?
800 Views of Airports
This strange and quirky concept is a surprisingly interesting book. The 408 glossy pages are filled with the photography by Swiss duo, Peter Fischli and David Weiss, who have been taking snapshots of airports for over 25 years during their travels. Their strangely peaceful transit images juxtapose the usual busyness of an airport and make the whole place feel silent. This expectedly banal topic has been turned into a fascinating coffee table book. The most interesting aspect has to be the technological changes that you can clearly see have occurred in air travel over the last two and a half decades. Plane spotters and travellers alike will love this book.
This beautifully presented guide covers everything about wine that any grape juice enthusiast would ever want to know. Written by a trio of experts, Jancis Robinson, Julia Harding and Joes Vouillamoz, this book tells you all about the genetic side of grapes, the history of wine and gives you various vineyard descriptions among other things. And, of course, it includes lists of all the best wines to sample. This wine bible is an interesting read for wine lovers and a fantastic conversation starter for dinner parties.
Todd Selby is a photographer by trade and his tasty book will take readers through some of the worlds’ most extraordinary and inspired kitchens, homes and gardens. This book has a comforting, homey feel and is full of pictures depicting the most creative figures working in the food industry today. The colourful photos are accompanied by profiles of world-famous chefs, who each include the recipe for one of their favourite dishes. This lively and bright book is for any cooking or food lover.
Photos that changed the world
This book is a compilation of the world’s most remarkable and moving images of events that have changed the world. Although it was released many years ago, Peter Stepan and Claus Biegert’s book continues to interest and inspire people through the iconic images it presents. Well-known photographers like Lewis Hine and Dorothea Lange, as well as lesser known individuals who just happened to be in the right place, at the right time, have images which feature in this important collection. From the bombing of Pearl Harbour to Nelson Mandela’s release from prison, this book will evoke emotions ranging from joy to hope to sorrow and heartbreak. This is a must-have coffee table book for people interested in history or news.
A strong, fire-resistant fibre, asbestos was basically the most popular insulation against fire, noise and heat before the 1980s. After this time though, research and studies found that any material containing this fibre was dangerous; potentially fatally so.
While we know this now, the hazards of asbestos continue to cause us problems. Last June, this article on the BBC by the British Lung Foundation warned us that deaths from asbestos-related diseases will only peak in 2016. If that wasn’t worrying enough, they already kill more people (around 4,500) each year than road accidents in the United Kingdom.
It is true that the use of asbestos was at commercial properties more than domestic ones, but home owners and landlords must be vigilant to the potential problem in their properties. With asbestos-related diseases developing over time (anything from 15 to 60 years), it really is a tricky substance to understand and deal with but if you don’t then it may lead to things like lung cancer or leave you fighting mesothelioma compensation claims from the work carried out in the past.
Only completely banned in 1999, back in 2011 it was believed that half of the homes in the United Kingdom housed some form of the fibre. Any concerns or misunderstandings can be cleared up by reviewing the 2006 Control of Asbestos Regulations where it tells you who has the duty, what that is and how to comply.
Dealing with asbestos during renovations
Whilst it is usually advised to hire professionals to do any renovations to the home, asbestos checks should always be the first port of call. To do this, you need to find someone trained to check for and remove asbestos and get them to do a full check on the property – particularly if it is an older build.
The fibres don’t pose any problems if they are in a material that hasn’t deteriorated but once disturbed through anything from sanding to drilling to handling you have a major problem. You are responsible for the health and safety of anyone who does any refurbish or remodeling work on your home.
Where is asbestos often found?
From kitchen tiles to guttering, asbestos was that popular and cheap that has the potential to be anywhere in the property. The most common spot is when it was used for insulation on the roof. But, it is also often found on pipe, wire and boiler insulation as well as in cement and building structures.
With your whole property having potential to house asbestos, it is always recommended to have a professional check before any renovation plans. While the levels in buildings might not be enough to be particularly harmful, if you’ve already started renovations and find a problem you will have already lost both time and money.
Asbestos is a Royal problem
If you are wondering what the chances are of asbestos being so widespread that you need to check every property with a tooth comb then one look at the Queen and you’ll realise it is a problem we all face. Accounts from the Royals last year showed that Buckingham Palace, and particularly the south wing, had cost everyone a lot of money due to asbestos.
Around one million pounds was spent last year to strip the material and it is thought that more will be spent on completely eradicating this problem for the next two decades. Aside from the Queen’s residence, the Houses of Parliament may close for the removal of asbestos and other refurbishment while the famous King’s College at Cambridge University was found to carry asbestos as well.
Divorce is one of the most traumatic things that can happen to people. It will usually involve intense emotions, and the breakup can impact every aspect of the lives of the individuals involved. This is the one event that most married couples fear most. As well as the hardship involved in adjusting to the split, at least one of the couple will need to find new accommodation. There will also be the difficult, and often contentious, task of diving up assets.
What Happens to the Home After Divorce?
A marriage breakup means that at least one person will be losing their home. It many cases one half of the couple to keep living in the former matrimonial home – at least in the short-term. This is particularly likely when there are children involved. It is also fairly common for the property to sold, and for both of the former partners to move to a new property. When people divorce it changes their financial situation, and there might not be enough money to continue paying the existing mortgage. In some instances both parties will want to leave this property so they can enjoy a fresh start somewhere else.
Advice for Moving Property after Divorce
Changing accommodation after a divorce is going to involve mixed emotions at the very least. This new home can be where the healing begins, but the person may still feel sad about what they have lost. There are things that the individual can do to make the process easier such as:
Emotions will tend to be high during a divorce, but it is vital that the individual is able to keep a clear head. This is so they can make practical decisions when it comes to the new property, and that they will only choose an option that they will be able to afford going forward.
Choosing a reliable house relocation service can make things a bit easier. This will take some of the stress out of the practicalities of house relocation.
When people get divorced, it usually means that their financial situation changes. They might not be able to afford the same type of property that they enjoyed while married. It is vital that the person is realistic when choosing new property, so that they do not end up with serious debt.
If the former matrimonial home is being sold, then this may mean that the buyer will have cash from the home to invest in a new property. This could mean the buyer has a large deposit which can help to secure a better mortgage rate.
In many instances the individual will need to borrow money if they wish to buy a new home. In this situation it is vital that the person thinks carefully about what they can afford.
It can be preferable that the parent staying with the children chooses a property in the same vicinity as their old home. These young people will have already had to face a great deal of stress, and moving to a new area may add to this.
If you are looking to sell property fast then visit National Homebuyers now and get a cash offer on your home.
THIS IS A SPONSORED ARTICLE FROM NATIONAL HOMEBUYERS
The winter months are traditionally a quiet time of year for house moves, but if you are planning to relocate in 2013 now’s the time to start your research. There are so many elements that factor into making a place a desirable one in which to live – good schools, leisure facilities, transport links and security and community spirit.
Moving to a new area can be unnerving when you don’t know your way around, or any of the locals, as such security can be one consideration. Rushing into a move without exploring the neighbourhood or wider region could lead you to feel less than settled when you move in and in some of the worst cases, land you with a property that you are unable to sell on in the future. So, what kind of checks can you make to ensure you are moving into a safe neighbourhood?
In the first instance you can check the Policeuk website. Here you’ll find local crime statistics by street or area, so you’ll be able to identify if you are moving into a particularly troublesome neighbourhood. You can also find out what type of crimes are being committed in the area so that you can be prepared. For example, should there be a high instance of car break-ins you might concentrate your property search on homes with secure garages or if there have been a spate of burglaries, you could install a monitored alarm system.
This recently published interactive graphic from security specialists ADT is also a useful tool. It uses the firm’s statistics to show where and when their monitored alarms go off and highlights problem areas and times.
Of course, there are very few communities that remain completely crime-free and many good areas do suffer crime problems. Be sure to visit properties during the day and evening to get a more accurate feel for the area. Chat to neighbours and call into local shops to find out whether current residents are happy and friendly and ultimately help you decide whether it’s a community you’d like to be part of.
THIS ARTICLE IS AN ADVERTISING FEATURE FOR ADT ALARMS