Posts filed under ‘Advice’

Homebuyers face ‘more conservative lending environment’

Mortgage lending rose by 17 per cent during June, but the pace at which it is increasing showed signs of slowing, figures revealed today.

Mortgages 5

A total of £17.5bn was advanced during the month, 4 per cent more than in May and 17 per cent above the level for June 2013, according to the Council of Mortgage Lenders.

But the group pointed out that while the year-on-year growth level was still strong, it was softer than the figures seen earlier in the year.

Lending rose by more than 40 per cent in both January and February compared with the same month of 2013 – more than double the increase seen in June.

Bob PannellBob Pannell, CML chief economist, said: “The macro-prudential interventions announced by the Financial Policy Committee in late June are finely calibrated and precautionary, but could nevertheless reinforce April’s Mortgage Market Review in tipping the UK towards a more conservative lending environment.

“It is difficult to gauge the short-term direction for house purchase activity and mortgage lending more generally, given unknown regulatory impacts and uncertainty as to when the first in a series of interest rate increases will take place.”

Recent strong house price inflation has led to concerns that a bubble may be building up in the property market, particularly in London where annual growth hit a record 20.1 per cent in May.

The rises have left the average cost of a home in the UK standing at £260,311, according to Zoopla.

But commentators have been quick to point out that while the property market recovery has been strong in London and southern regions, it is only just beginning to take off in other areas of the country.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors has also said demand from potential buyers is beginning to moderate, while more properties are being put up for sale, helping to ease the previous mismatch between supply and demand.

Meanwhile, the Bank of England’s Trends in Lending survey showed a fall in the number of mortgages approved for house purchase during the three months to the end of May, amid reports of a slowdown in housing market activity.

It added that the introduction of the Mortgage Market Review may also have contributed to the drop as lenders introduced new processes and trained their staff.

There was also an increase in the cost of two-year fixed rate mortgages during the period on the back of speculation about when interest rates would start to rise.

The average rate charged on a two-year fixed rate deal with a loan to value (LTV) ratio of 75 per cent rose by 0.19 per cent during the three months, while the same mortgage with a 90 per cent LTV increased by 0.12 per cent.

The Bank said swap rates, upon which fixed rate mortgages are based, had risen by a similar amount during the three months.

It added that some major lenders expected mortgage rates to continue increasing during the rest of the year, partly due to rising swap rates.

Demand for mortgages from people buying a house increased “significantly” during the three months, and lenders expect this trend to continue going forward.

There was also a slight increase in mortgage availability during the period, particularly for people looking to borrow 90 per cent or more of their property’s value.

July 18, 2014 at 11:24 AM Leave a comment

Parents & grandparents can reduce mortgage costs with new ‘family mortgage’

Parents and grandparents can pool their resources to help young people buy a home following the launch of a ‘family mortgage’ today.

14.07.14 Family

The new-style loan enables family members to combine their finances to reduce repayment costs for buyers, without having to handover the money as a gift.

The mortgage is being offered by the Family Building Society, which launched today.

Under the terms of the loan, dubbed the family mortgage by the society, other family members can provide security for the buyer’s mortgage by depositing their savings in an interest paying with the building society.

As long as the buyer has a 5 per cent deposit, the savings are used as a security to enable the borrower to qualify for a lower interest rate than would otherwise have been the case.

Families who are asset rich but cash poor are also able to use their own property as a security to help the younger generation get on to the housing ladder.

Under this option, parents or grandparents offer a charge over their own home as a security to the society, again enabling a borrower with just a 5 per cent deposit to qualify for a lower interest rate, reducing their monthly repayments.

A third option is for families to deposit their savings into a family offset account.

Instead of being paid interest on this money, it will be offset against the amount of money borrowed by the first-time buyer, reducing the amount of interest they have to pay.

The savings are still owned by the family member, although they cannot reclaim them for 10 years.

Families can use all three options in combination.

The society reviews the family mortgage after each three or five-year fixed rate term, and also after 10 years, to see if a property’s value has increased, meaning savings can be released back to family members or charges on a property could be removed.

The society will also meet a buyer’s share of the mortgage payments for up to six months if they lose their job through no fault of their own, subject to certain conditions.

Mark Bogard, chief executive of the Family Building Society, said: “Young adults even with high paying jobs are struggling to meet the cost of living, thus they need help to get on the property ladder.

“Our research shows that children would rather soldier on than take money out of their parents’ retirement pot.

“Our family mortgage gets buyers on the property ladder sooner and keeps family members in control of their money. And because it’s a formal arrangement everybody knows where they stand.”

The family mortgage is available direct from the society and through intermediaries.

The society is also offering a ‘low start’ mortgage to help people who have got divorced, or faced significant changes to their circumstances, get back on their feet financially.

The loan offers stepped repayments, beginning with interest-only payments and a rate of just 1.39 per cent for the first six months of the mortgage’s term.


July 14, 2014 at 10:57 AM Leave a comment

Anna Hart: styling your home for the perfect photographs

The first thing that almost all buyers look at while browsing properties online are the photographs. If they don’t like the look of the house from the photos, they probably won’t bother looking at the rest of the listing – and you can make a huge difference to the appeal of your photographs by styling specifically for the camera.

09.07.14 Anna

Anna’s top five tips for getting great photos

Look for the best angles. Ask the photographer which angle they intend to take for each room. Stand behind the camera and assess what you see – could there be a better angle? The best property photographers don’t shoot from eye level either – they use a tripod at around hip-height, which brings the viewer further into the room.

  1. Move anything that gets in the way of – or creates a lack of – balance in the shot. In particular, get rid of anything that encroaches on the shot in the foreground, for example plants or chairs close to the camera. Check that the shot has a good focal point, and make sure the furniture and accessories appear balanced. Move items to fill up any dead space and to hide or distract from unattractive features such as cables, heaters, vents, sockets or pipework. Remove all items hanging on the back of doors and be ready to shift things to suit the camera angle rather than the way you had things arranged for viewing from the entrance door.
  2. Be aware of the light. Know which direction the front of your house faces (or whichever part you intend to use for your main shot) and aim to have your photos taken at a time when the sun will be shining on that part. Turn on lights (especially table lamps) to create contrast and highlight certain areas.
  3. Check what you can see through or reflected in doors, windows and mirrors. Move your cars if they can be seen through windows, and be aware of what is visible in the next room through a doorway.
  4. Whole room shots are the priority, but try to get some lifestyle shots too. Lifestyle images are a great way of making your brochure stand out, so ask the photographer to take closer shots of attractive fireplaces, window seats, period features or garden seating areas. Consider setting up a couple of lifestyle vignettes, such as a baking set-up in the kitchen or a reading scene in the living room. If you’re not confident, do this after the main room shots have been taken and don’t let them take over.

The left hand photo is a photograph of a master bedroom that makes it look dark, small, and completely uninspiring. On the right is a shot of the same room after I had rearranged and styled it for the photograph, with the bed on the other side of the room to allow a shot to be taken from the window that shows the en-suite bathroom. The bed moved back to the window wall for viewings, but this layout works better for the photograph.

07.07.14 Anna Hart 1   07.07.14 Anna Hart 2

The listing below of a three bedroom terrace house in Cheltenham has some great shots, and some that could be improved. The front shot is definitely not the best angle of this house, and I would suggest that second (photo 12) is miles better. It’s a lovely shot of the deck with a table and chairs to suggest a lifestyle and the back of the house is far more attractive.

07.07.14 Anna Hart 3   07.07.14 Anna Hart 4

03.01.13 Anna photoAnna Hart is an expert in staging homes for sale, working with house sellers to maximise their chances of selling as quickly and as profitably as possible. Anna’s ebook ‘How To Sell Your House For Top Price, Fast‘ brings her practical and proven house sale preparation strategy to sellers across Britain, and there’s a special offer on her books for Zoopla blog readers here.

July 7, 2014 at 10:53 AM Leave a comment

UK Planning permissions reach new highs

The number of new homes granted planning permission has soared to its highest level since 2008, figures showed today.

03.04.14 New build

A total of 43,926 homes were given so-called outline planning permission during the first quarter, according to the Home Builders Federation.

The group said a total of 177,731 permissions were granted in the year to the end of March, the highest level since 2008.

But it warned that with house building activity increasing on the back of rising demand, driven largely by the Government’s Help to Buy scheme, it was vital that the number of planning applications granted continued to rise.

The HBF added that although the number of individual properties that received planning permission rose during the first quarter, the number of sites that received consent actually fell.

A total of 679 sites were granted the first stage of planning permission during the three months to the end of March, down from 885 in the previous quarter and 807 during the same period of 2013.

The group warned that the planning permission process needed to be sped up if it was going to be able to meet growing housing demand.

“we are facing an acute housing crisis that will only be solved by building substantially more homes”

It said many sites became stuck in the planning system, with an estimated 150,000 plots currently at the outline permission stage, waiting for full sign off by local authorities.

Outline planning permission is only the first stage of the planning process, and usually means that while planning permission has been granted in principle, there are a number of conditions that need to be met before work can begin on a site.

The HBF called on local authorities to ensure that their planning departments were sufficiently resourced, and applications were processed efficiently and speedily, so that developers could get to work on new sites.

It also urged the Government to urgently implement measures outlined in the Autumn Statement to speed up the planning permission process.

These measures included introducing legislation to remove ‘blockages’ in the system by imposing a limit on the pre-construction conditions local authorities can impose.

Stewart Baseley, executive chairman of the HBF, said: “All political parties and commentators now agree we are facing an acute housing crisis that will only be solved by building substantially more homes.

“The Help to Buy Equity Equity Loan scheme has led to a big increase in sales of new homes and the industry has responded and significantly increased output.

“Existing sites are being built out quicker and we now desperately need new sites to come on stream if we are to see increases in house building sustained. All builders are now identifying the planning system as the biggest threat to further increases in supply.”

House prices are currently being driven higher by a combination of strong demand and a shortage of supply.

Recent price growth has left the average home in England costing £265,612, according to Zoopla.

In 2007, the Government set a target of creating 240,000 new homes a year by 2016 in order to meet rising demand.

But recent figures showed that just 133,650 properties were started during the 12 months to the end of March.

New build properties for sale

1. Four bedroom detached house in Doncaster for £279,995

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2. Two bedroom semi-detached house in Yeovil for £165,000

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3. One bedroom flat in London for £550,000

09.06.14 New 3


June 9, 2014 at 11:38 AM Leave a comment

Let the Chelsea Flower Show act as an inspiration for your garden

Is your May front garden an explosion of colour, or does it look more like an eruption of weeds and untidiness, asks Caroline Knight and Karin Hawkes?

27.05.14 Kerb 3If it’s the latter, urgent action is required. May is a marvellous month for selling houses, so catch the eye of your potential purchaser and draw them into your home. This does require a little effort – but you will be surprised how much you can achieve by spending just 15 minutes per day brandishing suitable tools. You should think of your front garden as a shop window that needs careful ‘staging’ to tempt people inside.

RHS_Chelsea_Flower Show_2014

Via – RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2014. ‘The South West in Bloom’ Gold Medal winner

  • Keep up with the lawn – it will need mowing once a week, or at least fortnightly.
  • Plant up your summer pots – use the largest pot you can find to make a good display.
  • Use a mixture of trailing and upright varieties including geraniums, begonias, small dahlias, pelargoniums, fuchsias, coreopsis, cosmos lobelia, ivy, and trailing heucherella.
  • Clear weeds from paths and block paving for the ultimate ‘clean’ entrance. You can remove them physically or resort to weedkiller if necessary.
  • Prune shrubs when they have finished flowering. It will keep them neat and also encourage further blooms.
  • Make the most of your outdoor space by creating an ‘uncluttered’ appearance. Too many ornaments or randomly-placed structures can make it feel cramped.
  • Create gardens that look and feel ‘useable’. They can act like an extra living space and can be a great selling point.
  • Give your lawn edge a good, crisp shape, but avoid too many fiddly curves and corners.
  • Visit RHS Chelsea Flower Show, or watch it on (catch-up) TV to give you some creative ideas. The show takes place this year from 20-24 May.

27.05.14 Kerb 1

We especially like the back garden of this semi-detached property in Oxford because it has a sense of a ‘destination’. The garden room/summerhouse makes us want to explore. The long, narrow space would look even better with a serpentine path, but there are enough interesting plant forms to break up t27.05.14 Kerb 2he area and give it interest. Afternoon tea seated around the garden table would be a very pleasant experience.

Imagine the ‘wow’ factor your house would attract if your front garden looked like this RHS Chelsea Flower Show exhibit from a previous year.

If you have enough structure and form it can be just as effective as colour. Shades of green can be alluring, with just a few flowers for the bees.

14.03.14 Kerb Appeal 3

Caroline Knight and Karin Hawkes are passionate about the beneficial impact that outdoor space can have on a property.

An effective garden, courtyard or even parking space can not only provide considerable charm but also offer enormous benefits for occupants of homes of all sizes – from the tiniest, diminutive dwelling to the most expansive country estate. This is why it is essential to make the most of your outside space before putting your property on the market.

Their design and maintenance service, Kerb Appeal South East, seeks to enable sellers to enhance their properties with the minimum of fuss and upheaval, thereby maximising the selling potential of any home.


May 27, 2014 at 5:30 PM Leave a comment

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