Posts filed under ‘Property values’

‘Help to Buy scheme boosts UK housing market’ writes Kerry Butters for Hunters Estate Agents

Important Update: 29/09/2013

The second phase of the Help to Buy scheme is now being launched three months earlier than originally planned. For the most recent Help to Buy information please click here and see our most recent articles.

Original article below:

There appears to be a fair amount of mixed opinion about the Government’s Help to Buy initiative, the second phase of which is due to be launched in January 2014, writes Kerry Butters of Hunters Estate Agents.

Some critics feel the scheme will push up property prices so much it will cause a ‘bubble’, while George Osborne maintains this won’t happen due to strict rules when it comes to borrowing.

There’s little doubt that the first phase of Help to Buy has already had an effect on the market, with Taylor Wimpey reporting record order levels for the first half of the year. While the builder only sold 5,191 homes in the first three months of the year – a 2 per cent rise on 2012 – orders increased by a massive 42 per cent, boosting profits by £1.3bn.

Help to Buy is helping to boost the property market

How does the scheme work? It allows home buyers to purchase a property with just a 5 per cent deposit, with an additional 20 per cent being supplied in the form of an equity loan from the government. The additional 75 per cent is then borrowed via a mortgage.

Help to Buy is intended to strengthen the economy by allowing families who would otherwise have to find a 20 per cent deposit to get on the housing ladder.

Rising house prices have led to concerns about Help to Buy creating a bubble that will lead to a crash. But the Council of Mortgage Lenders says improvements in the cost and availability of mortgage credit are underpinning a meaningful recovery in the housing market. It claims that we have seen the strongest performance for mortgage lending since 2008.

However, it adds that while the pace of first-time buyer activity is approaching a quarter of a million per annum, this is still barely half of activity rates a decade earlier, and so far below what might be considered normal levels.

It would suggest there’s a long way to go before we have to worry about the bubble bursting, despite a reported 8 per cent rise in the cost of homes, the fastest in three years. This is according to Taylor Wimpey and supported by figures from the Halifax.

Anyone purchasing a home is eligible, subject to credit status and if the property isn’t one a second home, shared ownership (housing association scheme or similar) or more than £600,000.

There’s no upper income limit and it applies to new and existing properties, so is open to those selling their home as well. The second phase is also known as the mortgage guarantee scheme and the guarantee is not made to the buyer, but the lender.

How long does the scheme run for? It’s set to run until 2017, although there are concerns this won’t be enough time or incentive to overcome the current UK housing shortage in some areas of the country.

The Government must place a real focus on new homes, so that demand doesn’t outstrip supply. The first phase of Help to Buy addresses this as only new homes are eligible for the scheme.

New build properties are available in the scheme

“The mortgage market is open for business, and it is clear that government support has helped to create more favourable market conditions for home-buyers. Lenders, whether they choose to participate in the guarantee scheme or stay outside, will continue to do their utmost to meet households’ needs for mortgages, but always in a way that is responsible,” said CML director general Paul Smee.

Some experts have expressed the opinion that as the first phase of the scheme was proving successful in increasing lending to first-time-buyers, the second isn’t really necessary. This is especially the case as phase one has been proven to be a model that’s enjoying success in boosting new builds, while the second phase will encourage existing owners to ‘cheat’ when moving up the property ladder by getting cheaper finance.

In all, Help to Buy appears to be having a positive effect on both the housing market and first-time-buyers. Despite the criticism, the Government is firmly committed to the scheme now and has managed to get the market moving again.

For those interested in Help to Buy, it could represent the only real chance they have of getting a foot on the ladder. Bearing that in mind, will negative reports from the media have any impact on the success of the scheme? I doubt it, especially since it’s seen such a positive impact on the industry so far.

Kerry Butters writes for Hunters Estate Agents.

September 26, 2013 at 11:50 AM Leave a comment

Liz Hurley’s climb up the property ladder – with and without Shane Warne

Elizabeth Hurley and Shane Warne’s alleged break-up is raising questions about what will happen to their £6m country estate.

The pair bought the property – Donnington Hall in Ledbury, Herefordshire – for cash last year. It has stables, a private lake and tennis courts.

Headlines today suggest there could now be a fight for the property if the separation is officially confirmed as neither Liz nor Shane are reportedly willing to let go of the 13 bedroom property.

Liz Hurley and Shane Warne’s family home 

Donnington Hall is a far cry from Hurley’s childhood home, understood to be a relatively modest detached four bedroom property in Basingstoke, last sold for £415,000 in 2001 and now estimated to be worth more than £600,000.

She stepped up the property ladder in 2000, buying a detached property in Basingstoke - which was sold six years later for £850,000.

Former Basingstoke home of Liz Hurley honoured by property website Zoopla.co.uk with a Purple PlaqueLiz Hurley

Former Basingstoke home of Liz Hurley honoured by property website Zoopla.co.uk with a Purple Plaque

September 19, 2013 at 11:16 AM Leave a comment

David Beckham and Gordon Ramsay unveil new London restaurant interior

David Beckham and Gordon Ramsay have cemented their friendship with the opening of a new restaurant in an upcoming corner of South East London.

Union Street Café is due to open on Monday, September 16, with an official launch party in the following weeks that is likely to see most of the Beckham and Ramsay clans in attendance.

Zoopla has been given an exclusive sneak preview of the stunning venue, designed exclusively by Russell Sage.

David Beckham and Gordon Ramsay launch Union Street Cafe

The feel of the interiors is undisputedly ‘relaxed urban’, with suggestions that the waiting staff may wear Converse footwear – while the menu will be Mediterranean.

Ramsay's restaurant 1

Zoopla’s news editor Myra Butterworth checks out the interior of the Union Street Café

The interior of Union Street Café

The opening of the restaurant comes amid the transformation of the once run-down derelict confines of SE1.

The area rests in the shadows of the recently erected and now iconic Shard building, with businesses such as Murdoch’s British newspapers and Zoopla now calling it home.

The area certainly has a buzz about it, and so it is unsurprising that house prices are high. Extremely smart two bedroom flats can reach as much as £2m.

The average value of a flat in SE1 is £542,732, with a typical detached property in the region of £730,387, according to Zoopla.

Jonathan Harris, director of mortgage broker Anderson Harris, said: “The Shard has lifted the whole area and had a positive knock-on effect. People visit and then go for dinner locally afterwards, which is good for local restaurants and the art scene has also improved as artists move from Shoreditch.

“There are pockets of wealth developing which we haven’t seen in the past and this is increasingly attracting new buyers, investment and improved transport links to the area.”

Two bedroom flat for sale in SE1 for £2m

Two bedroom flat for sale in SE1 for £2m

Two bedroom house for sale for £849,500

Two bedroom house for sale for £849,500

Two bedroom house for sale for £699,950

Two bedroom house for sale £699,950

September 4, 2013 at 1:57 PM 1 comment

Zoopla reveals where the ‘Knowsiest Neighbours’ live

As a nation we’re obsessed with property and property values. We want to know what prices people paid, current asking prices and we’re constantly keeping an eye out for our dream home. However, we’re spotting an increasing trend of homeowners not only tracking the market value of their own home but also keeping an eye on the value of their neighbours’ properties.

We firmly believe here at Zoopla that there is a clear advantage to staying ‘in the know’ when it comes to property. Knowing when to buy or sell and how much to pay or ask for is the key to a successful property transaction and can avoid the pitfalls of overpaying or being stuck for longer than expected.

Our latest research shows that homeowners’ obsession with house prices and monitoring the value of their homes shows no sign of waning. We give homeowners and buyers the tools to super charge their knowsey tendancies by providing free property value estimates on every UK home along with over 17 million sold prices. With information as a valuable commodity, those ‘in the know’ about local house prices and trends are likely to have a significant advantage when transacting in the property market.

The latest data reveals that homeowners in Harpenden, Pinner and Reigate are the ‘knowsiest neighbours’ in Britain (in other words, those most in the know about local property values) whilst residents in Aberystwyth, Birkenhead and Saltburn-by-the-Sea are the least ‘knowsey neighbours’ (least bothered about keeping track of local property prices).

We’ve also unearthed the ‘knowsiest street in Britain’, Newton Road Birmingham, B43, where residents regularly checked the value of their own homes and neighbouring properties on Zoopla.co.uk more frequently over the past 12 months than anywhere else in the country. The data from Zoopla also shows that ‘knowsiness’ increases with property values with most of the ‘knowsiest’ streets and areas having property values well above the national average.

Areas with ‘Knowsiest neighbours’ in Britain

Rank Location Average Property Value
1 Harpenden, Hertfordshire £577,848
2 Pinner, London £443,458
3 Reigate, Surrey £407,038
4 Maidenhead, Berkshire £380,142
5 Farnham, Surrey £423,457
6 Caterham, Surrey £342,423
7 Stanmore, London £441,084
8 Teddington, London £499,001
9 Ascot, Berkshire £598,767
10 Weybridge, Surrey £598,767

Source: Zoopla.co.uk (February 2012)

Areas with least ‘Knowsey neighbours’ in Britain

Rank Location Average Property Value
1 Aberystwyth, Ceredigion £184,342
2 Birkenhead, Merseyside £94,804
3 Saltburn-by-the-Sea, North Yorkshire £128,561
4 Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria £110,291
5 Wednesbury, West Midlands £106,470
6 Peterlee, Durham £90,171
7 Felixstowe, Suffolk £183,272
8 Cleethorpes, Lincolnshire £115,258
9 South Shields, Tyne & Wear £116,972
10 Salford, Greater Manchester £120,491

Source: Zoopla.co.uk (February 2012)

‘Knowsiest neighbours’ in Britain

Rank Street Average Property Value
1 Newton Road, Birmingham, B43 £191,080
2 Uxbridge Road, London, W5 £413,219
3 Burrells Wharf Square, London E14 £310,682
4 The Avenue, London, E4 £292,044
5 Battersea Park Road, London, SW8 £335,213
6 Torbay Road, Harrow, HA2 £305,443
7 Kingston Road, London, SW19 £331,385
8 Scarisbrick New Road, Southport, PR8 £163,909
9 Loughborough Road, Nottingham, NG2 £194,330
10 Chase Side, Enfield, EN2 £280,486

Source: Zoopla.co.uk (February 2012)

As always, please feel free to share and use this research, all we ask is that you credit the source as Zoopla.co.uk and link to Zoopla.co.uk. Thank you.

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March 6, 2012 at 11:51 AM 2 comments


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