Chancellor George Osborne outlines housing policy in his Autumn Statement

Chancellor George Osborne is determined to ‘avoid the mistakes’ of the last decade and ‘keep Britain moving’.


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At the heart of his housing policy announced in the Autumn Statement is building more homes.

He said: “Some of the most important infrastructure for British families is housing and we have to confront this simple truth: if we want more people to own a home, we have to build more homes.”

He also announced £1bn of loans to unblock large housing developments on sites around the country and confirmed that lenders Aldermore and Virgin are set to join the Help to Buy Scheme. The Help to Buy Scheme was introduced earlier this year to help those with a small deposit to buy a home.

“I can announce today that Aldermore and Virgin, two challenger banks, expect to join the scheme this month. Help to aspiring families and building more homes – that’s what we stand for,” said Osborne.

But he added a word of caution, saying: “We must also avoid the mistakes of the last decade.

“We want a responsible recovery….We want a functioning, stable housing market.”

Other items included:

  • Regenerating some of the most run down urban housing estates
  • Councils to sell off the most expensive social housing, so they can house more families for the same money
  • Giving working people in social housing a priority right to move if they need to for a job
  • Introduction of Capital Gains Tax on future gains made by non residents who sell residential property in the UK

The measures received a mixed welcome from the housing industry, with NHBC’s chief executive, Mike Quinton, saying: “We welcome today’s Autumn Statement highlighting measures to support house-building in the UK.”

David Newnes, of LSL Property Services – owners of the largest lettings agency in the UK – said: “Today the Chancellor has laid down some concrete steps to address the lack of supply in new housing, but this is only the start on the wider path to solving the problem. While Government initiatives such as the Funding for Lending and Help to Buy schemes have bolstered the recovery this year, the elephant in the room has always been the woeful shortage of new homes.

“The pledge of £1bn of loans to unlock large housing developments is certainly a welcome move and plans to increase local authorities’ housing revenue account borrowing limits are encouraging measures, both will play a part in boosting house supply, while at the same time preventing house prices from rising out of reach of buyers. Equal focus on expanding the Right to Buy offer and the Government’s investment into affordable housing shows efforts are being made. The Government must continue to lend a helping hand to aspiring buyers, so that they can achieve their dream of home ownership, while emphasising the need for more homes to support a healthy rate of recovery for the market as we move into 2014.”

Elsewhere, on the taxing of non residents, Liam Bailey, of estate agents Knight Frank, said: “Tax is not the primary driver for the majority of international buyers of residential property in London. We anticipate that the removal of the CGT exemption for non-resident purchasers will have only a marginal impact on demand and pricing.”

December 5, 2013 at 12:50 PM 2 comments

Banks urged to ‘rethink’ lending in retirement as state pension age rises

Banks and building societies are being urged to reconsider their lending criteria for those in later life after the Chancellor announced changes to the state pension.

05.12.13 Autumn Statement 1

Photo by Altogetherfool

Brokers said lenders would need to ‘rethink their lending policies’ after George Osborne announced an increase in the state pension age.

Andrew Montlake, of mortgage brokers Coreco, exclusively told Zoopla: “As it becomes more evident that people will be working until they are older, with a retirement age of 70 no doubt becoming a norm, lenders do need to rethink their lending policies to accommodate this change.

“While there is much regulatory clamour around lending into retirement, the last thing many borrowers need is to be constrained by anachronistic lending policies that do not take into account changes in working practices.”

Lenders have traditionally capped the age at which they will lend to borrowers to a retirement age of around 65 years old. It can be higher or lower than this depending on the individual lender.

The Chancellor said in the Autumn statement that anyone born after 1990 will have to work for five years longer than those today before they can claim the state pension.

It means anyone currently in their 40s or younger will be affected by the move.

Plans to raise the pension age to 67 by 2028 will not change, but under the new rules the age is expected to reach 68 by the mid 2030s and 69 by the 2040s – much earlier than had previously been predicted.

At present, a man can start to claim his state pension from the age of 65 and a woman from 61 and nine months.

December 5, 2013 at 11:31 AM Leave a comment

How to avoid burst pipes and failing heating systems in winter via Charlie Mullins of Pimlico Plumbers

Ahead of the expected cold spell during the winter months, ‘Plumber to the stars’ Charlie Mullins gives his expert advice to home owners on how to protect their property from winter conditions.

04.12.13 Pimlico

The Pimlico Plumbers founder said: “The winter weather can be very troublesome for homeowners who have not taken the necessary steps to prepare their house for the cold. By following these simple steps homeowners will significantly reduce the chance of encountering problems such as burst pipes and heating systems that cannot handle the adverse conditions.

“Not only will homeowners prevent problems but they will also reduce the amount they spend on heating their home in the long run.”

Charlie’s top tips:

1. In these freezing conditions it is crucial to keep your water moving so that pipes don’t freeze up – running your taps every now and then will help to prevent freezing and could save you a hefty plumbers’ bill.

2. Another great tip that people just don’t think of is keeping your loft hatch open a few inches to let warm air into your loft or roof cavity where your water pipes are, which will help no end in keeping water from freezing.

3. Keeping your heating turned on low when you are out or even when you’re away for a few days or longer. It doesn’t have to be high at all, just 5 or 6 degrees C will do it, but once again if water stays above zero it won’t freeze.


Away for a few days? Stop potential issues with freezing pipes by keeping the heating at just 5 or 6 degrees C, no need to keep it on high.

4. Make sure your lagging (thermal insulation) is up to scratch: people think it’s too late to do anything about this now but the forecast says there’s at least a couple of weeks of this weather to come, and his will help keep things warm and save real money.

5. Another winner is to have your loft and cavity walls properly insulated – hot air rises so it makes sense to keep the heat inside the building – remember you paid for it so don’t let it get outside as it puts more strain on your boiler and uses up more expensive gas replacing the heat.

6. Regular servicing of your boiler and radiators: since the recession we have noticed an increase in emergency call outs as people try to save a bit of cash by cutting down on things they think are not important. But it makes so much more sense to spend a little getting your heating system up to scratch. Aside from the safely aspect, It will last longer and will perform when you most need it to.

7. Have a timer installed on your heating system: this will save you money by not running things at full temperature all the time, but at the same time give your house a little boost every now and then to keep things from getting too cold and giving you the sort of expensive problems you can experience when your pipes freeze up.


A Thermostatic radiator valve

8. Having thermostatic radiator valves fitted to all your radiators to control individual room temperatures will give you the ability to switch heat off completely in certain parts of your house, thus reducing your fuel costs further, while keeping things roaring where they are needed.

December 4, 2013 at 12:15 PM 2 comments

The Shepherds flock to Sheep Street

‘While the Shepherds watched their flocks by night, the angel of the Lord came down.’ So the Christmas carol goes. But the Shepherds have also been busy elsewhere.

03.12.13 Sheep Street 2

Photo by psd

Indeed, the Shepherds have been flocking to Sheep Street in Winslow in a perfect example of nominative determinism during the run up to the festive period.

Estate agents Hamptons International exclusively told Zoopla it has sold a three bedroom cottage in Sheep Street to a Mrs Paula Shepherd.

But the story does not stop there as the sale of the property was instructed by a gentleman by the same festive surname – who is unrelated to the new occupant.

James Kendling, of Hamptons International, told Zoopla: “We couldn’t believe what fate had in store when we took a Mrs Shepherd on a viewing of Sheep Street.

“It is total co-incidence that instructions to sell the property had been received from a Mr Shepherd.

“We’re thrilled that the Shepherds continue to flock to Sheep Street. The property has exchanged just in time for Christmas and we hope the new owners will be extremely happy in their new home.”

Mrs Shepherd is the new owner of the Sheep Street cottage

The Buckingham branch of Hamptons International handled the sale of the Grade II Listed cottage.

The property has a nineteenth façade, but is believed to have origins from the seventeenth century.

The historic market town of Winslow is located between Buckingham and Aylesbury, and offers a good range of amenities – including shopping, a health centre, a church, a garage and a selection of pubs and restaurants.

The average price of a property in Winslow is £541,568, up £29,802 during the past year.

Other properties for sale in Winslow:

1. Two bedroom cottage for £189,950

03.12.13 Sheep Street 3

2.  Five bedroom detached house for £695,000

03.12.13 Sheep Street 4

3. Five bedroom detached house for £650,000

03.12.13 Sheep Street 5

December 3, 2013 at 4:02 PM Leave a comment

Top 10 #propertyoftheweek Picks – Fun Homes

A selection of some fun properties to be found on Zoopla.

1.  Who wouldn’t have fun in this house with a slide from upstairs to downstairs! Listed by Domus Nova.


2.  From Hamptons – Dulwich – An entire loft transformed into a spaceship!


3.  A pool that turns into a dance floor at the flick of a switch – what’s not fun about that? Listed with Carter Jonas.


4.  Plenty of fun to be had in this treehouse I’m sure! Listed with Strutt and Parker.


5.  The ultimate bachelor pad – pool, cinema room and a bar. Listed with Sotheby’s.


6.  Not only does it have a boathouse but also a hot tub, pool, games room and more! Listed with Knight Frank.


7.  We could easily see ourselves having hours of fun in this cave. Listed with John D Wood and Co.


8.  How fun would it be to wake up in a different place each day! And for £185,000 this 2 bed water based home could be yours. From Harbour Estates.


9.  A roof top hot tub in Notting Hill, with an impressive outdoor kitchen – now that makes for a fun combination. From Faron Sutaria.


10.  And lastly John D Wood and Co’s pick of the week is this amazing party house complete with stream in East Molesey.


Send us a link via Twitter to your #propertyoftheweek on Zoopla and our pick of the Top 10 will feature on the blog every Friday.

November 29, 2013 at 12:17 PM Leave a comment

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