Kate’s 5 ‘must-read’ property stories this week

publication date: Nov 11, 2014
author/source: Kate Faulkner, Property Expert and Author of Which? Property Books

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My top property stories this week...

New partnership creates 14,000 new homes in London

Boris Johnston, Mayor of London, has welcomed a joint venture by National Grid and Berkeley Group to develop substantial residential and mixed-use housing schemes, known as St William Homes LLP. They will be built on sizeable portions of brownfield sites in areas of urgent housing shortages. With London’s population likely to hit 11 million by 2050, Sir Edward Lister, Deputy Mayor for Planning, commented that “innovative approaches to house building such as this will help to unlock vast swathes of land and deliver thousands of much-needed new homes… (and) go hand-in-hand with the Mayor’s work to accelerate the building of thousands more homes for Londoners.” Besides initially delivering 7,000 new homes, including 2,000 affordable homes, the project will create 5,500 jobs, two new schools and 22 acres of public open space, and pay over £150 million into local infrastructure and services. The Mayor has already earmarked 87% of the 700 hectares of surplus public land he took on in 2012.

Read - First Time Buyer Quick Guide Checklist


Implementation of the EU mortgage credit directive

The European Commission published the directive on credit agreements for consumers relating to residential immovable property (or MCD) in February 2014. Most of its provisions relate to minimum regulatory requirements for protecting consumers taking out credit agreements concerning property. Mortgage firms must act fairly, competently and professionally; product advertising must be fair and truthful, including standard rates; full appropriate information should be provided to purchasers ahead of contract; lenders should conduct an affordability test; minimum standards of advice must be adhered to; lenders offer additional safeguards to prevent consumers’ exchange rate losses where relevant; consumers can exit a mortgage before the end of its term; and lenders tolerate moderate payment difficulties before starting repossession procedures. Mortgage intermediaries should also be able to operate more easily across borders and consumers have access to cross-border compensation where relevant. The UK already offers consumers decent protection, including the recent MMR changes to curb irresponsible lending practices, and the government announced last week that this would be subject to a separate consultation in 2015 to “build an in-depth evidence base on how the operation of the UK buy-to-let housing market may carry risks to financial stability.” Consequently new laws on buy-to-let are unlikely before the 2015 election. To read more, go to Government - EU Mortgage Credit Directive.


Estate agents snap on the rubber gloves to help sales!

Big Yellow’s Self Storage’s recent research suggests that UK estate agents, despite their unappealing image, will tackle unsavoury household tasks to make properties on their books more attractive. Around a third said they knuckled down to flushing toilets, opening windows to release smells, pushed things under beds and tidied up mess. Almost a fifth had sprayed air freshener and tidied items away in cupboards, and many had opted to switch on lights and brew fresh coffee for a homely ambience. Property expert Kate Faulkner commented, “Every agent wants to get the best price they can for sellers, but many of the ways they do this go unnoticed… to make sure a property is presentable at viewing time.” The study also noted agents’ tips on boosting sale price, with clearing kitchens of small appliances, open plan living areas and removing ornaments and bric-a-brac all adding £900 plus in value. With UK homes the smallest in Europe, decluttering can add up to 11% in value, and every square foot of cleared space is valued at around £238, although only 56% of agents have recommended short-term self-storage for bulky items. Demotivators for buyers included Christmas or birthday decorations, kitchen appliance clutter, crowded wardrobes, mounds of toys or clothes, ‘feature’ walls and a clapped-out or cheap car outside the property. For more information, go to Property Wire.

Read - Selling a Home Checklist


Help to Buy mortgage deposits slip below £9,000 in September

According to new figures from Mortgage Advice Bureau prospective buyers are now paying an average 3% less than in August, and compared to a typical purchase price of £226,641 on the general market, HTB2 applicants paid on average £150,488 in September, a 6% reduction from August’s average of £159,527. Less well-off buyers seeking to buy lower-priced first homes seem to be taking advantage of the scheme, with typical LTV for a mortgage guarantee applicant 94%, compared to 70% in the open market. Average HTB2 loan was £141,514 in September, almost £20,000 less than in the wider market, and the smaller deposit makes saving for it much more accessible to first-time buyers. HTB mortgage guarantee applicants who saved 25% of their average main income of £31,270 would be able to save September’s average deposit in just 1.4 years, with those sharing the deposit doing this within nine months. Mortgage Advice Bureau’s Head of Lending, Brian Murphy, comments, “The generosity of the 95% loan-to-value associated with the scheme is clearly not being abused; lower earners are using the scheme to purchase lower-priced properties and are taking on much smaller levels of debt as a result.” For further information, go to Property Reporter.

Read - Help to Buy a New Build and Help to Buy an Existing Home


More homes versus our love of the countryside

Plans for 4,500 homes in Charnwood on the edge of Leicestershire have been approved despite criticism that the decision has been ‘rushed’. The development will cost £445 million and cover 880 acres, and a government inspector is currently carrying out an inspection. It will be built on farmland and will be the county’s largest single housing development. Critics say a planning committee decision should have been made after publication of the report and not before. The planning committee Chairman, Councillor Peter Osborne, voted against the plans due to feeling ‘uncomfortable’ about this. He added that nothing would be lost by waiting a few months until the government report is released in January 2015. However Councillor Patrick Youell voted in favour and commented, “I don’t quite see the point of putting things off because they are unpopular.” The local Parishes Action Group (BABTAG) chairman, Owen Bentley, said that residents were disappointed and felt cheated. The homes are set to be constructed in phases and should be complete by 2009. To read more, see BBC Leicestershire.

Read - Building a Home Checklist

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