Taking advantage of a strong spring property market

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While spring is a traditionally busy time for the UK property market, this spring is proving to potentially be the busiest ever.

Nationwide’s recently released House Price Index reported 14.3% price growth in the year to March, up from 12.6% in February. According to Nationwide, the average property in the UK is now worth a record £265,312, increasing by over £33,000 in the past year.

It’s safe to say that the usual spring increase in demand for property is well underway, as homebuyers look to move ahead of summer. However, there are more factors that are leading to this so-called ‘best spring ever’ for sellers.

Homebuyers still seeking more space

Two years on from the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, homebuyers are still settling into new ways of working and living. As many return to some form of hybrid working, or realise that their work from home situation is more or less permanent, they are seeking out homes that will support their new lifestyles.

Some are still prioritising more space and a sense of community, finding homes outside of big city centres in order to fulfil this need. Others are looking to new commuter towns as they only commute to the office two or three days each week.

Additionally, there’s a rebound in demand for urban properties being seen this spring that wasn’t seen in earlier parts of the pandemic, as workers begin to return to the office in a more permanent capacity.

With new ways of working and increased savings accrued during lockdowns, we’re seeing prices up by 21% on pre-pandemic levels, and demand for housing is remaining high.

Taking advantage of the conditions

The combination of strong demand for housing and a limited stock of homes has also kept upward pressure on prices as we move into spring, meaning that some are being priced out of the market.

Zoopla reports that the number of homes listed for sale across the average UK estate agency branch has moved up slightly by 3.5% in March, but the stock of homes available to buy is 42% below the UK’s 5-year average.

While this may indeed price some prospective homebuyers out of the market, there is reason for optimism if you’re a buyer this spring.

The availability and cost of mortgages has remained consistent, helping keep the process and prices associated with buying a house more manageable. Additionally, Rightmove has reported incremental increases in the number of homes coming to market as we enter spring, so hopefully supply will continue to rise to help even out the imbalance.

On the seller side, Rightmove has also reported that the proportion of properties finding a buyer within the first week is at an all-time high for this time of year, meaning that sellers with appropriately priced and strong properties can expect a shorter marketing time than normal.

In short, whether you’re considering buying, selling or both, this spring is the perfect time to take advantage of a robust property market.

Government’s pledge to boost electric car charging network

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Today, the Government has pledged to expand electric vehicle charge points significantly by 2030.

It’s great to see the Government taking action to increase sustainability in the UK through today’s national charging infrastructure plan. We are pleased to see the £1.6bn commitment to expand the UK charging network, and the ability for consumers to pay, access and compare prices for chargepoints in more convenient ways.

“We welcome this announcement and believe if the industry is going to move towards a greener future, this pledge will help to achieve this across the residential property sector, with building tenants and homeowners assured that they’ll be supported in their own sustainability aspirations. We would like to see specific help for resident freeholders and developers too though, so they can upgrade the infrastructure of developments and allow leaseholders and tenants to charge their vehicles. We also need to see that the Government follows through on the promises it has made today, by building the necessary infrastructure across the UK.

This technology will not be adopted by the wider community unless drivers know they have safe places to charge both at home and on the road, so this plan is a great start and we would encourage the Government to continue to make pledges such as this one.

https://www.express.co.uk/life-style/cars/1586035/electric-car-public-charging-stations-investment-ev-expansion-boris-johnson

2022: a year of high expectations for property

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For the property industry, the past year has been memorable. The stamp duty holiday, low mortgage rates and people considering their living options as they spent more time at home resulted in a boom for the market. Many industries were left feeling the negative impact from the pandemic, but property hit record highs, with house prices rising at the fastest pace in 15 years over the past three months. As we move forward to a new year, the market’s ability to remain unexpectedly buoyant throughout the past year raises the question of ‘what will 2022 bring?’

The most recent Halifax House Price Index (November 2021) gives us an idea of what we could expect. It showed that prices rose by 3.6% in the months approaching the new year, making it the highest quarterly rise since 2006 and brining the average price of a home to a staggering £272,992.

Many components have played a part on why this has been such an impressive year, including the shortage of properties on the market, which saw the government announce plans to build 300,000 new homes a year in order to meet current demand. Alongside this is the rise of a recovering jobs market, fueled by the opening of hospitality and many of the UK workforce returning to the office.

The excitement of the past year has made many industry experts voice their predictions for what they think we will see in 2022. National estate agents, Jackson-Stops, is predicting that property values will increase by 2-3% in the new year. They also predict that chains will become shorter due to the volume of cash buyers in circulation and more purchasers will return to the sales market from rental. Rightmove has gone one step further, by suggesting that we will see an increase of 5% in house prices, with West Midlands, Scotland, Yorkshire and South-West being the areas to watch.

Private rental is thought to be on the rise too, drawing more investment into the sector. When the current ‘work from home’ restrictions are lifted, an influx of workers are expected to return to the central zones of cities, causing a predicted 4.5% rise in rentals. 

If we have learnt one thing from the past few years, it is that we cannot predict what the next year will bring. But with all the signs pointing towards a great year for the housing market in 2022, it is very likely we will see even more positive movement within the industry for months to come.

ULEZ expansion: Experts unveil how new charges will affect property prices across London

LONDON’S new Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) will affect 3.8 million residents as of yesterday with the new £12.50 daily charge making its debut across the capital. As the cost of road travel increases, how will property prices be affected by the new restrictions?

The extensive ULEZ zone will see new emissions standards penalise heavily polluting vehicles driving across London. With residents liable to pay the daily charge when driving in the area, the cost of living in the capital is increasing – but how will the new charges impact house prices across the region? Express.co.uk spoke to property experts Simon Bath and Israel Moskovitz to find out.

How much does it cost to live in London?

The average cost of a UK home increased by £25,000 in the 12 months leading to August 2021, with a rise in property prices recorded across all regions.

According to the latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) House Price Index (HPI), prices in London hit a new high of £526,000.

Despite the capital recording the lowest level of growth among the regions for the ninth consecutive month, London property prices continue to rise with the housing market showing no signs of slowing down.

With the demand for property still outweighing the supply, experts insist prices will not fall despite the increased cost of living in London.

How will the ULEZ expansion affect house prices?

While the cost of living within the low-emission zone will increase for non-ULEZ compliant vehicle owners, property experts believe the expansion of the clean air zone will see an increase in the demand for homes in the capital.

Speaking exclusively to Express.co.uk, property expert and founder of Avon Group, Israel Moskovitz said: “Properties in less-congested areas that offer higher air quality will become appealing to house-hunters, especially as 92 percent of homebuyers in the UK have said that a sustainable community is important when determining where to live.

“As a result, we are expecting to see buyer demand increase for properties within these boroughs.”

Read the full article here: https://www.express.co.uk/life-style/property/1511361/ulez-expansion-property-prices-london-evg

OakNorth Bank to advance the £5m required to complete Side by Side’s new school building

OakNorth Bank – the UK bank for entrepreneurs, by entrepreneurs has agreed to advance £5m to enable Side by Side, the special needs school and integrated nursery catering for the Jewish community, to complete its building work whilst its fundraising continues apace.

Side by Side’s new school premises is scheduled to open for pupils in September 2022, with an increased capacity from 80 to 130 and new state of the art facilities designed to meet the specific needs of every child. The school, which carries a “Good” rating from Ofsted, welcomes students from across London with range of special needs. Specially designed programs, customised to each level and ability are implemented by a cadre of staff headed by Gerald Lebrett.

The new £11m school project has raised more than half the required funds locally and it is always a challenge to ensure that the building work must continue as funds come in.

Israel Moskovitz, Founder of Avon Group and Trustee at Side by Side, said: “I have worked closely with special needs school, Side-by-Side, for several years now, and I continue to be blown away by the immense generosity of the local community.

It was an honour and a privilege to work with OakNorth Bank to ensure the project can move forward quickly. The new school will make a huge difference to the children and their families. I hope that we will now be able to reach our goal of opening next year.”

Jacob Sorotzkin, chair of Governors at Side by Side said: “The generosity of our community is astounding, and we are immeasurably grateful to those individuals who have secured this facility from OakNorth Bank. Our building work continues, our fundraising efforts continue but OakNorth’s advance will ensure that we will meet our target and open as planned next year.”

Ben Barbanel, Head of Debt Finance and Greg Manson, Associate Director of Debt Finance at OakNorth Bank, continued: “Side by Side has self-funded its growth extremely well, through charitable events and fundraising activities but cash flow for the building works is imperative. We at OakNorth Bank are truly proud to have been able to provide the necessary finance and we look forward to becoming partners with the wonderful Side by Side team.”

Read more here: Side by Side new school building to be completed thanks to £5m loan – The Jewish Chronicle (thejc.com)

Buyer demand remains high across the housing market

Many sectors have suffered dramatically during the past 12 months, but one that continues to bounce back stronger than before is the housing market. Recent figures by Rightmove’s monthly House Price Index show that, even during a pandemic, new records have been set within the industry, with the average price of property jumping up by 1.8% (£5,767). With the market continuing to experience extremely high buyer demand and an appetite for larger homes, one thing is true — confidence in the market continues to be at an all-time high.

It is no surprise, really. With people having spent more time in their homes in the last year than ever before, we’re experiencing a growing trend of people looking for more space and better surroundings, leading to frequent moving becoming the norm. This need for ‘better’ has seen a boom across the industry, so much so that the prices of homes in the north of the country have seen double-digit increases, with prices up by 11.1% in North West and 10.5% in Yorkshire. This section of the country has had the greatest potential for growth for many years now, and the change in buyer’s needs (more working from home, less commuting), means a spotlight has been shone on this part of the market.

Many will look at the extension of the stamp duty holiday, paired with the continued low costs of borrowing as the real savior for keeping confidence in the housing market. In some ways, they may be right, but it is clear that confidence has been there long before this. With Nationwide reporting that three-quarters of the homeowners they surveyed at the end of last month saying they would have moved even if the stamp duty hadn’t been extended, we have to appreciate that the market is already in an extremely buoyant place.

On that same thread, 25% of homeowners surveyed by Nationwide said that they were either in the process of moving or considering a move as a result of the pandemic, the expectation is that the industry will continue to accelerate in the coming months. If the month-on-month house prices remain flat, it is thought we might even see its annual rate of growth reach double digits — a continued welcome boost to our economy.”

‘Buyer demand remains high across the housing market’ first appeared on my Medium profile.

Ground Rent Reform: What can be expect from the biggest reform in 40 years?

The future of ‘ground rents’ in the UK has been well-debated. Campaigners and Members of Parliament alike have regularly taken to the stage to tarnish such rents as ‘unfair’, while landlords and property managers continue to see them as an obvious necessity.

But with the Ground Rent (Leasehold Reform) Bill published earlier this month, the future of these rents is now up in the air. The new Bill will be part of the biggest reform in 40 years and aims to give existing leaseholders the right to extend by 990 years.

It may also see a ban on ground rents for all new-build flats by spring 2022. The reasoning for these changes? To offer leaseholders more control over their homes. ‘Peppercorn rents’ would also be enforced, meaning landlords can ‘sought nothing more than a peppercorn’, with fines for those who ignore it.

Campaigners argue that the new Bill will be fairer as it will make homeownership cheaper, less bureaucratic, and fairer by stopping freeholders from increasing ground rent. Leaseholders will also be able to buy a freehold more cheaply. But the evidence suggests that not all leaseholders agree. A survey by the Savanta Group showed that 70% of leaseholders are satisfied with the current rights and believe taking on additional responsibilities “would be a disaster”.

This seems to indicate that many blocks will move to a system where a managing agent is appointed but responsibility is handed to a resident’s management company (RMC). The Bill doesn’t look at the dynamics of buildings or how RMCs might work in practice. On the ground, Directors often do not have the time or expertise to manage a block effectively.

The Bill as it stands seems to be throwing out the baby with the bathwater. Everyone understands the need for better regulation to stop unscrupulous behavior. Some professional freeholders who do not maintain their blocks to a high level and cause difficulties. But having a professional company run the block makes a lot of sense. It means that you have experienced experts running an operation, which is standard practice in most sectors. Much talk has been about a professional director on an RMC, but this is not cheap, and the cost would fall on the residents.

There must be a middle ground. A creative solution that involves a fixed affordable ground rent, linked to inflation would allow professional freeholder to take on the building safety and management responsibilities, without the need to fight with your neighbours.

The need for better regulation is not a need for a complete rewrite of how things are run, especially when the majority are not in favour of the new law would. Freeholders may not be popular, but in the vast majority of cases, they are effective. At this stage it looks as though the Bill will pass without significant change, however, the nuance of neighborhood relations may mean that a creative solution could be more effective.

Ground Rent Reform: What can be expect from the biggest reform in 40 years?‘ was also published on my Medium profile.