Help to Buy assists Scottish buyers

More than two hundred borrowers have bought a new home in Scotland using the Help to Buy equity loan scheme, according to new figures.

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The Help to Buy equity loan scheme launched in Scotland last year

The data was announced by the Scottish Government, which provides an interest-free loan of up to 20 per cent of the value of a property under the Scottish Help to Buy scheme.

Help to Buy was announced by the Chancellor last April and aims to help people buy homes with a deposit of as little as 5 per cent.

It was launched in Scotland in September, and since then has helped a total of 203 households to successfully get a mortgage and buy a new home.

The figures also found 1,205 applications were received by the New Year for the scheme.

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The Scottish ‘Help to Buy’ scheme is available on new build property from a participating home builder up to £400,000 in value.

Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “There is no doubt that getting onto, or moving up the property ladder has become tougher in recent years, which is why our Help to Buy (Scotland) scheme is crucial in helping more households take that step.

“Large deposits are often a major barrier to would-be homeowners and it is fantastic to see the first results of our Help to Buy scheme, which has already helped almost 200 households into home ownership since it launched in September.

“Help to Buy (Scotland) is not only helping people buy their first home, it also helps ‘second-steppers’ and others move to a new property and the popularity of the scheme is evident through the 1200 plus applications that have been received so far.”

January 20, 2014 at 11:54 AM Leave a comment

Top tips to prevent flooding

Home owners across the country will be seeking ways of preventing water damage to their homes following the spate of bad weather in recent weeks.

17.01.14 Floods 2

The lounge in this cottage in Cornwall has been tanked (waterproof coating applied to the inside of the porous walls)

Unfortunately, prevention may be too late for some, with the recent rains causing millions of pounds of damage to properties in Britain.

But if you have so far avoided any damage, you can take steps to help keep your property dry.

It is worth investing in protection equipment rather than have to pay for expensive repairs after the damage is done.

Here are our 10 top tips to prepare your property for heavy rain and flooding:

1. Clear the gutters to direct rainwater away from the perimeter of your property as they are your first defense against water seeping into your home. Consider installing ‘hedgehog gutter brushes’ to help keep your gutters clear in the future.

2. Contact your local builders’ merchants for bags and sand (not suitable if your property is flooding through the ground).

3. Check the pointing on your exterior walls and apply water-proofing sealant

4. Buy flood proof doors and windows, or purpose-built flood boards that can be fitted when flooding is expected.

5. Seal floors and introduce concrete flooring with a damp-proof membrane – although water can still enter where the floor and walls join.

6. Buy specially designed covers that are easy to fit over air bricks when flooding is expected.

7. Ensure the roof of your property is well maintained and any leaks are repaired.

8. Fit non-return values to drains and water inlet and outlet pipes to prevent wastewater from flowing back into your property through sewerage pipes for ground floor toilets and sinks.

9. Arrange for free-standing temporary flood barriers to be erected, although you may need permission from the Environment Agency.

10. Landscape garden areas and driveways to help divert water away from your property.

January 20, 2014 at 8:00 AM 1 comment

Top 10 Houseboats For Sale

With the weather this bad it’s looking like a great time to invest in a houseboat. Here is our pick of the top 10 houseboats for sale on Zoopla. Listed in no particular order as we’d like to hear what your no.1 is, so please tell us which is your favourite in the comments.

1. The mother of all houseboats – with over 2,500 sq.ft. of living space, including an on-board sauna and hot-tub you will hardly realise you’re even on a boat.
4 bed in Putney, £1,895,000 – Hamptons International

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2. This bespoke houseboat offers a unique home for any buyer.
2 bed in Kent, £80,000 – Ward & Partners

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3. A houseboat with the wow factor – check out the interior shots!
2 bed in Brentford, £420,000 – Martin & Co

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4. A floating Eco home…can you picture yourself rocking up to your front door in your jet boat?
2 bed in East Molesey, £249,950 – Waterview

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5. A converted Thames Lighter that was the subject of a major 10 week documentary series shown on The Discovery Channel. You will be amazed how spacious the interior is!
3 bed in Wandsworth, £1.85M – Riverhomes

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6. This affordable option for buying a 2 bed in King’s Cross is proving very popular.
2 bed in King’s Cross, £87,000 – Foxtons

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7. An actual ship which retains the feel of being on-board as it still has many of the original features.
4 bed in Bembridge, £379,950 – Hose Rhodes Dickson

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8. A beautiful canal location with a deceptively large interior and use of adjacent gardens – ideal!
3 bed in Chichester, £140,000 – Baileys

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9. We can definitely picture ourselves sitting on the top deck in the summer.
2 bed in Thames Ditton, £259,950 – Water Side Residential

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10. Not many properties come in under £20,000…could you make this your first home?
1 bed in Rochester, £19,950 – Premier Houseboats

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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 17, 2014 at 10:27 AM Leave a comment

Help to Buy interest-free loans to ‘run out within a year’

Interest-free loans made available to home buyers under the Government’s Help to Buy scheme will run out within the next 12 months, it has been predicted.

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The loans, made available under the first phase of the Help to Buy scheme, were launched by the Chancellor in the Budget last April.

The ‘equity loan’ part of Help to Buy was due to be available for three years, but mortgage broker John Charcol warned it is proving so popular that the Government’s funds allocated to the scheme would soon be all used up.

John Charcol’s Ray Boulger said: “There is no way the funds the Government initially allocated for this shared equity scheme will last the planned three years.

“In fact, I doubt they will last much beyond two years, which gives the Government a challenge in terms of its exit strategy.”

With the scheme proving so popular, there are fears that its sudden withdrawal could have a significant impact on the housing market.

Recent Government figures show 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 in November.

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.

Help to Buy is divided into two parts – equity loan and mortgage guarantees.

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.

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Funds the Government initially budgeted for the shared equity scheme will not, it’s predicted, last the planned three years.


The mortgage guarantee scheme offers lenders the option to purchase a Government guarantee on mortgages, where a borrower has a deposit of between 5 per cent and 20 per cent. It is meant to be available on both new build and existing homes.

However, borrowers looking to purchase a new build property using a mortgage guarantee are being blocked by some lenders.

Some 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.

Halifax does not offer 95 per cent loan to value on new builds, with NatWest also blocking such business that comes via mortgage brokers.

Barclays intends to enter the Help to Buy market and allegedly offers a three-year fixed deal with a rate of 5.35 per cent and a five-year fix at 5.49 per cent.

January 16, 2014 at 2:33 PM Leave a comment

UK property market confidence climbs to highest level in four years

Property prices will rise 7.2 per cent in the first half of this year, house owners predict.

House for sale: Homeowners get good news on property prices

It is more than double the 3.2 per cent forecast a year earlier, and the most upbeat prediction in four years, according to the latest Zoopla Housing Market Sentiment Survey.

The study of 7,796 UK home owners suggested 92 per cent of home owners expect house prices in their area to rise in the next six months, up from 65 per cent last year and the highest proportion on record.

Only 3 per cent of home owners predict house prices will fall in the first half of this year, down from 19 per cent at this time a year ago.

The survey also revealed an increase in those looking to buy a property in the next six months in the first half of 2014, up to 22 per cent from 19 per cent in September.

Londoners remain the most optimistic about the state of the property market, with 98 per cent expecting a further rise in property values in the capital during the first half of the year and predicting average price growth of 9.6 per cent during this period, above the national average of 7.2 per cent.

The most significant jump in confidence can be found in the North with Yorkshire and The Humber and the North West, where the proportion of owners who believe property prices will increase in the next six months rising from 84 per cent to 88 per cent in just three months.

At the other end of the spectrum, home owners in Wales are the least bullish on house prices currently, with only 85 per cent of home owners predicting a rise in property prices by June.

Properties for sale in Yorkshire:

1. Three bedroom terraced house for £169,950

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2. Six bedroom detached house for £699,999

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3. Three bedroom detached house for £425,000

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January 15, 2014 at 10:45 AM Leave a comment

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