If your glass is ‘half full’ you will be heralding the beginning of summer, celebrated by the summer solstice on June 21. But if you’re a ‘half empty’ type of soul, you might view the longest day as the turning point at which days grow shorter as winter begins to beckon, writes Caroline Knight and Karin Hawkes.
You only need to glance into the garden to see what the flowers think. There is a riot of growth and colour at this time of year which can be viewed in a similar way to the above. Gardeners and champions of outdoor life will no doubt love the chaos and proliferation that greets the eye after rain and warmth have worked their magic in the flowerbeds. Couch potatoes, however, will be groaning and moaning about the amount of mowing required in order to keep the green carpet looking neat.
A little of the latter is essential for those wanting to create ‘kerb appeal’ which will help to sell a home. A weekly mow is enough to make a lawn look tended. But don’t be too hasty to tame the growth of hedges, shrubs and perennials. Their flowers are not only delightful to behold but also delicious for insects. The extra growth on shrubs provides excellent cover for nesting birds. Wait at least another month before tackling them with secateurs, shears or noisy machinery.
a carefully positioned bench or garden chair in the front garden will give the impression of a space that people will want to inhabit
Potential buyers will expect the garden to look lush at this time of year – but just make sure the path to the front door is clean and accessible. Allow the nepeta and lavender to lounge over the edges, the salvias to sparkle, the budleia to blossom and the roses to ravish all who smell their delightful scent. They will all add to the portrayal of a relaxed lifestyle and this will help improve the appeal of any home.
Place a carefully positioned bench or garden chair in the front garden and it will give the impression of a space that people will want to inhabit. A small table with a glass of wine and a magazine will be the icing on the garden cake. And if the front garden is used to grow vegetables and herbs don’t hesitate to reap an early harvest. Placed artistically in a wooden trug ready for the kitchen, this is a ‘lifestyle’ image that will impress. Your garden can be used as a second entertaining area and you might want to lay your outdoor table ready for a dinner party – complete with candles and a huge arrangement of flowers.
This Brighton, East Sussex, garden has steps that draw the eye towards a decked area – a place of calm and beauty that appears to provide the perfect spot for afternoon tea. Small but perfectly formed, the garden is bounded by well-behaved shrubs which give a sense of enclosure and privacy that is hard to achieve in this bustling city.
Caroline Knight and Karin Hawkes are passionate about the beneficial impact that outdoor space can have on a property. Their design and maintenance service, Kerb Appeal South East, helps to form a missing link in the house sales process within Kent, Sussex and Surrey. They are on a mission to enable sellers to enhance their properties with the minimum of fuss and upheaval, thereby maximising the selling potential of any home.
House price growth continued to accelerate during April, pushing property values up to a new record high, Government figures showed today.
The typical cost of a UK home increased by 9.9 per cent during the year to the end of April, the highest level of annual growth since May 2010, and up from 8 per cent in March.
Prices soared by 2 per cent during April alone, adding £8,000 to the average house price, which stood at £260,000 – the highest level ever recorded by the Office for National Statistics.
But much of the growth was driven by the London market, where prices jumped by 18.7 per cent during the 12 months to the end of April.
Strong house price inflation was also recorded in the South East at 8.9 per cent and the East at 8.5 per cent.
But growth in property values was more subdued across the rest of the country, with prices edging ahead by just 2.6 per cent in Northern Ireland, while they increased by 3.3 per cent during the year in Wales and by 4.8 per cent in Scotland.
Growth was also slower in the South West and North West at 5.5 per cent and Yorkshire and the Humber at 5.6 per cent.
Once London and the South East were excluded, UK house prices increased by just 6.3 per cent during the 12 months.
The typical cost of a home in London is now 31.6 per cent higher than before the financial crisis at £485,000.
Property values have also overtaken their pre-correction highs in the South East and East, to be 7.2 per cent and 4.7 per cent higher respectively.
But prices are still lower than they were in all other regions of the UK.
Property values in Northern Ireland are nearly 50 per cent below their pre-financial crisis peak and currently stand at £132,000, while in Scotland they are 4.7 per cent lower and in Wales they are 3.5 per cent down.
First-time buyers continued to face higher house price inflation than existing homeowners.
People taking their first step on to the property ladder paid an average of £199,000 in April – 10.7 per cent more than a year earlier, while owner-occupiers paid £299,000 or 9.5 per cent more.
The strong house price growth seen in recent months has sparked concerns that a bubble is building up in the property market.
But the most recent data on the market indicates that it is beginning to slow down.
The Royal Institution for Chartered Surveyors reported a fall in buyer demand in May, while chartered surveyor e.serv said mortgage approvals for house purchase fell to their lowest level for a year in the same month.
LSL Property Services also reported that prices fell in 12 London boroughs during April.
It remains to be seen if the Bank of England’s Financial Policy Committee will decide to take action to cool house price inflation at its meeting this month.
Andy Knee, chief executive of LMS, said: “Average prices are consistently driven by gains made in London.
“With recent talk of an affordability cap being hit in London, it is crucial that any steps to reign in the capital’s housing market are not too hasty and don’t inadvertently impact other areas of the UK which have seen slower signs of economic recovery.”
The booming property market has led to houses earning more than people in some areas of the country during the past year, research has shown.
There are 33 areas of England and Wales in which the typical cost of a home increased by more in 12 months than local people were paid, according to the MailOnline.
House prices increased by 7 per cent in England and Wales during the year to the end of April – adding £10,809 to the average property’s value, according to the Land Registry.
Average earnings in 2013 were more than double this increase at £22,045.
But in London, where house prices boomed by 17 per cent, property gains significantly outstripped earnings in several boroughs.
Westminster in central London saw the biggest gain, with the typical property adding £160,810 to its value to stand at £976,822.
Average earnings for people living in the borough were less than a quarter of this amount at just £34,092 a year.
Homeowners in Westminster were not the only ones to enjoy six-digit price increases, with the cost of a home in Hackney rising by £125,788 in the year to the end of April, while local earnings were just £27,895.
The cost of a home in Hammersmith also rose by £126,587, significantly outstripping local average pay of £33,082.
Overall, property prices in 27 London boroughs rose by more than average earnings during the past year.
Outside of London, properties in Windsor and Maidenhead enjoyed gains of £42,411 in 12 months, while salaries in the region averaged £29,501.
The area was followed by Brighton and Hove, where homes earned an average of £28,702, but people earned only £22,740.
In the Vale of Glamorgan house prices rose by £23,124, outstripping annual wages in the area
In Birmingham, properties in Sandwell saw their values rise by £21,945 in a year, while average incomes stood at £18,934.
House price growth also outstripped average earnings in two areas of Wales, with Powys recording price rises of £25,621 in a year, while local pay was £17,725.
In the Vale of Glamorgan house prices rose by £23,124, outstripping annual wages in the area by £1,300.
Hertfordshire took the last place on the list, with average house price growth of £26,538 coming in just ahead of average earnings of £25,993.
But while the figures may be good news for homeowners, they are bad news for people trying to get on to the property ladder, as the gap between house prices and earnings continues to widen.
The research comes just days after Chancellor George Osborne announced plans for the Bank of England to be given new powers to cap the loan-to-income ratios advanced by banks and building societies.
Although Osborne stopped short of saying what the limits should be, Business Secretary Vince Cable called for lending to be capped at 3.5 times a borrower’s salary.
The strong price growth means someone with a 25 per cent deposit would need to earn £54,000 to buy an average priced property if lending was capped at 3.5 times a borrower’s salary.
Lending to homeowners risks being ‘snuffed out’ by concern about house prices rises, predominantly in London, it was suggested today.
Borrowers with good credit histories could find themselves unable to get a mortgage if loan-to-value caps are introduced, warned Simon Crone, Genworth’s vice president of mortgage insurance Europe.
The comments follow Chancellor George Osborne announcing new powers for the Bank of England to limit mortgage lending to help curb Britain’s booming property market.
In his annual Mansion House speech, Osborne said the Bank of England would be able to limit loans-to-value as well as loan-to-income ratios advanced by banks and building societies.
“There are some signs that underwriting standards are becoming more lax”
But Crone said such blanket measures run the risk of excluding credit worthy borrowers.
“LTV caps on their own, without any degree of flexibility, are blunt tools which risk excluding credit worthy borrowers,” he said.
“If the Bank of England is given the power to introduce them in future, then before putting this theory into practice, the Chancellor and the Bank should consider the effectiveness of combining LTV caps with the flexibility to exceed the cap for credit worthy borrowers.
“It’s critical to ensure responsible mortgage lending isn’t snuffed out by concern over rising house prices predominantly in and around London, which is its own unique market and bares little relation to the rest of the country.”
Osborne has stopped short of saying what the limits should be – although Business Secretary Vince Cable has commented that lending should be capped at 3.5 times a borrower’s salary.
House prices are currently rising by double digits according to some indexes, raising concerns that a bubble could be building up in the market.
It is unclear how much impact a cap on income multiples would have on the property market.
Tough new affordability criteria have already been introduced at the end of April under the Mortgage Market Review.
The typical home mover borrowed three times their income during April, while first time buyers borrowed an average of 3.42 times their pay, according to the Council of Mortgage Lenders.
But the governor of the Bank of England Mark Carney said: “There are some signs that underwriting standards are becoming more lax, with the proportion of new mortgages at high loan-to-income ratios now at an all-time high.”
With the World Cup having kicked off, we have football on the brain. For this week’s top 10 we’ve taken a look at what properties are on offer for all you football fanatics out there.
1. Sheering Hall comes equipped with it’s own football pitch – ideal.
Eight bed in Essex, £5.8m – Hamptons
2. This Grade I listed Jacobean mansion has its own sports pitches and a grand total of 329 bedrooms. Perfect for a football tournament for all your family and friends!
Ten bed in Hampshire, POA – Knight Frank
3. You could play a game whenever you like if you owned Wanstead Sports Club.
Commercial Property, POA – Victorstone
4. A striking country house set amidst magnificent gardens & parkland with ample space for a full size football pitch.
Seven bed in Cheshire, POA – Sotheby’s
5. Maybe you’re more of a table football fanatic. What a set up for watching the games!
Six bed in Surrey, £8.2m – Sotheby’s
6. Another opportunity to make football your business with this sports complex and ancillary accommodation.
Sports Complex in Wolverhampton, £795,000 – Skitts
7. Get the team over to yours for 5 a side football in the back garden.
Seven bed in Northampton, £1.35m – Fine & Country
8. A Californian dream – this 22 acre compound has everything you could ever want including your own football field.
Six bed in California, USA £4.5m – Coldwell Banker
9. Why not diversify with a multi sport option, then you’re sorted for Wimbledon as well.
Five bed in Surrey, £2.2m – Fine & Country
10. This stunning family home has previously catered for up to 60 family friends to host football, swimming and tennis tournaments. What a way to spend a summer’s day.
Four bed in Bracknell, £3.9m – Chewton Rose