Wednesday, 31 August 2016

The paradise island that costs less than a house in the UK

An island off Australia costs less than the average price of a UK home

Forget getting your foot on the property ladder, for just over £150,000 you can buy your own idyllic island.

Letting agent Ray White Southern Tasmania just added Huon Island to its books – and it's yours for a mere $300,000 Australian dollars, which works out to £163,149.

Located off the coast of Tasmania, the slice of paradise is accessible via a 10-minute boat trip.

The buyer would be sharing the 1.5 hectare piece of land with just three other families.

Listing agent Simon Purdon said: “It’s so peaceful — when you’re there, you feel like it’s your own part of the world, secluded and quiet.”

And with the average house price in the UK £284,000, according to the Office for National Statistic (ONS), your own island may be more appealing.

Londoners face the highest bill if they want to put roots down, with their own home setting them back on average £524,000.

A 9.7 per cent jump since last year, city dwellers face a 46-year wait to save enough for a mortgage.

Elsewhere in the UK, first-time buyers can expect to save for 13 years before reaching enough to put down a deposit.

Needless to say the agent selling the island has been getting up to three calls a day about the getaway, and warned it would be snapped up soon.

And as the number of young homeowners’ declines and generation rent soars, it may be time to

Could you cut down your property management fees? How to slash costs - from doing it yourself to asking these key questions

  • Leasehold legal specialists outlines eight steps flat owners can take to ensure their property management company provides value for money
  • They include requesting to see the accounts and going through items with a fine tooth comb
  • You may even be able to appoint your own manager via a process called Right To Manage

Britain is now building more flats than houses, leaving a rising proportion battling issues related to owning a leasehold property - including dealing with a property management company.

Some property management companies take the work out of owning a flat and offer great value for money. However others can charge high fees and don't necessarily offer good service.  

Legal experts suggest there are steps flat owners can take to ensure they get the best from their property managers, but they'll need an organised approach to ensure it works.

One law firm that specialises in leaseholds has provided an eight-step plan to ensure that you get value for money, whether its ensuring your bin waste is stored appropriately for collection or that water leaks in the communal areas are not neglected.

Alex Bastin, a barrister at Hardwicke, said: 'Far too often, management agents will take your money and run. It means being left with an inadequate service and soaring bills.

'If you find yourself in this situation, don't despair as there are steps that you can take to put pressure on them to maintain the property appropriately. But ideally, you'll want to obtain the freehold so that you have more control of what happens to the premises you live in.' 

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Where to buy a property in London in 2016: the south-east London homes hotspots to watch

South-east London is climbing the property ladder fast, thanks to quick overland rail links to the centre and good-value property prices. We get the lowdown on the up-and-coming areas where buyer's budgets can stretch up to twice as far.

Once considered a Tube-starved corner of London best ignored, the SE postcodes are being opened up to home buyers and renters by vastly improved transport links and the affordability of property.

Despite recent price hikes in south-east London, in general, property there is still significantly lower than districts to the north or west of the capital.

The extended East London Line, part of the Overground network, has brought areas such as Forest Hill and Sydenham in from the cold.

Crossrail will be a game-changer for Woolwich and bordering areas such as Charlton, while the proposed Bakerloo line extension from Elephant & Castle via Catford to suburban Kent, the capital’s next major Tube upgrade, is already causing property ripples.

South-east London stretches from Bermondsey to Beckenham, from Woolwich to West Norwood, and includes some buzzing Zone 2 districts close to the main employment hubs of the West End, City and Canary Wharf.

Hampstead and Primrose Hill in north London may be incomparable, but south-east London has leafy town-and-country equivalents.

Blackheath occupies a high plateau alongside majestic Greenwich Park and has a village centre plus private roads with detached houses in big plots. Developer St James is working on a scheme of 30 homes on the site of a former car showroom moments from the village.

Dulwich — “near but so far” could be its motto — has a duck pond and cottages, a picture gallery, working tollgate, renowned private schools and a golf course.

And beyond the snaking South Circular Road are underrated inner suburbs such as Shooter’s Hill and Crystal Palace.

Most south-east London areas are connected by quick overland rail links to the centre. There is plenty of open green space, a seemingly endless stock of Victorian and inter-war terrace houses that can be reconfigured for modern living, plus a swelling number of new housing projects as developers tap into rising demand.

“A lot of buyers have pre-conceived ideas about south-east London, but there are more and more converts, including cross-river movers,” says Huw Davies of estate agent Caddington Blue. “When they discover up-and-coming areas like Brockley and Nunhead, they’re taken aback by the value for money they can get — and how nice these areas can be. Similar homes north of the river can cost twice as much.”

So buyers are realising they can get a property twice as big for half the price and still get to work quickly.

One hot address is Telegraph Hill,  just south of New Cross, which has six-minute trains to London Bridge. Large Victorian semis priced up to  £1.5 million are attracting City people, doctors and lawyers from other parts of London. These houses sit in wide roads and have at least 2,000 sq ft of space plus a 100-ft long garden.

A rare new-build scheme in Gellatly Road includes one property with a lovely roof terrace offering panoramic views of the City. Priced at £875,000. Call 020 7407 6033.

The Bakerloo line extension will run through new tunnels either along Old Kent Road or via Camberwell to New Cross Gate, then on to Lewisham and via Beckenham to Hayes. A spur to Bromley town centre is also being considered.

Trains will start operating after 2025, meaning there is a wait, but the point is that the extension will cement the future of this up-and-coming swathe of London. People who want to put down roots are factoring the transport upgrade into buying decisions.

A new “opportunity area” designated by Boris Johnson covers Old Kent Road and the corridor of land either side of it. Already new housing is sprouting up. Bermondsey Works is a 147-home scheme by Telford Homes. Call 01992 809800. The Bath House has 27 apartments. Call Higgins Homes on 020 8003 0613.

Other areas on the rise include Ladywell, which has acquired “village” status following streetscaping improvements and the opening of a deli and other independent shops, and Brockley, where bars and eateries, organic food caf├ęs, delis and a micro brewery are clustered around the train station. Under way here, too, is a scheme of new apartments.

The main conservation area is a network of wide, tree-lined avenues surrounding Hilly Fields, a green expanse where parents cluster with daughters attending Prendergast secondary school, situated alongside the park. Many of the vast Victorian houses have been split into flats, but increasingly they are reverting to single residences, along with more modest flat-fronted, semi-basement terrace homes.

Sydenham Hill rises sharply from leafy Dulwich before coming to a halt on the high ground of Crystal Palace. There are few better vantage points of the City. Coming soon at St Clement’s Heights is a scheme of 26 apartments, 20 houses and 50 charitable almhouses (for older residents “of little means” of Westminster and Lewisham ) on a six-acre estate. Crest Nicholson, the developer, is also redeveloping the former Dylon textile factory at Lower Sydenham into 223 apartments.

While some people doubt south of the river will ever catch up with north London, it seems inevitable that even the most unloved SE postcodes will get smartened up at some stage. Such areas may be the best ones to look for properties if you can play the longer game.

The Canary Wharf business district has increased the allure of south-east London addresses. Rotherhithe, on the opposite bank of the Thames, has been a big beneficiary. The former docks area is undergoing a second wave of regeneration and is growing in status.

The Jubilee line and a Thames Clippers river bus service already connect Rotherhithe to Canary Wharf. On the horizon is a pedestrian and cycle bridge, one of 13 new river crossings planned by Transport for London. The bridge will be a convenient conduit for bike-riding and walk-to-work commuters, boosting Rotherhithe’s draw.

“The area is being discovered by a new generation of young professionals priced out of Shad Thames and  Borough,” says James Hyman of estate agents Cluttons.

“It’s in Zone 2, and negatives such as a lack of neighbourhood shops and bars are being eliminated.”

One telltale sign of its growing popularity is the jump in passenger drops reported by taxi firm Addison Lee. Rotherhithe/Bermondsey is the capital’s “destination hotspot”, with a 170 per cent increase in journeys over the past three years.

Canada Water is the main hub, effectively a new town centre for Southwark an improved public space, a splendid new library and smart apartment schemes creating 4,000 new homes.

Property giant British Land is transforming 40 acres of land (5.5m sq ft of new development) that includes outdated Surrey Quays Shopping Centre and a redundant printworks.

Sellar Group, whose Shard of Glass is a short hop away, has unveiled plans for 1,046 homes ranging from studio apartments to townhouses, alongside restaurants, shops, cinema, a public square and dock basin. Visit Notting Hill Housing is a development partner.

Launching soon is Quebec Quarter — 151 apartments, some for shared-ownership. Call L&Q on 0844 406 9800.

Anchor Point in Salter Road is another new scheme. Two-bedroom apartments cost from £550,000. Call Kalmars on 020 7940 7980.

Housebuilder Barratt has a big presence in this area. Furnished penthouses at 19-storey Oslo Tower cost £799,000 and come with a parking space and a £23,970 stamp duty  contribution. One-bedroom flats at Greenland Place in Deptford cost from £335,000. Call 0844 811 4334.

Walworth is a remarkably uncelebrated and undervalued district on the  cusp of Zone 1. It’s so close to the centre that it gets into the large print pages of the A-Z.

Two of the area’s sprawling post-war, rundown council estates — Heygate and Aylesbury — are being redeveloped, which is helping to change perceptions, while investment is spilling over from Elephant & Castle regeneration.

Colourful and quirky East Street Market and Sir John Soane’s Church of St Peter at Liverpool Grove are among the area’s attractions, while behind the gritty high street are period gems, such as Sutherland Square and a Church Commissioners’ estate of charming terrace houses.

BASE17, so-called because of the area postcode, is a new scheme of 140 apartments overlooking a small park. Prices from £450,000. Call KFH on 020 3792 6073.

Nearby Harvard Gardens has 147 new flats launching in February. Call L&Q on 0844 406 9800.

A former council depot and listed public baths at Manor Place is being redeveloped into 270 homes by Notting Hill Housing.

Park View in Brandon Street is a boutique scheme of nine apartments, including a penthouse with a huge terrace priced at £795,000. Call  020 7407 6033.

Leasehold vs. Freehold:how to avoid the surprise costs and pitfalls of buying a home on 'rented ground'

Most new London homes are leasehold — which means owners pay ground rent and service charges as their lease gets shorter with every year.

More than 95 per cent of new-build homes sold in June in London were leasehold, according to the Land Registry. This means that despite the fortune you have paid for it, your new flat or maisonette is almost certainly standing on rented ground.

For this privilege you are likely to have to pay an annual fee, known as ground rent, and monthly service charges. Neither is fixed and both may rise substantially over time. Also, from the moment you get the keys, your right to remain in your home starts ticking down. At some point, you either need to renegotiate the length of your lease, or watch the value of your property substantially diminish.


There are two types of legal property ownership in the UK: freehold and leasehold. If you own the freehold, then you own your home outright. You own the property and the land it sits on, in perpetuity.

Leaseholders aren’t as lucky. Despite “buying” the property, they have really only leased it from the freeholder — called the landlord — for the period of the lease. Once the lease ends, the property reverts to the freeholder. This is part of the reason why you need the freeholder’s permission to make significant alterations.

The prevalence of leasehold properties among London new builds isn’t new. Land Registry data shows 98 per cent sold in 2010 were registered as leaseholds, very similar to the latest figures. This contrasts sharply with the national picture, where only 43 per cent of new builds registered in England and Wales last year were leaseholds.

To an extent the difference reflects London’s lack of space. New-build flats, piled on top of each other, are much cheaper than new-build houses standing in their own grounds. For London buyers, finding a new home usually boils down to choosing between one flat scheme or another. For developers, building leasehold flats has many advantages. In additon to selling the flats, they also produce new income streams, from ground rent and charges.

Annual ground rent payments have a lot of similarities with bond interest payments. This makes them attractive to life assurance companies, pension funds and private investors. In many cases, these investors will be willing to buy the promise of future ground rent payments before the block is finished. This private sector cash can help ensure the development’s completion, easing London’s housing shortage.

Annual service charges are more contentious, as minimal regulation allows room for exploitation. Consequently, complaints about unfair charges are frequent.


Another problem is the length of the lease. New-build leases start at about 99 years with some as long as 999 years. With UK average life expectancy lower than all of these at 81.5 years, you may wonder “why all the fuss?”

The issue is that most banks and building societies won’t lend on a property with a lease of less than 75 years. This makes it hard to re-mortgage or for a prospective buyer to obtain the finance to buy the property. Once you enter the realm of only selling to cash buyers, the price can tumble quickly.

This makes it increasingly costly to extend the lease once it has fallen below 80 years. For new-build properties with a 99-year lease, it isn’t long before these issues start to bite. If you bought a new-build property in the Eighties with a 99-year lease, you could be facing these problems now.

Fortunately for Londoners, many of the new builds shooting up now have ultra-long leases. Galliard Homes says its properties are “usually” offered with a 999-year lease. Similarly, Taylor Wimpey’s latest developments have either 250-year or 999-year lease. This is not always the case, so make sure you check out the lease length remaining on resale homes.

Shared-ownership properties are the other exception. New-builds now tend to come with 125-year leases. Should you want to extend that in the future, you may need to pay a fee that exceeds your percentage holding.

Monday, 29 August 2016

Margate tops seaside league for property price rises

The town has been regenerated in the past decade – with attractions such as the Turner Contemporary gallery and the Dreamland theme park

Margate has been named as the top hotspot for property price increases among Britain's seaside towns.

The average property in the Kent seaside town now sits at £202,276 – a 12.5% increase since July 2015, according to property website Zoopla.

The South East coast generally has seen substantial property value increases in the past year, with seven of the top 10 seaside climbers located along this shoreline.

Joining Margate in the seaside property league's top 10 list of hotspots were Walton-on-the-Naze, Felixstowe, Ramsgate, Hastings, Hayling Island, near Portsmouth and Southend-on-Sea.

Porthcawl on the south Wales coast, a popular area with surfers which is also known for hosting Elvis festivals and an annual Christmas Day swim, came fifth on the top 10 list.

The South West coastline was home to many of the weakest-performing seaside towns in terms of house prices. Two of Devon's popular holiday hotspots, Ilfracombe and Woolacombe, featured in the bottom 10 alongside Looe and Perranporth in Cornwall.

When it comes to the most expensive seaside properties, Salcombe in Devon boasts the priciest sea views with average property prices rolling in at £598,230.

Buyers looking for a cheaper seaside retreat may want to head to Scotland or Wales.

Saltcoats in Scotland offers the lowest seaside property values, with the average home worth £109,109.

Rhyl in North Wales came in sixth place on the list of seaside towns with the lowest property values. The average property in Rhyl is valued at £134,577 by Zoopla.

The Lancashire coastline may also be worth a look, with properties in Blackpool and Morecambe also on the list of the least expensive seaside properties.

Lawrence Hall, a spokesman for Zoopla, said the big increase in the value of an average home in Margate follows large amounts of regeneration funding that the town has received in the past decade – with attractions such as the Turner Contemporary gallery and the Dreamland theme park.

Mr Hall said: “If you're considering investing in a beach front property, you should consider those resorts receiving Government investment – it does have a positive impact on property values.”

Here are the top 10 seaside towns with the biggest percentage change in property values during the past year, with the annual percentage increase in house prices and the average property value there in July 2016, according to Zoopla:

1. Margate, Kent, 12.54%, £202,276

2. Grange-over-Sands, Cumbria, 10.58%, £273,965

3. Walton-on-the-Naze, Essex, 10.04%, £212,107

4. Felixstowe, Suffolk, 9.59%, £246,995

5. Porthcawl, Wales, 7.61%, £237,939

6. Llandudno, Wales, 7.56%, £196,074

7. Ramsgate, Kent, 7.17%, £208,901

8. Hastings, Sussex, 6.95%, £244,955

9. Hayling Island, Hampshire, 6.83% £314,746

10. Southend-on-Sea, Essex, 6.81%, £269,276

Here are the 10 seaside towns with the biggest percentage falls in property values over the past year, with the annual percentage change in house prices and the average property value there in July 2016, according to Zoopla:

1. Cleethorpes, Lincolnshire, minus 5.47%, £126,331

=2. Cruden Bay, Aberdeen, minus 4.63%, £162,742

=2. Collieston, Aberdeen, minus 4.63%, £227,747

4. Saltburn-by-the-sea, North Yorkshire, minus 4.33%, £140,396

5. Aberystwyth, Wales, minus 3.48%, £196,589

6. Rhyl, Wales, minus 3.37%, £134,577

=7. Ilfracombe, Devon, minus 2.21%, £219,773

=7. Woolacombe, Devon, minus 2.21%, £347,507

9. Looe, Cornwall, minus 2.19%, £258,843

10. Perranporth, Cornwall, minus 1.98%, £262,518

Here are the seaside towns with the highest property prices, according to Zoopla, with the average property value there in July 2016:

1. Salcombe, Devon, £598,230

2. Aldeburgh, Suffolk, £490,182

3. Southwold, Suffolk £434,618

4. Lyme Regis, Dorset, £402,634

5. Brighton, Sussex, £368,782

6. North Berwick, Scotland, £364,306

7. Port Isaac, Cornwall, £356,962

8. Sidmouth, Devon, £352,896

9. Woolacombe, Devon, £347,507

10. Swanage, Dorset, £330,901

And here are the seaside towns with the lowest property prices, with the average property value there in July 2016:

1. Saltcoats, Scotland, £109,109

2. Blackpool, Lancashire, £114,443

3. Blyth, Northumberland, £120,775

4. Cleethorpes, Lincolnshire, £126,331

5. Kilchattan Bay, Scotland, £130,846

6. Rhyl, Wales, £134,577

7. Morecambe, Lancashire, £136,063

8. Girvan, Scotland, £138,094

9. Saltburn-by-the-sea, Yorkshire, £140,396

10. Fairbourne, Wales, £141,576

5 surprising things that will boost the value of your home

Forget good schools, a new bathroom and a south-facing garden, it's the elements you can't control that really affect your house value

When you’re looking to improve a property’s value, there’s a whole heap of accepted wisdom out there. Improve the curb appeal by adding a few flower pots and getting rid of that rusty bath in the front garden. Install a new bathroom and do up the kitchen. Will the local school to get a better Ofsted report next time.

But a new study has shown that simply living near a big-brand supermarket can add £22,000 to the value of a property, or even more depending on the shop. And that’s just one of a number of factors that can have a huge affect on the value of a property, no matter how nice the kitchen is.

Here are five surprising things that will affect the price of your property. Sadly, they’re almost entirely out of your control.

Be near a big supermarket

The research from Lloyds Bank shows that living near a well-known supermarket can add £22,000 to the value of a home, but that rises to an average of almost £40,000 if it’s a Waitrose.

Sainsbury’s adds an average of almost £28,000, while Tesco provides a house price premium of just over £22,000. Sadly, proximity to an Aldi store adds just £1,333 to the average house price.

Mike Songer, Lloyds Bank mortgage director, explains: “There is definitely a correlation between the price of your home and whether it’s close to a major supermarket or not. Our figures show that the amount added to the value of your home can be even greater if located next to a brand which is perceived as upmarket.”

Don’t live on a ‘road’

It’s no surprise that the name of the street affects the value of a property to a degree  – most people would rather live on Primrose Lane than on Bell End (honestly, that’s a place).

But the effect can be even more subtle. Alex Gosling, the chief executive of online estate agents, comments: “The name of your street could add thousands to the value of a property. You'll probably pay more to live on a 'Chase' than on a 'Terrace' or 'Close'. And regal-sounding streets – particularly if they have 'King' in the name – can bump up prices.”

That’s borne out by Zoopla analysis, which showed that properties located on "Hills" and "Lanes" are worth 50 per cent more than the national average; while "Streets" and "Terraces" have the lowest average property values.

In fact, the average property on a street named "something Hill" is worth £185,000 more than the average property on a "something Street".

Have smart neighbours

Even if you don’t want to spend your free time shopping at the organic farmers' market or dining out, it’s better for your house price if your neighbours do. If more upmarket businesses open nearby then your house price could soar.

Mark Hayward, managing director of the National Association of Estate Agents says: “Aspirational amenities such as a Michelin-starred restaurant, organic farm shop or a local dining club can have a positive impact on the saleability of nearby homes. In addition, areas with high-value sporting and recreational activities like pony clubs and chess societies for children are also desirable, and when combined with successful local schools can see premiums on house prices of up to 10 per cent.

“Parental competition is rife and many can regularly be seen battling to ‘keep up with the Joneses’ in order to provide the best possible upbringing for their children. This will in turn differentiate homes in certain areas from others on the market.”

Live near a sporting venue

One historical study by Halifax showed that houses near Premier League football grounds increased faster than average over 10 years. In the decade up to 2012 house prices in the postal districts of 20 clubs rose by an average of 137 per cent, compared to an average hike of 90 per cent across England and Wales.

That’s a finding that estate agents say has been replicated across other sporting arenas. Mr Gosling says: “Living near a top sporting venue can really boost house prices. It's well known that you're likely to pay a premium to live close to Wimbledon.

"But we carried out some research on living next to an Open Championship golf course, and found that golf fans pay a 139 per cent premium. For example, the average property price next to Royal Birkdale, in Southport, was just over £1m, more than 400 per cent higher than the average property price in that postcode.”

Open all hours

Lastly, it’s a very good thing if a decent pub opens within walking distance of your front door. Research from Sarah Beeny’s online estate agency Tepilo shows that a good quality pub is a major selling point for 23 per cent of buyers, adding to demand and competition for nearby homes.

OK, perhaps that one isn’t that surprising.

Sunday, 28 August 2016

Housebuilding continues to fall well short of demand

There was a rise in the volume of housebuilding schemes started in England in the run-up to the EU referendum but the actual number of homes completed continued to fall, which suggests that the government may miss its target of building one million new homes over this parliament

Housebuilding continues to fall well short of demand

The mounting supply-demand imbalance in the market has contributed significantly to higher property prices and rents across many parts of the country, with the latest rental price data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealing that rents in the private rented sector rose by 2.4% across the UK in the 12 months to July. 
According to newly released figures from the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), there were 34,920 homes completed in the April-to-June quarter, up 7% on the previous three months but down 2% on a year earlier. In the year to June, 139,030 homes were completed, up 6% year-on-year.
Mortgage lender LendInvest said that figures showed housebuilding was falling well short of the government’s target of building 200,000 new homes a year to help address England’s severe housing shortage.
“At the current rate [of modest housebuilding], we will fall well short of the government’s target of one million new homes by 2020, and fail to make inroads into the sharp housing shortage in the UK,” said Rod Lockhart, managing director at LendInvest, who believes that the onus is now on the government to “jumpstart” the housebuilding industry.
He continued: “The large housebuilders are not keen to do more, so efforts must be focused on small and medium-sized builders. The rumoured £5 billion Home Building Fund is a good start, but finance is not the only area holding these builders back. More has to be done to reduce the complexities of the planning system and open up access to land to build on.”
The coming Autumn Statement presents the government with the perfect opportunity to announce fresh measures to support housebuilders in their quest to build significantly more homes, according to Andy Hill, chief executive at Hill, which focuses on developing homes in London and the south east of England.
Hill commented: “The country is facing a major housing shortage, and it is more important than ever that the government supports both first-time buyers and housebuilders in the coming Autumn Statement, so that we can continue to build more new homes and get more people on to the housing ladder.”
Despite general disappointment about the number of new homes completed, the response to the volume of builds started in England was far more positive.
It is estimated that 36,400 new homes were started in Q2, a 2% increase on the quarter and a 6% rise on the year, according to the figures from the DCLG.
“The data shows that despite all the claims in the run-up to the referendum campaign, the construction of new homes remained steady in Q2, with housebuilding starts up 2% on Q1 and up 6% on the same time last year,” said Paul Smith, CEO of haart estate agents.
It seems housebuilders were busy ploughing ahead with new sites despite the referendum noise, because the demand for new homes remained high,” he added.

Saturday, 27 August 2016

Revealed: The student towns that offer the highest buy-to-let returns

Buy-to-let landlords seeking high rental yields should consider buying properties to let to students in the north of England, research suggests. 

Revealed: The student towns that offer the highest buy-to-let returns

Of all the universities in England, Sunderland has been identified as offering the best rental yields, with low house prices - at an average of £65,200 – and moderate average rents producing a yield of 10.6%.
The analysis, which was undertaken by property crowdfunding platform Property Partner, found that buy-to-let investors’ interest in the student market unsurprisingly peaks at this time of year as students across the country prepare to leave home for university for the first-time.
Property Partner compiled a list of 86 university towns and cities across the UK, including Northern Ireland, ranked by net rental yield in each local property market. The cities of the North East performed best, with Sunderland topping the table, alongside Middlesbrough, with Newcastle also featured in the top ten.
Birmingham also ranks highly, with the campuses of Aston and Birmingham City University offer a enticing prospect for property investors. The average sold house price here is just £116,732, meaning purchase costs are relatively low, while the average net yield is a healthy 4.5% per year. With the new High Speed 2 train terminal set to be built right next door, investors could potentially enjoy strong capital returns in the long term.
High property prices in southern university centres of London, Brighton, Reading and Oxford make these cities less attractive to investors as they tend to offer low yields.
Dan Gandesha, CEO of Property Partner, commented: “In this era of ultra low rates and high market volatility, stable investments which provide a reliable income, and medium to long-term capital growth prospects are the holy grail.
“Property is a total returns investment, and until recently, it’s been a capital returns play. But with Brexit, the rules of the game are changing. Now our investors are increasingly focussed on the reliable income they can earn, month after month.
“Property Partner enables anyone to invest in residential property all over the country, providing one-click access to grandparents, parents, and their college-age children, so they can take their view on the property market, wherever they study.”
The table below ranks the UK’s top 20 university towns, by net annual rental income in each college postcode:
University town
Median Rent pcm
Gross annual rent
Average house price
Average gross annual yield %
Average net annual yield %
Teesside (Middlesbrough)
Aston + Birmingham City
Manchester Metropolitan
Newcastle + Northumbria
Nottingham + Nottingham Trent
Queen's, Belfast
Edge Hill (Ormskirk)
Cumbria (Carlisle)
Median rent figures courtesy of\Average price paid figures courtesy of Zoopla

Friday, 26 August 2016

I want to sell a house I've been renting out – will I have to pay capital gains tax?

I’m also wondering whether my ex-wife would have had to pay CGT when she sold her share of the property to me after our divorce

Q Could you please assist me with the following complicated but not uncommon situation. In 2001, I bought house for £167,000 with my then wife. In 2005, we let the house out. In 2013, we divorced and I mortgaged the house to be able to buy out my ex-wife.

In 2015, I remarried and gave my new wife half the property for mortgage and tax purposes. We are now considering selling the house for around £400,000. The house is still let and has been for around 136 months.

Am I right in thinking that my ex-wife was liable for capital gains tax when she disposed of her share by selling it to me? And would I be liable for capital gains tax (CGT) if I sold the house today? Would I be advised to move back into the house for a period of time to limit my exposure to CGT? AH

A Whether you are right in thinking that your ex-wife was liable for CGT when she sold you her share – not that it’s any of your business – depends on when the disposal took place.

If she transferred her share to you before the end of the tax year in which you separated, then – like transfers of assets between spouses who are not separated – the transfer would be treated as giving rise neither to a gain nor a loss, so no CGT would be payable.

If the transfer took place after the end of the tax year that you separated, your ex-wife may be liable for CGT but that’s between her and her tax office. More information is available in Helpsheet 281 – “Spouses, civil partners, divorce, dissolution and separation” – from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC).

You too would be liable for CGT if you sold the property, but only on your share of the gain and probably not on the whole of that. The fact that you say “move back into the house” suggests that when you first bought the property with your now ex-wife, it was your home until you let it out in 2005 so the answer to your last question is: you don’t need to move back in to minimise your tax bill.

The fact that you lived in the home before letting it out means that you qualify for partial “private residence relief”, which makes part of the gain tax-free. You can work this out by taking the number of months you lived in the house plus 18, and then dividing that figure by the number of months you owned the property. Multiplying this fraction by whatever the gain is (what you sold it for less what you paid for it, legal fees and stamp duty) gives you the amount of private residence relief you can subtract from the gain to reduce the tax you pay.

If you moved back in, the fraction would be calculated differently. Rather than adding 18 to the number of months you lived in your property, you would add the number of months out of the final 18 of ownership not covered by actual occupation. So, for example, if you moved back in for six months before selling, you would add 12 to the number of months you lived there.

Since you let the property, you may also qualify for “lettings relief”, which also reduces your tax bill. The amount of the gain qualifying for lettings relief is the smallest of: the gain attributable to the period of letting (calculated by multiplying the gain by the number of months the property was let then dividing by the number of months of ownership); the amount of private residence relief you’re entitled to; and the maximum lettings relief of £40,000. More information on calculating lettings relief is available in HMRC’s Helpsheet 283 on private residence relief.

London housing: TfL land set for affordable homes as Sadiq Khan picks expert team

The capital’s mayor has begun moves to put his low cost housing pledges into effect

London mayor Sadiq Khan has announced two forward steps on his long and testing quest to improve the supply of new homes for low and middle income households. One is the release for development of a piece of Transport for London (TfL) land in Kidbrooke. The other is the start of assembling his expert Homes for Londoners unit at City Hall.

The Kidbrooke site is the first brought forward by TfL under Khan’s manifesto pledge to supply “part-buy, part-rent” shared ownership homes on publicly-owned land for first-time buyers, giving “first dibs” to Londoners who’ve been renting for five years, especially in Outer London. It demonstrates both continuity of policy from what TfL did under Boris Johnson and significant adjustments of it.

The transport body’s approach to making money from its developable land assets has been be to enter into joint ventures with developers to build housing and other things - schools, shops, medical facilities - on it, enabling TfL to take a share of the profits. The first example of this new departure for the transport body was the vast and controversial Earls Court Project - find seven years’ worth of mildly obsessive coverage here - which has so far seen the TfL land on which the Earls Court exhibition centre stood levelled and precisely no affordable homes, however defined, planned for it.

Here is where Khan differs from his predecessor. TfL’s first priority under Johnson was to make as much money as fast as possible from its property deals: hence the zero “affordable” portion in the Earls Court redevelopment so far and a concentration on sites in expensive areas. Khan, by contrast, is to insist that an overall 50% of all homes built on TfL land must meet his definition of “affordable” - to be a more stringent one than the government uses - and has asked TfL to move more sites in Outer London up its priority list. Kidbrooke fits the bill.

The land, which lies next to Kidbrooke railway station, is big enough for around 400 homes plus retail, commercial and open space. During the mayoral election campaign, Khan spoke of TfL retaining ownership of its land, which is usually advisable in any case since it tends to contain useful public transport stuff like stations. In this case, however, the land isn’t needed for TfL transport purposes which means it could be sold rather than retained.

Such a sale could be to the highest bidder on the open market but, that high price would make it unlikely that 50% of any homes built on it were affordable, especially by Khan’s definition. However, the land can also be sold to a company that TfL is part of, logically at a price low enough to make 50% affordable financially feasible. According to paragraph 2.4 here it is “contemplated that TfL will dispose of the land to such a company.”

An issue raised by a 50% affordable requirement, the minimum set out by Khan for the Kidbrooke site, is that TfL will get less from the development of the land in this way than they would have were the “affordable” proportion lower. City Hall officers’ advice to Khan is that were TfL itself or a subsidiary of it developing the land for less than the maximum possible return, it would be breaking the law in the form of the GLA Act, but that those provisions don’t apply to a non-subsidiary, such as a joint venture company. Khan has therefore formally directed TfL to sell or develop the Kidbrooke land by means of such a company, which will likely be formed with one of the 13 developers named in TfL’s property partnership framework in February.

All this has brought criticism from Conservative London Assembly member Keith Prince, who speaks for the Tory group on transport. He has accused Khan of financial irresponsibility, saying his approach threatens TfL’s finances at a time when Khan is also freezing its fares income and the government is phasing out its grant. Planning applications for the development of TfL land and made by TfL itself under Mayor Johnson have contained proposals for affordable housing - at Nine Elms, Northwood and Parsons Green. The proportions in each case have been for substantially less than 50%, but still implied a smaller return for the transport body.

Khan has said that Johnson hadn’t pushed TfL to move on the Kidbrooke site (although it has long been a contender for attention), the implication being that the transport body is already in line to be better off than it would have been under the previous mayor and that 200 more affordable homes will soon enter the supply pipeline too. Ensuring speedier housing delivery on is one way in which Khan can address the tension between TfL’s need for additional income and his commitment to building affordable homes on its land portfolio,

And so to the second of Khan’s housing announcements. The Homes for Londoners line-up includes a “governance board” comprising Khan’s housing deputy James Murray, four borough leaders to be nominated by London Councils, TfL commissioner Mike Brown, the Greater London Authority’s executive director housing and land David Lunts, chair of the G15 group of leading housing associations David Montague and two “members of the residential property sector” who have yet to be named. Khan himself will chair the board, which will meet quarterly. The clear objective, in keeping with Khan’s manifesto, is to form an alliance of all those with an interest in building London homes.

Khan has also announced that he’s assembling an in-house “viability expert team” to look closely at the often contested financial costings compiled by developers to justify the amount of “affordable” housing and other social infrastructure they supply as part of development schemes. The thinking is that cash-strapped boroughs are often bamboozled by property giants and end up getting less affordable housing out of deals than there could have been.

Having a stronger viability scrutiny operation at the service of the mayor, who can block, shape or even take over the determination of planning applications, should help the boroughs and also promote greater consistency in viability negotiations - something it is hoped developers themselves might welcome, as the process can be costly and time-consuming for them too. The same experts will also help Khan develop his new London Plan and shape major parts of mayoral planning policy, such as opportunity areas and housing zones.

The initiative has been welcomed by London Councils, business body London First and the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry, reflecting broad agreement that London’s housing problems need to be tackled with greater interventionist vigour. Khan is hoping that Theresa May will join the chorus of agreement. Her chancellor’s autumn statement is awaited with interest.

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Offer made on West Heslerton village put up for sale for £20m

Entire North Yorkshire village, home to 375 people, was listed on property website as somewhere ‘time has stood still’

An offer has been made on a 2,000-acre North Yorkshire village that went on the market for £20m earlier this year.
West Heslerton, which has been owned by the Dawnay family for more than 150 years, was put up for sale in April, giving wealthy individuals the chance to purchase a perfectly preserved, quintessential Yorkshire village where “time has stood still”.
From childhood, the late Eve Dawnay, the former owner of West Heslerton, near Malton, loved to build miniature models. When her father bequeathed her the village, she set about creating an archetypal family hub.
From its pub, garage, playing fields and sports pavilion, to a 21-bedroom hall and 43 houses, Eve Dawnay left a remarkable legacy when she died aged 84 in 2010: a functioning English village, with a population of about 375 people, preserved in time.

With no single heir, the village was left to Eve’s wider family and they decided to sell, hoping to find a wealthy yet benevolent buyer, who would help to preserve the bucolic way of life.
On Monday, estate agent Cundalls, which is handling the sale, confirmed that an offer was on the table.
“It is correct that it is under offer and it has been for some time now. There was a lot of interest from many different buyers, but we cannot say any more at this stage,” said Tom Watson, the director of Cundalls.
“Historically, we have dealt with many estates, but for the past 20 to 30 years, this is our biggest sale.”
The village’s Rightmove listing said: “A once-in-a-generation opportunity to purchase a 2,116-acre mixed agricultural, residential and commercial estate with vast development and sporting potential, situated within a beautiful area of North Yorkshire.”
The advert, which includes 86 photographs showing characterful cottages and sweeping scenic shots, is marked as being under offer.
Eve Dawnay graduated from Oxford University with a degree in French in 1948, and worked in Paris and London before returning to the village. When her father died in 1964, she inherited the estate.
The unmarried eccentric kept rents low and, with some clever social engineering, ensured that it retained a vibrant community supporting a host of amenities, including a primary school and football, cricket and bowling teams.
The centrepiece of the estate is the 21-bedroom West Heslerton Hall, which has been empty for 30 years since Eve Dawnay downsized to a four-bedroom house in the village.
The estate has more than 1,500 acres of agricultural land, including 112 acres of woodland.
The annual rental and agricultural subsidy income is listed as about £390,000.