Phil Spencer’s property tip of the month – Should you buy a new home or a characterful older home?


It’s not a straightforward answer and a lot of the decision depends on personal preference. Some people are diehard fans of brand spanking new homes where you can march in, not worry about doing a thing and get on with your life. Others wouldn’t want to be caught dead in a new home, preferring period property with personality.

Some see a period home as a black hole for cash, with the maintenance you have to lavish on it simply to keep it up to date and upright? Others see new homes as bland that are cookie-cutter boxes modelled on a computer plan provided by a developer.

Personally I believe both have their benefits and here are five points on each to help you make that decision.

Older re-sale home
*With a re-sale home, if you don’t like it you can quickly knock a few walls down, paint and install your own your vision and add value
*Likely to be found in areas that have ready made and long established communities
*All the services: broadband, telephone, electric etc will all be easy to re-establish from the previous owner
*No endless snagging list for an older property
*You tend to get more mature garden with a re-sale home. New builds tend to be just recently laid turf.

The new home
*New homebuilders generally offer a range of benefits that the second-hand market cannot hope to match.
*New homes are vastly more energy-efficient and therefore much cheaper to run than second-hand homes
*New home prices are now more in line with the second-hand market, so there is not so much of a ‘brand new’ premium any more
*New homes are packed with lots more extra features than most older properties.
*NHBC 10 year warranty peace of mind with new build homes

April 23, 2014 at 2:43 PM 2 comments

Help to Buy mortgage rates on the increase

The rates on Government-backed mortgage deals for borrowers with a small deposit are on the increase, experts warn.


The Help to Buy scheme was introduced by the Government more than a year ago in a bid to help those with small deposits to secure cheaper mortgage rates.

But the rates are beginning to rise with Santander being the first lender to make the move.

Syvlia WaycotSylvia Waycot, editor of, said: “Santander has just announced that it is increasing the rates across a handful of its fixed rate mortgages.

“One of the mortgages to be increased by 0.10 per cent is the two-year fixed Help to Buy option.

“The deal, now priced at 5.09 per cent, is available for up to 95 per cent loan-to-value and borrowers will still benefit from not having to pay a set-up fee. The incentive package of a £250 rebate and free valuation also remains.”

An increase in mortgage rates follows an expectation that the Bank of England will increase the Bank Rate – currently at a historic low of 0.5 per cent – before the end of next year.



April 23, 2014 at 2:13 PM 1 comment

More than 100,000 homes snapped up last month before ‘prices slip out of reach’

The number of homes changing hands jumped by 30 per cent during the past year as the property market continued to recover, Government figures showed today.

zoopla keys

A total of 106,070 properties were sold for more than £40,000 in the UK during March, according to HM Revenue & Customs.

The number was 30 per cent higher than in the same month of 2013 and the second highest figure recorded since December 2007.

But the total was slightly down on the number of homes that were sold during February, when 111,120 residential transactions were completed on a seasonally adjusted basis.

The slight dip in month-on-month sales had been expected following a fall in mortgage approvals for house purchase reported by the Bank of England for February.

The decrease should help to calm fears that a bubble is developing in the property market following recent strong house price gains.

Halifax said property values rose at their fastest rate for nearly six-and-a-half years during the first quarter of 2014, with prices up 8.7 per cent year-on-year.

The National Association of Estate Agents also reported that demand among potential buyers was so strong in March that one in five people paid more than the asking price in order to secure a home.

Recent gains have left the average property in England costing £259,745, according to Zoopla.

A total of 321,150 properties were sold in the UK during the first quarter of the year, the highest quarterly total since the final three months of 2007, according HMRC.

But it pointed out that although residential property transactions had increased significantly year-on-year, they still remained well down on the peak of nearly 150,000 homes changing hands each month in late 2006 and early 2007 before the credit crisis struck.

Meanwhile, separate research showed that homeowners remain bullish about house price gains going forward.

Consumers who own a property expect values to rise by an average of 8.8 per cent between now and September – nearly twice the rate of increase they predicted this time last year, according to research carried out by Zoopla.

A record 95 per cent of homeowners expect house prices to rise in the coming six months, with just 2 per cent predicting they will fall, significantly down on the 13 per cent who expected losses in 2013.

People in the South East are most upbeat about prospects for the property market, with 98 per cent expecting house price rises, while those in London anticipate the biggest gains of 12 per cent in the coming six months.

But in all regions of Great Britain more than 89 per cent of homeowners think the value of their property will increase in the months ahead.

Homeowners in the South West are predicting the lowest growth at just over 7 per cent, but even this would equate to an annual rate of more than 14 per cent.

Zoopla’s Lawrence Hall said: “Homeowners are expecting house prices to rise at a higher rate than ever before, and this confidence in the property market recovery is finally filtering out of London and across the UK.


Lawrence Hall

“With prospective sellers eager to take advantage of a buoyant market and buyers wanting to snap up the best properties before they slip out of reach, indications suggest the market will remain strong over the coming months as increased supply and buoyed confidence drives activity on all rungs of the ladder.”


April 23, 2014 at 11:12 AM 1 comment

See Britain’s smallest properties for sale currently available on Zoopla

Britain’s smallest £1m property for sale offered less space than a London Underground Tube carriage, it was revealed earlier this year. Zoopla looks at what other properties of a similar size are currently on the market to buy or rent.

To some, this property may be little more than a small one bedroom detached house in Bournemouth. To others, it is an immaculate ‘stately home’ with a large garden and parking.

The house is currently on the market for £69,950 via estate agents Dixon Kelley and is just a short drive away from the south coast.

22.04.14 Small 2

With eco holiday homes being de rigueur, this one bedroom detached property certainly has potential.

It is in the south west of Carlisle, next to the Cumbria Way cycle route, and has planning permission for a short-term holiday let.

Estate agents H&H suggest the brick building covers an area of 10 square meters but warns the measurements may ‘not…be wholly accurate’.

22.04.14 Small 1

Two bedrooms are included in this small detached house in Scunthorpe.

The property also has a living room, bathroom, kitchen and a conservatory.

It has no property chain and requires updating.

22.04.14 Small 4

Completely refurbished, this one bedroom home in Windsor requires less work.

It includes a lounge, refitted kitchen, refitted shower room and a double bedroom – all for £88,000.

It also has parking and a landscaped rear garden. Estate agents Horler is handling the sale.

22.04.14 Small 3

April 22, 2014 at 4:15 PM Leave a comment

Competitive mortgage deals will ‘not end’ under new lending rules

Tough new mortgage rules should not have an impact on the availability of competitive fixed rate loans, a mortgage trade body said today.

06.03.14 Mortgages

The tighter regulations, which come into force on April 26, require lenders to carry out a detailed assessment of borrowers’ ability to keep up with their loan before advancing them money.

The strong emphasis on affordability has sparked speculation that banks and building societies may scrap short-term fixed rate deals at low rates, as they focus on responsible, sustainable lending.

Under the new rules, known as the Mortgage Market Review, lenders will also be able to ask applicants for evidence on how much they spend on everything from food to childcare to debt repayments if they are concerned about affordability.

They will also carry out an interest rate ‘stress test’, to ensure borrowers can continue to meet their mortgage repayments even if the cost of borrowing rises.

But the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) today said there was nothing in the new rules that would lead to lenders pulling their fixed rate products or hiking the price of them.

BernardClarkeBernard Clarke CML communications manager, said: “There is a very strong attachment among consumers to two year fixes.

“They have proved extremely popular overtime and the mortgage market has a strong bias to consumer preference.

“There is nothing in the Mortgage Market Review that would bring them to an end.”

Just under nine out of 10 mortgages taken out during February were fixed rate deals, according to the CML.

The group attributed the strong preference for these loans to the fact that interest rates were likely to start rising sooner than previously expected on the back of the UK’s strengthening economy.

Only 6 per cent of borrowers opted for a tracker deal, which moves up and down in line with changes to the Bank of England Bank Rate, while just 2 per cent of homeowners took out a discounted rate.

Meanwhile, the Bank of England’s Trends in Lending report showed further improvements in the mortgage market during the early part of the year.

The Bank said mortgage approvals for house purchase by all UK lenders had continued to rise during the three months to the end of February.

It added that although approvals fell slightly in February, they remained “considerably higher” than for the same period in 2013.

At the same time, interest rates on two year fixed rate mortgages have remained broadly unchanged since the start of the year, despite an increase in two year swap rates, upon which the deals are based.

But the cost of five year deals has started to edge up, as lenders pass on some of their higher funding costs to consumers.

Mark Harris, chief executive of mortgage broker SPF Private Clients, said: “The volume of mortgage lending continues to rise as more buyers take advantage of the cheap rates available to get on the housing ladder or move up it.

“Two year fixes were largely unchanged in the first quarter but five year fixes have started to edge up, partly as a result of higher swap rates which have doubled in the past year.

“However, there are still five year deals pegged at around 3 per cent for those with sizeable deposits, which is excellent value.”

He added that the new mortgage rules were likely to lead to a slowdown in mortgage processing while they “bedded in”, but once any glitches were ironed out, the mortgage market should continue to perform strongly for the rest of the year.

April 22, 2014 at 12:00 PM Leave a comment

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The Zoopla property blog is maintained and edited by the Web Content Editor @ Zoopla Property Group Ltd Myra Butterworth.


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