2010 Budget Review: 5% Stamp Duty to Affect London and SE worst.

£12,000,000 – 6 bedroom terraced house for sale Chester Square, London

In today’s budget, Chancellor Alistair Darling raised the stamp duty threshold to £250,000 for first time buyers for this year and the next, which was widely predicted / leaked, but what was less predictable was that this ‘election giveaway’ will be funded by an increase from 4% to 5% on properties worth more that £1m.

Taxing the rich makes a good headline, but it won’t raise much money for the government’s fiscal black hole. Only around 4100 homes sold above the £1m mark in the last year. With the total stamp duty tax take reaching almost £3bn last year, this measure will contribute only roughly 2% extra tax, a pretty tiny amount. Raising stamp duty on £1 million homes has been billed as a cynical move by the government to tax home buyers who tend not to be their core voters.

According to our research the burden will fall overwhelmingly on London and the South East with approximately 57% of all UK homes worth over £1 million located in London and 81% of all million pound homes can be found in London and the South East.

Areas with highest proportion of property millionaires

Area Average Property Value Properties Valued at over £1m
Kensington (W8) £1,566,549 48.1%
South Kensington (SW7) £1,258,986 39.1%
Chelsea (SW3) £1,263,156 37.0%
Barnes (SW13) £867,640 29.5%
West Brompton (SW10) £974,445 27.9%
Virginia Water, Surrey (GU25) £909,340 27.5%
Notting Hill (W11) £1,062,531 27.0%
Belgravia & Pimlico (SW1) £889,794 21.8%
Westminster (W1) £834,318 21.3%
St. John’s Wood (NW8 £850,472 20.7%

Source: Zoopla.co.uk

March 24, 2010 at 5:00 PM Leave a comment

BUDGET 2010: Stamp Duty – 75% of homes valued under £250,000

As widely predicted, Chancellor Alistair Darling has raised the stamp duty threshold to £250,000 for first time buyers for this year and the next (although how will this be defined?) which will be funded by an increase from 4% to 5% on properties worth more that £1m.

Almost 78% of homes sold in in 2009 changed hands for less that £250,000 according to our research with 75% of all UK homes currently valued below the new threshold.

At a regional level only average property values for London and the South East fall above the stamp duty threshold – see full table below.

The changes to the stamp duty threshold will finally lift the average UK home right out of the stamp duty net altogether, making most of the UK the first-time buyer’s oyster. Even in London, first-time buyers now have a fairer crack at the market.

Targeting this at first-time buyers is where it can do most good without costing the earth.

But the big question is how you define a first-time buyer and how would HMRC check whether a buyer qualified for the tax break. For example, someone who has been out of the market, even for a few days after selling their home, could complete a new house purchase and legitimately appear to be a first timer…we await the small print…

Average value of UK homes by region: March 2010

Region Average Value
Yorkshire & The Humber £141,888
Wales £150,309
Scotland £152,010
North West England £154,222
North East England £156,567
East Midlands £157,253
West Midlands £168,645
UK £210,155
South West England £216,671
England £217,203
East of England £225,133
South East England £269,131
London £392,322

Source: Zoopla.co.uk

March 24, 2010 at 2:33 PM 1 comment

Five To View: Equestrian Properties

We’ve been chomping at the bit to do a horsey-house-themed Five to View, and with the Cheltenham Festival off and running this week, now seems like a good bet.

The world famous festival isn’t only about horse racing, of course: it’s also a four-day extravaganza of dining and drinking, dressing to impress, and frolicking al fresco.

But there’s no escaping its equestrian core, and it’s with that in mind that we invite you to come for a canter around our fine equine properties.

Here are five homes for humans and for horses:

(Click on pics for more images & full property details)










£555,000 OIEO

March 18, 2010 at 8:04 PM Leave a comment

Top tips on working with your builder

Spring is finally here and with that warmer, milder weather homeowners traditionally begin to turn their thoughts to building and renovation works.

So, we asked our friends at MyBuilder.com to put together some key insights from the field to ensure you have the best possible experience when working with your builder. They’ve asked homeowners, estate agents, property developers and expert builders and have come up with these top 10 tips to help you get on your way:

1. Quotonomics

Obtain as many quotes as you like. A general rule of thumb is the magic number three – but, when looking at the numbers, make sure you are comparing like for like. Generally, there are three basic types:

- Quotations – the actual price you will pay for the cost of work

- Estimations – a ballpark figure based on a relative understanding of variables at hand.

- Guestimations – exactly what it sounds like, a guess, which seldom works in your favour.

Always ask for a breakdown to ensure clarity on which type you are getting from your builder.

We also recommend asking a builder for references from previous jobs, as well as photos of the work carried out.

2. Vision decision

Map out your vision. Know what you want. Find pictures, even clip images out of magazines to illustrate your wish list – this helps bring a common understanding of the end goal and facilitates the conversation with your builder.

3. Time for tea

Now that you know what you want, tell your builder – specifically! If you make any changes, always document your requests. This helps to make sure that wires don’t get crossed. Most importantly, at the first sign of a problem, address the issue head on with a site meeting. Talk it through sooner, rather than later, to avoid tension or misunderstanding.

4. Rules and Procedures

Right from the start, lay down some ground rules with your builder to help set expectations. For example:

- Ask for a daily start and finish time

- Come up with a procedure for using your washing facilities and kitchen facilities.

- Do you want them to take off their shoes when walking through the house?

5. Nosey Neighbours

It’s a good idea to tell the neighbours what you’ve got going on. Renovations, refurbishments, conversions, and other works, can be messy – and at times cause distress to the surrounding environment. Think about how you want to handle parking, on-site music policies, and who is responsible for deliveries. Having a chat with your neighbours will avoid them getting up in arms about dust or noise.

6. Mind your pets

If you have fuzzy friends living with you in your home, make sure they are secure – builders go in and out many times throughout the day so the chances of your cat or dog making a bolt for it are high!

7. Contracts

Think about what kind of payment plan you want to set up. Cash in hand is a preferred method for some builders, but may cause problems down the line. Stage payments, bank transfers and cheques are the ideal way to monitor and confirm that payments have been made.

8. Certification

At the end of the project, it’s a good idea to ask for a walk through with the builder. Hold onto a retainer for snagging, until building control has signed off the work and you’ve received all necessary paperwork – any certification for council / electrical compliance certificates should be issued prior to payment.

9. Insurance

It’s always a good idea to ask to see a copy of the builder’s insurance. If you want to be really thorough – check with the provider in relation to status and expiry dates and make sure your project is covered throughout the project time period.

10. Materials

If you’re having the builder manage the materials, make sure they are getting the kind of quality that you expect. Better still, ask for detailed descriptions in the quote. Before you hand over the final payment ask for guarantees on the products. Check with your local council to be sure you have the documentation that you need.


If you don’t know of the website already, MyBuilder.com is a new way to find reliable builders and tradesmen in the UK. You just post the job you need doing on the site for free and local builders get in touch to provide quotes. The best thing is that you get to read previous customer reviews for the builders you meet on the website.

March 18, 2010 at 2:36 PM 3 comments

Britains Oldest and Newest Property #2: Scotland

For this week’s instalment of our blog series we turn our attention to the mighty land of Scotland. We’ve tracked down the oldest inhabited home (which is in fact the oldest in the series) and compared it to one of the newest from Barratt Homes.

OLDEST: Traquair House – built: 1107

Traquair House is almost a castle, it’s so crenelated but despite a 900-year-long history the place is in good nick. It officially dates from 1107, when Alexander I signed a royal charter within it walls, but historicans reckon it could be much older.

Picture Source: Traquair.co.uk

Taking a peek into this property is like stepping back into medieval times. Traditionally used as a hunting lodge for the Kings and Queens of Scotland, Traquair is now a unique piece of living history, having played host to many poignant British figures throughout its existence, including Mary Queen of Scots, whose bed can still be seen by visitors.

Traquair was very nearly destroyed in the 18th Century, but luckily for us survived to tell its tale.

Today it’s inhabited by the 21st Lady of Traquair, her husband, and their three children, and is likely to be worth millions. If it ever comes up for sale the brochure will be fat with descriptions of its rich history, endless rooms including a chapel and brewery.

NEWEST: Osprey Village – built: 2009

Fast forward nearly a millennia to modern day homebuilding in Scotland and you’ll find these new homes for sale in Osprey Village, Aberdeenshire.

Built in the prosperous town of Inverurie – which  like Traquair has a history reaching back over 1,000 years – Osprey Village balances rural living with city life – the great Scottish city of Aberdeen just a 16 mile drive away.

The history of the area has been sympathetically considered in the design of the Osprey Village houses, whose exteriors are clad in locally sourced Darlstone, and sit in the rolling green hills of the Scottish countryside.

Built with families in mind, the new development in Inverurie offers a wide range of ‘Premier Collection’ three to four bedroom house styles.

More modest than Traquair House, yet infinitely more affordable, the properties come with a price tag of between £215,000 and £323,995.

For more details visit Barratt Homes.

March 16, 2010 at 5:45 PM Leave a comment

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