HOMEOWNERS PUT OFF MOVING DUE TO STRESS

home comfort white dog

If you find yourself recoiling at the prospect of selling up and finding a new property, you’re not alone. Quite apart from Brexit uncertainty and the housing market slowdown, it seems that many homeowners are putting off moving because it’s simply too stressful. Concerns about moving to a new location, having noisy neighbours and high estate agency fees, among others, explain why 60% of homeowners in a recent study1 are reluctant to start looking.

Some respondents even said that moving home was more stressful than getting divorced (34%), having a baby (31%) or starting a new job (27%). It could be worth the pain, however; 62% of those surveyed said they believed that moving could make them happier. Taking action to minimise your stress, then, rather than avoiding it altogether, could make for a smoother transition and a brighter future.

FEAR OF THE UNKNOWN

Not knowing much about the location you are moving to is likely to increase your anxiety, so the best thing you can do is conduct some research. Find out about the schools, healthcare and amenities available in the area, talk to current residents, and see what noise and traffic levels are like at different points in the day/week. Arming yourself with more knowledge should help to alleviate your fears and improve your outlook.

FRETTING OVER THE FINANCES

For many, the prospect of finding a new mortgage is their biggest worry when considering a move. Seeking our advice as early as possible will give you more time to explore the available options and decide what’s best for you, whether this be transferring your existing mortgage, increasing the size of your loan or finding a new provider.

Remember, change can be positive – so if you’re thinking about moving, now could be the time.

1Yopa, 2019

As a mortgage is secured against your home or property, it could be repossessed if you do not keep up mortgage repayments.

RESIDENTIAL PROPERTY REVIEW – October 2019

Our monthly residential market review is intended to provide background to recent developments in property markets, as well as to give an indication of how some key issues could impact in the future.

Continuing uncertainty in residential property market

The latest Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) UK Residential Market Survey, has reported a decline in home listings coming onto the housing market, with the net balance for new instructions slipping to its weakest point for more than three years at -37%.

This follows the more stable trend seen over the last three months, as ongoing political and economic uncertainty continues to dissuade vendors. As a result, estate agents’ books remain at near record low levels.

The near-term outlook suggests that sales will remain subdued over the next three months and price expectations will see a modest decline UK-wide over this period. However, sales volumes are expected to stabilise over 12 months and more respondents to the survey expect prices to rise, rather than fall over the coming year.

A mixed picture continues to be seen across the UK, with price gains in Scotland, the North West and Northern Ireland, whereas London and the South East retains negative momentum.

UK’s best new building

In the centenary year of the introduction of mass council housing, the RIBA Stirling prize for the best new building in the UK has been awarded to Goldsmith Street in Norwich. This is the first time in the 23-year history of the prize that the award has been won by social housing.

The project has been built by Norwich City Council and comprises 100 terraced homes which are rented out on secured tenancies at fixed social rents. Goldsmith Street offers highly energy-efficient homes using a passive solar scheme where annual energy costs are expected to be 70% cheaper than that of the average household.

Chair of the 2019 RIBA Stirling Prize judges, Julia Barfield said: “This is proper social housing, over ten years in the making, delivered by an ambitious and thoughtful council. These desirable, spacious, low-energy properties should be the norm for all council housing.

Shock interest rate hike on Treasury loans

Councils have reacted with frustration after an unexpected rise in interest rates from 1.81% to 2.82% on new borrowing from the Treasury’s Public Works Loan Board (PWLB). There are fears the rate hike, announced on 9 October, could delay or put a halt to regeneration plans and housebuilding schemes.

PWLB loans totalled nearly £8bn in 2018-19, which represents a 77% year-on-year rise in new borrowing. Many councils used the low-interest loans to invest in regeneration and housing projects and there are fears that housebuilding schemes will cease to be affordable and may have to be cancelled as a result.

Sharon Taylor, District Councils Network spokesperson and leader of Stevenage Borough Council commented: “It is extremely disappointing that the government is to increase Public Works Loan Board rates, at a time when councils’ finances are already under huge pressures. It’s another big blow for local government finance. The need nationally is for good quality, affordable housing. My view is only councils can deliver that. Why would you want to slow that down in the middle of a housing crisis?

House Price Headline Stats – October 2019
House Price Change by Region – October 2019
Average Monthly Price by Property Type – Ocober 2019
Mortgage Activity – October 2019

ARE YOU A LEASEHOLDER LOOKING TO BUY YOUR FREEHOLD? HELP IS ON THE HORIZON

The Law Commission has proposed a raft of new proposals which could make it easier for leaseholders to buy their freeholds. These will be welcomed by homeowners who have been told they must pay exorbitant amounts of money to buy their freehold.

There are an estimated 4.2m leasehold residential properties (one-third houses and two-third flats) in England, and around half of these are on leases with less than 80 years remaining. Ground rents average £370 per year.

One of the proposals that the Commission has put forward is to introduce a simple formula that would mean that eligible leaseholders would pay just ten times their current ground rent, or 10% of the value of the property, to convert their property from leasehold to freehold. It also recommends replacing the current right to purchase a one-off 50-year lease extension with the right to purchase an unlimited longer lease extension without a ground rent.

It also proposes removing the current requirement that leaseholders must own the lease on their property for a minimum of two years before they can buy their freehold.

The final recommendations will be published next year.

Residential Property Review

August 2019

A new era of renting – Build to Rent

A relatively new category in the rental market, Build to Rent, saw total investment of £2.6bn in 2018, an 11% increase from 2017 and it looks likely that this sector will continue to grow quickly.

Whilst home ownership remains an aspiration for many, figures show the private rented sector remains strong, growing from 3.7 million in 2009 to 5.4 million today, with many home-hunters choosing to rent long-term, often due to affordability and flexibility.

In contrast to many private landlords, Build to Rent providers often manage the whole building and seek to offer high levels of service and property management, as well as aiming to build a community.

The attractions of Build to Rent properties may include flexible tenancies with no fees or deposit, a monthly charge which includes all bills, facilities such as spas and gyms, on-site maintenance and community spaces.

Buyers’ market likely in second half of 2019

Recent research from Rightmove indicates that buyers may be able to obtain good deals in the remainder of 2019, with lower prices combined with high stock levels.

The research also shows that market fundamentals such as low interest rates and record employment levels remain strong. Additionally, mortgage availability remains good, as indicated by figures from UK Finance, showing the number of mortgage approvals from the main high-street lenders in May was up by 9.1% year-on-year.

Miles Shipside, Rightmove’s property expert said: “Those who have postponed their purchase should note that estate agency branches have more sellers on their books than at any time for the last four years, so there should be more choice of properties to buy. It could be a good opportunity to negotiate a relative bargain in the second half of the year, if they can set aside the continuing Brexit distractions.

He added: “With activity and prices often weaker in the second half of the year, it will be those sellers who are bold enough to price aggressively who will attract buyers with the confidence to act rather than hesitate. It would appear to be sellers in the upper end of the market who need to be boldest on pricing, as data shows that the middle and lower sectors are holding up better.

Brexit-related uncertainty remains in residential market

In its August Inflation Report, the Bank of England has reported that the housing market remains weak, but there are some signs of stabilisation.

The latest NMG survey, which is a biannual household survey commissioned by the Bank and covers over 6,000 households, revealed an expectation that house prices will decline a little over the next 12 months. The survey also revealed that around 20% of households who expect to move home in the next two years, reported having delayed their move due to Brexit-related uncertainty.

Nick Leeming, Chairman of Jackson-Stops said “The data makes it clear that continued uncertainty as we creep ever closer to leaving the EU without a deal has caused hesitancy in some areas of the property markets. Yet, once a firm decision has been made on when the UK will leave the EU and people decide to get on with their lives, we should expect to see a modest uplift in property prices in the new year.”

IS A 40-YEAR MORTGAGE A LIFELINE OR A LIFE SENTENCE?

Most people who choose a 40-year mortgage do so because they want a low monthly repayment. If you were to take a typical 25-year mortgage, your repayment would be higher. By stretching out the loan, monthly payments decrease.

WHAT YOU NEED TO CONSIDER

While lower monthly payments may be attractive and can represent your best chance of getting onto the housing ladder, there are downsides you should be aware of. Taking out a 40-year mortgage means you’ll pay more in interest, and you’ll find that you build equity, the amount of the property that you in effect own, more slowly.

Even if you don’t actually keep a 40-year mortgage for 40 years, the loan is designed with a 40-year timeframe in mind, so you could find that the interest rate is higher than it would be for a more traditional mortgage term. The chances are you’ll be making repayments in your retirement years, so that’s something you’ll need to consider. It makes sense to check that you can make overpayments if you can afford them and consider swapping to a shorter-term loan when your circumstances allow.

A mortgage is a loan secured against your home or property. Your home or property may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage or any other debt secured on it.

IN THE NEWS…

FIVE-YEAR FIX GROWS IN POPULARITY

According to mortgage lenders and brokers, five-year fixed rate mortgage deals are now outselling two-year options. With some UK homeowners concerned about the outlook for the economy, more are choosing to lock into lower interest rates, especially as the difference between interest rates charged on five and two-year deals has narrowed in the past two years.

EQUITY RELEASE BREAKS RECORDS IN Q1

Equity Release Council4 figures show that the market has experienced its busiest start to any year on record. Q1 2019 saw £936m of property wealth unlocked by 20,397 customers, including 10,854 who took out new plans. Client numbers in Q1 2019 increased 10% year on year, while the total equity released increased by 8% and the number of new plans agreed rose by 6%.

IMPROVING MORTGAGE AFFORDABILITY

In some parts of the country, mortgage affordability has been rising at its fastest rate since 2011, helped by annual wage growth at 3.4%, and subdued house price growth. This is particularly good news for first-time buyers, as many mortgage rates remain competitive.

4ERC, Apr 2019

A mortgage is a loan secured against your home or property. Your home or property may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage or any other debt secured on it.

SHOULD YOU REMORTGAGE?

Whilst everyone’s circumstances are different, remortgaging could make sense if you can get a better deal than the one you are currently on. You may, for instance, be able to find a deal that will mean you pay less interest, or one that gives you more flexibility, for example the facility to make overpayments so that you repay your mortgage quicker.

Given the hundreds of different mortgages available, getting professional advice will not only help you get the best deal for your circumstances, it will save you time and stress too. Get in touch.

Retirement Matters

Homeowners approaching retirement face a number of challenges when considering their future and need to make their money work hard for them.

STAMP DUTY

The Adam Smith Institute believes that Stamp Duty Land Tax should be scrapped. Amongst their reasons is the view that the prospect of paying stamp duty on a smaller home acts as a disincentive to older people wishing to downsize. For example, stamp duty adds another £2,500 to the cost of buying a retirement property priced at £250,000; that is in addition to solicitor’s fees, surveys, valuations and removal costs. (Figures differ under Land and Buildings Transaction Tax in Scotland and Land Transaction Tax in Wales.)

RELEASING EQUITY

Those looking to raise cash to bolster retirement income are increasingly turning to equity release. It represents a way of accessing some of the value tied up in a property while avoiding the costs and upheaval of downsizing. Although there are set-up fees, most costs are delayed until you die or go into permanent residential care.

It’s important to remember that in most cases, equity release means that the loan you take out against the equity tied up in your property will increase over time as interest is rolled up. When you die, the property will be sold and the loan repaid. Although interest rates on equity release plans are higher than on a conventional mortgage, lower interest rates over the last few years have made equity release more attractive to many.

Remember to discuss equity release with your family as it will impact on the amount that they are likely to inherit.

INTEREST-ONLY MORTGAGES

Equity release is increasingly coming to the aid of those approaching retirement with an interest-only mortgage without the funds to pay back the capital on maturity and their retirement income insufficient to cover ongoing interest costs. Whilst they may not have paid off any capital, they may have built up equity, offering them a lifeline allowing them to stay in their home.

A mortgage is a loan secured against your home or property. Your home or property may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage or any other debt secured on it.

Equity release may require a lifetime mortgage or home reversion plan. To understand the features and risks, ask for a personalised illustration.

THINGS TO CHECK WHEN BUYING A NEW HOME

 

 

Basic Sanity Checks

It’s long been said that people buy a home with their hearts rather than their heads. It’s not unusual for people to fall in love with a property when they’ve spent no more than 20 minutes looking round it.

However, it always pays to take a long cool look at a property and apply some basic sanity checks. Here are a few things you might want to think about, and some you may want to get a surveyor to check out, before you commit to buying it.

THINGS TO THINK ABOUT

  • What’s the area like?

  • Can you walk to shops or do you need to drive?

  • What local transport links are there?

  • If you need to travel to work, a good service can make all the difference.

  • Is parking adequate, is the road likely to be very noisy at certain times of the day?

  • Which way does the property face? It can make the difference between having a home that’s light and bright, or one that in the winter can be frustratingly dark.

  • Are the rooms big enough? Developers can often put small furniture in show homes to make the rooms look bigger.

  • Think about storage space, and important things like the number and location of power sockets, are they sufficient for your needs?

GETTING A SURVEY DONE

A surveyor can report on important things that can be costly to put right, including structural problems, the state of the roof, signs of damp, condensation, and the quality of the window frames. You might also want to arrange to have the central heating system, pipework and radiators checked over, to ensure you don’t move in and find that you can’t heat the house and don’t have any hot water.

 

MORTGAGES – EVEN SMALL OVERPAYMENTS HAVE AN IMPACT

Mortgage overpayments can help you pay off your mortgage sooner and can significantly reduce the amount of interest you pay over the course of your loan. The amount you overpay goes towards repaying the mortgage itself, not on any interest you owe.

Research from Santander1 shows that if a borrower took out a £200,000 mortgage over a 25-year term, they could save £1,146 in interest (based on current rates) by making a monthly £10 overpayment, and they’d become mortgage-free four months earlier.

Those who can afford to make a £100 overpayment each month on a £200,000 mortgage could save £9,948 in interest and reduce their mortgage term by three years in the process. Those with a £500,000 mortgage making the same £100 overpayment could save over £10,000 in interest and become mortgage-free one year and five months earlier. A combination of paying off capital and the consequent reduction in interest, result in the time saving.

SAVINGS MATTER TOO

Whilst paying less interest and being mortgage free earlier can be attractive, it’s important not to overlook the need to keep some emergency savings set aside for unexpected bills and expenses.

1Santander, 2018