The Inside Edge
The commercial property sector is showing signs of recovery in the UK, with the market witnessing its sixth consecutive increase in the month of October. According to Investment Property Databank Ltd, the average value of offices, industrial properties and shops increased by 0.6 percent between September and October of 2013. This is good news for owners who saw a total return of real estate value and rental income reach a rate of 1.1 percent.
The increases aren’t just located in the capital city either. Industrial units across the country are currently growing in value at a stable rate; however, the real success stories are being seen in the South East. The returns on commercial property here have actually outpaced the growth of the sector in central London.
Commercial property for sale
Property agents are seeing commercial property reaping the benefits of economic growth. For example, office buildings witnessed a 0.9 percent increase, while warehouse values grew by 0.8 percent. Even the value of retail properties have seen signs of recovery with averages rising by 0.3 percent. Considering the recent trials and tribulations of the high street this is good news.
The increase in value of commercial property foots the overall trend seen in the job market and industrial sectors. Manufacturing and construction sectors grew last month, while British services increased at a quicker rate than any other time in the last 16 years.
The amount of unemployed people in the UK is currently dropping as more businesses find their footing and start to flourish. The number of jobless people actually declined to its lowest numbers since 2009 during 2013’s third quarter. Recent figures showed the unemployed amounted to just 7.6 percent in the UK.
Commercial property for rent
Investors looking for an opportunity in the commercial sector should consider buying now. Prices are still low enough to find a bargain, but increases in average value show a great deal of promise, which may allow you to reap a decent ROI in the not too distant future.
You will find a variety of commercial estate agents online at RegionProperty.co.uk. This is an online search facility that allows you to browse commercial buildings from across the UK. Here, you can find a wealth of property for commercial purposes, from office buildings to warehouses and high street stores, both for sale and to rent.
RegionProperty.co.uk allows you to filter results using the simple navigation facility to browse by:
- Number of rooms
- And much more
If you are a relative novice in the commercial property field, it helps to gain advice from financial lenders and expert estate agents regarding commercial mortgages and property insurance for businesses.
Forecasts for 2014
Reports are positive for the commercial property sector looking to the future, with stronger investment demand for offices around the world forecast for the coming year. A report by Knight Frank – the independent property consultancy – says transactions across the world for commercial property totaled US$224 billion in the first half of this year. Investment activity has improved by 11.7 percent compared with last year. The organisation expects capital values to rise by around 5 percent between now and the end of 2014.
My partner and I recently bought our very first house; we were so pleased to get onto the property ladder! The journey to get there wasn’t completely stress free though as there were a lot of things to think about, and plenty of hurdles to jump through. We’re still not able to relax completely in our home as we have some more renovation work to do – we bought a 1970s semi-detached property that looks like it’s never been updated since then! It’s all worth it in the long run though; we can do all the decorating we like, build an extension, have a pet… So even with the struggles, I urge you to push on if you’re in a similar position and want to buy your first home. Hopefully my own tips will help you on your way; here are my top picks…
Getting a mortgage
Unless you’ve had a sudden windfall, it’s likely you’ll be getting a mortgage to fund your property purchase. There are many providers and rates, so you’ll need to compare the market to see what works best for you. In order to get a mortgage, you’ll need to raise some cash for a deposit. The amount you’ll need will differ depending on which mortgage you go for, but will usually be at least 5% of the property price. If you are looking to buy in the next couple of years, figure out how much you’ll need to save each month in order to reach your target.
Picking a property
When the process to get your mortgage is underway, you’ll be able to look at properties that match the budget you’ll have once it’s fully agreed. I looked at property aggregator sites online and then contacted the individual estate agents to arrange viewings. It’s true, you’ll generally get a feeling when the house is right, but don’t get too swayed by decorations or furniture as all of this can be different when you move in. If you love two properties, create a list of the benefits and let your head decide which one wins overall.
Getting legal advice and assistance
When you come to making an offer on a house, it can be very helpful to have the assistance of a brilliant legal team. My advice would be to do some proper research into this area rather than going with the 1st property lawyers you stumble across. You’ll want to build a good relationship with your solicitor and their team as it could help to get the process moving more quickly. You should also enquire about whether they can help you with a survey of the property as you don’t want any nasty surprises when you move in.
Finally, when it comes to moving day itself, try to stay calm. You’ll need to collect the keys and make sure your removals company can get in to the new property to unload your belongings. I won’t lie, it’s pretty exhausting, but it can be made easier by remembering little things like labelling a box with kitchen essentials such as your kettle and tea bags, as well as making your bed as soon as you can. My last tip is to have a pizza delivery number handy as you won’t feel like cooking your own dinne
With more 279,000 houses standing empty for over six months in the UK* and numerous district and county level strategy plans in place to handle the problem of vacant properties across the county, what would you do if you found yourself the proud new owner of a previously empty property?
Indeed national newspapers have reported on the £1 houses available in numerous locations across the North of England, although these do come with a fairly stringent set of criteria for those looking to purchase. However there are empty properties all over the country and many come at cut rate prices whether through an auction or otherwise. But that’s where the fun starts; these buildings are more often than not half dilapidated and in need of some serious love and affection.
Laying the Foundations
First things first, you’ll want to make sure you do your homework before putting pen to paper. It’s all very well to have big dreams about your new place; fitted out from head to toe in the latest gadgets, or maybe even complete with a brand new extension. However some properties will come with restrictions as to what you can do, such as listed premises, so it’s well worth your time to make the necessary enquiries beforehand.
You’ll also want to ensure your newly purchased property remains vacant until building work can begin i.e. protecting the building from squatters and vandals. Vacant property security companies, such as Safe Site Facilities who cover the entire UK from their base in West Sussex, are able to deliver short and long term solutions to guard against unlawful entry until you’re up and running with the renovations.
Be a People Person
Just like any creative project it’s important to have the right people on the job. Making sure you have the right builders and architect for your project will make everything go that much smoother. This means putting in the time to find someone who shares your vision for the property, which normally means following up with references and asking friends for referrals of professionals they’ve worked with before.
Make the Most of Your Materials
Choosing the right ingredients i.e. materials can make all the difference. Depending on your specific criteria there are materials that come with environmental credentials, others that will cut your budget in half and those that make the job quick and easy for those doing the building.
It’s All About the Money
We’ve all seen Grand Designs on Channel 4 where every single new build or renovation project seems to go wildly over budget. If anything budgeting will be even harder for an empty property, which may have unforeseen issues that take more to fix than they would to install from scratch. Therefore it’s vital that an emergency fund is included as one of your budget pots; that way if any unexpected problems do crop up, and they often do, you won’t have to get another loan or re-mortgage. Then of course when the build goes exactly to plan you’ll have a nice bit of extra cash on the side for that sofa you thought you wouldn’t be able to afford or another luxury you’ve been ogling!
A quick word on grants; taking on an empty property and bringing it back to life is not only a benefit to you but also the local council and your new neighbours who should benefit from increased house prices. Therefore you may be able to pick up a grant for a portion of the work to be carried out; it’s not guaranteed but is surely worth the time it takes to send off a quick enquiry.
A major initiative is underway to help first time buyers get their foot on the property ladder in Scotland. The Scottish Government began a three year investment program on September 30th 2013 with an allocation of £220 million financial support designed to ease the difficulties for those trying to buy a home. It is also hoped that the system will help kick start the stuttering property market which has shown some faltering signs of recovery recently.
The shared equity scheme, called ‘Help to Buy’ (Scotland) mirrors a similar scheme that was launched in England. It is open to first time buyers and available to home owners who are buying a new build home from a selection of participating construction companies. In order to qualify the property in question must be a buyer’s only residence and it is not available to anyone that owns another home.
Those that are eligible can access up to 20% of the purchase price of the property and then must contribute the remaining 80%. The figure will allow those involved to overcome the barrier posed in raising the deposit figure required by most mortgage lenders. The scheme will apply to homes ranging in up to £400,000 value in Scotland.
The government have recognised the fact that in recent years the general uncertainty in the market about the value of property and the prohibitively high initial investment costs has prevented many people from taking the first step and buying their own home. Instead high numbers have continued to opt for rental as the safer choice. The news comes on the back of a buoyant period in the Scottish rental market with Scotland’s leading property portal, Citylets, reporting a continued increase in traffic.
The Scottish Government has worked closely with the house building industry body, Homes for Scotland, and The Council of Mortgage Lenders to design a scheme that is best suited to the market in Scotland. All three of these parties will monitor the development of the program.
Speaking about the launch of the scheme Deputy First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon stated, ‘There is no doubt that getting onto, or moving up the property ladder has become tougher in recent years.’ She explained how the initiative would overcome the biggest obstacle to those attempting to get a foot on the property ladder. ‘House buyers are being hampered by the lack of affordable mortgages, with high deposits often a major barrier.’
Mrs Sturgeon added that the impact of the scheme is expected to work on a variety of levels. If successful ‘Help to Buy’ would not just assist those who are buying their first home, but would also aid second steppers to move on to a new property. In addition she underlined the wider impact stating that the scheme would support the housing industry through the government’s commitment to investment in affordable housing throughout Scotland. The head of mortgages from the Bank of Scotland, Nicola Noble, shared in the confidence that the system would make a difference to all of those families in Scotland who were looking for some assistance through a Shared Equity mortgage.
Moving into your own place is an exciting time for most of us.
Then again, lots of us have heard (or experienced) the horror stories when it comes to renting – mouldy rooms, elusive landlords and broken furniture amongst the common complaints.
So what should you look out for? Recent research into features of a ‘dream home’ found that the most desirable feature is an indoor swimming pool, followed by an en-suite bathroom. Other responses included a cinema room, a sauna and even a moat!
You’re not likely to find many of those things unless you’re willing to spend a lot of money – but there are certain things you should check when searching for the ideal home to rent. Our friends at thinkmoney have put together this list to help you.
This point doesn’t really stand if you’re planning on kitting out your new home all by yourself, but many rental properties come fully or partially furnished. This can really help you keep your costs down, but don’t forget your monthly rent will probably be a bit higher than unfurnished properties.
If you’re looking for a furnished property, check that everything is in good condition. A bit of wear and tear is natural, but if you find things like broken slats on the bed or a sofa that sinks when you sit in it, it’s your landlord’s responsibility to get them fixed.
Heating & windows
If you’ve never lived in your own place, you might underestimate just how cold the winter months can get! Make sure your new property has a good heating system and preferably double-glazed windows, which do a much better job of keeping the heat in.
In general, electric heating systems will cost a lot more than gas, so you might want to steer clear of properties with a little electric heater in each room. Similarly, gas fires use gas a lot more quickly than a good gas boiler with radiators.
This will be less important if you’re happy to wrap up warm and leave the heating switched off – but there’s a lot to be said for the comfort (and lower bills) that a good heating system brings.
No mould & damp
Mould and damp are usually signs of a problem with the building itself – and they could be very bad for your health. Unfortunately it’s a fairly common issue with older properties, but landlords can (and should) get it fixed in most cases.
A friendly landlord
As a tenant, your landlord is your first port of call when something goes wrong – they are legally required to repair or replace anything that came with the property (as long as the problem is not your fault).
So it could pay to make sure you are happy with your landlord before you sign up for anything. There’s no way to be certain, but if you have any doubts about them you may want to keep your options open.
It may be easier if you find your landlord through a lettings agency, as they should only have honest landlords on their books – and will usually contact them on your behalf.
Ground rules that suit you
Most lenders have ground rules for their tenants, whether it’s no smoking, no pets or no decorating. Breaking any of these rules is likely to cost you your deposit, and maybe more – so make sure your new home suits you before you decide to move in.
If you’re planning on buying a puppy, check with your landlord first. And if you’re planning to wall-mount your TV, make sure they don’t mind before you start.
If you’re thinking about buying a holiday property, experience of buying your primary residence will help in a way, but there’s a lot more to think about when buying a second home – especially if you plan on renting it out to holidaymakers. Here we have some advice on choosing the right holiday home from experts at RentMyCottage.com:
It goes without saying that a second home is a big financial commitment, and as the vast majority of those buying one will be using some form of mortgage borrowing to make the purchase, it’s important to set out your budget early. Just how much can you afford to pay every month towards a second home? It’s not just about the mortgage payments, either; there is contents and buildings insurance to consider, maintenance costs and, if you’re planning on renting out your holiday home to cover some of the cost, marketing bills.
Those who are looking to subsidise their mortgage payments through rental income should also understand that it can be difficult to get consistent bookings for your property – especially in the first few years of ownership. This can lead to gaps in income which you will have to make up in order to meet your overheads.
With any financial commitment there is a need for sound planning, but the variables involved with second home ownership make it even more important to have a viable worst-case-scenario plan in place.
Finding the right property
They say location is everything when it comes to buying property. This is true enough for second homes, but the criteria on which you judge the quality of a location changes. For a permanent residence, you’re looking at schools, local amenities and transport links – for a holiday home, the focus is more on proximity to popular tourist areas, attractions and places on interest. All these are valued by holidaymakers, and you’ll need them if you want to achieve regular rental income.
There are other practical considerations for a holiday home too; while you might want a more remote property, any secluded property which is unoccupied for long periods of time can be a target for burglars, and you might not know of any break in until you turn up at the property and find your planned short stay is ruined.
Price is also a key deciding factor: you’ll need to cover your costs, but some areas offer better value than others, and will therefore be more attractive to holidaymakers.
Obviously you’ll want to choose a property which suits your needs, but if you’re seeking rental income you should consider some of the things that holidaymakers desire: broadband access, a drying room, a fully-equipped kitchen: these are the kinds of details which can set your property apart from the rest.
From time to time we focus on a place – often as a result of a question or correspondence from a reader of our property blog – and today we’re visiting (virtually, of course) Whitefield in Bury, Greater Manchester. Whitefield lies to the North-west of Manchester with good transport links to Bolton, Bury, Rochdale and Manchester itself. Whitefield was an important Mill Town in the 19th century and has a current population of around 25,000.
Earlier this year Salford in Greater Manchester was named as one of the top 10 most affordable cities to live in by a Lloyds TSB study which quoted an average price to wages ration of 4.11 – but what about Whitefield? Well it seems Whitefield presents an affordable option in itself – the average house price (according to proviser.com) stands at £157,013 in the M45 postcode – nearly £3000 below the national average of £162,621 (Land Registry).
Whitefield’s proximity to Manchester also adds to its allure. Apart from two world class football clubs, Manchester has a thriving music scene and nightlife – making it an attractive place to live for the young and the young at heart. First time buyers especially may well find in Whitefield somewhere that’s close to a lively city and affordable. (Hint: Try the Halifax Mortgage Calculator for more info on how much monthly repayments would be.)
Some facts about Whitefield:
- Bury Borough (which Whitefield is part of) has the lowest crime rate in Greater Manchester (source: Zoopla)
- Local schools are considered to the best in the North West and above the national average (source: Zoopla)
- Within 20 minutes commute into Manchester City Center by Metrolink (1 tram every 6 minutes)
- Large properties are often sold below the stamp duty threshold.
- South Manchester (Didsbury, Chorlton etc) is becoming more expensive for first time buyers, so North Manchester is becoming an attractive first time buyer option
- Low car insurance premiums compared to the rest of Greater Manchester
- Bury Borough is next to Salford which is one of the country’s most affordable places to live (but has a higher crime rate and higher car insurance premiums).
So it seems Whitefield has a lot going for it. Low crime, affordable houses and good transport links to the city of Manchester and beyond. If you’re looking around the Manchester area, Whitefield could be a good place to start your search.
When it comes to home security you could end up spending a fortune on the latest high tech equipment or you could follow these seven simple tips and achieve much the same results at a fraction of the price. While it would be easy to dismiss the need for any security measures if you have never had any problems just remember that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” and you never know when something might go wrong. Wouldn’t you rather be prepared; even if it’s just to ready and implement the tips in this article?
1. Thorny Plants Under the Windows
This is probably one of the prettiest security solutions that exist today. Plant thorny plants, like a lovely rosebush for instance, under your down stairs windows to deter anyone thinking the windows would make a good entry point. Not many would be criminals will relish getting caught up in a rosebush as they try to get in through the window.
2. Make Use of Fencing
Fencing or any other kind of barrier for that matter is a great way to define the boundaries of your property. Now this isn’t going to stop anyone who’s determined but by having a boundary in place you’ll at least be making the task a little harder plus it will also make the criminal think twice; I mean who wants to try and carry the plasma TV they just stole over a 6 ft. high fence?
3. Install Security Cameras
While these top tips mostly focus on non-high tech devices the popularity of security cameras and home security systems have brought costs down to a level where the majority of people can now afford to have some security cameras setup. Here’s a nice list of security cameras available in the UK ordered by price. It’s fairly straight forward to fit a security camera yourself and a great way to gain peace of mind knowing that everything’s being captured on tape.
4. Check Who’s at the Door
You hear parents tell their kids never to open the door to strangers and this should go for you too. Logically you know it’s odd if a plumber or electrician turn up unannounced claiming to be there to fix a problem you weren’t even aware of. Just because they’re wearing a uniform you recognise doesn’t necessarily mean you should let them in. This is why we have security chains on our doors, peep round the door and ask them to identify themselves; a quick call to the firm they represent should confirm they are who they say they are. Don’t worry about wasting their time, tradesmen and women want you to trust them and they’ll be more than happy for you to confirm their identity.
5. Give Your Place a Lived In Feel
If you’ve got your neighbours keeping an eye on your property whilst you’re away why not ask them if they wouldn’t mind moving your car every now and then. It will only take a few minutes and gives the impression to anyone canvasing the area that someone has been coming and going. Better yet ask a friend if they would want to stay at your place whilst you’re gone; with it being more and more difficult for twenty somethings to get their own place in the UK you shouldn’t have a problem finding someone appropriate and in need of a break from their parents.
6. Light It Up
A little bit of light can go a long way. Would be criminals often look for dark and gloomy properties in order to avoid being spotted. Thus a simple solution is to install some lighting around your property. This might be a porch light providing a warm glow, or perhaps some lights lining the driveway or even better a motion activated security light. Whatever you decide on will act as an extra deterrent and assure you that nobody is out there lurking in the bushes.
7. Let People Know Your Home is Secure
Finally make it obvious that you have a security system in place. Even if you don’t have a full blown alarm system in place doesn’t mean you can’t put up a sign saying you do. It’s a simple and very affordable security measure but, putting the shoe on the other foot, would you risk breaking in if you thought there could be an alarm system in place?
Now it seems that spring has finally sprung in the UK, many of us are turning our attention to the possibility that it might be possible to get the barbeque out in the next few weeks. But this winter’s heavy snows, frosts and general wet weather have taken their toll on the appearance of Britain’s gardens. Now’s the perfect time to get your gardening gloves on and start getting your outdoor space ready for relaxing and entertaining your friends and family this summer.
Photo courtesey of USDAgov
Below are some of our top tips for good places to start.
- If your outside space is more small patio than expansive green lawns, try planting a few brightly coloured pots full of beautiful summer bedding plants in a variety of colours.
- Make tired looking wooden garden furniture look good as new by painting it with some teak oil – there’s no need to splash out on an expensive new set.
- If moss has been ruining the look of your lawn, simply rake it out. Reseed your lawn to fill in any patchy bits.
- Invest in a pressure washer (or hire one from your local garden centre) to give dirty patios and decking areas a good scrub, creating a more appealing space in which to relax this summer.
- Place some solar lights around the garden to keep your al fresco entertaining spot well lit until long after the sun goes down.
- Make sure your flowerbeds are full of perennials that come back year after year, then simply fill in any gaps with summer bedding plants to add a spot of colour straight away.
- Focus on fragrance too – plant some jasmine, roses or gardenia near your patio to treat you and your guests to a heavenly aroma – you’ll be surprised what a difference it can make.
- Invest in a shed to house your garden tools, soil etc to avoid untidy areas. If you’re worried about theft or damage to your new equipment, switch to the AA’s home contents insurance, which includes up to £1,000 garden cover and £3,000 for the contents of your shed.
- Create some further points of interest in your landscape by adding some personality, whether it’s through wind chimes, driftwood, boulders, stones, or even lanterns – this will make a real difference and create a really stylish look.
- Finally, to keep your lawn looking good all summer long, with minimal fuss, make sure you have got a decent sprinkler system on the go, so you can kick back, relax and make the most of any good weather that comes our way.
According to a recent statement made by Ian McCaig, chief exec of First Utility, the cost of energy bills could potentially overtake mortgage payments within the next five years. This news may sound dire, but it is anything but surprising. Over the past five years, the average cost of utility bills in the UK has risen by approximately 35%. And if this trend continues, homeowners could very soon find themselves paying substantially more for their utilities than they do for their homes.
Coping with Rising Utilities
Many people across the UK will be able to deal with their rising utility costs, despite these costs having a significant impact upon their standard of living. However for many, these increases will prove devastating.
The worst consequences of rising utility bills can already be observed amongst those people who don’t have the financial capabilities to absorb such increases. These people tend to be the most vulnerable in society, including elderly people and the disabled. And for those living in ‘fuel poverty’, simply turning down their heating isn’t an option. This is particularly true in winter, and for those living in poorly insulated houses who don’t have the money to improve the energy efficiency of their homes.
Energy Efficient Homes
The homes which will be the least affected by rising utility costs will be those which have the highest energy efficiency ratings. There are many elements which contribute to how well a property is able to conserve energy, which include:
- Wall, floor and roof insulation
- Properly sealed exterior walls
- Energy efficient boilers
- Alternative energy sources (such as solar panels)
The more energy efficient elements a property is in possession of, the lower said property’s utilities will be. Therefore, it is in the best interests of the homeowner to ensure that their property has as many energy efficient features as possible.
Finding an Energy Efficient Property
There are three ways to make sure that you have an energy efficient home. The first is to buy a property which has already been fitted with energy efficient features. This can be achieved by utilising the services of a reputable conveyancer from Conveyancing Direct, to make sure the property in question has all of the features you desire – and none of the features you don’t.
The second way is to build your own energy efficient home. This is a choice which increasing numbers of UK homeowners are making, in order to guarantee that they are able to reside in a property whose energy performance rating is as high as possible.
The two methods outlined above are great solutions for some, but inaccessible for many. This is because the cost of buying or building a new home is simply out of reach for many people; especially those who may be classed as ‘vulnerable’. For these people it is essential that another option be provided. In this case, opting into the government’s Green Deal scheme may be a possible solution to the problem of rising utility bills. As a financing scheme designed to help people have their properties retrofitted for energy efficiency, it potentially gives hope to many who might otherwise have seen their utility bills spiral beyond control.