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The part of the Help to Buy scheme designed to help first-time buyers with only a 5% deposit to put down has now finished, but there are still deals available to help people with smaller deposits.
The mortgage guarantee element of Help to Buy was originally set up to boost 95% lending. As its name suggests, the scheme provided a government guarantee to lenders prepared to lend up to 95% of the property value.
The guarantee meant that the government would compensate lenders, to help reduce their risk.
The scheme proved successful, encouraging more lenders to offer mortgages to those with only a 5% deposit to put down. Some lenders introduced 95% mortgages even without the guarantee.
The impact for first-time buyers has therefore been positive, and has given them access to a much wider choice of 95% deals, with some major lenders maintaining the rates they offer even now the scheme has ended.
Average rates on 95% deals have also fallen, although buyers must meet affordability criteria to qualify.
Those who manage to save larger deposits will have far more mortgage options available to them, but broadly it is a healthier market for homebuyers, whatever size deposit they have.
Halifax, one of Britain’s biggest lenders, has recently relaxed the criteria borrowers are required to meet if they want an interest-only mortgage.
With this type of mortgage, as the name suggests, you only repay the interest on the amount you’ve borrowed each month. The capital must be repaid when the mortgage term ends.
Homeowners used to need a minimum £1million pension pot to be eligible for an interest-only mortgage with Halifax.
Now they only need to prove they have a pension which will reach £400,000 by the time they retire.
They can also sell their home as a means of paying back what they owe. To be eligible, however, homeowners must have an income of £100,000 or more, or £150,000 if applying as a couple. They must also have at least £200,000 equity in the property.
Interest-only deals were very popular prior to the credit crunch, but lenders have since made it harder to qualify for this type of loan.
Most lenders do still offer interest-only mortgages, but may impose eligibility requirements. For example, Virgin Money will lend on an interest-only basis to borrowers with a joint income of £50,000, while NatWest requires a minimum income of £100,000.
Changes such as those made by Halifax show that lenders are re-assessing their approach to interest-only, although borrowers will still need to demonstrate a repayment plan to ensure it’s appropriate.
First-time buyers aged between 23 and 40 may soon be able to buy a new home at a discount of a least 20% below market value, under the government’s ‘Starter Home’ initiative.
The properties will start being built this year, the housing minister Gavin Barwell confirmed at the beginning of the New Year, with an initial group of 30 local authority partnerships leading the schemes.
Funding will be supported by the government’s £1.2 billion Starter Homes Land fund, which was established last April.
The fund was set up to assist the aim of building 200,000 Starter Homes by 2020 on brownfield sites in England, such as those currently or previously used for commercial or industrial purposes.
However, critics of the scheme claim that as the maximum price after the discount has been applied will be £250,000 outside London and £450,000 in the capital, the new properties won’t be affordable for many first-time buyers.
It’s expected that they won’t be able to sell on or let their Starter Homes at their open market value for a period of at least five years after the initial sale.
Increased competition between lenders has seen the number of fee-free fixed rate mortgages more than double over the past twelve months.
According to recent data from Moneyfacts, there were 556 fee-free deals just over a year ago, compared to 1,162 by the end of 2016.
Although the number of fee-free deals has increased, average fixed rate fees have gone up by £30 from £954 to £984 over the past year. The average two-year fixed rate, however, has fallen from 2.67% to 2.34% in the last 12 months, which suggests some lenders are introducing lower rates but with higher fees.
Fee-free mortgages usually have slightly higher rates than those which do charge a fee, but they often still work out to be more cost-effective overall once fees are factored in.
Calculations show that borrowers with a 25% deposit opting for the lowest two-year fixed rate deal with a fee could be more than £1,000 worse off than if they’d gone for a deal with no fee.
It’s important that when comparing deals, borrowers always look at the total cost, rather than just the headline rate of interest charged.
Every seller is tempted to overprice their home. They may
have carried out lots of work over the years or may need the extra money to
Buy as a buyer, you want to pay the market price.
So how do you spot an overpriced home? Here are our top five tips.
How long has it been on the market?
If it’s more than 60 days, chances are that it is not selling because it’s overpriced. Though be aware that some high-end homes can be on sale for a longer period.
Have home improvements inflated the price?
If an owner has just spent a lot of money on an extension or refurbishment, they may price their home higher because they want to make a profit. But love and investment in a home doesn’t always get a reward.
A home in poor condition should not try to compete with a newly refurbished home on the same street, either.
Does it match the value of other properties nearby?
If the house next door recently sold for a fraction of the one you are viewing, something isn’t right.
Take a look at current listings and properties that were recently sold in your postcode area to compare. Remember, the asking price isn’t the same as the sold price, but previously sold prices could guide you towards a good offer.
Do your research
Always do your homework. At the Guild, we recommend looking at lots of online resources, from mortgage advice to solicitor reviews. Getting things in order now will save time and stress down the line.
Is the location desirable?
Similar properties can vary in price hugely from one side of town to the other. The trendiest place is always going to fetch a higher price, so keep that in mind.
The best solution is to set the price sensibly. Sometimes a low price may generate more interest. If in doubt, talk to your agent.
You can get more information on overpriced homes on the Guild’s blog online, as well as lots of other topics to help you with buying and selling.
The December 2016 house price index data showed a monthly drop of 0.1 per cent across the UK, minus 0.1 per cent in England and minus 1.2 per cent in London.
Regionally, the East of England experienced the highest monthly growth at 1.3 per cent, while prices in the North East fell by minus 1.3 per cent.
On an annual basis, prices across England rose by 7.4 per cent, bringing the average house price to £232,655.
Despite the dip this month, London prices rose by 7.7 per cent from January to October, making an average London home cost £474,475.
Flats and maisonettes are performing best, with a 7.6 per cent rise compared to October 2015, proving that they can be a great investment. Terraced properties have seen the slowest growth, rising by 5.4 per cent.
We have the England sales figures for August, and they show a 20.3 per cent drop compared to August 2015. Though that still equates to a lot of people moving, with 67,396 properties exchanging during the month.
The average price of a new build property in England in October was £307,983, which is up 28.6 per cent up on a year ago. Meanwhile, resold property prices averaged at £210,917, which dipped by 0.7 per cent from September, but this is still 5.4 per cent higher than the same time last year.
So what does this tell us? Figures are holding steady, but we aren’t seeing the constant growth that was commonplace before the Brexit vote and extra stamp duty changes, which came into force in 2016.
However, flats and maisonettes are still proving to be great for investors with their steady rise in prices.
Holiday lets can be extremely rewarding. Where are the best places to buy a holiday let? What is the best way to start your search? And what types of properties make the best holiday lets? There is a lot to consider, so we asked our agents for their opinions.
“In Northumberland we are spoilt with the best of both, with holiday lets near the coast and in the country. If you’re in the market for a holiday let, speaking to local independent estate agents should be high on your list. Also contact holiday letting companies who may have clients wanting to sell.
“Given that Falmouth was crowned the best place to live in the South West by The Sunday Times last year, it is not surprising that we deal with purchasers keen to secure a second home here on a daily basis. Historically, the bustling town of Newquay or quaint St Ives on the North Coast would be the first ‘port of call’ for some. More recently, those seeking an all year-round resort offering golden sandy beaches and some of the finest sailing waters in the country have chosen Falmouth. So what makes the perfect holiday home? It would appear that the formula is relatively simple – a good location, water views and parking,” says Natalie.
“We are very lucky to live and work in a county as lovely as Dorset. Our office is in the Victorian town of Swanage, which is a popular family holiday location. It has award winning soft sandy beaches, beautiful surrounding countryside and is well known for being the gateway to the Jurassic Coast, England’s first world heritage site. The area has many miles of footpaths and bridleways making it popular with walkers and cyclists. Attractive country cottages and properties with sea views close to the beach are always top of list. The population of Swanage doubles in the summer months and with annual fish, pirate, jazz, blues and folk festivals is a popular destination all year round for a holiday let,” explains Kelly.
“The pretty coastal town of Hythe in Kent has much to offer the holiday let investor. From views across the English Channel to France, an unspoilt seafront promenade, the famous Romney Hythe & Dymchurch light railway running as far as the unique landscape of Dungeness. The town itself offers a traditional high street with a wealth of independent shops and restaurants as well as a wide variety of sporting options including tennis courts, sea kayaking and a selection of local golf courses.
Click here to find your local Guild agent.
No one wants an empty house. One of the main worries that
many landlords experience is the possibility that a month or more will pass
between lets without any rental income. It is crucial to minimise void periods
where possible by acting fast and making sure you get the next tenant for your
property. It is inevitable that circumstances will change and people will move
on but there are quick and easy steps to reduce void periods.
This is one of the cheapest and most effective ways to finding a new tenant. Most people have access to some form of internet, whether it is on your mobile phone or laptop. Using one of our Guild agents is an easy way to get your rental property noticed without having to do all the work yourself. This means your property will be promoted by them, which should help you gain interest from potential tenants.
Word of mouth
An old-fashioned way of finding a suitable tenant, word of mouth can still be surprisingly effective. Talking to people living close to the empty property or your friends could lead to finding someone who might be interested in renting your property.
Setting the right rent
It’s always good to do a little research into competitive rental rates. Make sure that the property is good value for money and all repairs are up-to-date as potential tenants will always do a thorough search before making their choice. You want to make sure that your property is at the top of their wish list.
It may be worth posting about your vacant property on social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. One of your contacts may know of a person who is looking for a property to rent.
Finding the right tenants
Trying to fill the void period may be quite time consuming, but it is worth spending time trying to select tenants that will be delighted to call your property their new home. Make sure you have the correct references and requirements from the new tenant before having them sign the contract to rent your property. It is important to see whether the tenant can pay rent on time and continue to do so without occurring late rental charges.
Do you have a property that is for rent? Are you looking for your next tenant? Contact your nearest Guild agent now.
Putting your home on the market is a big decision, so it’s important to make sure that you’re doing it at the right time of year. There has always been debate about the best time to sell a property, so we asked Guild agents to share their thoughts on the prime time to sell.
Spring (March, April, May)
If you’re selling, spring and early summer are more active months. Things tend to get going in March around North London; i.e. once the clocks go forward and Easter is upon us. For buyers, an upside is that there are typically more properties to choose from between mid-March and early July.
For the selling market, there tends to be a seasonal trend, but this can be affected by the economic climate. Coastal areas tend to be more productive in spring and early summer. This is because the coast draws many retirees who would rather move in the better weather and are generally not forced by a job move, children’s schooling etc.
The optimum time is spring, from March to June when viewings are at their highest. Many people want to complete their purchase by the summer ready for the September school term. The quietest period for the housing market are the holiday periods of late July to August, followed by mid-November to early January.
We have always recommended that late spring is the best time to sell, particularly for larger country properties. This equally has a bearing on the best time to buy as there tends to be the greatest volume of properties coming onto the market, which gives the buyer a greater choice.
The best time to sell is Q1 and Q2. After June, the holiday season kicks in, followed by a diminishing window of opportunity before thoughts turn to Christmas.
Summer (June, July, August)
Oxford benefits from its own unique economic bubble and doesn’t follow the national seasonal trends. However, it makes complete sense that properties will sell better from spring through to summer with blue skies and gardens in full bloom. With the internet becoming increasingly important in marketing properties, photography is the key selling tool. With luscious green lawns, blue clear skies and rooms flooded with sun light, the general look of a property will be greatly improved.
Autumn (September, October, November)
The season is busiest from February to July, then from September to November. For homes with extensive grounds and beautiful gardens, the early autumn season can be ideal when gardens are at their best.
The market has already become a hive of activity since the beginning of February with more and more houses coming to the market and a huge influx of purchasers.
Winter (December, January, February)
To gain the best price, the best month to sell is February when buyers start to make decisions after Christmas. Available property levels tend to be low, but more and more is coming to the market which makes it a very busy and exciting period in both sales and lettings.
The best time of year to buy a house is during the first few weeks of December. It's at this point that any vendor who is motivated to sell will be more flexible as there are fewer buyers motivated to look.
As for home sellers, they are looking at the best time to sell in March as they get the first of the Spring tide so to speak. The other months of the year tend to vary as a result of economic trends etc. Country and rural properties at the higher end of the market usually wait until April/May time as the gardens start to look more inviting.
December is usually a quiet month, however, buyers may come across an opportunity to pick up a bargain, especially if finances are good to go and they have a proactive solicitor.
Perhaps a seller has just lost their buyer, with the chain and any plans of buying their dream home now set to fall apart. With fewer active buyers in the market and with Christmas only weeks away, people are usually too busy shopping, planning and organising for the festivities, so house hunting is low on priority lists. This makes it the perfect time for motivated movers to close a sale.
It’s worth contacting your local estate agents and let them know you are actively looking. Then if they have any sellers in need of a speedy transaction, they should give you a call.
November and December can be great months as a buyer, especially as many sellers may be keen to agree a sale pre-Christmas and may be more flexible. This is especially true with slow moving stock from the summer. Sometimes, people buying garden flats may keen to ensure they get to enjoy their first summer, so may be keen to tie down a sale by April/May.
For the savvy homeseller, marketing a property in February represents the perfect opportunity to obtain a buyer before most other sellers have got their property on the market. Although the weather is cold and wet, don’t forget that it is the same for everyone – buyers are looking at every property in the same weather conditions. Serious buyers must move come what may, and in my experience, most aren’t remotely bothered by the time of year. They are much more concerned with location, condition, size, and asking price of their dream home.
Any time of year
High activity levels through Christmas 2016 has helped to confirm that the housing market is less seasonal than it once was. We even received calls and emails on Christmas Day!
Historically, spring was considered the optimum time to move, autumn was busy, summer was slower and winter, particularly through Christmas, was very quiet. Now, easy availability of information on the web means buyers can look at houses anywhere at any time. Seasonal variations, which were largely driven by the constraints placed on peoples time at different times of year are becoming increasingly less severe.
My advice to buyers and sellers based on this? Buy and sell when its right for you. You can sit and wait for a perceived busier period, but whilst waiting you may have missed any number of opportunities.
There are no fixed rules, or certainly not in our local market. Traditionally spring has always been seen as the season for interest in buying and selling property. The property market in Wakefield is driven by economic factors, not seasonal.
People are much more sensitive to media reporting and the uncertainty around Brexit or global politics; these do have an impact on people’s actions and have a tendency to create a more sensitive customer base.
However the economic climate in Wakefield is very secure. Unemployment is low and job security is good. Of course, some things never change - Christmas and the summer holidays always see a decline in interest as priorities shift. However, clients sometimes place their properties for sale or rent during these times to ensure that they are ready and waiting for people to view when the holidays are over.
With a buoyant market and real time listings we're finding all months are equally productive. What we still feel is a slow down for school holidays and a market place that has become more sensitive to positive and negative data releases, which suggests more savvy and news-connected buyers.
If you would like to consider putting your home on the market, click here to find your local Guild agent.
The eyes of the property industry recently turned to the Government’s Housing White Paper, which was released on Tuesday 7 February. Now that experts have had time to digest the information, The Guild of Property Professionals have noted that there is style in the report, but little detail to carry out the proposals. CEO Marcus Whewell shares his thoughts.
“Overall, the white paper is lacking important details,” said Whewell. “The Government has the right intentions, but there are no clear strategies to reach their aims, particularly in relation to building more properties. To build an additional 240,000 new homes per annum, the planning approval systems need a comprehensive review.
“Regarding lettings, some of the underlying principles in the white paper are controversial at best. Committing to more affordable new build properties offering minimum guaranteed tenancies is commendable. However, suggesting that large corporate companies should be relied upon in future for lettings over private landlords is highly questionable. To really boost the rental market, the Government needs to remove additional stamp duty charges for Buy to Let and encourage private landlords, whilst also increasing rental regulation to improve standards. Taxing this important group out of the market makes little sense.”
Impact on rentals
The white paper says the Government will build more homes for private rent and encourage family-friendly tenancies.
“Moves to require builders to provide more affordable rental stock is a logical step, as is offering three-year minimum tenancies to help families plan their futures with more certainty, such as with children’s schooling,” said Whewell.
However, the report’s plan to make renting fairer for tenants is likely to have an adverse impact on lettings agencies.
“The decision to remove or cap lettings fees is controversial; whilst some landlords and agents have undoubtedly taken advantage of vulnerable tenants, others have acted much more fairly and consistently and this proposed action seems ‘a big stick’ to address a selective problem,” said Whewell. “Landlords and agents will no doubt look to recover this loss of earnings, which could mean delivering a poorer service and opaque increases in rents. Until supply and demand rebalance, there remains a natural upward bias in the system, exacerbated further if private landlords exit the market.”
“I think a solution could be to introduce licensing for private landlords; if every landlord commits and adheres to a minimum standard, then tenants will be treated more fairly. Pricing small, private landlords out of the market is not the answer as this puts unnecessary upward pressure on rent prices.”
Corporations becoming landlords
The Government is reportedly encouraging more institutional investors to come into housing, potentially as landlords to replace private suppliers.
“Following the recent tax changes relating to private landlords, there is a sense that the Government would like large corporations, such as pension funds, to step in and invest in affordable rental stock replacing the current ‘micro model’,” said Whewell. “This is seen as a better new world where the rights of the tenant are better respected by companies who want to do the right thing, or are obliged to act diligently in order to protect their brand or meet corporate governance rules.
“The potential issue here is that the record of large private organisations in providing high quality, locally sensitive services is less than stellar. Also, such corporates normally have shareholders demanding dividends - so the pressure to improve ‘efficiencies and returns’ may not bode well for their tenants, whereas smaller, local landlords can better read the market conditions and flex charges accordingly. Another option might be to provide more assistance to Housing Associations who are less profit-focussed.”
Planning for future homes
A lot of information was included in the white paper about the role of local authorities in overseeing planning applications for new housing. The Government wants to give communities a stronger voice, provide greater certainty to authorities planning new homes, boost the local authority’s capacity and capability to deliver, as well as holding authorities to account through a new housing delivery test. The report also mentioned continued protection for the green belt, unless local authorities can prove that building on this land is the only option available.
“When it comes to supply, planning will be a key issue as one of the most significant inhibitors to accelerating the building programme,” said Whewell. “Continuing to respect and protect ‘green belt’ land means that local councils maintain the whip hand in deciding access to such potential sites, with an understandable tendency to protect existing residents. The white paper fails to provide a solution to this quandary. There is also evidence from the BBC of local councils manipulating the existing numbers to reduce their future obligations regarding the provision of new homes. Relying on local intelligence and decisions may not deliver the step change in volume that is required.”
The Government expressed a desire to look at sites and find details of the owner to determine if the area is suitable for new housing. By making more land available for homes in key locations, they plan to make it easier to build new settlements.
Whewell said: “Land banking is a complicated issue. Developers need to see a clear return on their investment before commencing building work. If they are in doubt, they will leave potential sites alone as an asset on their balance sheets.
“I think the answer is a mixture of more transparent planning, a more predictable residential housing market, and some pressure on builders to ‘use it or lose it’ – but this strategy is fraught with difficulty and may overstep the boundary between regulation and intervention.”
UK property prices rose by 6.5% in 2016, Halifax said, while according to Nationwide Building Society’s House Price index, prices were 4.5% higher by the end of the year, having risen by the same rate as in 2015.
The building society said that all regions of the country experienced house price growth in 2016, with East Anglia seeing the strongest price increases over the year. Average prices there were up more than 10% year-on-year.
Luton and Bedfordshire
According to Halifax, Luton recorded the biggest percentage rise in house prices among the largest UK towns and cities in 2016, with the average property price in the Bedfordshire town rising by 19.4% over the year.
Scotland, East Midlands, Northern Ireland
Nationwide’s house price report, which includes a look at the differences in affordability across the UK, found that certain areas such as Scotland, the East Midlands and Northern Ireland have seen improvements over the last decade.
2017: what next for house prices?
Both Nationwide and Halifax suggested that house price growth will be more modest this year, due to uncertainty surrounding Brexit negotiations, combined with slower economic growth.
Nationwide is expecting a gain of around 2%, while Halifax expects prices to slow to between 1% and 4% in 2017. The bank’s chief economist, Martin Ellis, said the wide range for the forecast reflected the “higher than normal degree of uncertainty regarding the prospects for the UK economy this year”.
Both lenders said that a lack of housing supply combined with low mortgage rates should help underpin the property market over the next 12 months.
Low rates not only benefit existing homeowners, who are often able to substantially reduce their monthly outgoings by remortgaging to a cheaper deal, but also buyers, as they make it more affordable for them to purchase property.
Although some of the lowest deals have now been withdrawn, homebuyers still have a very competitive range of mortgages to choose from, with many deals accessible to those with smaller deposits to put down.
Annual house price growth is expected to slow over the course of 2017, according to some of Britain’s biggest lenders, but will be supported by a shortage of properties and low interest rates.
Offices from around the UK were commended for their exceptional performance at the Guild of Property Professionals – previously known at the Guild of Professional Estate Agents - gala dinner and annual awards, which was held at The Vox conference centre in Birmingham on Friday 27 January.
The awards were presented after a full day at the Guild’s annual conference, where the company’s new brand was revealed. This is the biggest change in fifteen years, and includes changing the company name from the Guild of Professional Estate Agents to the Guild of Property Professionals, as well as a new look.
The awards ceremony was once again sponsored by The Telegraph, who commented said: “As the UK's best-selling quality daily newspaper, The Telegraph is looked to by its readers as a trusted source of expertise. It is therefore fitting that we are able to celebrate excellence in the property industry by sponsoring the awards ceremony at the Guild of Property Professionals."
The awards were presented by Marcus Whewell, CEO of the Guild, and property TV presenter Melissa Porter.
The prestigious ‘Best National Guild Member’ award was given to Victorstone Property Consultants, which has offices across London. Scott Hailou, Area Director of Victorstone, said: “This is a very proud moment. We sincerely appreciate our staff’s excellent performance, participation and promotion of the Guild. Our business has not only benefited from their diligent work, but they have now set a benchmark in a nationally recognised network within our industry.”
The Gold Lettings Award was given to Bassets Estate Agents. Quentin Thatcher, Head of Bassets Lettings, said: “To win the Gold Award for Best Lettings Agent for the second consecutive year is an outstanding achievement for all of us at Bassets. We are honoured to be recognised for our hard work and dedication at a national level. I’d personally like to thank my team for always striving to go above and beyond what is expected to enable us to provide our clients with an exceptional, personable service.”
As competition for the lettings category was so fierce this year, a Silver Award for Lettings was introduced, which was given to Sawyer & Co.
Awards were given to the best Guild Member in each region of the country as follows:
• North West - Logic Estates
• Midlands - Bentons
• Wales - Williams and Goodwin
• East Anglia - Thomas Morris Estate Agents
• South East – Sawyer & Co
• South – Seymours Estates
• South West - Sawdye and Harris
• North East - Next2Buy
• Home Counties – Oasis Estate Agents
• London - Victorstone Property Consultants
Marcus Whewell, CEO of the Guild of Property Professionals, said: “Once again, I am very grateful for the wonderful support of our estate agency members, guest speakers and partners for our annual conference. The market is unpredictable, but the opportunity to the share ideas and opportunities is a key benefit of being part of such a prestigious network.
“We are proud that The Telegraph have sponsored our awards for the second year running. We received a fantastic breadth and quality of entries, and our congratulations go to all the worthy winners, especially Victorstone Property Consultants and Bassets Estate Agents, who were announced as best overall estate and letting agents of the year respectively.”
When searching for an estate agent, you want advice and guidance from professionals who are trained and trustworthy, who have in-depth local knowledge and the technology and connections to expedite your sale: in short, you are looking for a Member of The Guild. Our exclusive Membership is awarded to just one agent in each area, selected on the basis of their high standards and professionalism.
The Guild of Property Professionals is the latest evolution of The Guild of Professional Estate Agents. As a company which has been working with the very best independent estate agents for the past 20 years, it understands how to combine innovation with its core principles of knowledge, expertise and professional standards. Marcus Whewell, CEO of The Guild, explains why it is rebranding itself, what the future holds, and why a Guild Member is the intelligent choice when selecting an estate agent.
How would you describe The Guild, its purpose and objectives?
The Guild is a membership body representing a selection of the best independent estate agents in the country. We help and support our members by working together to deliver higher standards and a better result for buyers and sellers.
How many guild agents are there? What part of the country do they cover?
We have approximately 800 independent offices across England and Wales: you are never far from a Guild office!
What are The Guild’s core values and why should a member of the public seek out a member?
For more than 20 years, we have built our business around three core values:
- Firstly, that our member agents have the relevant specialist knowledge to suitably advise clients in the property market.
- Secondly, that all Guild agents have undergone extensive training to ensure that the guidance they give is correct and appropriate at all times.
- Finally, that by dealing with a property professional who is committed to acting with integrity, and by accessing the services of the Guild and its extensive network, they will secure a better result than would otherwise have been the case.
Changing to our name to The Guild of Property Professionals brings our brand into alignment with changes and developments in the industry – we are as dedicated to lettings as we are to the residential sales market.
Tell us about your vision for The Guild, and where to do you see the company in 10 years?
In many ways, the property industry is changing extremely quickly, led primarily by the emergence and development of new technology. As the leading portals altered the way potential buyers search for property, marketing is being revolutionised by new digital opportunities to help people search and engage in new and exciting ways. We understand that the public expect more for their money as the internet facilitates new methods and solutions – requiring businesses to better justify their fees.
However, we passionately believe that the vast majority of property movers want to secure a successful outcome with minimum of stress. To do this, clients need timely and appropriate advice from someone they can trust, and who knows how to market their property effectively. It is these high standards you can expect from every Guild Member agent, and we will continue to meet their client’s needs well into the future because moving is for most an emotional journey as well as a logistical one.
Why have you chosen to rebrand The Guild?
Our brand is now 20 years old and much has changed in the property industry during this time. We want to convey that we represent thousands of property professionals who live and act by our core values. The brief was to modernise and update our look whilst clearly communicating our fundamental values and retaining the brand’s heritage.
You have just launched a new logo, what was the development and selection process?
We approached four different agencies with our brief, asking them each to pitch, showing their understanding of the brand and its key characteristics. Each was then asked to present their ideas, which were whittled down to three leading concepts. These were developed and tested with our board, our employees, and also a panel of our leading agents to help make the final decision.
The digital property world is increasingly important. How are you incorporating this?
We are embracing the digital world through interactive e-zines and videos to help market properties. We also offer free, instant online property valuations, including relevant and comparative historical sales statistics. We are now also launching technology to allow clients to request online appointments 24/7.
What are the advantages of using a ‘high street’ agent over a purely ‘online’ agent?
Technology can help communicate a property’s features, but cannot replace appropriate knowledge and expertise. This is best delivered by a team who really know the area. Perhaps as importantly, most agents offer a ‘no sale no fee’ service, whereas the vast majority of the pure online suppliers require a non-refundable marketing fee (meaning that they are rewarded even if they ‘fail’ the client). Guild agents are fully motivated to secure a positive result for their clients.
What are the advantages of choosing a Guild Agent?
Every member has been personally selected for their commitment to delivering an outstanding service. Secondly, because these are intrinsically connected through a mutual network, clients have an opportunity to engage and market their property with almost 800 offices across the country, all working together to deliver the best possible outcome.
What about the outlook for lettings market?
The lettings market continues to play an essential role in the property sector, as the UK population continues to grow and rentals remains a lifestyle choice for many people. We therefore offer our members extensive training, advice and support to ensure they are up to date with the latest legislation. Landlords and tenants know they can trust The Guild, so they rent with confidence.
How do you see the property market changing over the next five years?
Technology will continue to increase access to better information and more choice. This means there will be less room for agencies who can’t or don’t demonstrate some form of differentiation or advantage.
Service will be improved by the power of testimonial sites and social networking. What’s more, individuals will need to be better qualified and informed, requiring agencies to prioritise training and development in their businesses.
For lettings, I can see a growing emergence of corporate ‘build to let’, but still believe the private rental sector will play a fundamental role in delivering affordable choice to renters. Local professional agents are key to driving standards and consistency using their unique knowledge and influence.
The Guild has got a new look - as well as a new name. Watch our video to see the new look for the brand.
This is the biggest change in fifteen years, and includes changing the company name from the Guild of Professional Estate Agents to the Guild of Property Professionals.
Lenders have started to announce changes to their buy-to-let policies following the Prudential Regulation Authority’s decision to phase in new stricter rules.
The PRA said in September that lenders must take the borrower’s income and personal circumstances into account as well as rental income when assessing buy-to-let mortgage applications.
Lenders must also apply a ‘stress test’ of a minimum interest rate of 5.5%, unless the mortgage rate is fixed for 5 years or more.
These requirements don’t come into effect until January next year, but some lenders have already announced changes to the way they underwrite buy-to-let mortgages.
Santander was the first major lender to confirm their changes, and will tighten the rental calculation from 23rd November.
The bank currently requires landlords to receive 125% of their mortgage liabilities in rental income. This will change to 145%.
At the moment Santander applies a stress rate of 5% for some deals with a 60% loan to value, or 5.50% above that, but this will change to 5.50% for all borrowers.
Other lenders are expected to announce changes in the coming weeks.
Buying a home can be stressful, so it is always best to research the area before starting a property search. Being aware of how quickly the market moves and what is most popular is key. Not only will it shed light on how long it will take to exchange on a home, but it also lets you know who you will be up against. There is nothing worse than deliberating over a property, only to find that someone else has put in a full-price offer. Being prepared is key.
For investors, this information is particularly crucial. Buying a high-demand property in a popular part of town will ensure an availability of tenants, as well as good price growth.
So what type of properties sell the fastest? And where in the UK is the property market moving the fastest?
“Here in PO14 Stubbington village, we sell properties at the right price within a couple of weeks,” said Darren Challis, Director of Chambers Sales and Lettings in Bursledon. “We can even sell three new bungalows within a few days. Bungalows are most popular with cash buyers or those downsizing from larger properties. Other properties usually take around four to six weeks.
“The demand is there for bungalows and properties like detached bungalows that can be extended in a chalet. The demand comes from far and wide due to the value for money and being close the the sea. It also helps that the village is a traditional area with good old fashioned shops.”
“Properties in St Neots sell fastest close to the town centre and the train station,” said Karen Keightley, Branch Manager at Thomas Morris. “Properties that are priced right can sell in first few days. The most popular properties are 2/3 bed houses under £250,000. Mostly, enquiries for these types of properties are coming from young professionals and families that need more space.”
“In our area, four bed modern family homes and Victorian terraces are very popular with first time buyers, and they’re selling quickly,” said Elizabeth Daker, Director of Charles Orlebar Estate Agents. Last month alone, we had a property like this sell in two days and another in five.”
“Last year passed in a flash with a continuing upward trend in house prices locally, although this increase slowed marginally in second half of 2016. We saw houses in most price ranges seeing competing bids by buyers keen to secure a purchase with a limited availability of stock. I do think we have seen such significant growth locally over the last few years (largely in anticipation of Rushden Lakes development and commutability factors) that the inevitable slowdown now cannot be unexpected. 2017 should be a year of slow but steady growth in prices compared to previous years.”
“Haywards Heath is a prime commuter town 45 mins from Victoria and London Bridge,” explains Jaime Wallden, Senior Director at Mansell McTaggart. “Having worked here for the last 30 years, I can honestly say that this is one of the country’s hotspots, but it remains affordable.”
“Properties sell fastest in Agnes, Cornwall,” said Andy Goundry of Goundrys Estate Agents. “They often sell before we even put them on the internet. Most sell within 2 weeks. Cottages and any properties with a sea view usually sell fastest.
“In Truro, where I am based, properties usually take three times longer to sell. The fastest sales are to second home owners and medical professionals, due to proximity to a very large hospital. The current lack of new instructions means in certain areas we have more than one buyer per property so often the asking price is exceeded.”
“Properties in Lutterworth town are selling very quickly,” said Trish Perrone from Bartram & Co Lutterworth Ltd. “The only properties that may take longer to sell are those a few miles outside the town, and any which are quirky or overpriced.
“In December, I had a four-bedroom detached home on the market for £350,000, which is slightly more than the market value. However, it was viewed with 24 hours and an offer was made for the full asking price the following day. The couple who purchased it said that they wanted to secure a purchase because properties in the area are selling so quickly and they didn’t want to lose the house.
“Similarly, I had a property within walking distance of the town centre. The sellers wanted a minimum of £400,000 and planned to market it in January. I suggested they list it at £425,000 in December instead. The house was sold within two weeks for the full asking price. The buyer said that they wanted to relocate to Lutterworth and having been searching the internet for months. With so little to choose from, they offered the full asking to ensure they secured this purchase.”
Frances Bowling, from Moss Properties said “Properties sell fastest in the Woodfield Plantation, Doncaster. Townhouses here typically sell within six days. This contrasts to the average time on market in 2016 for Doncaster, which was nearly 12 weeks. Most of the people buying have viewed 7-10 properties, and most are investors or young professionals.”
Martin Moore from Morris Marshall & Poole said: “The Tywyn office of Morris Marshall & Poole is located on the West Wales coast and is a popular holiday destination with many beaches and the Snowdonia National Park on the doorstep. This attention combined with the growth in outdoor and extreme sports has resulted in many more people considering the area for the purchase of holiday homes or, even relocating permanently.
“The seaside resorts of Aberdyfi and Tywyn are proving most popular and accurately priced houses will sell fast in these areas. Condition of the properties does not seem important so long as the price reflects the extent of work required, even second home buyers don’t seem put off by a project, that said, new builds tend to be some of the best sellers as there are relatively few of them and the buying process can be very easy. Houses on the coast are most popular, especially if they have a sea view and sales within a couple of weeks, or even a few days, are not uncommon.
“Most of the buyers for these homes tend to be more mature in age, not necessarily ready for retirement but certainly with some flexibility regarding work commitments. This benefits the sellers as most buyers are chain free and only seek small mortgages if any at all.
“It doesn’t mean everything is easy - the population is very sparse and travel time to employment centres and even supermarkets can make living in the area impractical for many.”
Catrina Horsley, Branch Manager at James Du Pavey, said: “The most popular locations are areas with good amenities, schools and commuter access for rail and road connections as well as major places of employment.
“We have recently seen cases where multiple offers can be received within 24 hours of the first viewings. Mid-range properties are most desired, particularly £200,000 - £300,000, three or four bedrooms, traditional or modern semis and detached but good condition. Presentation and contemporary fixtures and fittings can be key.
“Large property developers make their products very appealing and a move relatively easy with incentive schemes, together with availability of help to buy, which in my experience although it is available to any buyer on a new build, first time buyers have found this very attractive.
“The old saying of ‘location, location, location’ is still very much in evidence in the Staffordshire area. We have found that within Stone there have been huge numbers of buyers coming in to the area who are unfamiliar to the area, so are asking colleagues and locals for their advice on locations.”
“Saffron Walden is one of the fastest selling areas,” said Kevin Moll, Director of Kevin Henry Estate Agents. “Besides constantly appearing in the top 10 places to live, a beautiful market town, it has one of the best comprehensive schools in the country and is a retirement town as well. Properties can sell within days and there are regularly multiple bids.
“There are a number of brand new developments which are selling well. Anything under £300,000 is in short supply and a lot of the old cottages in the town centre sell very well. There are a number of fairly central streets that always sell well as they give access to popular primary schools. At the right price, anything will sell well in Saffron Walden.
“We have a lot of people downsizing locally and from further south. London buyers are always in evidence. We have a number of professional people from Cambridge such as those employed by Astra Zenica who have moved down from Cheshire. Investors are still about in reasonable numbers, and first time buyers are more noticeable.
“New builds have been doing well, but so have all parts of the town. It is a town with much demand, squeezed between Cambridge and London - two of the most expensive places in the country. There are good schools, low crime, rail links road links and lots of employment within an hour’s commute.”
“Across our network, the properties that sell the fastest are in Ruislip and Ruislip Manor,” said Luke Allday, Sales Director of Gibbs Gillespie Estate Agents. “ Properties will usually sell within two to four weeks if priced correctly. Two and three bedroom end-terraced and semi-detached houses seem to sell the fastest as they are the most in demand.
“These areas are very popular because of schools and public transport links. There are four tube stations all within close proximity of each other; West Ruislip, Ruislip, Ruislip Manor and South Ruislip, and the A40 and M25 are also easily accessible. The transport links make the area very appealing to investors.
“There are lots of first time buyers and young families whose circumstances are changing regularly due to schools, starting a family, job promotions etc. so they tend to move more frequently.”
Town centre properties and strong school catchment areas are most in demand, however all stock is in demand if priced correctly,” said Roy Spalding, from Your Ipswich.
“We are in receipt of some offers within 24 hours but as an average I would say that properties normally sell within 10 days. There is demand across the range, but standard mid-range family three-bed semi-detached homes are more popular and first time buyers and second movers are the most common types of buyers.
“New builds have been attracting a premium, which tends to equate to a longer sale period.
“Some news suggests Ipswich and its surroundings are bucking some trends with a bounce. I think this is due to lesser valued stock when compared to surrounding county towns and forecast improved commuter links.”
“The core city centre in the Jewellery Quarter is selling the fastest here,” said Philip Jackson, Director of Maguire Jackson. “Properties typically sell within one or two weeks, with good purpose-built one and two bedroom flats and authentic loft apartments proving to be most popular.”
“Properties here are particularly popular with buy-to-let investors, professional singles and couples who enjoy a City Centre lifestyle.
“New builds are popular here, particularly if the scheme is launched within six months of the targeted completion date. Longer completion date projects in our experience become more sought after by investors, especially from overseas, who perhaps might not need to see a show apartment/showroom of finishes, which do assist owner occupiers.
“Camden Lofts in the Jewellery Quarter is a block of twelve loft apartments developed by Javelin Block, priced from £255,000- £515,000. This has just launched with occupation in June. 50% is already reserved. Javelin Block are acknowledged Jewellery Quarter developers and whilst they are not supplying a show flat, we are able to guide purchasers through obtaining access into their other schemes locally.”
Mark Sparrow, Sales Manager at Wood & Pilcher said: “The fastest-selling homes are within walking distance of Tunbridge Wells mainline railway station. Most properties sell within three to four weeks. “Three to four bed period family homes with parking are in high demand. We are seeing a lot of fast offers from London workers with school-age children.”
Jo Woolley, Director at Debbie Fortune Estate Agents said: “Popular local villages with good/outstanding Ofsted reports and a sense of community are in high demand. These include Wrington and Congresbury are in North Somerset and Chew Magna and Compton Martin are in the Chew Valley.
“Typically homes sell within three to five weeks of marketing. Period cottages or modern family houses on popular quiet new build estates are selling fastest.
“Young professionals, families and retirees from nearby Bristol are the most common buyers. We are fortunate to have two offices both within 30 minutes’ commute of the City of Bristol, in Wrington and Chew Magna, both beautiful sought after villages. Whilst schools are always a big draw for any discerning buyer they are also attracted by good local amenities, transport routes and a good local pub. Statistics tell us that villages and communities with these attributes appreciate in value greater than those without, so buyers should definitely consider this.”
“Central locations, near amenities, train stations, and good schools are traditionally always in demand”, said Adam Farrell, Director at Sawyer & Co Sales & Lettings.
“Properties in commuter belts, offering good job prospects with a wealth of culture and a vibrant restaurant and nightlife, offer people a good quality of life and the opportunity to enjoy a great work/life balance. Here in Brighton and Hove, we’re blessed with a strong arts, music and creative scene offering people a wealth of things to do and enjoy when they’re not relaxing on the beach.
“Our city maintains a strong market and properties continue to sell at a good pace. In terms of how fast properties sell, it really depends on the market conditions at any one point. However, with a good market a sought-after property can be sold on the first day just from the agent making a few calls to their hottest buyers. Flats and houses in central locations near to the local amenities or seafront are always the fastest selling in our area, especially if they have parking.
“Generally new builds sell faster because they’re in short supply. However, even new-builds do still need to be priced correctly to sell.”
Gina Burbidge, Sales Negotiator at Royston Lund said: “Properties sell the fastest in Central West Bridgford. Some sales can happen in a matter of days, but timing really varies. Anything with character, Victorian and Edwardian especially, can sell quickly. Homes that require some renovation can be quite popular here, too.
“Properties that appeal to families often sell the fastest – a property with three of four bedrooms in a good school catchment area.”
“Correctly priced properties usually sell within six to eight weeks,” said Darren Richards, Director at The Estate Company. “Apartments are the fastest to sell. We see the fastest offers from overseas cash buyers, and new builds tend to get faster offers than other properties.”
Simon Miller, partner at Holroyd Miller, said: “We’re in the fortuitous position of attracting buyers looking for a cheaper alternative to Leeds. Professionals and first time buyers are attracted to the suburbs of Wakefield, which are ideally placed on direct commuter links to Leeds without the premium price often seen in the suburbs of Leeds. We’ve also seen an increase in the number of professionals relocating here as they embark on new jobs in Leeds.
“The suburbs of Sandal, St John’s and Wrenthorpe are areas where properties sell quickly. Re-furbished semi-detached bungalows are always an extremely quick sell usually taking only two weeks to sell. Any re-furbished property, or incredibly looked after/furnished property offered at £200,000 or less in these areas will sell between four to six weeks. Our properties tend to move quicker than the local average, which is 12- 16 weeks, but that’s because we only market properties we know people will buy.
“New builds definitely sell quicker, especially the ones we market. New builds are offered with incentives galore, so it’s no surprise. From financial incentives like Help to Buy, Sales Assist Scheme, and Stamp Duty paid, to the security of the guarantees you receive, not to mention other offers such as part exchange, furnished kitchens, carpets etc. the benefits go on - it’s minimum effort for maximum return.
“Generally, people are drawn to the practical benefits of Wakefield. From good schools, to leisure facilities and pursuits, and excellent transport links to the rest of the country, this attracts professional couples and families, of which we tend to deal with the most.”
Contractors and people who are self-employed can face additional challenges when securing a mortgage, which may sometimes cause delays during the property buying process.
Around 22% of the UK workforce are now self-employed or contractors, according to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skill (BIS), but many of them worry that this will work against them when they apply for a mortgage.
Recent research revealed that just over one in five contractors and self-employed believe that the fact they aren’t in full-time employment has made it harder for them to get a mortgage, with almost a third claiming that lenders see them as a bigger risk.
More than one in ten (16%) claim that they found the process of applying for a mortgage difficult, with over half of those who have been self-employed between one and ten years preferring to get their mortgage via a broker who can help steer them through the process.
The main obstacles the self-employed and contractors often face when applying for a mortgage are:
- No more self-certification mortgages. The self-employed and contractors used to be able to tell lenders how much they earned without having to provide any proof, but following the Mortgage Market Review in April 2014, lenders now require evidence of income for all applications.
- An irregular income. Often the self-employed and contractors earn a different amount each month, but lenders usually want to see a steady income that doesn’t fluctuate over time.
- Some work contracts might only last for a few weeks or a month, which makes lenders nervous that this could result in missed mortgage payments in future when contracts finish.
Despite these challenges, most lenders are willing to provide mortgages to the self-employed and contractors, and some have adapted their lending criteria so that they can better cater for this group.
That said, the more years of accounts they have showing a consistent or rising income, the better their chances of being accepted for a mortgage. Typically lenders will want to see at least 2 years’ worth of accounts.
It will also help if they can prove that they have plenty of work going forwards, or if they will be working as a contractor in an industry that they previously worked full-time in.
Having a substantial deposit in place can also be a real advantage for self-employed or contractor homebuyers, because it reduces the risk for lenders.
Often an intermediary who has experience finding mortgages for the self-employed can advise which lenders tend to look more favourably on applications for contractors or people who work for themselves, which can help speed things along.
If you are considering an offset mortgage or simply need mortgage advice, then please speak to the Guild Mortgage Service provided by fee free L&C Mortgages.
You can contact L&C mortgages on: 0800 073 1945
Homebuyers are enjoying record low mortgage rates, but must make sure they understand that there will usually be a penalty to pay if they want to leave their deal early.
In return for securing the lower rates on the market, borrowers are typically ‘locked in’ to their deal by lenders imposing hefty early repayment charges. These are usually charged as a percentage of the loan.
Early repayment charges are payable if you want to come out of a deal early, switch lender, or make significant capital repayments over the 10% that is typically allowed.
Only once the deal ends, and the borrower moves onto the lender’s standard variable rate, will they be free to move without penalty.
Early repayment charges can run into thousands of pounds, and the earlier you want to get out of your deal, the steeper the cost will be.
Borrowers should therefore always read their mortgage small print carefully before signing up to any deal so they understand the true cost of leaving that deal before it ends.
There are options available for borrowers looking for greater flexibility. Some lenders offer deals with no early repayment charges, which would suit those wanting to overpay their mortgage, or who think that their circumstances might change before their deal ends.
Before committing to any mortgage deal, borrowers should always consider their future plans and the financial impact that early repayment charges could have.
Guild agents take a look at 2017, and comment on what they think we can expect in their respective areas.
Ben Whiting, the Branch Manager in Victorstone’s Shoreditch office, comments on what he expects from 2017:
While most market commentators are predicting a dip for London house prices as a whole in 2017, London has become an increasingly segregated market as the impact of Brexit has taken hold. While prime central and more mature, high-value postcodes saw prices dip significantly in the aftermath of Brexit, East London, which had been experiencing high growth prior to Brexit, simply saw prices remain stable and are already showing signs of recovery.
In recent years, more central East London postcodes have seen remarkable growth, driven by development drawing both overseas and domestic buy-to-let investors with the promise of high yields and tempting capital appreciation opportunities. 2016 saw a significant rise in the proportion of first-time-buyers and other residential purchasers following suit.
In 2017, with rents expected to rise, first-time-buyers will not be deterred by potential short-term dips in capital values while faced with increasingly exorbitant London rents. We expect to continue to see increasing numbers of residential purchasers, often helped by down-sizing parents, look to snap up properties in Eastern postcodes pegged for future growth; preferring to risk temporary dips in value than to continue to pour their deposits into the pockets of landlords.
Stock levels in East London remain strong, especially in the ex-council bracket, as original right-to-buy owners look to finally realise their assets and invest in freehold properties on the outskirts of London. This gentrification, combined with the continued re-development and completion of transport schemes such as Crossrail, should continue to make the area an attractive prospect to buyers. With interest rates looking more likely to remain stable well into 2017, we expect East London to weather the storm far better than the rest of London as a whole.
Kate Howell from Woodhead Oswestry Sales and Lettings, based near the Welsh Border, also sees an increase in first time buyers:
I predict 2017 to be the year of the first-time buyer. In a lot of cases monthly mortgage repayments are cheaper than the rising cost of renting. Low interest rates will help to fuel this and we expect to see the two bedroom properties traditionally purchased by landlords snapped up by first-timers instead.
We need every kind of property for waiting buyers and my team are preparing for a surge of activity in the spring market. Despite the ongoing political uncertainty over Brexit and invoking Article 50, people still want to move home and the new year is an ideal time to do that.
Chris Sawyer, Director of Sawyer & Co Sales & Lettings in Brighton and Hove, expects to see a stable market:
Obviously the vote to leave the EU has created some uncertainty with none of us knowing what Brexit will mean to us, particularly in economic terms. There is no precedent for such a situation and if there is any fragile sentiment amongst buyers this could create a drag on price growth. I think we can expect a stable market next year with static or modest price growth. Brighton & Hove will certainly continue to be an extremely popular place to live and invest.
To find your nearest Guild Agent to help you move in 2017, take a look at our website.
This December has certainly not been the coldest on record, but looking after your home during winter in really important; find out how to winter proof your home before it gets too cold.
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