Our Latest News
Are you looking for a home, but are not convinced about purchasing an older property? Buying a new build or off-plan property may be the right choice for you. New build homes, or properties that have been built recently, have been gaining popularity over the past few years for the ease of lifestyle they provide.
Off-plan homes, or properties that you purchase from an architect’s plan and are then built, have also seen an increase in popularity because of the ease in making the property your own. Our agents break down the considerations that should be taken into account when purchasing a new build or off-plan property. Read on for the best tips to find your dream home.
Our agents comment on the some of the best aspects of buying a new build or off-plan property, citing things from choosing your own fixtures to knowing the property has been built to the most modern standards.
1. It’s easy to start living your life
“We live busy lives these days and don’t necessarily have the time or inclination to spend weekends redecorating or refurbishing a second-hand home. New builds are like new cars, you decide on the specification, what colour you want, the engine, optional extras, then wait for the delivery day. You can even have a test drive equivalent by visiting the show home.” Simon Powley, Rickman Properties.
2. You can add your own personal touches
“When buying off-plan, purchasers are usually offered a choice of finishes included within the price as well as a range of chargeable upgrades. This essentially enables them to personalise and customise the property to their own specific tastes and requirements.” Steve Thompson, Thomas Morris.
3. You’ll pay a lower fee
“You can very often pay slightly less for a property if you are buying off-plan, sometimes developers will increase the price once the home is completed, but offer a discount for an off-plan home which gives them guaranteed revenue.” - Marc Blackmore, Simmons & Sons.
4. 10-year guarantee
“One of the big attractions of buying a new-build home is the peace of mind that comes with the warranty associated with the purchase. Most new-build homes have a 10-year warranty for building properties." Gina Burbidge, Royston-Lund.
5. You can secure the price before the home is built
“One of the greatest advantages to buying off-plan is knowing that the price can be set up to two years in advance of completion, giving the possibility of capital increase.” - Margaret Towey, Lumley Estates Ltd.
With all the advantages of new build homes, there are certainly things you should be aware of before you sign on the dotted line.
1. Homes can be hard to visualise
“Garden and home sizes on plans can be difficult to judge, and buyers may be disappointed if they are smaller than anticipated or the sun isn’t quite in the position hoped for.” - Andy Goundry, Goundry’s.
2. The timescale is uncertain
“In my opinion, the biggest disadvantage with buying off-plan is getting the timing right. If you are in a chain you have to rely on either your purchaser being patient and prepared to wait for the house to be finished, or you need to go into temporary accommodation. Bear in in mind most larger housebuilders will not give you a fixed completion date, so you will be working to 10 working days’ notice or less.” - Marc Blackmore, Simmons & Sons.
3. There could be extra fees
“Be careful before you sign on the dotted line. Some new-build and off-plan companies don’t include the price of flooring, which could affect your mortgage when the home requires more than £5,000 of additions.” - Margaret Towey, Lumley Estates Ltd.
4. Your new home might not look like the show home
“Be sure you study the floorplan, and check that the measurements and layout work for you. Always check the show home, and ensure you are happy with the quality of the finish. Remember the show home may not necessarily be the same size, style and layout as the plot you are considering.” – Vicki Field, Cooke & Co.
5. You’ll have to exchange quickly, but wait for your home
“One of the main pitfalls of buying a new build property is that you’re required to exchange contracts very quickly and part with your deposit, but still wait for the property to be completed.” - Jonathan Keegan, Bryan and Keegan.
Convinced that a new build or off-plan home is right for you? Here Guild members guide you through the process and make it as easy as possible. These tips will help you navigate this process with ease.
1. Sums up front
“Generally, you should be wary of paying sums up-front, it is normal for developers to request a reservation fee (typically £1,000) and you will be asked for a 10% deposit on exchange. If you are asked for any further payments before completion, check the situation very carefully with your solicitor to make sure you are protected. Do not allow legal completion and make full payment until you have inspected the house yourself and are sure it is finished to the standard and specification agreed.” - Martin Moore, Morris Marshall & Poole, Powys.
2. Ask about future building plans
“Be especially aware of hammer heads and dead-end roads, you might think the plot has a nice view, but it’s almost certain that the nice view will turn into another development or become a shopping complex.” - Jayne and Nick Tart, Nick Tart.
3. Research your builders and developers
“If you’re thinking of buying off-plan, do your research on the development, builders, and the surrounding areas. Make sure the builder is reputable and visit other completed sites if possible. Look into whether there are any other potential developments or building works in the surrounding area.” – Gina Burbidge, Royston Lund.
4. Ask questions about the property and negotiate
“It’s always worth asking the questions about finishes, as it is a really good way to negotiate the home you want. Most developers are always happy to talk about a deal.” – Will Smith, Complete Property.
5. Make sure you sort out your mortgage before looking at new build or off-plan property
“Uncertain timescales can create problems with mortgages, so this should be looked at very carefully with an expert advisor. Though there are exceptions, mortgage offers generally have a lifetime of between three and six months, and must be in place before contracts can be exchanged. If the time between the exchange of contracts and eventual completion of the build and the purchase is longer than the lifetime of the mortgage offer, then a buyer could find themselves without the funds to complete the purchase and effectively in breach of contract.” – Steve Thompson, Thomas Morris.
Being involved in the community can bring a sense of belonging, fill your social calendar, and make it easy to find friends. When moving to a new house, it’s important to consider what the community spirit will be like in the new town, village, or borough. How can you find out about the community before you move there? Guild agents share their top tips.
Check social media
“We have recently opened a new office in Ingleby Barwick, Stockton on Tees where community spirit is certainly alive and well,” says John Newhouse, Managing Director at Roseberry Newhouse.
“We have interacted with the community through social media where the page ‘Ingleby Barwick Noticeboard’ on Facebook is widely used on a daily basis for people to share events, tradesman’s recommendations, sales and community events.”
In John’s experience, community spirit is alive and well in his area.
“We recently sponsored and attended the Ingleby Barwick Community Event which was well supported by a variety of stalls and activities and brought the community together. My advice to buyers looking to integrate into a community would be to search Facebook for the town or village and see what community pages are available to join.”
Mike Coles at Debbie Fortune Estate Agents agrees that social media is a great way to keep up-to-date with local events. “We keep in touch with the local community by following local organisations on Twitter and Facebook. We promote them within our networks by placing links to their events on both our website and by retweeting them on our page.”
Steve Thompson from Thomas Morris says: “Facebook and Twitter are fantastic sources of information about a community. Search the name of the village, town or area and you will find numerous community groups operating locally.
“Checking the group’s feed and events to see how active and how well supported the group is, what events are happening and how you can get involved. All of this information will help provide a feel for the community spirit in the area.”
Look for a local magazine
The existence of a local magazine run by local people is a sign that there is a lot going on in the area, that people are so proud of where they live, and that they want to shout about it.
“In our area, there is a brilliant online magazine and news page which keeps our community up-to-date with any upcoming events,” says Gina Burbidge from Royston Lund. “If you are looking to buy in an area with good community spirit, our recommendation would be to look for a local online magazine stating information and events within the community.
“West Bridgford is a perfect example of great community spirit. We are a small town, three miles away from Nottingham City Centre. There is a huge amount to offer including both primary and secondary schooling and a great variety of shops, restaurants and cafés.”
Check the local newspaper
“These are great sources of community information, as newspapers include adverts for upcoming events and stories on recent events,” says Steve Thompson from Thomas Morris. “Papers and magazines can often be obtained at local shops, community centres or the local library.”
Go to libraries and community centres
“Visiting local community centres, council offices, sports clubs, church halls, cafés, and local shops will help provide a sense of the community,” says Steve Thompson from Thomas Morris. “Many of these will have notice boards giving information on local community groups and events. They may have staff who know the area, and even live in it, who will often be happy to provide information.”
This is a great way to find out about the area before making an offer on a property. It’s even something to do after going to a viewing.
“Here in Buckingham, The Old Gaol, community centre, and the library all offer information on what is on and when. There is also a weekly community lunch on a ‘free to all’ basis, knit and natter, children’s activities and online courses are available at Buckingham Library,” says Chris Barrell from Apple Homes.
Josh Smith from Jan Forster Estates said: “It is worth popping into local libraries or community centres. These will often have notice boards outlining any upcoming events in the area. If you have time, it's a good idea to try to go to one of the events before moving. This will give you an idea of how the community interacts and will provide an opportunity to get to know your potential new neighbours.”
Talk to people who live nearby
It may sound obvious, but it’s important to get out in the area and talk to the locals. If they are happy to stop and help a stranger, it’s a sign that the community is open, friendly and trusting.
“When you visit the area, meet the people. Whether you are visiting an area for viewings, or simply to get to know it, take the time to speak to the locals. Ultimately, they are the people that make up the local community and could be your neighbours one day,” says Steve Thompson from Thomas Morris.
Fancy a stroll? “Local parks are a must,” advises Josh Smith from Jan Forster Estates. “Wandering around a park, you are likely to bump into a wide range of local people. From dog walkers to joggers to mums with prams, this is a great place to feel out the community spirit of an area.”
Get in touch with your local estate agent
Debbie Fortune Estate Agents are sure to keep their customers up-to-date with local goings on. “We keep buyers in touch with what’s going on by sending out a newsletter to them via email, complete with a diary of events that we will be attending to do fundraising for the local community,” said Mike.
Chris Barrell from Apple Homes suggests asking questions of your local agent when looking at properties to buy.
“Once you have finished your viewings, or maybe even before you have booked a viewing, call into our office and speak to me or one of the team. As an independent estate agent, we have all lived and worked in the area for a good number of years. We love our town and all that it has to offer, we know the area well and we love being involved with our local community”.
Josh Smith from Jan Forster Estates agrees. “As a starting point, we would always recommend speaking to your local Guild agent. We are all local people who know and love our areas, so we will be able to guide you throughout the buying process.”
Choosing the right estate agent to sell your home can be difficult. You need to trust your agent, and choose a company with knowledge and integrity, who can get the best result for you.
The Guild is a network of the best 800 independent estate agents around the country. Find out why you should choose them to sell your home.
If you’re interested in renting a property, you’re not alone. More people than ever have chosen to rent homes or flats rather than buy them. Over the past few years, the letting market has been changing constantly. In a changing market, staying ahead of the trends is the secret to success. Our agents weigh in on the trends they’ve seen in the rental market over the past few months.
1. Well-presented properties are letting faster than budget options
If you’re a landlord, it may be time to consider updating your rental property. According to Sawyer & Co. Lettings Negotiator Kerry-Anne Holland, “the rental prices in properties in Brighton and Hove have dropped slightly this year. However, quality well-presented properties tend to be let a lot quicker than something than is cheaper and less desirable (i.e. dated properties).” While an update will require a financial investment at the outset, letting property that is highly desirable means that you’ll have more potential tenants, and could potentially raise the letting price.
2. Smaller properties are more popular
Smaller properties for single-occupants are becoming very popular, and for good reason. A one-bedroom or studio means fewer tenants, making rental agreements easier for landlords and tenants alike. Phillip Jackson, the Director of Maguire Jackson in Birmingham, has noticed this trend, saying that “recently, there has been an increase in demand for smaller properties, like one beds and studios.” Kerry-Anne of Sawyer & Co. agrees, noting that “one-bedroom flats in the city always tend to be let very quickly, more so than the two bed or studio properties.”
3. More tenants are renting properties while they search for homes to buy
This year, more tenants are looking for places to rent while they search for a home to buy. Many people look for contracts with six-month breaks, but find permanent homes sooner. Nick Goodwin of estate agency John Goodwin weighs in, saying “this year, we’ve had experiences with people wanting to ‘buy’ themselves out of a tenancy agreement. When they sign up for a tenancy, it is explained this is a six-month fixed term let. However, when they find a property to purchase they no longer require the property and so want to get out as quickly as possible. Same when people fall out during the fixed term, they no longer want to stay. Some find they don’t like the accommodation as much as they thought, so we sometimes find that six-month tenancies turn into just a few months.”
How do you find an up-and-coming hot spot? Maybe it is an electrification of a train line, good schools or perhaps it is just a natural expansion of a town, city or village.
In reality, it is probably a combination of all these factors. We asked Guild Members to identify hot spots to watch across the UK. Here you will find everything from St Neots to St Albans.
“Wellingborough and the surrounding countryside may seem an unusual place to nominate as an “up- and-coming area” but it has a number of impressive features.
“The main factor is its exceptional commute to property price ratio. Wellingborough station to St Pancras International is a 50 minute journey with an excellent service. Prices in Wellingborough and the locality are low compared to all the surrounding areas, particularly Bedford which is only 15 minutes closer by rail, where prices are probably double ours. Last autumn Lloyds Bank put Wellingborough as the number one location for the best commute to property prices.
“Northamptonshire is undergoing major changes. The new shopping development at The Lakes at Rushden (5 miles) will open in July. There is extensive new residential development planned in Wellingborough and Kettering with 20-30,000 new dwellings coming online over the next 10 years or so. Wellingborough station will be extended and upgraded and the railway line is due for electrification.
“Unemployment rates in Northamptonshire are among the lowest in the country. Northamptonshire’s road connections are second to none with the A14 across the north of the county, the M1 on the west and the A1 close to the eastern boundary of the county. Cambridge is about a 45 minute drive and Milton Keynes about half an hour.
“Finally, people have begun to identify Wellingborough and Northamptonshire generally as an area they would like to live in.”
“Lincoln is a Cathedral City and the county town of Lincolnshire. It is Britain’s hidden gem. Having recently received great media acclaim as a result of the City’s Football Team and award winning Castle. The University City is steeped in local history, which can be traced back as far as 300BC - links to the city's past heritage can be seen in abundance, even today.
Lincolnshire is one of the UK's largest counties. Part of the East Midlands, it sits on the East coast of England, to the north of Norfolk and the south of Yorkshire between the Humber and the Wash.
“Access to Lincoln is also easier than you may imagine. The A1 and recently dueled A46 make the journey from the South and the Midlands much quicker now. And from the North and North West, the M180 connecting to the A15 make for a straightforward journey. There are also train services into the city, and three airports within a 50 mile radius.
South East Cornwall:
“The stretch of coastline between Rame Head and Polruan has long been overlooked as a destination for those seeking to make that coastal lifestyle home purchase. Not anymore, buyers who traditionally orientated towards the notable hotspots on the North coast have turned their attention to South East Cornwall. Affordability and accessibility are major factors, many of the buyers are immediately employing local building companies and architects to refurbish or rebuild/reconfigure the houses that embrace the maritime location. Evidence of this can be observed by just driving through our coastal villages and seeing the amount of construction work being carried out.
“We recognise that lifestyle is a driving force behind many people’s home purchase. Employment and schooling as well as improved transport links and more people working from home. There is no doubt that capital appreciation in coastal locations is more robust than the rural counterparts and market turnover remained healthy even during the recessionary years. Looking forward we predict that coastal properties particularly in south east Cornwall will retain their value and indeed in some cases see strong appreciation as more and more buyers seek to indulge their passion for the coastal lifestyle. Constrained by geography there is less opportunity for large scale development, so there is no doubt that buyers will seek opportunities to stamp their own identity on the second hand housing stock.
“The waters of Whitsand and Looe Bay provide a sheltered playground, set against the beautiful cliffs and hinterland, parts of which is in the ownership of the National Trust, it’s easy to see why savvy buyers are already identifying the area as the next property hotspot,” concludes Scott.
"For those looking to move in to the county of Cornwall most people have heard of, or visited St Ives. A busy thriving harbour town with glorious beaches, the Tate Modern and the fantastic atmosphere that has been a muse over many years for artists. So the search for a home or holiday let begins here. Prices will range from £165,000 for a flat at the top of the town to in excess of £1,000,000 for something truly special with the all-important view of the harbour, sea and coast. Traditional fisherman’s cottages are now highly sought-after holiday lets which enjoy year round letting.
“If you need parking and some outside space it is soon apparent that by moving away from the town towards Carbis Bay and beyond your budget will stretch further. Carbis bay has a beautiful beach and Hayle has 3 miles of golden sands. With excellent bus and train connections you can visit St Ives easily and return to a quieter lifestyle.
“For those looking for their new home, investment or second home there is no better place to visit and decide to stay.”
“We’re adopting innovative approaches like the Circular Economy at a city level – the first in the country. In 2015, we were awarded Global Smart City of the Year, consolidating our position as thought leaders in smart city thinking.
“Peterborough is one of the UK’s number one cities for housing stock growth. New developments include a 5,000 home urban extension and a trailblazing sustainable city homes development featuring 295 eco-houses. An excellent house price to earnings ratio makes Peterborough attractive and affordable for employees.”
“St Albans has always been popular but with a growing 30-something population and rapid growth St Albans should be on your radar. The price growth prediction for the area in the next 5 years at 38%, this makes it one of the top areas for capital growth.”
Top 5 reasons to live in St Albans:
· 1) 17 minutes from London St Pancras, 14 from West Hampstead, both offering speedy onward links.
· 2) Schools: state schools rate more highly than the vast majority of the country’s private schools, and people cross the world to take advantage of that.
· 3) People, culture, food
· 4) Country: Hertfordshire is almost the defining county. From St Albans city centre it is only a short walk to rolling scenery at the Gorhambury Estate.
5) Range of property and investment.
Leytonstone – 'the new Hackney':
“Leytonstone has seen an influx in purchasers having sold their apartments in areas such as Hackney, Stoke Newington and Shoreditch.
“Leytonstone, Leyton and Walthamstow areas seem to have been targeted for its recommended OFSTED schools, excellent transport links in to the city whilst also offering better value for money.
"The new wave of young families purchasing in Leytonstone have the best of worlds enjoying city life as well as the peace and tranquillity of open spaces such as “Hollow Ponds Boating Lake” or “Wanstead Flats”.
“The suburbs North of Wakefield and South of Leeds such as Wrenthorpe and Lofthouse are up-and-coming currently seeing a surge in refurbishment and new build developments.
"On top of all this, the town offers excellent schooling and access to good transport routes. It is located on the A1 trunk road 33 miles north of the M25, 25 miles from Luton airport and less than 60 miles from Heathrow. It is also less than an hour from central London by train."
“The Meadows is approximately one mile from Nottingham City centre as well as being in close proximity to the popular suburb of West Bridgford. With the fantastic amenities within West Bridgford along with the bustling city of Nottingham, it is easy to see why The Meadows is one of the most up-and-coming areas locally.”
Navigating the property market can be difficult for anyone, but it is particularly daunting for first-time buyers. There are lots of hoops to jump through, paperwork to be completed, and tense waiting to hear if your deal is going to go through. We asked Guild agents to share their top tips for anyone looking to get onto the property ladder. What should you look out for?
1. Talk to a mortgage advisor and get a mortgage in principle
Mortgage advisors can give independent advice on the property that you can afford.
“First-time buyers need to ensure they do their research and have a plan right from the start,” guides Vicki Field from Cooke & Co. “We would always advise seeing a mortgage advisor in the first instance to establish your borrowing ability, this will give a more realistic idea of what types of property will be affordable.”
A mortgage advisor can also assess your finances and offer a mortgage in principle. This will be a huge help further through the buying process.
“Having a mortgage agreed in principle will speed up the timescales of the transaction,” said Mark Noble, Castles Estate Agents.
Gina Burbidge from Royston & Lund said: “Make sure you have spoken to a mortgage advisor and have an Agreement in Principle before arranging viewings, so when you find a property you are interested in, you are ready to make an offer. This proves to the agent and the seller that you are serious and able to proceed.”
2. Be aware of all the fees involved in moving
Now that you are aware of the mortgage that you can afford, it’s time to think about the other savings that you will need. Some are more obvious, like Stamp Duty fees, but others may have gone under your radar.
Gina Burbidge from Royston & Lund rounds up some of the key costs to consider:
Mortgage Fee: Many mortgages come with arrangement fees. Once your offer has been accepted, your lender will carry out a valuation to check the property is worth what you're planning to pay for it. The lender will usually arrange this for you, but in most cases, you will be expected to cover the cost – typically between £200 and £600. The valuation survey is a brief report on the property's condition and its market value based on an inspection of the property.
Survey Fee: There are two main kinds of survey; a RICS Homebuyer’s Report and a building survey (also known as a structural survey). A Homebuyer’s Report examines the general condition of the property and usually costs between £350 and £1,000. A building survey provides a more in-depth analysis of the condition of the property, including the structure, and will typically cost between £500 and £1,300.
Conveyancing Fee: Your legal adviser will either charge a flat fee or a percentage of the value of the property. You can expect to pay between £500 and £1,500 depending on the type of property, its location and complexity of the transaction.
Land Registry fee: When you buy a property, the Land Registry charges a fee to transfer the register entry into your name. This fee is dependent on how much your property is worth but usually varies between £200 and £300.
Stamp Duty: This is the tax you pay to the Government when you buy a property. You will need to pay your stamp duty to your solicitor, who will then pay it to HM Revenue & Customs when your property purchase completes. Click here to use the Guild's stamp duty calculator.
Removals: Employing a removal company can help to take the stress out of moving, but of course there will be an additional cost involved. If you decide to do it yourself, you may well need to hire a van to transport larger items such as your furniture. You should, therefore, budget at least a couple of hundred pounds for the move itself.
3. Use your estate agent
Your property search shouldn’t be restricted to looking through properties online. Contacting your local independent estate agent will mean hearing about properties as soon as they come onto the market – sometimes even before that.
“In the current market conditions, it is best to stay in touch with the estate agents as there are generally more buyers than properties and we are still selling property before they actually reach the internet,” said Mark Noble, Castles Estate Agents.
Steve Thompson, Thomas Morris, said: “Buyers should get to know the estate agents in the area they are looking at and make sure that the estate agents know them, what they are looking for and want to help them find it. As an agent, I take the most pleasure in handing over the keys to a first home to people who I have built a relationship during the time they are searching for and buying a property.”
Nick Cragg from Country Property agrees. “Speak to estate agents, share your ideals, make them aware of your minimum requirements and how much you can spend. Show that you are serious about buying with a mortgage arranged in principle and cash saved for your deposit.”
4. Viewing a property
Once you have everything in order, it’s time to start finding properties and booking viewings. What should you be aware of at this stage?
“First-time buyers should spend some time discussing their property needs and wants so that they know what they are looking for. This will help them to focus efforts on finding a property that matches their needs and to ensure that any compromises that they make are ones that they can live with. Buying a property that does not fit necessary requirements could be an expensive mistake,” cautions Steve Thompson from Thomas Morris.
Don’t feel like you have to view every property that you’re told about. “Before viewing, ask yourself if the property is the situation, location and accommodation that you want, or if it could be adapted to what you require? If not, don’t waste your time and energy,” advises Nick Cragg from Country Property.
5. Freehold of leasehold?
When buying a flat, there are other things to consider.
“If buying a leasehold property, ask about the length of the lease, the ground rent and any service charges,” said Simon Powley of Rickman Properties. “What do the service charges cover? Ask to have a look at previous years’ service charges. If buying a lease, be broadly aware of the provisions of the Leasehold Reform and Urban Development Act 1993.”
6. Making an offer
Once your dream home has been found, it’s time to make an offer on the property.
“With the low levels of stock in the marketplace now, first-time buyers need to put themselves in the strongest possible position,” said Mark Noble, Castles Estate Agents. “Once you have viewed a property that you like and decide is of interest to you, don’t delay. Move quickly to make an offer. Offer what you are prepared to pay for it at the earliest point. We regularly have disappointed buyers who made an offer that was too low, and then the property is snapped up by a buyer with a higher offer.
Nick Cragg of Country Property said: “Property is worth only what someone is prepared to pay for it. Having selected the property of your choice, you will by now have been able to assess local market prices for the sector of property you have considered.
“Be prepared to pay the full asking price if it seems reasonable to you, otherwise try an offer at a price you think appropriate (such as if work needs to be done on the kitchen or structurally). Always add ‘to include carpets, curtains and light fittings’ to your offer – these are costs you can do without when buying your first home and they are unlikely to be of use to the seller as they move on to another home.”
7. Conveyancing – how to pick the right solicitor
Conveyancing is the transfer of legal title of property from one person to another, and it requires a solicitor to make sure everything transfers as it should. Pick the right solicitor, and the process should go smoothly.
Gina Burbidge, Royston & Lund said: “Once your offer has been accepted, you will need to instruct a conveyancing solicitor. It is essential that you instruct someone you can trust to work with you to make the process as easy and stress-free as possible. Speak to the agent to see if they have recommendations. Quite often the agent will have well established working relationships with solicitors which can often help speed along the process.”
Mark Noble, Castles Estate Agents, says that his agency suggests their tried and tested local solicitors to buyers. “They are fantastic; the speed and efficiency of their service helps us to make the whole process smoother for our clients, and our fall through rate is much lower than the industry average.
“Like everything in life, you get what you pay for and saving money on you conveyancer can slow your purchase down and, in the worst cases, can cost you your purchase.”
Buying a new home is one of the most exciting things you can do. Between looking through beautiful new houses and choosing the perfect area, it’s easy to get caught up in the thrill of new-home ownership. However, ignoring the details could end up costing you. Our estate agents have seen it all, and have identified the top mistakes that people make when purchasing a new home.
1. Looking at property without setting a budget
“Taking a hard look at your finances is critical before you begin to look at property”, says Guild of Property Professionals CEO Iain McKenzie. “I can’t tell you how many people I’ve seen fall in love with a property to realise that it’s out of their price range.” After you look at your finances, consider seeking professional advice, especially when it comes to mortgages.
According to Steve Thompson of Thomas Morris St Neot’s, “buyers should fully consider their property requirements and get the advice they need to organise their finances and solicitors before they find a property so that they do not miss out.” Do your research before viewing properties, and get a good idea of what you can afford to avoid heartbreak later.
2. Understand their reasons for moving
Buying a property is a huge emotional and financial decision, and certainly not one to take lightly. According to Siobhan Jordain of Boyce Brixham, it’s important to make sure that you’re running toward something better, rather than away from something unsuitable. Siobhan encourages serious thought before moving into a different area, saying that “a bit of self-reflection on what you think moving from one area to another will give you can save time and money – perhaps you just need a lifestyle change rather than a location change.”
Alok Sharma was named the latest Housing Minister on the evening of 13 June 2017.
The MP for Reading West is the 6th person in the role since 2010.
But what will it mean for the housing market? The Guild's CEO, Iain McKenzie, shares his thoughts.
“I welcome the news of the appointment of a new Housing Minister after waiting for five days after the General Election result. However, I am concerned by Alok Sharma’s lack of industry experience. There’s no doubt that his background in accountancy will help with the role, but the housing market is in crisis. We need a government representative who will stand up for the industry. I hope that Sharma can step up to the plate.
“Perhaps more concerning is the lack of a cabinet position for the Housing Minister. Housing was a key concern during election campaigning, but now it looks set to take a back seat in policy making while Brexit dominates the agenda while the sector deals with yet another new housing minister. As CEO of The Guild, I am going to endeavour to raise the profile of the issues facing our industry during this government, no matter how long it lasts for.”
The Guild's CEO, Iain McKenzie, weighs in on the election result - and what it could mean for the property market.
The UK wakes up today to the shock news that there is a hung parliament with no party winning the required 326 seats to form a majority. Clearly the decision to call a snap general election has backfired with the original 15 percentage point margin between the two major parties in polls materialising as just a 3-percentage point margin.
There will be a period of uncertainty as the new government forms. We have a good idea of what a Conservative minority government may look like for the housing sector from analysing their manifesto and previous commitments.
At a time when instructions are scarce, fees are at an all-time low, conveyancing is taking longer than ever, and tenant fees are to be banned, the housing sector needs a government that understands the housing crisis needs to be a priority.
What should we expect from Teresa May and the Conservatives as the largest party in the House of Commons in the housing sector?
In a recent report it was alleged that a higher percentage of homeowners thought that the Tories policies were more relevant and sympathetic to homeowners, but do sales and lettings agents working in that sector feel the same?
Interestingly, I would be unsure how that debate would conclude, as recent changes to SDLT and proposed changes to lettings agents charging tenant fees, have been very unpopular.
So what should we all expect in the next four years?
It is very unlikely that the government will amend or reverse changes to Stamp Duty, why would they? It is raising extra income for the treasury. It is also cooling the UK housing market and reducing transactions levels enabling first-time buyers to get onto the property ladder.
The proposed tenant fee ban concluded its consultation process on the 2nd June and the outcome will be delivered shortly. All industry experts I have spoken to don't expect any change in direction. The ban has already been implemented in Scotland and Wales and so it appears a foregone conclusion.
But the real elephant in the room is the announcement within the Tory party manifesto that they intend to hold a full housing review, with particular emphasis on the cost of moving. They intend to make it cheaper for customers. Although in the short term this may be sidelined by other priorities, at some point this pledge will be delivered.
Is there a vendetta against the sector? Or will the Conservatives be considered a party that estate agencies can rely on to produce policies for growth?
None of us know the answer to that. All I do know is that when the housing minister is appointed they need to get a holistic view of the challenges facing the UK housing market from the agent’s perspective.
This must take into consideration the thousands of independent agents and not just the corporates who try to influence policy for their own benefit.
I will be writing to the new minister offering my services as the CEO and representative of The Guild of Property Professionals members.
Where have house prices increased the most? Here are five districts with the highest annual capital growth.
Are you thinking of moving house soon? Property viewings can be a stressful situation as you need to assess the property and find out if it fits your requirements, all while trying to decide if this is 'the one'. We have made a handy video so you can be fully prepared with the right questions and equipment on your next home viewing.
If you have any questions, let us know on twitter @GuildProperty.
Workers on zero-hour contracts could soon have the right to ask their employers to move them onto fixed hours, potentially making it easier for them to get a mortgage.
Zero hours contracts don’t provide employees with a guaranteed regular income, as employers only offer work as and when they need help. As a result, lenders are often wary about offering mortgages to people on this type of contract, as they may be concerned that in some months, income may not be sufficient to cover mortgage payments.
A government-commissioned inquiry into zero hours contracts is expected to call for employees on this type of contract to be given the right to request a transfer to fixed hours, which would help them know exactly how much they will earn each month.
There are currently more than 900,000 people in the UK on zero hours contracts, according to the Office for National Statistics. Numbers are rising, with 110,000 more people on this type of contract in 2016 compared to the same period in 2015. In 2008, just 143,000 people were on zero hours contracts.
Even though it can be harder to get a mortgage if you are on a zero hours contract, some lenders are prepared to offer mortgages to temporary workers. They will treat applications on a case by case basis, but there are several things workers on zero hours contracts can do to improve their chances of getting a mortgage.
· It’s important to show you have a track record of working on this basis and that it has provided you with a relatively stable income. Having records showing that you’ve been on a zero hours contract for at least 12 months should help prove your work is consistent.
· You’re less likely to be offered a mortgage if there are big gaps in your employment record, perhaps because you work for a retailer and are only brought in during particularly busy periods, such as the summer sales or Christmas.
· You should also get a copy of your credit history and see whether there is anything you can do to improve your credit score. Ways to do this include: making sure you’re on the electoral roll, closing any credit card accounts you no longer use, and paying off outstanding debts.
Communication with an estate agent before buying a property is always key, and this is particularly important for buy-to-let investors. There are key questions that should be asked, and they can differ from the standard question that a house hunter would think of. We asked Guild agents to share their top tips to ensure that investors have all the information they need before making an offer.
Is the property freehold or leasehold?
“I would always recommend buy-to-let investors to check whether the property is freehold or leasehold initially to factor in any service charges and ground rents which could impact yield,” said Joe Gervin from LPS in Liverpool.
Philip Jackson from Maguire Jackson in Birmingham explains why this is crucial. “Find out if you are buying a leasehold apartment and what the annual service charge is, because you the landlord are liable for this annual cost. Also, what is the size of the managing agents Sinking Fund in the building regarding cover for future works planned?”
“For first time landlords, my advice is to be prepared,” says Helen Jolly of Emsleys Estate Agents, Leeds. “If looking to buy a leasehold property, ask what is the service charge, what does it cover, and how will large maintenance and repair works be paid? How long is the lease?”
Has the property been rented before? What is the demand like?
“I would want to see a copy of the current tenancy and deposit protection, together with a schedule of rent history. Having a good feel for the kind of tenant in the area is important for future lets,” said Joe Gervin from LPS in Liverpool.
An agent can advise you on the quantities of people looking to rent this style of property. “Consider the competition. Find out from local agents whether there is there good rental demand for your proposed purchase plus if this might be effected in the near future,” said Philip Jackson from Maguire Jackson.
“Investigate the rental demand for that area and ascertain the rental level from agents in the area to do their homework to see how quickly similar properties are let,” advises Stephanie Caine from Royston Lund in West Bridgford.
Is the area safe and desirable?
Joe Gervin from LPS in Liverpool said; “Looking at local amenities such as train stations, schools, and local amenities such as sports centres all helps. The shops can suggest something about the local area as well. Lots of boutique coffee houses and trendy bars suggests professionals with a higher disposable income – these are often the dearer properties though which could impact yield.”
“Location is key in lettings, as much as it is in selling,” says Helen Jolly from Emsleys Estate Agents in Leeds. “Choose a property that suites the market, so if you’re looking in a family area, buy a family house.”
There is more to consider about the area, too. “Is it a good area?” asks Nichola Wallis from Holroyd Miller, Wakefield. “Are there signs of regeneration, and is it on the up if it hasn’t already been regenerated. Look at the demographics of area to decide.”
What is most important for you?
Tim Goodwin from Williams and Goodwin, Gwynedd, recommends a more bespoke approach, which requires some thought from the landlord beforehand.
“I ask buy-to-let buyers what is most important to them - is it yield, potential void periods, hassle factor, capital growth or ease to let now and in the future?
“For example, a buy-to-let purchaser of a five-bedroom property in the University City of Bangor could obtain a yield between 12% and 15%, which on the face of things may appear very attractive, but the stress of finding five sharers, dealing with the fact that they may fall out with each other and the additional wear and tear may put off certain purchasers.
“If maximising yield is not the main driving force, the ease of letting the unit and minimising maintenance may appeal, for instance we have clients who are just looking for a greater yield than can be currently obtained from more traditional investments where a return above 5% would suffice.”
Paul Spencer from Victor Michael Estate Agents in London and Essex agrees that it is important to decide which type of let is preferred before starting a property search.
“Is your investment long term?,” he asks. “Natural growth is often underrated. For some people, if costs are covered, the yield the property can generate is not as important. If you are looking to cover costs in the long term, there can be no greater asset than having the right tenant in your investment for as long as possible. Most new investors, however, turn to short term investments.”
What is the energy efficiency like?
“Be mindful of energy performance ratings,” advises Lawrence Williams of Webbers Property Services in Devon, Cornwall and Somerset. “The Law is changing from April 2018 and properties which have a poor energy efficiency rating will be required to upgrade. Tenants expectations rise year after year and a low cost energy-efficient property is more important than ever, and will ensure you don’t have any surprises next year.”
Where have house prices increased the most? Here are five districts with the highest annual capital growth.
Where have house prices increased the most? Here are five districts with the highest annual capital growth.
Find your nearest
Guild Member agent and start your property search today.
Where are the best
cities to invest and why? Guild members from around Britain reveal
investment hotspots, property prices and where to buy in 2017.
We know that Brighton & Hove historically attracts a
wide range of buyers. In fact, the diverse demographic that makes up the
population is one of the most appealing factors for many who choose to make the
city their home.
Demand remains steady, activity levels consistent and people have regained confidence after any post Brexit decision shock that may have been felt elsewhere.
The image of Brighton & Hove as 'London by Sea' can be justified by the wealth and diversity of culture that the city has to offer. A vibrant arts scene is reflected in the famous Laines, the city’s football team, Brighton and Hove Albion FC, have just been promoted to the Premier League. The city as a whole is increasingly becoming home to one of Europe's most thriving digital and IT (CDIT) clusters.
The potential for a huge growth in employment in the coming years is yet another positive factor that will play into the health of the local property market. Brighton & Hove still holds the crown as the most visited destination in the South East, too there is little doubt that the local economy is on firm ground.
Currently, there is a major marketing push for investors to buy in the northern cities, particularly in Manchester. However, I believe the over-reliance on new build stock and international buyers in those areas carries the hallmarks of a property bubble similar to what we experienced in London between 2014-2015. The best cities for investment in England are those that offer steady and sustainable growth with a strong rental market.
This can be found mostly in the smaller commuter cities surrounding London, such as Reading, Chelmsford and Croydon, where there are currently on-going regeneration projects and growing interest due to the benefits offered from infrastructure improvements such as Crossrail. These areas also typically offer significantly more freehold property than large inner city locations. Recently, there has been an increasing number (up 25% since 2014) of young professionals leaving London and moving to these areas. This has been driving up rental values and property prices and this trend appears set to continue into the future.
Birmingham is currently in the rare position of now seeing the results of significant structural changes both inside and outside the city. Many Fifties and Sixties eyesores are being or have been removed and replaced with good looking new-build structures along with older empty derelict sites now being built upon.
Commercially local businesses are growing and at the same time the city is benefitting from several major relocations, such as the HSBC retail headquarters, moving from Canary Wharf to a purpose-built site close to the city’s new library. The 60,000-student population is increasingly deciding to stay in the city helping to give Birmingham the title of youngest city in Europe, with 45.7% of the population under 30.
HS2 the new high speed train to London arrives in less than ten years with journey times from 2026 of less than fifty minutes. While certainly commutable, it also helps further open the doors for businesses based in Birmingham. Prime commercial property rents are 35-40% less than the capital, and prime residential prices offer significant discounts being circa only 20% of Central London prices, with both sectors offering significant scope for improvement.
Within the city increasing numbers of downsizers are looking for homes alongside existing renters now looking to buy or existing lessees trade up from smaller flats into larger dwellings, then put down longer-term roots. Niche developers alongside specialist retailers are acknowledging the trends finding home within the city and catering to the maturing and expanding market.
The West Midlands capital is much more than just home to Cadbury's chocolate and Aston Villa.
The figures are based on the latest data from the Land Registry
House Price Index which helps to form a picture of the region’s housing
markets. While there is no single measure which provides a complete
picture of the market, below are 20 areas with statistics on the total
value of all property transactions in the past year. This has been
calculated by multiplying the average value of homes by the number of
We take a closer look at Yorkshire & the Humber region as part of our series of property spotlights, focusing on average house prices, the
total number of sales and the size of the market around the country.
These figures are based on the latest data from the Land Registry
House Price Index, which helps to create a picture of the region’s housing
markets. There is no single measure which provides a complete
picture of the market, however below are 20 areas with statistics on the total
value of all property transactions in the past year. This has been
calculated by multiplying the average value of homes by the number of
The district with the largest market is Leeds which saw £1,944m worth of transactions in the year to January 2017.
This was followed by Sheffield with £1,023m worth of sales over the same period.
The district with the highest overall average house price was Harrogate where prices sit at £274,800, which is 20% above the regional average.
The market with the highest number of transactions was Leeds with 11,530 sales occurring during the period.
Where have house prices increased the most?
Here are the five districts with the highest annual capital growth: