House prices ‘to rise’ in next six months following introduction of Help to Buy

Average value of a home expected to rise as much as typical annual wage during the next six months, according to the latest Zoopla survey.


Almost nine out of 10 homeowners expect house prices to rise during the next six months by the same amount as the average wage.

It represents a record four year high, according to the latest Zoopla Housing Market Sentiment Survey.

It is the latest evidence of confidence in the housing market, with prices expected to rise by more than 5 per cent in the next six months. Based on an average house value in England of £250,000, it equates to £12,500.

house_pricesThe figures follow the introduction of the Government’s Help to Buy mortgage guarantee earlier this month, aimed at helping those with a small deposit to buy a home.

Lawrence Hall, of, said:

“While London remains the forerunner in homeowner optimism, confidence in the property market is surging across the whole UK.

Confidence is the bedrock for healthy property transactions but it can’t work in isolation. Fortunately, mortgage lending is on the rise, first-time buyers are returning to the market, and the second phase of the Help to Buy scheme should help boost confidence further across the country and not just in London. All of this bodes well for a healthier market and could lead to more and more transactions, which in turn will create a more sustainable market.”

The Government introduced the first phase of its Help to buy scheme in April this year. It helps those with a small deposit to buy a new build home by providing an loan that is interest free for five years.

The scheme is proving popular, with insurer NHBC announcing a 19 per cent increase in the number of new homes registered during the three months from July compared to a year earlier.

Richard Tamayo, NHBC commercial director, said:

“Our latest figures show a sustained broad-based recovery in the UK new housing market from an extremely low base. There is little doubt that Government schemes, such as the Help to Buy initiative, have significantly contributed to the growth seen throughout the course of this year.”

October 25, 2013 at 11:50 AM 2 comments

Mirrors, Mirrors on more than walls & Brits breaking them in the millions!

Mirrors can add a decorative touch to a home, but they can also bring bad luck if they fail to remain in one piece.

For sale: Six bedroom detached house for sale in Sunnydale, Orpington, for £3,750,000

If the saying is to believed, you’ll have seven years’ bad luck if you break a mirror.

It is unwelcome news for the one in four Britons who have broken an average of two mirrors in the last seven years.

It equates to a total of 12 million people, according to figures from Privilege Home Insurance.

It is perhaps unsurprising that so many are broken given the majority of homes have a mirror – many for decorative purposes, being in all shapes and sizes.

The belief that you’ll have seven years’ bad luck if you break a mirror is understood to come from the Romans, the first to create glass mirrors.

The thinking was that if the mirror was broken, then the person’s soul would be trapped inside.

Sarah Clements, manager of interior solutions at estate agent Hamptons International, said:

“We might be a superstitious nation, but mirrors can add a touch of class if they are used properly in a home.

“The correct use of mirrors can make a huge impact in a home and can be an easy and instant way to make a room feel more light and spacious.

“Decorative mirrors can demote a keen sense of style and when selling a property can be used very effectively in place of art. Art is considered very subjective and can alienate buyers, whereas a statement or decorative mirror can be far less offensive.

24.10.13 Mirrors 2

For sale: Six bedroom detached house for sale in Victoria Park Road, London, for £4,000,000

October 24, 2013 at 3:50 PM Leave a comment

Common myths about Help to Buy dispelled

The launch of the latest phase of the Government’s Help to Buy scheme has generated a huge amount of interest from buyers. But an understanding of exactly how the scheme works remains sketchy, with borrowers wanting to know if they meet the criteria to apply.

Here, Zoopla answers some of the main questions home buyers are asking.

Further detail is also available on Zoopla’s Help to Buy page and please feel free to join us for a live webchat this Friday 10/25/2013 2:00pm – 3:00pm via

Help to Buy

Q: Is the scheme only for first-time buyers?

A: No, the mortgage guarantee scheme applies to first time buyers as well as those who have an existing home and are looking to move. However, the property must be your residential home and cannot be a buy-to-let property.

Q: I hear the mortgage guarantees are not being introduced until January 2014, can I move before then?

A: Yes, you can. The mortgage guarantees are not being introduced until January 2014, but it means lenders are now offering cheaper home loans as it is impossible to default on a mortgage before the end of the year.

Q: Can I only buy a new build property with the scheme?

A: No, the mortgage guarantees apply to both new build and existing properties up to the value of £600,000. The first phase of the Help to Buy scheme – known as equity loan – is for new build homes only.

Question mark in shape of houseQ: Can I buy a property regardless of my salary?

A: Essentially, a Help to Buy home loan with a mortgage guarantee is the same as a ‘normal’ mortgage, so the same terms and conditions apply between you and the lender. In most cases, lenders lend three or four times your annual salary.

Q: Am I restricted on the number of bedrooms?

A: No, there is no restriction on the number of rooms. However, there is a restriction on the value of the property, which is up to £600,000 under the mortgage guarantee scheme.

Q: Does the scheme apply to anyone living in the UK?

A: Yes, the mortgage guarantee is available to all UK citizens. It is in contrast to the equity loan phase of the scheme, which is available in England and is for new build homes costing up to £600,000. Scotland has its own equity loan scheme for properties up to £400,000, while Wales is expected to announce a version soon.

Q: Will different lenders offer separate Help to Buy mortgage rates under the scheme?

A: Yes, different lenders set their own terms and rates – although the Government-backed guarantee means the rates should be lower than they would have otherwise been for those buyers with a smaller deposit.

Q: Are the mortgage guarantees just an extension of the equity loan scheme scheme announced earlier this year?

A: No, the mortgage guarantee is a Government-backed guarantee only. There is no equity loan, as with the first phase of Help to Buy launched earlier this year.

Q: Which phase of the scheme is best for me?

A: One of the key differences between the two schemes is that buyers purchase 100 per cent of a property with the mortgage guarantee, whereas they purchase only 80 per cent under the equity loan scheme (where the Government provides an equity loan to cover the remaining 20 per cent). In addition, the equity loan scheme is only available on new build properties.

Got more questions? Join us for a live webchat this Friday 10/25/2013 2:00pm – 3:00pm via

The Help to Buy schemes are subject to terms and conditions. Please check eligibility criteria with your mortgage advisor or IFA.

October 22, 2013 at 2:44 PM 25 comments

Tips for staging your living room writes Sam Ashdown (Top ten)

If your cluttered living room is turning off buyers, a few subtle – and inexpensive – changes can make a huge difference, writes home staging expert Sam Ashdown.

21.10.13 Living room

A gentleman called me recently, having struggled to sell his house for several months. I took a look at his property advert online and saw a house full of mismatched furniture and cluttered rooms. “Have you considered using a home stager?” I asked.

He hadn’t heard of the concept. In fairness, while it’s something that Americans do to sell their properties, it’s not an idea we have embraced in this country yet – although sellers who are struggling often find that it can make a huge difference to the interest they get from buyers.

So let’s look at your living room and how best to present it for sale. Here’s how to wow your buyers:

1. Your suite

I often visit homes that are on the market with old, sagging sofas that haven’t been in fashion since the 1980s. When a homeowner tells me they plan to replace their suite when they move, I urge them to do it now instead, to help the house become more saleable. An old sofa equals dated house – or that’s what a buyer will think.  A new modern sofa will really add a stylish look to your living room and prove a worthwhile investment for you

2. Your carpeting

How is your carpet looking? Is it heavily patterned, darkly coloured, or both? Would a professional clean refresh it, or does it really need replacing? A dirty, worn and dated carpet will give the impression that the house hasn’t been looked after, so if you want to portray a well-presented home, it may be worth investing a few hundred pounds in a new, neutral carpet.

3. Your walls

You don’t need to paint everything magnolia, but you do need to present a buyer with a décor that they will like, as much as you. While you haven’t got mind-reading powers, few people will be put off by neutral, modern colour schemes. If you have a feature wall in say, vibrant purple, you are risking alienating anyone that doesn’t like purple, so play it safe and go for neutral shades.

4. Your lighting

This can really make or break the impact of your living room.  Downlighters and table lamps can create a cosy atmosphere, while uplighting can add a splash of drama. If you have overhead lighting, it’s usually best to leave that off and create a real feeling of homeliness with your additional lighting choices.

5. Your cushions

If you can’t justify a new sofa, perhaps new cushions will help to refresh the look of your living room. A recent client of mine bought a really inexpensive cream Ikea sofa, then added some lovely colourful cushions in rich fabrics, to add a real feeling of luxury without a big spend.

6. Your accessories

Have a look around your living room at your ornaments and other accessories. Are any of them new and stylish? Or do you have little collections of old-fashioned ornaments you’ve gathered over many years? If they have sentimental value, why not parcel them all up now ready for your forthcoming move? That way you can clear the space for some pieces that are in keeping with current home style and perhaps that match your new colourful cushions.

7. Your art and pictures

If your walls and surfaces are covered in personal family portraits, it’s time to take them down, and box them up for your move. Generally speaking, it’s best if art is neutral and not distracting, like the kind of bland style you see in hotels. Mirrors and large pictures in a style that will match your living room will lift your presentation and add a feeling of coordination and harmony.

8. Your TV

These days, many living rooms are dominated by a large black box – aka your TV. Unless you have one of those high-tech mirrors that magically transforms into a TV at the touch of a button, you need to consider how you are going to diminish its impact in the best way that you can. Try rearranging the furniture around the fireplace or other feature, rather than grouping it around your TV. You may not be able to live with the furniture in that position, but it’s worth placing it especially for your photography and viewings.

9. Your ambience

How does your living room feel?  Does it have a nice sense of calm and tranquility that makes it feel like somewhere you want to be after a busy day at work? Consider the way it smells, and sounds, as well as the way it looks. Lightly scented candles and some background music can really enhance the feeling of your living room and provide a restful space so that your viewers can relax.

10. Your finishing touches

Before you have your photographs taken, or book a viewing, take a last look at your living room with a critical eye. Take away anything that doesn’t improve the look of the room, like wastepaper bins or piles of magazines, and add a vase of flowers and a beautiful coffee table book…your room is ready.

Sam Ashdown byline pic

Home staging expert Sam Ashdown

Home staging really doesn’t have to cost much, but it can pay dividends. For more house selling advice, check out my Selling Secrets at or my blog at

October 22, 2013 at 10:00 AM 1 comment

How to sell your home by keeping your agent on side

Money and respect will go a long way when it comes to getting the best out of your agent, suggests Jessie Hewitson

You want to sell your home, and you want your estate agent to do the best job possible for you. Here are some tips on how to get the best out of your estate agent and maximum cash in your bank.

Agent holding clipboard

  1. Pay your agent a good fee. With a market that is massively low on stock, estate agents are currently prepared to negotiate on their fee to win business. But be careful you don’t hammer down the commission so low that the agent is demotivated, warns Christopher Jones, head of business development at central London agency Fraser & Co. “It is normal to negotiate on the fee, but it does not necessarily mean that the agent offering the lowest fee will do the best job for you” he says. “To get the best out of your agent you need them to be adequately motivated to get you the best offer on your property and to do everything they can to push your sale through.”

  2. Be polite to your agent and listen to their valuation advice. If you go with a regulated, professional agency it makes sense to trust them and build a good working relationship. The stereotype that all agents are untrustworthy chancers is, like most stereotypes, a bit true but often not. Agents, like any of us, are likely to work harder for the people who treat them with respect.

  3. Be available for viewings. “A surprising number of people are inflexible or miss viewings,” says Richard Patterson, director of My Online Estate Agent. This means a potential buyer with a good deposit is looking at someone else’s property.

  4. If you want a quick sale, offer a higher commission if the agent achieves asking price, or close to asking price, within four weeks of the property going on the market. Another way to motivate your agent suggests Alexander Gosling, director of online estate agency,  is by offering the chance to sell your home as a sole agent for a the first few weeks, “before allowing other agents to take on the property.  This way, they know they have a set period of time to maximise the chance of securing the commission, and they will be keen to have a buyer secured before the exclusivity period comes to an end.”

October 21, 2013 at 11:00 AM Leave a comment

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