Here at Zoopla, we’re a competitive bunch, winning a host of accolades for running Britain’s leading property website.
And this week we applied our winning ways to making money for charity at our latest get together at the West Bromwich Albion football ground.
Zoopla is enjoying its second year sponsoring the Birmingham-based football club. During every match, we run a competition for ticket holders to win cash prizes if they successfully kick a ball through the door of a cardboard cut-out of a detached house. The kicks are taken at half time, in front of thousands of fans.
The same competition was run at the staff gathering on Wednesday – albeit on a smaller scale, in front of all of our 200 high-achieving individuals. But instead of taking the cash for ourselves, we donated it to charity. A goal was rewarded with £50 cash, producing a total of £700.
We’re delighted to be supporting the Albion Foundation and a host of other local charities. The Albion Foundation does outstanding work in the local community as do the other charities we’ve chosen to support – and we recognise that these charities rely heavily on donations from businesses like ours.
Footage via YouTube from a Teambuilding Day which The Albion Foundation graciously provided for staff from Zoopla.
Seen some interesting properties (sale or rentals) this week?
Agents! Taken instruction on something unusual or noteworthy?
Please make sure to hashtag #propertyoftheweek and please link to a Zoopla URL in your Tweet, (we’ll be watching carefully all week).
Without further adieu… here’s todays #fridayfeature
10. And our own pick of the week…
Britain’s biggest lender is expected to announce the interest rates on its Help to Buy mortgage rates next week.
Halifax will offer rates under 5 per cent and accept applications by the end of the year, according to industry sources.
It will be welcome news to first-time buyers and homeowners who are looking to move with just a five per cent deposit.
As Zoopla revealed yesterday, borrowers can not only now apply for a mortgage using the new Help to Buy guarantees following the Government’s announcement at the beginning of this week, but they can also receive the mortgage money before the guarantees cut in on January 2.
It is impossible to default on the mortgage in the time between now and when the guarantees begin, so lenders are agreeing to hand over the cash before the deadline. If borrowers default after January 2, the lender will be covered by the mortgage guarantee.
A source told Zoopla: “We expect the rates to come in below 5 per cent and we expect applications to be accepted by Halifax before the end of next week.”
Under the new mortgage guarantee scheme, the buyer would only need a 5 per cent deposit.
The Government and the bank then jointly guarantees up to the next 15 per cent of the property’s value, in return for a fee paid for by the lender.
It follows the introduction of the first phase of Help to Buy – equity loans – earlier this year. Under this phase, the Government provides a loan of up to 20 per cent of the price of a property, with the borrowers providing a 5 per cent deposit and a mortgage of 75 per cent.
The scheme is proving popular with buyers as figures show registrations for new homes are up 25 per cent in a year.
Registrations for new homes climbed to almost 91,000 during the first eight months of this year, up from less than 73,000 during the same period a year earlier.
In particular, the three months from June this year – just two months after the scheme was introduced – saw a sharp increase compared to the previous year, up 15 per cent, according to insurers NHBC.
The latest news about Halifax comes as another high street lender reveals research about the biggest barriers to getting onto the housing ladder.
The survey by Santander suggested 16 per cent cite the most significant obstacle being not having enough money for a deposit.
The average age of a first time buyer in London is 52, according to new research.
The findings caused an outrage on Twitter.
The research by Nutmeg also suggested the average age of a first time buyer in the south east is 48 and 45 in the south west. It is 35 in both the north east and north west.
The figures include those returning to the market alone, having previously held joint ownership of a property – such as divorcees.
It follows the launch of the Government’s Help to Buy initiatives to assist first time buyers – and those moving home – with small deposits of as little as 5 per cent of the value of a property.
UPDATED: Treasury confirms Help to Buy story broken by Zoopla below.
Borrowers will be able to buy a home before January with the assistance of the Government’s Help to Buy mortgage guarantee scheme, the Treasury has confirmed.
It was previously thought that borrowers could apply for the deals from next week, but would have to wait until January before any mortgage money was released – as inaccurately reported by the BBC.
But mortgage brokers described the Government’s January start date for the guarantees as ‘arbitrary’, saying lenders could complete on the mortgage applications this month.
Lenders can proceed with the applications as it is technically impossible for a mortgage to default in the time between now and when the guarantee comes into force on January 2. If a mortgage defaults after this date, it will be covered by the Government’s guarantee.
It means thousands of borrowers can use the deals to move home with just a 5 per cent deposit – and could be in their new home well before Christmas.
Ray Boulger, of mortgage brokers John Charcol, exclusively told Zoopla: “Any applications will be processed in the normal way, the offer produced and then the borrower will be free to complete whenever they like, obviously subject to the normal constraint of any mortgage conditions being satisfied.
“There will definitely not be a condition imposed that completion can’t take place before 2 Jan.”
Two lenders committed to the scheme - RBS and Lloyds - are expected to announce their first products next week.
The mortgages will range from 80 per cent to 95 per cent of the value of a property costing up to £600,000.
It means first-time buyers and existing home owners with just a 5 per cent deposit will be able to move home.
The Government announced earlier this week it was moving forward the date when home buyers could apply for the guarantees by three months to next week, while keeping the start date for the guarantees to cut in at January 2.
Boulger added: “Technically the lender will not have any insurance on any such mortgages before 2 Jan. However, I see this as a technicality as there will clearly not be long enough, even with a rapid completion by the end of this month, for a mortgage to default before the end of this year.
“The confusion has arisen because of the delay before lenders can actually put cases into the scheme.”
Under the equity loan scheme, the Government provides a loan of up to 20 per cent of the value of a new build home, interest free for the first five years.