Posts tagged: property
After a long hard life of working and bringing up kids, all most of us want from our retirement is a little bit of the good life.
Some nice views, friendly neighbours and plenty of opportunities for day trips and activities are all we ask for from a retirement property – in addition to top class facilities, high end fixtures and great staff.
If you’re looking for the perfect destination for your golden years, here are five of the best spots in the country for the older and more discerning members of our nation.
With breathtaking views, picturesque villages and friendly locals, it’s no wonder that North Yorkshire, and Skipton in particular have been voted the best place to retire to in the UK.
The result comes from findings put together by the government’s National Wellbeing Programme, and categorically show that retirees are shunning big cities in favour of the warmth and tranquillity of small town living.
Boasting miles of beautiful coastline, historic cities and plenty of sunshine, Dorset has been a firm favourite among retirees for many years.
As a result, developments are springing up in the best locations across the country – have a look at McCarthy & Stone’s Google+ Profile or website for all of the latest projects.
Like Dorset, Devon has more than its fair share of rugged countryside and spectacular beaches, both of which play a large part in tempting retirees from across the country.
Small cities like Exeter make excellent retirement destinations thanks to their proximity to the sea, wealth of facilities and community atmosphere.
The stunning countryside of the Lake District is enough to tempt people of all ages to relocate. And if you’re looking for a spectacular setting for your retirement, this could be just what you’re looking for.
The small market town of Kendal makes the ideal retirement destination, giving residents easy access to the countryside and a picture postcard setting.
If it’s calm and tranquillity that you’re after, look no further than Norfolk.
This peaceful and relaxed part of the country has been a haven for the elderly and retired for years, with few hills, friendly locals and great scenery just waiting to be explored.
Reaching retirement can be an exciting time in your life, giving you the opportunity to relocate to your favourite holiday destination or move closer to friends and family.
And with a wealth of great value and high standard retirement developments across the country, you’ll be spoilt for choice when the time comes.
The city has always been synonymous with success. Property investors, hedge fund bankers and young CEOs have always lined the streets of the city centre, along with trendy bars, fine dining and modern apartments.
But, is the city changing? Urban regeneration and strategic development has meant that the centre of the city has expanded, and an explosion of modern apartments can now be found in new corners of the centre. As with any surge of residential investment, it is soon followed by a boom of leisure and entertainment facilities. As this trend has continued in major cities across the UK, it has brought a huge choice of properties – and the city centres are slowly but surely expanding, making them the perfect spot for young professionals looking to get a foot on the housing ladder.
A lifestyle option
Besides the benefit of being able to own your own home, there are plenty of other reasons why city centre living is ideal for first time buyers. Being in an exciting location, especially an up-and-coming quarter of town, within walking distance to work, close to friends and in the heart of the action, is great for a twenty-to-thirty-something professional.
Looking at two-bed semis in the suburbs is what many first time buyers do, without considering the alternatives. This is because many believe they are automatically priced out of the city centre. However, a quick look at current house prices shows that the difference is minimal. Average prices in Manchester show that an apartment in the central region costs £136,881, whereas a terraced property in the Trafford suburb costs £126,748. Similarly, a two-bed central apartment, again in Manchester, can be bought for £115,000, whereas a two-bed terrace in Stretford (a suburb four miles from the city) costs £129,950. For very little difference in cost, you can have the centre on your doorstep.
If the mortgage repayments seem a little steep, get rid of the car (and expensive parking fees), rip up the annual train ticket, and walk. After all, you’re paying to have the vibrant centre at your front door, so you may as well enjoy it.
The benefits of a modern home
A modern, city centre apartment may not be to everyone’s taste. But, even if you considered it a temporary option – a short-term investment that will help you fund the period property of your dreams – it is still an affordable and beneficial option for most.
A modern home will most likely need less renovation, and far less alterations. This can save a small fortune as many older houses (especially affordably priced ones) suffer from damp, poor insulation and require general updating and improving.
Heating bills will be cheaper in your modern apartment, both because they are smaller, and due to the fact that most apartments are built with energy efficiency in mind. Many apartments are serviced or managed, taking a weight off your mind, and any exterior problems, issues or damage, are covered by someone else. It’s also often possible to buy a furnished new-build home, or buy a furnishing pack from landlords and agents, again saving you money on the initial costs of moving in.
If you work and play in the city, you should live there, too, and now, thanks to an abundance of city centre properties and urban regeneration, the city is a lot bigger – making a central apartment the ideal home for first time buyers.
Author: The Hub offers spacious and stylish apartments, located in the heart of Manchester city centre. A shared equity scheme and competitive prices makes it the ideal choice for first time buyers.
The Nationwide Building Society, who have been at odds with house price figures from other sources in the past have backed up the overall view that the market is in decline. The Society showed that property prices across the UK fell by 0.4% in September to an average figure of £163,964 and that the annual rate of decline now stands at 1.4%.
These statistics represent a small drop from that reported in August although the overall pattern will be causing concern in some quarters. However, the Nationwide are another organisation who are hopeful that the new Funding for Lending Scheme (FLS) will shortly start to show a positive impact on the housing market.
Robert Gardner, Chief Economist at Nationwide said that the market had “been impacted by a number of one-off factors this year, such as the ending of the stamp duty holiday that cannot be controlled by the usual process of seasonal adjustment”.
“For this reason the annual rate of house price change is a better guide to the state of the market at present. On that basis, the housing market remains fairly stable, with prices 1.4% lower than September 2011.”
Nationwide were one of the first mortgage lenders to sign up for the FLS and while they remain firmly behind the scheme, Mr Gardner warned that other factors were of equal importance if the property figures were to experience a sustained rise.
“Labour market developments will remain of paramount importance in deciding the trajectory of house prices. There are grounds for caution on this front, as the unusual combination of rising employment and declining economic activity that was evident in the first half of 2012 is unlikely to be sustained,” he added.
Once again, regional variations in the market vary wildly. At the top of the list, the average price of a property in London is now £301,168 while in Northern Ireland that average drops right down to £107,719.
“London continues to defy economic logic. To be just 2% below its peak in a paralysed economy is preposterous,” said Russell Quirk, of estate agents eMoov.co.uk.
Mr Quirk was also sceptical over the FLS, suggesting that it would not filter through to first time buyers and make a significant difference.
“I’m less confident than the Nationwide that the Funding for Lending scheme will have a major impact. Yes, it may make credit more available and cheaper, but will it get through to the people who need it?
“Cheap and available is idle chatter if it’s not getting through to higher loan-to-value borrowers,” Mr Quirk concluded.
When we’re looking to buy a property there are always going to be obvious factors that are more important than others. The number of bedrooms, the size of all rooms and the style and look of a house should be at the forefront of a property seeker’s mind but what about those added extras?
Is a garage more important than regular public transport links or would you favour high speed broadband access over the nature of your power supply?
A recent survey of 2,000 homebuyers revealed that broadband is now a number one priority and 19% of movers make sure that their service is the first thing they activate when they move in. In fact, one in ten potential buyers have rejected a prospective property simply because it had a slow connection.
“When it comes to buying a home it seems it’s more a case of broadband, broadband, broadband than location, location, location,” said Dominic Baliszewski, of the website broadbandchoices.co.uk.
“Broadband has become something people are not prepared to live without, so it’s little wonder it’s now such a major factor for homebuyers.”
Estate agents have also shown that a faster broadband speed will secure more viewers as buyers consider this to be of higher importance than factors such as a garage, off street parking or easy walking access to nearby shops.
The increase of teleworking is undoubtedly at the heart of this growing need. With more people working from home, either on a full or part time basis, a fast broadband connection suddenly becomes essential.
“In this digital age, a fast broadband connection is becoming much more important for home-hunters,” said Miles Shipside of RightMove.
“People don’t just rely on a good internet connection for web browsing, but also streaming television and working from home.
“As the consumer technologies which rely on the internet expand, the need for a strong connection will be added to more home mover wish-lists.”
Once you move beyond the desire for broadband, the more traditional requirements start to emerge. Electricity and gas fired central heating may be more attractive than isolated properties that still rely on oil for their fuel source while garages, off street parking and local amenities are still taken into consideration.
However, it’s Broadband that has emerged as the main requirement in terms of those property ‘add-ons’.
“It is very easy to check broadband speeds in a specific area so we’d urge potential home buyers to do this rather than be left disappointed,” Dominic Baliszewski added.
While it may be easy to check, estate agents are finding that the inclusion of a positive broadband speed on their sales specifications will save time and is also becoming a powerful selling tool.
A recent survey has revealed that downsizing has become the prime reason for moving house within the UK with one if five people moving to a smaller home sooner than they expected. The findings come from Lloyds TSB who claim that more and more homeowners are moving to cheaper houses, either for relocation purposes or simply to save money.
Within the survey, Lloyds TSB found that around one third of those taking part said that they were downsizing to save money on household expenses while 59 per cent stated that they were looking for dwellings that better suited their needs.
Traditionally, those property owners reaching retirement age have been the main demographic in any downsizing statistics but Steven Noakes of Lloyds TSB said that the findings were continuing to include people from all life stages.
“Downsizers are now playing a key role in the housing market and as the study shows we are starting to see homeowners on different stages of the property ladder considering it as a sensible option as more and more families are looking at ways to save money,” Mr Noakes said.
Many are still option to downsize in order to claim a cash windfall and this is another area where market factors have led to more homeowners selling up and moving to smaller properties. Those planning to trade down have seen the average amount of their cash windfall rise by forty per cent over the course of the last ten years. It’s claimed that trading from a detached home down to a small bungalow in 2012 will earn an average of £97,298 – an increase of £28,484 from 2002.
“While we have seen a significant rise in the potential cash windfall, downsizing can make a lot of sense for a wide range of people, it is important to consider carefully whether trading down is the best solution,” Added Steven Noakes.
“Whether you are looking to lower utility bills, pay for an offspring’s tuition fees, or free up extra cash for retirement we recommend you seek professional advice before taking action.”
For anyone thinking of downsizing, they are urged to weigh up all the advantages and disadvantages and there are more than just financial issues to consider. On the plus side there are factors such as less work and maintenance but some homeowners regret their decision purely because they miss the comfort factor that a larger property can bring.
For whatever reason, downsizing is on the up but will it make any significant boost to the property market over the next few months and years?
A survey commissioned by the Housing Charity Shelter has found that complaints over rogue landlords have increased by 27% over the course of the last three years. The stories behind those figures are quite alarming but the Charity feels that the actual numbers of landlord problems are even higher and that many tenants are simply not reporting their problems through fear of reprisals.
In the last year alone, 85,000 complaints were submitted to local authorities across England and Shelter found that 62% of these issues involved serious or life threatening situations. An additional 781 cases needed the involvement of local health services due to private landlord behaviour or neglect.
Shelter are urging their supporters to petition their local councils and they believe that the situation is even worse than the figures suggest.
“Despite the significant increase in complaints, we believe that the number of rogue landlords is still underestimated,” said Campbell Robb, Shelter’s Chief Executive.
“Some local authorities don’t keep records of complaints and tenants often hold back from complaining out of fear of the consequences or because they don’t believe their voices will be heard, even though such a high proportion of complaints are about life-threatening issues.”
The figures have come after a two year campaign by Shelter to highlight the growing problems with regards to rogue landlords and to encourage the government to put effective measures in place to tackle them.
In a response to these moves, the government has set up its own dedicated taskforce to tackle these problems. Under the scheme, local authorities will be given all the support they need to deal with rogue landlords and to bring about prosecutions.
In addition, £1.8m will be invested to tackle so-called ‘sheds with beds’ – slum properties that are unfit for habitation – while the plans will also remove limits on the fines that can be imposed on landlords.
Shelter may have welcomed the proposals but they insist that there is more work to be done.
“There is still much to be done,” Mr Robb continued. “It’s ultimately local authorities that must do everything in their power to support people who are suffering by cracking down on the worst offenders in their area.”
Those wishing to add their name to the charity’s campaign are invited to e-mail their local council while Shelter are urging any tenants experiencing problems with rogue landlords to get in touch with them for advice without delay.
The Government’s New Buy Scheme was launched in March amidst a great fanfare and hopes that the plans would give the property market a much needed boost. Six months on however, the first set of purchase figures have indicated a slow start to the scheme.
In the four months from the launch of the initiative, only 250 homes were sold through the scheme. Overall, the coalition were looking to help 100,000 people move by the end of 2015. Writing in his newspaper column in January, the then Housing Minister Grant Shapps underlined his hopes for the new buy project.
“At the heart of the (government) Strategy is a new-build indemnity scheme, which will offer a useful alternative to the Bank of Mum and Dad for those people struggling to get deposits together and take a step on the housing ladder,” Shapps wrote.
“Due to be launched this Spring, under this new industry-led scheme house builders and we in Government will provide security for the loan, enabling homebuyers to secure mortgages on newly-built homes with just a five per cent deposit”
The headlines surrounding the news suggest that this is a big blow for the government’s plans but as a spokesman for the Department for Communities and Local Government pointed out, the average house purchase takes around six months to go through and a significant proportion of reservations aren’t shown in those initial figures.
“As the Home Builders Federation have recently reported, 1,500 reservations have been made through NewBuy and at least 25,000 additional new homes will be built as a direct result of the scheme,” the Spokesman said.
The Home Builders Federation are also standing behind the scheme and they indicate greater interest from lenders and property developers since the launch back in March. At that stage, only seven builders and four lenders had expressed an interest but this has risen to six lenders along with thirty developers.
“People weren’t aware of it – it’s a completely new scheme,” said Steve Turner, spokesman for the HBF.
“Take-up in the past few weeks has markedly increased, to about 100 reservations a week.” He said take-up had been similar to the previous government’s FirstBuy scheme, which was regarded as a success.”
Predictably however, the opposition government has criticised the initiative in the wake of the new figures and is suggesting that the planned target for 100,000 purchasers by 2015 is way off course.
“The government needs to drop the hype and change course by implementing a real plan for homes, jobs and growth,” said Shadow Housing Minister Jack Dromey.
“If it fails to do so, at this rate, it will take 200 years for NewBuy to help 100,000 homebuyers buy their own home.”
Whoever is right or wrong in this argument, it seems that it’s far too soon to be judging the New Buy Scheme after just four months.
In recent months there has been a drive by some property vendors to move away from the traditional estate agents and to look to sell their property by other means. Previously, many private websites had to be treated as Estate Agents by law but new government plans could be set to do away with that legislation and make the whole process much simpler.
The benefit of selling privately is obvious and anyone who is able to complete a sale in this way is able to dispense with estate agents’ fees. Private Websites offered a money saving alternative until they were brought under the estate agent classification but the government now plans to allow both types of business to operate under entirely separate rules.
This could lead to an even bigger move away from traditional forms of selling but there are those within the industry that are concerned over the proposals.
“These [planned changes] mean that prospective homebuyers and sellers will find it harder to distinguish between intermediaries and traditional estate agents,” said Peter Bolton King of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.
“Consumers could, perhaps unknowingly, be left responsible for undertaking their own detailed sale negotiations without the advice and guidance of a property professional.”
Mr Bolton King also felt that a greater move towards private sales could lead to more aborted transactions which could, in turn, impact on the property market as a whole.
“This could lead to delays, increased costs and even sales falling through, causing frustration and stress for all involved,” he added.
However, the government believes that the moves are necessary and that they will encourage and increase transactions in the months and years following their implementation. In short, there is a clear suggestion that lower fees might attract more vendors and lead to quicker completions.
One of the problems under previous legislation was highlighted in the case of Tesco. The supermarket giant had a website back in 2007 that charged a flat fee of just £199 for sellers to list their properties. However, once that site came under the estate agent umbrella, Tesco couldn’t justify the additional costs or time that was involved and the portal inevitably shut down.
“These intermediaries help buyers and sellers contact each other at a low cost, but do not engage in other estate agent activities, so it is unfair to expect them to go out and check all the property details of all the sellers on their websites,” said Jo Swinson, Consumer Affairs Minister.
“Reducing the regulations for these businesses will open up the market and increase choices for consumers looking to save costs when buying or selling a property.”
At first glance, it does seem that there are clear benefits for both buyer and seller but will the proposed changes really give a boost to the housing market once they are put into place?
With Santander set to increase their Standard Variable Rate (SVR) Mortgage next month, it may already be too late to take advantage of the lender’s lower option but, according to industry experts, there are some attractive alternatives on the market.
The levels at which the banks lend to one another (swap rates) are very low and in turn, this has led to a number of impressive remortgage deals. Providing the financial penalties for transferring your mortgage are either low or non-existent, these deals could be well worth considering.
“Swap rates are very low, which has led to fixed-rate mortgages improving significantly in recent months,” said David Hollingworth of London and Country Mortgage Brokers.
Mt Hollingworth went on to advise anyone facing an increase in their SVR to consider a transfer as soon as possible.
“Getting a mortgage offer can take at least a couple of weeks, and often more for those lenders with the best rates as they deal with higher volumes of business,” he added. “It therefore makes sense to get the ball rolling sooner rather than later and to be sure to provide any supporting documentation promptly to ease the process.”
New boys Tesco Bank are offering a 3.39% fixed rate while HSBC have a tempting tracker which as set of 2.14% above the Bank of England base rate for the life of the mortgage. Fees and minimum deposits are naturally involved and it is always advisable to check these but for anyone in a position to remortgage there are plenty of options around.
As far as new mortgage lending is concerned, figures released at the end of August showed an increase in approvals of around 44,000 from June to July amidst claims that the market remains subdued.
“The month-on-month numbers jump up and down but the overall trend is one of extremely low borrowing levels and a market that’s flatlining,” said Ashley Brown of mortgage broker Moneysprite.
With swap rates continuing at low levels, perhaps those month-on-month numbers may start to reveal a steady increase from this point onwards.
Last week, the Home Builders Federation (HBF) announced a welcome to new housing minister Mark Prisk while urging the MP for Hertford and Stortford to act quickly to protect the interests of domestic property building firms across the country.
Meanwhile, David Cameron and Nick Clegg have responded to calls within the industry to aid housing growth by announcing new proposals which will inject cash as well as addressing the question of restrictive planning laws.
“We hope he (Mark Prisk) will offer some radical ideas to transform the current housing and planning systems and tackle the housing crisis, providing economic growth and jobs, and strengthening communities across the country,” said Stewart Baseley of the HBF last week.
In the separate announcement, the UK’s coalition government claim that their brand new package of measures will create up to 70,000 new properties including a significant proportion of affordable new homes for first time buyers.
The proposals will also aim to create around 140,000 jobs in the sector as the government aims to inject £40bn into infrastructure projects. It will also look to reduce the obstacles put in the way of new homes and will allow developers to sit down with local councils and re-negotiate agreements on affordable homes.
Speaking on daytime television Mr Cameron said,
“Frankly we had a situation where the lenders did not want to lend so the builders could not build and the buyers could not buy. We are talking today about 140,000 jobs provided by building an extra 70,000 houses.”
Nick Clegg added that the scheme would simply make it cheaper for developers to build.
“If you are finding it too expensive to raise money yourself to put shovels in the ground to employ on construction sites and build homes for private rent and to build affordable homes we are going to make it cheaper for you to do so,” he said.
Predictably however, Labour’s opposition has criticised the government’s actions on new homebuilding as a whole.
“We need to get Britain building again, but the government has slashed the housing budget and the number of affordable homes being built is down by 68%,” said Rachel Reeves, shadow chief secretary to the Treasury.
“The fundamental problem is not the planning system or Section 106 agreements for much-needed affordable housing, it is the lack of confidence and demand in the economy, slashed public investment and the government’s failing economic plan.”
However, the Prime Minister is adamant that this shows a clear commitment from the government to address any problems and to meet the demand for new housing.
“The measures announced today show this government is serious about rolling its sleeves up and doing all it can to kickstart the economy. Some of the proposals are controversial; others have been a long time in coming. But along with our housing strategy, they provide a comprehensive plan to unleash one of the biggest home building programmes this country has seen in a generation,” Mr Cameron concluded.