BUDGET 2014: 200,000 new homes for UK families

A new garden city and Right to Build scheme, but anyone buying a home over half a million through a company pays 15 per cent Stamp Duty, notes Cheryl Markosky


Like a magician with a bag of new tricks, Chancellor George Osborne waved his hand to produce a shiny, new pound coin that will be in circulation by 2017.

“A more resilient pound for a more resilient economy,” he announced today in his Budget speech.

Besides the promise of the twelve-sided, counterfeit-free coin, what has the Chancellor managed to pull out of his hat for the housing industry?

Osborne giving more Help to Buy


Help to Buy, the loan equity scheme that helps lift people onto the housing ladder, is to be extended until 2020 to get 12,000 new homes built.

More new homes and regeneration

In the south-east, where the Chancellor believes pressure is greatest, new homes will be built at Barking Riverside. Also, Brent Cross will be regenerated.

And funding will be available to spruce up some “worst condition” urban housing estates.

New garden city in Ebbsfleet

The first garden city to be built in Britain in nearly a century will push up from the earth at Ebbsfleet in Kent.

Along with 15,000 homes, the Chancellor’s promised help to put in the infrastructure and set up a Development Corporation to ensure the garden city project’s success.

And a prospectus on the future of garden cities will be produced.

Reforms to planning system

The Chancellor said the government will be making “further reforms to the planning system” and is offering a half a billion pounds of finance to small house building firms.

Deals will be signed across the country to get more homes built, including a new funding deal signed this week for Cambridge.

Right to Build


Anyone keen on self-build (the new selfie?) will be pleased to hear that £150 million will be provided in a new “right to build your own home” scheme.

Homeowners buying via companies pay 15% Stamp Duty on homes over £500,000

The noose has been tightened on people owning homes via companies, declared the Chancellor.

“We’re expanding the new tax we introduced to stop people avoiding Stamp Duty tax by owning homes through a company. We will expand the tax on residential properties worth over £2 million to those worth more than £500,000.”

From midnight tonight, anyone purchasing residential property over half a million through a corporate envelope will be required to pay 15% Stamp Duty. None of this applies to homes that are rented out.

The Chancellor pointed out that many of these homes are empty properties held in corporate envelopes to avoid Stamp Duty. “This abuse will end.”

Mortgage Interest Scheme

The Mortgage Interest Scheme that helps some homeowners getting certain income-related benefits with payments on mortgages or home-improvement loans will be extended to 2016.

Inheritance tax waived for emergency service workers


The Chancellor’s waived inheritance tax for those in emergency service jobs who give their lives to protect us.

Reactions to the Budget;

Help to Buy

huntersKevin Hollinrake, managing director of Hunters Property Group, the UK’s fastest growing, independent estate agency partnership, welcomes the decision to extend Help to Buy to 2020, but questions the decision to keep the terms of the mortgage guarantee scheme.

“Help to Buy has been a very positive thing for the new build sector and has definitely driven sales in this part of the industry,” he says.

However, he believes the mortgage guarantee scheme has been less positive, “as a number of lenders are willing to offer 90-95% mortgages now anyway, so this has been less of a factor in the housing market recovery.”

Stamp Duty Land Tax

A number of property experts, including Robert Bailey from Robert Bailey Property, think Osborne has missed his chance to reform Stamp Duty Land Tax.

While the announcement that Stamp Duty will increase by 15% on properties valued above £500,000 purchased through a company may play well with the masses, the facts do not support his case.

“Some of the foreigners who bought properties through companies or special purpose vehicles were not doing so to avoid UK taxes, but to circumnavigate their home country’s restrictions on foreign property ownership. For a government that claims to be wooing foreign investment, this further crackdown is nonsensical,” suggests Bailey.

What was more notable was what was not in the budget, he adds. “Despite calls from within the property industry and beyond, the chancellor neglected the opportunity to reform Stamp Duty Land Tax. With the average cost of a home in the UK now approaching £250,000 and the average cost of a home in London now standing at nearly £400,000, the vast majority of homebuyers are now paying the tax, something that was never originally intended.”

At the other end of the scale, Bailey points out that a Stamp Duty threshold of five per cent was introduced on properties valued at over £1 million in 2010. And in 2012, a seven per cent threshold was set for properties priced above £2 million.

“While this may have been seen as a tax on the rich at the time, more recently it has become a tax on London. Many modest family homes in London are now priced above these thresholds, affecting many middle-class households,” he adds.

 “We’re getting Britain building”

LONDON SQUARE LOGOS 6With regards to the Chancellor’s statement that “we’re getting Britain building,” Adam Lawrence, chief executive of developer London Square, comments: “Housing supply is like a car stuck in the snow. It needs a push and a pull to get it moving. We need the government to give the supply of land a push and that means tax incentives for private landowners to sell their sites. Greater supply of sites will enable developers to provide the pull to deliver more homes.”

New garden city

Local authorities in London own enough under-utilised land to provide thousands of homes – probably the equivalent of a new garden city across the capital.

Despite the spiraling housing shortage, this public sector land is strangled by red tape and tortuous bid processes that can take up to two years to complete, according to Jeffrey Adams, chief executive of United House.

“We’ve recently been involved in a bid to redevelop land and provide homes, both affordable and for private sale, plus commercial space, on land owned by a London borough, to deliver a scheme at zero cost to the local authority,” he explains.

“The land value created would have paid for the entire scheme, a model we have delivered successfully in Lambeth and elsewhere. The whole process took 15 months to complete,” he says.

United House spent more than £120,000 on the process. The other two shortlisted bidders would have spent a similar amount, nearly £400,000 in total. “We could have built two affordable homes for that,” he sums up.

March 19, 2014 at 3:43 PM Leave a comment

New build of the month: Millbay, Plymouth

If you are looking for a new build home, try the waterfront location on offer at a development in Plymouth, writes Cheryl Markosky.

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New build of the Month: Cargo 2 at Millbay, Plymouth.

Where exactly is it? Overlooking the Plymouth Docks and just under a mile from the city centre. (For a map click here.)

Monster housing estate or tiny boutique development? Cargo 2 is part of a £350m regeneration project covering 19.5 acres, including a recently opened new marina, which will include waterfront restaurants, cafes and bars, a network of new boardwalks and public squares linking the site to the city centre.

How much will it cost me? Three bedroom townhouses start at £230,000 and four bedroom houses from £295,000. The houses are available now and Help to Buy is available. The next phase of the development, 102 flats, flats and duplexes at Quadrant Quay which, as the name suggests, is right on the quayside. It is due go on sale in May, and be ready to move in by the end of the year.

What is so great about it? Its waterfront location and enviable marina views, plus a funky design courtesy of Ferguson Mann Architects. “Waterside living is absolutely key,” said David Caught, sales and marketing director of the Government-backed English Cities Fund which is developing the site. “Everyone loves to be near water, it has a calming effect.”

Surely its not completely perfect? The development will not be completed for “at least” 10 years said Caught, which means early residents will need to put up with a degree of noise and disruption. And since developments of this scale are dealt with in phases it is not possible to guarantee exactly what is going to be built, and when. “The idea is that there will be a real community feel, that you will step out of your door and there will be shops, restaurants and cafes,” said Caught. And the flipside of getting in on the ground floor, however, is that if the regeneration takes off and prices rise the first generation of owners can expect decent price rises.

Who will my neighbours be? A complete mixture of professional couples, downsizers and first time buyers have purchased at the development, according to the developer.

What is Plymouth itself like? This once affluent trading port has had some tough times since the decline of the shipping industry and parts of the city suffer from high levels of deprivation. Like all cities, however, there are affluent pockets like Plympton and Plymstock. The city’s plus points include some wonderful architecture, its proximity to Dartmoor and the beaches of south east Cornwall and plenty of facilities including plenty of restaurants and pubs (kept busy by Plymouth Uni students), a couple of theatres, several cinemas and some interesting shops to explore.

Is it any good for kids? Living close to a marina means plenty of opportunity to learn to sail, and Plymouth itself has lots of fun things to do including the UK’s largest aquarium, an ice rink, an excellent leisure centre and Dartmoor Zoo (the inspiration for the Matt Damon and Scarlett Johansson movie We Bought a Zoo) close by. There are three selective grammar schools in Plymouth which are a magnet for ambitious parents.

How are the public transport links? Plenty of bus services, if the walk to the city centre and Plymouth Station doesn’t appeal.

Is it up and coming? Millbay is one of south west’s biggest regeneration zones and reboots of moribund docksides around the UK have a history of success. The area will become home to the Plymouth School of Creative Arts which should bring some buzz to the area, and waterside homes have a tendency to attract a premium. Average prices in Plymouth stand at £177,037, up a healthy 5.68 per cent in the last year. 

I like the sound of Plymouth, what else is on sale there?

A rambling Victorian villa for £1.25m: 

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A sea view flat for £350,000:

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A Georgian house for £500,000:

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March 19, 2014 at 7:00 AM Leave a comment

Create kerb appeal – 8 simple tips for home sellers

Spring is in the air, so put a spring into your step and make the most of the opportunity to create a positive image for your property, write kerb appeal experts Caroline Knight and Karin Hawkes.

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Invest some physical energy in the front garden this month and it will reap valuable rewards. Kerb appeal is not a myth – the display you create gives an initial impression that can make the difference between a viewing and a missed opportunity.

You can achieve instant impact with minimum effort. Here’s how:

• Prepare your flower beds as if you were cleaning and tidying your lounge. But instead of polishing and vacuuming simply cut back perennials – weed the borders and apply a 4cm cover of mulch. You can then forget about it for several weeks – unlike your lounge which will need attention within a few days.

• Purchase some bulbs that are already in flower and plant them in groups in the front garden. They will brighten up the appearance of your property and they can be replaced next month with summer bedding.

• If there’s a lawn, mow it on a dry day and remove clippings for maximum neatness. The smell of freshly-cut grass is even better than the pot of fresh coffee or baked bread that you might be using to sweeten the indoor scent.

• Most importantly of all, trim the edges of lawns and freshen them up using a half-moon edger. The difference is equivalent to spring cleaning a teenager’s bedroom.

• Check that hedges look neat – but beware of clipping now that the bird nesting season is upon us.

• Spring flowering shrubs attract more than just bees – they encourage prospective buyers too.

• Oil the front gate and front door, sweep the paths, clean the paintwork and give your woodwork some oil – it will probably be needing it after all the winter rain. If your front garden looks inviting it implies that the entire property has been nurtured too.

• Fill a few pots with bright flowers, but beware of using tender annuals while there is still a danger of frost. You can sow annual seeds under cover this month and should be able to sow directly into the garden in April and May.

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What do we like about this frontage – well, what is there not to like? The house in Knutsford looks well-maintained, fresh and clean. The organically-shaped lawn is bounded by low-maintenance planting that has a pleasing structure.

14.03.14 Kerb Appeal 1

The vertical forms of the conifers compliment the facade of timber on the property and the tall window.

None of the planting obscures any windows, thereby allowing maximum light into the house.

And low hedging gives a sense of enclosure and prevents passers-by and their dogs from entering the garden.

The entire appearance gives an impression that both the house and garden are well-tended.

14.03.14 Kerb Appeal 3Caroline Knight and Karin Hawkes are passionate about the beneficial impact that outdoor space can have on a property.

Their design and maintenance service, Kerb Appeal South East, is a missing link in the house sales process within Kent,Sussex and Surrey. They are on a mission to enable sellers to enhance their properties with the minimum of fuss and upheaval, thereby maximising the selling potential of any home.

March 18, 2014 at 8:00 AM Leave a comment

St Patrick’s Day 2014 celebrates surge in Ireland’s house prices

Six years after the property crash in Ireland and bricks and mortar are back in vogue.

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House prices dropped 50 per cent amid the financial crisis that saw Irish banks collapse and the country brought to its knees financially.

But there’s renewed demand, with the property market seeing a surge in activity not seen since the days of the boom.

Part of the revival follows unemployment falling to its lowest level since 2009. And as the jobs market stabilizes, those who have been sitting out the past few years in rental accommodation are now feeling more confidence about the property market.

Five properties in Northern Ireland: 

1.  Four bedroom detached house in Antrim for £750,000

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2. Three bedroom semi-detached house in County Down for £385,000

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3. Four bedroom detached house in Cloughmills (POA)

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 4. Two bedroom flat in County Antrium for £175,000

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5. Three bedroom detached house in Country Tyrone for £265,000

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March 17, 2014 at 8:00 AM Leave a comment

Emma and Matt Willis are McBusted as seen house hunting in north London

Television presenter Emma Willis and her McBusted husband Matt have been spotted house hunting in north London.

Emma Willis

The host of BBC talent show The Voice and Channel 5’s Celebrity Big Brother was seen with her family – including her four-year-old daughter Isabelle and two-year-old son Ace – and an estate agent holding a Statons brochure.

Emma, who also has a segment on This Morning, recently spoke about motherhood, saying: ‘It’s never easy. You think you’re ready but nothing prepares you. You’re knocked for six. No matter how much you want a baby, having one’s totally different.

Meanwhile, Matt recently declared that his party days are over, saying: “I was a party boy, I drank a lot and had a good time. I would drink all the time and after three days, I would forget the words to our songs.

“I don’t drink anymore so at least I will know the words to the songs and when to sing them.”

In 2005 Matt won I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here but later admitted himself to The Priory for alcohol abuse.

It was Emma who gave him an ultimatum – give up booze or he’ll lose her.

Matt added: ‘I don’t drink at all now, but it isn’t just the drinking that will change this new experience.

“When I was in Busted I was young and yes, I made the most of being a young man in a band when it came to women but I’m married now.

“I have a family now which changes you. My daughter Isabelle is four and will come to watch a lot. She already knows words to Busted’s songs so she is very excited.”

Matt revealed that the new seven-piece group are rehearsing after McFly and Busted teamed up to form a new boyband.

Busted split back in 2005 after Charlie Simpson decided to quit the band after three years together.

Properties for sale in north London:

Five bedroom terrace house in Whitehall Park for £1,600,000

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Four bedroom terrace house in Gibson Square for £2,300,000

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Five bedroom terrace house in Cromwell Avenue for £1,850,000

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March 14, 2014 at 2:48 PM Leave a comment

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