Help to Buy borrowers blocked from buying new build properties

Help to Buy borrowers looking to purchase a new build property using a mortgage guarantee are being blocked by lenders, it has been revealed.

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The guarantees officially came into force at the beginning of this month with the aim of helping lenders to offer loans to those with just a 5 per cent deposit.

But mortgage experts exclusively revealed to Zoopla that high street lenders taking part in the scheme are refusing to alter their normal lending criteria on loans for new builds, which means only lending to those with at least a 15 per cent deposit.

Lenders widely see lending on new builds as higher risk and so require a higher deposit to avoid any potential future losses.

Ray Boulger, of mortgage brokers John Charcol, said: “Although HTB2 can be used for new build properties, one of the conditions of participating in the scheme is that lenders must apply their normal criteria and nearly every lender – Aldermore is an exception – imposes a maximum loan to value for new build properties of 85 per cent or less.”

Mr Boulger urged the Government to persuade lenders to extend their lending criteria to reach those with just a 5 per cent deposit. If they fail – and the first part of the Help to Buy scheme is not extended – there will be a direct impact on developer confidence, he said.

Lenders began offering loans under the second phase of the Help to Buy scheme from last October following a highly publicized announcement by the Government that it was being introduced earlier than expected. It was impossible for a mortgage to default in the run up to the guarantees being introduced on January 2 this year.

The first part of the Help to Buy scheme was announced in April last year and is only available on new build properties. However, it requires borrowers to take out an equity loan from the Government and only runs for three years.

Lenders taking part in the Help to Buy scheme include Halifax, which confirmed to Zoopla: “We do lend up to 95 per cent through Help to Buy mortgage guarantee, but not on new build properties.”

Help to Buy

January 7, 2014 at 2:19 PM Leave a comment

Home staging – what is it and why I need to do it to sell my home?

If you’re about to put your home on the market for sale, don’t miss the advice of Zoopla’s new regular contributor Anna Hart who has turned her passion for staging homes into a successful career.

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Before Anna gets to work on home staging

Anna Staging

After Anna’s home staging

Staging your home is all about preparing your house before you put it on the market, to give it the best chance of selling quickly, for the top price. It is something I am passionate about, and have now turned into a career.

I should warn you though – my advice is for serious sellers only. You need to be willing to roll your sleeves up and put a bit of effort in. So if you’ve got a bit of competitive spirit and the determination to sell quickly so you to get on with enjoying life in your new home, then we’re going to be great friends.

A house that’s not prepared properly will always struggle to achieve the price you want for it. Just look at the wealth of TV shows dedicated to the subject – Sarah Beeny’s ‘Selling Houses’, Phil Spencer’s ‘Secret Agent’ and of course, the mother of the movement and the original ‘House Doctor’, Ann Maurice.

03.01.13 Anna photoWe’ve all seen at least one episode of this type of show, so most of us should know the basics of house presentation by now. Yet I’m always stumbling across really badly presented houses and I just don’t understand it.

“But Anna, my house isn’t hideous,” I’m frequently told. Ok, I’ll take your word for it. But take mine in return: there is always something you can do to improve the impression your house gives to a potential buyer.

My future monthly posts will cover topics to help you take your presentation from ‘ok’ to ‘wow’.

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Before Anna gets to work on home staging

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After Anna’s home staging

But please bear with me in this first blog while I explain the basics to the people who don’t already know them, like you do. You can always just read through them anyway to feel especially good about yourself.

Anna’s top five home staging tips:

1. Mentally move out. Understand that buyers don’t want to buy your home, they want to buy a house that could be their home. You need to turn your home back into a ‘blank canvas house’ for buyers to imagine themselves living there instead.

2. Get rid of about half of your stuff. Seriously. We all accumulate an inordinate amount of possessions and the fact is they just clutter up the house, distracting buyers and making everywhere look smaller, and trust me in house selling, size matters. Bin it, store it elsewhere, give it away. Just get it gone.

3. Clean like your life depends on it. Imagine the Queen is coming round, and if she finds so much as a speck of dust, a cobweb in the corner or a smear on the windows, she’s going to cry ‘off with your head!’.

4. Avoid love or hate reactions. Stick with neutral décor, colours and styling to avoid alienating buyers just because they don’t share your love of bright orange, or taxidermy.

5. Remember you’re not just selling bricks and mortar, you’re selling an aspirational lifestyle. Think about the sort of lifestyle your target market desires, and make them want your house by showing them that it can effortlessly give them that lifestyle.

06.01.14 Anna Hart living room

This fantastically styled new apartment for sale in Cambridge hints strongly at the sort of hip and funky lifestyle you could have if you lived there. The space is probably exactly the same as another flat nearby, but I’d bet that this flat gets way more interest and higher offers than the others do from the target market of young professionals because the sellers are presenting not just a flat, but a really trendy flat.

Much of the work is in your head – once you’ve started to think of it as a ‘house for sale’ rather than ‘your home’ the rest will be so much easier. Next month we’ll talk more about minimising your possessions so the house itself is the star of the show.

 03.01.13 Anna photo

Anna Hart is an expert in staging homes for sale, working with house sellers to maximise their chances of selling as quickly and as profitably as possible. Anna has recently appeared in an episode of American TV show House Hunters International. Anna stages and styles homes for sale and rental, manages residential refurbishment projects for local landlords and is busy writing the next title in her series of books to bring her practical, refreshing and proven house sale preparation strategy to sellers across Britain. Visit www.annahartconsultancy.co.uk for more information.

January 7, 2014 at 10:00 AM 2 comments

Home of Beatles’ John Lennon is for sale

John Lennon’s luxury Surrey mansion, where he wrote songs for the Beatles’ legendary Sgt Pepper’s album, is for sale for £14m.

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Lennon bought the six bedroom home in Surrey’s Weybridge for £20,000 on July 15 in 1964.

He lived there for four years with his first wife Cynthia and is believed to have written several songs for the Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band at the property.

The Beatles sold 70 million copies of the album, which featured hits With A Little Help From My Friends, Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds, and A Day In The Life.

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The refurbished property is on the exclusive St George’s Hill Estate in Weybridge and is on the market for £13,750,000. The estate is widely acknowledged as one of Britain’s ‘premier residential addresses’.

It was originally called Brown House, but was renamed Kenwood by manufacturer Ken Wood, when he owned the property.

Knight Frank‘s Country Department, which is handling the sale, said: “Kenwood is a wonderful character property yet redone in quite a contemporary style, giving it the perfect blend between the old and new. Situated in the exclusive St George’s Hill Estate, the property enjoys tranquillity and privacy while only being 17 miles from central London.”

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The 1,110 square metre home contains six bedrooms, six bathrooms and is set in 1.5 acres.

There is an indoor swimming pool, a sauna and uninterrupted views of the Surrey Hills.

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January 6, 2014 at 3:33 PM 19 comments

Top 10 Thatched Cottages #propertyoftheweek

Our pick of top 10 Thatched Cottages for sale in England. Listed in no particular order as we’d like to hear what your no.1 is, so please vote in the poll below for your favourite.

1. A little piece of thatched heaven.
5 bed in Gloucestershire, £1M – Andrew Greenwood

PropertyoftheWeek

2. We fell in love with this when we saw the purple Aga in the kitchen!
5 bed in Wantage, £750,000 – Savills

PropertyoftheWeek

3. Oozing charm with the lake and the surrounding land.
5 bed in Frodsham, £975,000 – Strutt & Parker

PropertyoftheWeek

4. So picturesque.
3 bed in Newport, £358,000 – Spence Willard

PropertyoftheWeek

5. Just wow…and check out the pond too.
3 bed in Buckinghamshire, £4M – Savills

PropertyoftheWeek

6. A real classic dating from the 15th century.
4 bed in Crawley, £575,000 – Michael Graham

PropertyoftheWeek

7. Originally 3 separate cottages now transformed into one impressive cottage! Also we couldn’t resist the chickens in the garden!
6 bed in Hertfordshire, £850,000 – Savills

PropertyoftheWeek

8. Take a look at the interior – so cosy.
3 bed in Ipswich, £280,000 – Morton Smith & Girling Limited

PropertyoftheWeek

9. A bit different and all the more special for it.
2 bed in Suffolk, £220,000 – House Network

PropertyoftheWeek

10. Lavender Cottage – perfectly pretty.
3 bed in Thwaite, £395,000 – Fine & Country

PropertyoftheWeek

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.

January 3, 2014 at 12:03 PM Leave a comment

Help to Buy mortgage guarantees help hundreds of borrowers move home

Almost 750 borrowers have bought a new home using the Help to Buy mortgage guarantee scheme, according to new figures.

Help to Buy

The data was announced by Downing Street today and is based on completed mortgage applications with Lloyds Banking Group and RBS.

The Help to Buy mortgage scheme was introduced three months earlier than anticipated in October and aims to help people buy homes with a deposit of as little as 5 per cent.

A further 6,000 people have made offers on properties, it suggested.

It comes after the business secretary Vince Cable called for the scheme to be re-examined, saying: “There is a raging housing boom in London and the South East – not in other parts of the country.”

He said the boom could get “out of control” unless interest rates were raised – but doing this would “hit those parts of the country which are not yet fully recovered”.

The Government’s mortgage guarantees officially start today. However, banks were able to start offering the loans from the beginning of October last year as it would have been technically impossible to default on the home loan during these last three months.

The mortgage guarantees are the second phase of the Government’s Help to Buy scheme. The first phase was introduced last April and provides a Government loan of up to 20 per cent of the value of a new build home, interest free for the first five years.

In November, the Government said the Help to Buy equity loan scheme helped 5,375 buyers during its first six months.

Participants bought properties with an average value of £194,164, with the average equity loan being £38,703, according to the official figures issued by Communities and Local Government.

The majority of homes bought as part of the equity loan scheme were made by first-time buyers, totalling 92 per cent. It means the Government issued £208m in equity loans.

The Help to Buy equity loan scheme had only been available in England and Scotland, but the Help to Buy equity loan launches in Wales today.

January 2, 2014 at 10:04 AM Leave a comment

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