Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Don't move... improve! Take inspiration from the most amazing new extensions in London

By Isabelle Fraser

A sun-filled extension in north London CREDIT: DAVID BUTLER
More of us are choosing to stay put and expand our homes rather than move house and cough up exorbitant fees and stamp duty.

In London, planning permissions to expand homes has increased hugely since 2012. In Kensington and Chelsea and the City of London last year, there were as many applications lodged as homes sold. A single-storey rear extension can add as much as 14pc to the value of a house, according to the consultancy Just Planning.

So perhaps it's time to take some inspiration from the winners of New London Architecture's annual competition to find the most imaginative extensions built in the capital.

A sunken bath tub in the garden

Extensions don't have to be plain old living rooms with side returns and bi-fold doors. This flat in Clapton, east London, won best overall design.

The sunken bath tub is encased by bamboo and glass
Created by architecture firm Studio 304, it has a large, Japanese-style soaking tub sunk below ground level and encased in glass. The roof and windows are surrounded by bamboo slats to give the bather privacy, and it looks out onto the peaceful garden.

The sunken bath tub CREDIT: RADU PALICICA

A study hidden in the garden

In Vauxhall, south London, this study was built for £25,000 at the end of the garden. Named The Rug Room, it is where the owner makes rugs in front of a big picture window overlooking the house.

It was designed by Nic Howett Architects, and was awarded third place in the competition.

The peaceful study looks out on to the garden CREDIT: DAMIAN GRIFFITHS

Zinc cladding and white walls

Designed by architecture firm Kirkwood McCarthy, a dilapidated Victorian house in Muswell Hill, north London, was given an injection of light and a new lease of life.

An extension and a courtyard was added, giving the house more space and creating a sunny, open-plan living area.

The sunny-light filled living room CREDIT: DAVID BUTLER

A home filled with light

This derelict house in New Cross, south London, which was given a huge overhaul by Studio 30 Architects, has won the award for best value project.

Glass walls let the light in to the living room CREDIT:  SAM PEACHA
The area between the living room and the kitchen has a glass ceiling and large glass doors looking out to the garden, allowing light to pour in. The rooms have been carved out to create double-height gallery-sized walls for hanging art, and at the end of the garden sits a playhouse.

The exterior of the overhauled house CREDIT:  SAM PEACH
Minimal chic

This house in Marylebone has an extension designed by Patrick Lewis Architects, and came in second place. It takes inspiration from a crow’s nest, with hidden doors and windows, and was finished with blonde wood and white walls.

Inspired by a crow's nest, this minimal extension has hidden compartments and lots of light CREDIT: SIMON KENNEDY


Letting agent gets £20,000 in fines over HMO breaches

By Graham Norwood

A landlord and letting agency have been fined more than £26,000 after being found guilty of housing offences at two properties in Luton last year.

Altavon Property Management Ltd and Adrian Simion were found guilty at Luton Magistrates court of a series of management regulations breaches relating to the safety and running of illegal houses of multiple occupancy.

Neither Simion nor the lettings agency attended the hearing but were convicted in their absence.

The magistrates imposed fines totalling nearly £7,000 on Simion for two offences of failing to licence a HMO and nine separate management regulation breaches. He was ordered to pay £500 costs and £110 victim surcharge.

For its part, Altavon Property Management was fined £10,000 for failure to licence and then £2,500 for each of four management breaches, £500 costs and £120 victim surcharge.

The people found at the properties were subsequently supported by Luton Council which brought the prosecutions, together with the Romanian Embassy, Bedfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group, Citizens Advice Luton and various charities.

“We hope that this prosecution sends a very strong message that we will act on information we receive especially if we suspect that people are being exploited” says a council spokesman.

Superintendent David Cestaro, Bedfordshire Police lead for Modern Slavery, says: “While no offences under the Modern Slavery Act were identified from this particular operation, we have managed to safeguard people who were taken advantage of by being provided substandard living arrangements.”


Monday, 30 January 2017

Let’s move to Newport, Isle of Wight: ‘Its quaint alleys hide jewels’

By Tom Dyckhoff

Newport, Isle of Wight: ‘The apparently ordinary on Wight is rarely that.’ Photograph: Alamy

hat’s going for it? There are ups and downs to living on a small island. The ups? You have to really want to live on one, so spots like the Isle of Wight attract the intrepid and the eccentric. Like Queen Victoria, who came here to escape the hordes so she could play “normal life” at Osborne, her suburban house on steroids. The apparently ordinary on Wight is rarely that. Take its capital, Newport. On the face of it, this is a humdrum town of Prezzos and Carphone Warehouses, where the height of civic excitement is the opening this year of the new Asda. But its quaint alleys hide jewels like Robert Thompson’s new restaurant, the fabulous Quay arts centre (how many galleries hold kids events by Rob da Bank?) and the Isle of Wight Postal Museum, a collection of paraphernalia accumulated by one Wight eccentric, including “the infamous Rhyl station bracket box”. Be still, my beating heart.

The case against Problems peculiar to islands, such as the cost and effort to get there, impact on local economics and services. See Newport’s loss of Bestival to Dorset this year, though the Isle of Wight festival still reigns.

Well connected? A decent bus network, and trains from Ryde to Shanklin. Driving: most places are 20-40 mins away, but the roads clog in summer. Ferries: on foot from Ryde to Southsea (10 mins), Ryde to Portsmouth (22 mins), and West Cowes to Southampton (25 mins); by car from Yarmouth to Lymington (40 mins), Fishbourne to Portsmouth (45 mins), and East Cowes to Southampton (1hr).

Schools Primaries: Carisbrooke CofE, Hunnyhill, Summerfields, Barton are all “good”, says Ofsted. Secondaries: Christ the King is best, rated “good”.

Hang out at… Thompson’s, the latest venture from Wight’s gastro king, Robert Thompson.

Where to buy Newport, being farthest from the sea, is the most affordable spot (and the sea is never that far away). It has a typical market town layout, with Victorians and Edwardians embracing the centre, and nice suburbans south and west, heading out of town. The prettiest area is the historic Carisbrooke, near the castle, around Castle Street, Carisbrooke Road and Carisbrooke High Street. Detacheds and town houses, £200,000-£800,000. Semis, £150,000-£300,000. Terraces and cottages, £120,000-£350,000. Flats, £70,000-£200,000. Rentals: a one-bedroom flat, £400-£525pcm; a three-bedroom house, £700-£1,000pcm.

Bargain of the week A four-bedroom Georgian town house in the town centre, £154,950, with marvins.co.uk.

From the streets
John Rhodes “The Quay arts centre is a hive of activity for all things artistic, crafty and musical, with a terrific cafe/restaurant/theatre at its hub.”

Fiona Sims “Newport is a bustling market town with an ace bakery and cafe called the Island Bakers. Worst bits: confusing road layout and too many shops needing a makeover.”


Coming Soon..

Hosted by Kirsty Darkins, PPN Birmingham is for property investors of all levels whether you’re an active investor, starting out, retired or a passive investor looking for new opportunities. If you’re thinking of starting a new strategy, want to make new contacts or looking for a JV partner, come along on the second Wednesday of every month to the Radisson Blu Birmingham hotel for a fun evening of inspiration, education and informal networking.
We look forward to welcoming you there! 

Rental demand drops to two-year low

By Marc Da Silva

Demand for rented homes has fallen to a two-year low, while the supply of properties to rent has edged up marginally, fresh figures show.

The Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA) said there were just 26 prospective tenants registered per branch in December, down from 32 in November and the lowest figure recorded since records began in January 2015.

The trade body also reports that prospective renters now have more properties to choose from, after the number of rental properties managed per branch increased from 185 in November to 188 in December.

The narrowing supply-demand imbalance in the private rented market suggests that rents will flatten or even fall in the coming months.

But following the introduction of the 3% stamp duty surcharge on second homes, including buy-to-let properties, last April, almost half - 46% - of agents expect to see housing supply in the sector fall this year.

The number of letting agents witnessing rent hikes for tenants increased by three percentage points in December to 19%.

In December 2015, the volume of rent rises fell month-on-month, from 23% in November 2015 to 18% in December.

David Cox, managing director at ARLA, said: “Although December’s figures could indicate a bright future for renters, with the government’s impending ban on letting agent fees, the future is actually rather bleak for the UK’s renters.

“Although we saw demand fall and supply rise slightly last month, these are in line with seasonal expectations and is what we expect to see in December. If the Government goes ahead with an outright ban on fees, tenants will unfortunately be the ultimate victims, as costs are recouped for the vital services fees cover.”


Saturday, 28 January 2017

Coming soon...

Coming soon with commercial to residential expert George Gannon. George built a £3.6 million property portfolio by the age of 26.

Friday, 27 January 2017

Making sense of first time buyer deals

By Kate Hughes

The latest plans to reduce the financial pressures on first time buyers have been met with stiff criticism amid ongoing confusion. Rex

The latest deal designed to get more would-be first-time buyers into their own homes got the green light this week, with the Government promising that thousands of properties will be built on brownfield sites during 2017.

With cash from the Government’s £1.2bn Starter Homes Land Fund, which supports the development of starter homes on sites across England only, every home will be available strictly for current renters aged 23-40 and, crucially, offering a minimum 20 per cent discount on market values. The first wave of homes will be built under partnerships with 30 local authorities including Blackpool, Gloucester, Northumberland, Bristol, Plymouth, Manchester and Luton.

But as one big plan to solve the first-time buyer problem launches, so another closes – the Help to Buy Mortgage Guarantee shut up shop on 31 December after more than 86,000 successful completions since its launch in 2013.

In fact, with six different schemes now coming under the Help to Buy banner alone, those struggling to get a grip on the starter end of the UK property market are further hindered by the bewildering range of discounts, deals and cash injections available. It all seems like a haphazard series of affordable home initiatives aimed at getting new owners buying in order to support the entire, economically all-important property market.

Meanwhile, despite the latest plans for 48,000 new homes to be built in garden towns and villages near Taunton, Aylesbury and Harlow, the enduring criticism is that without the massive construction needed to deliver the 250,000 homes we’d need every year to balance supply and demand, such deals will only serve to push up prices anyway.

What’s clear is that while the Bank of Mum and Dad is continuing to plug part of the funding gap, such measures are likely to become a permanent part of the property funding landscape.

So what’s out there now? And which should you plump for if you’re hoping to get a first foot on that ladder in 2017?

Help to Buy

More than 220,000 homes have been bought under the original seven Help to Buy schemes since they were first launched in 2013, with an average purchase price of £191,000.

It may sound a lot but it is a drop in the ocean compared with the 310,000 people successfully buying their first home each year and the countless thousands that haven’t yet been able to secure a mortgage or scrape together the average £33,000 deposit needed.

Help to Buy ISA

Launched a year ago, this is a pure cash boost. The scheme allows savers to claim a government bonus of 25 per cent on monthly savings of up to £200 towards their first home. That’s the equivalent of £50 added to every £200 saved up to a maximum governmental contribution of £3,000 on £12,000 worth of savings.

It’s a very popular option, with more than 650,000 accounts opened in the first six months alone. Bizarrely though, it turns out this one may not be for you if you haven’t saved the deposit you’ll need as the Government bonus can’t be used for the deposit itself. It’ll be paid to the mortgage lender on completion instead.

Help to Buy Shared Ownership

One for households with a surprisingly high level of income (£80,000 outside London and £90,000 in the capital) but who still can’t afford to buy a property on their own, shared ownership allows would-be buyers to purchase a portion of the property – between 25 and 75 per cent of the value – and rent the rest at a maximum of 3 per cent of the remaining proportion of the property’s value.

So, for example, if a property is worth £200,000 and you managed to buy 50 per cent of it, you’d pay a maximum of £3,000 a year in rent on the rest.

Eligible properties are sold through housing associations, though they don’t necessarily need to be council houses, and there are a wide range of mortgages on offer to help you raise the funds you’ll need for your proportion (though not all lenders offer such arrangements).

You can decide to “staircase”, a strange piece of jargon which means you buy up more of the property over time. There are a few significant negatives though. All shared ownership properties are sold on a leasehold basis, typically 99 years and, crucially, shared ownership properties are in specified places so you can’t pick and choose your ideal location. However, it’s one of the few schemes which prioritise military personnel, so could be useful if there’s one in the family.

Help to Buy Equity

The thinking behind this scheme is that by using an interest-free loan, would-be buyers with little savings can still get access to the cheaper deals offered to those with larger deposits.

Buyers will need to have at least 5 per cent of the property value, with the Government stumping up a maximum of 20 per cent on top of that. The remaining cost of the property is then covered with a standard 75 per cent mortgage.

It’s a compelling option for those with strong lending prospects like a clean credit history and good income, but who haven’t been able to put away significant savings for a deposit. You’ll also need to be ambivalent about period features as this deal is only available on new builds.

You’ll need to repay the loan after 25 years, when you sell or your mortgage term finishes, whichever happens first.

Help to Buy Mortgage Guarantee

Though this scheme is now closed, that’s because the Government has decided it has achieved its main objective of encouraging lenders to offer mortgages of up to 95 per cent.

Meanwhile, Help to Buy London, Scotland and Wales all offer slightly different deals based on the same basic arrangements as those outlined above.

Starter Homes

Then there are the bids to simply build cheaper homes exclusively for first-time buyers – such as that announced this week. The only problem, as both the Opposition and housing charity Shelter have pointed out in no uncertain terms – is that a price tag of up to £450,000 in London (and £250,000 elsewhere in the country) is hardly affordable.

In fact, the number of affordable homes being built every year is now at a 24 year low, with only 3,430 constructed in 2015/16.

Lifetime ISA

From April, the newest weapon in the affordable housing arsenal will allow 18-40-year-old first-time buyers to save up to £4,000 a year into a stocks and shares or cash ISA. The Government will top up the savings by 25 per cent with the resulting pot either put towards a first home in the UK up to the value of £450,000 or taken tax-free from aged 60 as a pension.

Crucially, unlike the Help to Buy ISA, the top up can be included as part of the deposit. And the top up will be paid monthly, helping savers benefit from compound interest. Those with Help to Buy ISAs will be able to transfer their existing savings to a LISA from April, but with details of the scheme coming late, many ISA providers have expressed concerns about having a LISA product ready to launch in just a few months’ time.

Right to Buy

Finally, the best known of the lot. Right to Buy allows some council tenants to purchase their home at a significant discount – up to £103,900 for London residents or £77,900 for those outside the capital.

From April last year, applicants were required to have only three years’ tenancy, down from five years. But Scotland has now scrapped its Right to Buy scheme and Wales has plans to follow suit.

The big drawback here is that only 500,000 of the 1.3m housing association tenants are currently eligible, despite general election-focused promises to make the deal open to all such tenants.

The discount you’ll get may also vary depending on how long you’ve been a public sector tenant, whether the property is a house or flat, and its value and location.


What does 2017 have in store for the BTL mortgage market?

By Darren Pescod

Can we predict what the next 12 months may bring for the buy-to-let mortgage market? Many experts have attempted to do this, but there is some disparity among their ideas.

Even the quickest look at search engine results for news on house price and mortgage predictions for the New Year reveals a wide range of beliefs. Some believe there will be a marginal increase in mortgage lending, while others have pointed to the likelihood of weaker lending this year. Only time will tell which side has the right answer.

The Council of Mortgage Lenders has predicted this outcome over the next two years, into 2018. A year ago, it predicted gross lending of £261bn for 2017. However, recently it revised this, opting for £248bn instead. Will the true figure be somewhere between these two, or will even £248bn prove to be too high?

Most experts believe house prices will continue to rise in 2017. Some brokers estimate a 1% rise, while others estimate a 2% or 3% rise. Experts at Nationwide Building Society agreed on 2%, while RICS went for a 3% rise. Meanwhile, those at Halifax have hedged their bets somewhat by opting for an estimate of a rise between 1% and 4%.

Prime Minister Theresa May is due to trigger Article 50 in March – the process that will formally start the clock ticking on the UK severing ties with the EU. The housing market did stall immediately following the vote for Brexit last year. Could we see something similar when Article 50 is triggered? It’s possible, but it seems too challenging to accurately predict how the housing market might react through to the end of 2017.

The buy-to-let market will continue to be challenging. The change in rental calculations introduced by the Prudential Regulation Authority this month is already having a significant impact on buy-to-let borrowing.

The stamp duty additional levy introduced this tax year and income tax changes that come into force in this tax year are designed to slow down this sector. The signs are that it will have the desired effect, possibly more rapidly than it was anticipated by the policy-makers.

We have seen the number of buy-to-let deals decrease over recent weeks, as lenders get to grips with the new changes and decide on the best route forward to maintain market share in the buy-to-let arena, they now find themselves in. However, deals can still be had although the amount one can now borrow will most probably be lower than what it was a couple of months ago.

Hopefully, in 2017 we will see a rise in residential purchases to keep the housing market buoyant, although, perhaps it is time that property price inflation started to weaken. We do not anticipate rises in base rate, although mortgage pricing could increase slightly. The big question is how our exit from the EU will take shape and what changes we will see in the economy as a result. All bets are off until we have some idea of what the future will look like.


Thursday, 26 January 2017

Days left in the January property sale: How house-hunters can still grab a bargain as homes across the country are reduced by up to 50%

By Myra Butterworth
January 26, 2016

The January sales may be drawing to a close at the high street's fashion and electrical outlets, but it is still possible to bag a bargain in the world of property.

We have found half a dozen homes currently for sale with asking prices that have been cut by a drastic percentage since they were put on the market.

In some cases, the reductions are as much as 50 per cent, which in translates into savings of hundreds of thousands of pounds.

The January property sale: There are plenty of bargains, with some family homes having been reduced by up to 50 per cent

Buying agent Henry Pryor said that many buyers are currently making offers of 10 to 15 per cent below the asking price, hoping that if it is accepted they will not find they have still overpaid.

'You make money when you buy, not when you sell so try not to bid for something you have emotionally fallen for,' he added.

'Remember that as the buyer you decide what a property is worth. It's up to the seller to decide if it's enough.'

Brexit creates opportunity for UK property investment says industry organisation

January 26, 2017

The property industry in the UK is being urged to look at and act upon the opportunities that could open up as a result of Brexit rather than focusing on the negatives.

According to the Property Industry Alliance (PIA), which brings together leading representative bodies from the UK’s commercial property industry, the Government also needs to take into account the real estate industry when formatting its Brexit deals.

The PIA has identified five key areas that it believes the Government should take on board and points out that while Brexit poses risks to the real estate industry, it also opens up opportunities if the Government takes the right steps.

It points out that overseas investment in UK commercial real estate is a highly significant driver of GVA and productivity and must not be put at risk by Brexit. Foreign investors own 28% or £135 billion of UK commercial real estate held as investments and more if housing and student accommodation are included.

They also often partner with UK investors and other organisations to drive UK regeneration. The PIA says that an effective and efficient commercial property market produces investment in the physical and digital, the fabric of towns and cities across the UK, creating jobs, improving environmental performance and generating at least £16 billion directly to Government through taxation.

It also explains that the real estate industry, including investment, asset management and construction, is highly reliant on the mobility of workers and is already experiencing a skills shortage. The PIA is calling for a post-Brexit response that focuses upon training, skills and the ability to attract and retain talent.

In term of positives it also points out that European Union public procurement rules are inefficient, often misunderstood and therefore uncertain and Brexit offers a real chance of streamlining the system, which will increase the velocity of investment by reducing unnecessary costs and delays.

The PIA reckons Brexit is an opportunity to improve tax in the real estate industry as a simplified and fairer tax regime for the real estate and infrastructure sector would increase domestic activity, retaining and improving a competitive position for investors. The most obvious opportunity is VAT, where the UK’s freedom of action has been constrained in unhelpful ways by European law and the case law of the European Court of Justice.

It also says that Brexit represents an opportunity to revamp the complex and somewhat inefficient environmental sustainability regulatory framework, to provide better more efficient long term solutions and green growth. The best outcome would be to retain some UK legislation derived from EU rules, reform other areas and remove particularly ineffective laws.

‘Real estate is a critical and enabling part of the UK’s economy, shaping our towns and cities and channelling productive investment into the real economy,’ said Bill Hughes, chairman of the. PIA.

‘The UK asset management industry is one of the largest in the world and a key contributor to the UK economy. Within it, real estate is a core investment asset for private and professional investors, both domestic and global, particularly for its income-generating characteristics. The ability of the industry to continue to undertake cross border activity from the UK and retain mobility of talent is crucially important,’ he explained.

‘The Property Industry Alliance plays an integral part in explaining the role that UK commercial property plays in the UK economy, its importance in improving the built environment and its wider social contribution to local communities. As such, it is critical that we do not sit and wait to see what a post-Brexit world might look like. We have the chance to shape our real estate industry for the benefit of the UK,’ he added.


Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Crest Nicholson reaches £1bn sales target despite Brexit hit

By  Rhiannon Bury 
January 25, 2017

Crest Nicholson builds homes in the south of England and the Midlands CREDIT: CHRIS RATCLIFFE

Crest Nicholson has reached its £1bn sales target despite taking a revenue hit as buyers walked away from deals in the weeks surrounding the Brexit vote.

The FTSE 250 firm’s chief executive Stephen Stone said an increase in the number of buyers cancelling purchases of its homes in the period leading up to and just after the referendum in June cost the business £40m.

But demand returned by July, he said, buoyed by a strong jobs market and the availability of mortgages, meaning the firm was able to hit its target. “This demonstrates how robust the UK housing market is,” he said.

The company today reported that it was on track to significantly boost the number of homes it builds by the end of the decade, with a target of 4,000 units each year. In the 12 months to October 31, 2016, the company built 2,870 homes, 5pc more than in the previous year. Its gross development value for its pipeline of land also increased 2pc, to £10.6bn.

“We’ve set a target for the next three years of 30pc growth in volume and growing revenue from £1bn to £1.4bn,” Mr Stone said. Pre-tax profits for the year were 27pc higher at £195m.

Mr Stone said he did not expect further uncertainty in the market as the UK moves through the process of leaving the European Union, and was confident in the company’s ability to sell its homes.

“UK workers who have jobs and can get a mortgage seem to be carrying on as normal,” he added, pointing to good availability of land as another factor helping the business.

Crest Nicholson’s exposure to homes in London worth more than £1m, which have seen a more dramatic drop-off in buyers than other parts of the market, is less than 10pc of its business, analysts estimate.


Property transactions end last year almost unchanged at 1.2m sales

By Marc Shoffman
January 25, 2017

The Property Investor Centre

The number of property transactions increased by just 0.45% in 2016, HMRC figures reveal.

Provisional non-seasonally adjusted transaction data from the taxman shows there were 1,235,120 property sales in 2016, fractionally up from 1,229,58 in 2015.

In comparison, the number of transactions increased by 0.88% between 2014 and 2015.

On a monthly basis for December, transactions were at 109,100, up 5.1% on November and 4% lower year-on-year.

David Brown, chief executive of Marsh & Parsons, said: “Despite a number of obstacles in 2016, the total number of transactions rose slightly compared to 2015, to the highest since the financial crash.

“The resilience demonstrated in the face of a vote to leave the EU and marked changes to Stamp Duty – which significantly impacted sales of second homes and the buy-to-let market – is not to be scoffed at.*

“We’ve already witnessed an encouraging stream of interest from buyers across London during the start of 2017, particularly international buyers who have been buoyed by the falling value of the pound and continue to view London property as a solid investment.”

Shaun Church, director at mortgage broker Private Finance, said: “Reflecting on the second half of the year, the property market ended 2016 on more of a whimper than a bang, with transactions remaining largely flat and falling year-on-year.

“However, 2016 has been a very unusual stage in the life of the UK housing market with Stamp Duty changes resetting the dial for investors and wider uncertainty caused by the EU referendum.

“Given these challenges, the market has proven to be remarkably resilient and end-of-year sales meant December brought the largest monthly transaction total of the new Stamp Duty era.

“Although we have seen a degree of recovery since April’s reform, overall activity levels do not paint the full picture of pressures facing would-be homebuyers. Low supply continues to pose an affordability challenge for buyers at the lower end of the market, and there has been a continued slowdown in sales of higher value properties.

“The Stamp Duty change was originally designed to boost tax revenues, but with fewer high value transactions taking place, this could ultimately prove to be counter-productive.

“However, the good news for potential buyers is that Stamp Duty changes have suppressed house price growth at the upper end of the market, which has the potential to offset some of the additional costs they would otherwise face from a higher tax burden.”

Doug Crawford, chief executive of conveyancing firm My Home Move, said: “In the long term, demand for both rented and owner-occupied accommodation will support prices and sales volumes.

“There will undoubtedly be challenges for the market over the next 12 months, with the triggering of Article 50 and changes to landlords’ tax relief looming on the horizon.

“However, the property market has shown it is more than strong enough to overcome these obstacles.”


Tuesday, 24 January 2017

New homes in Canning Town: Help to Buy flats near London City Island for sale for £320k

By David Spittles
Last January 23, 2017

Twelve-acre London City Island offers new homes in glazed-brick apartment blocks but head to nearby East City Point for a cheaper option.

From £440,000: the new cultural hub of London City Island is home to vivid-colour glazed-brick apartment blocks alongside lush gardens
Edgy Canning Town in east London languished outside the property market for many years, a rough, working-class district boycotted by courier companies.

Few would have believed that an area best known for boxing clubs and dock workers would one day be home to the highbrow English National Ballet company, which will quit its posh Kensington base next year for a dazzling new campus at London City Island, the latest new Docklands neighbourhood.

London Film School is moving there, too, and this once culture-starved swathe of the capital is also on the route of The Line, a “contemporary art walk” running from the Olympic Park at Stratford to the O2 at Greenwich with outdoor sculptures by the likes of Gary Hume, Eduardo Paolozzi, Antony Gormley and Damien Hirst.

Twelve-acre London City Island sits in a loop of the River Lea as it joins the Thames and has vivid-colour glazed-brick apartment blocks alongside lush gardens. 

A footbridge across the water leads to the Tube station. Prices from £440,000. 

Nearby East City Point is a cheaper option, with Help to Buy flats from £320,000. 

Agency acquisition marks entrance into short-term lettings market

By Conor Shilling
January 24, 2017

A Scottish agency group has announced that it has acquired a lettings business in order to move into the short-term lettings market.

Braemore Sales and Lettings has purchased Edinburgh business Click-Let, its tenth acquisition since 2010.

The deal adds 400 properties to Braemore's lettings portfolio across Edinburgh, East Lothian, West Lothian and Fife.

All of Click-Let's staff will join Braemore's team, which is based in the Scottish capital and currently 75 strong.

Braemore says 'significant consumer interest' in the short-term lets market encouraged it to make the purchase.

Ian Lawson, the firm's chief executive, notes that demand for short-term rental accommodation in Edinburgh is particularly high during key periods such as the Festival, Hogmanay and the 6 Nations.

“We saw the acquisition of Click-Let as an opportunity to invest in this trend and incorporate into our existing portfolio,” he says.

A significant proportion of Click-Let's portfolio is held within Leith, another attraction for Braemore.

“Leith, and The Shore specifically, is a thriving local economy within Edinburgh and we’ve been looking to increase our foothold in the area for some time," adds Lawson.

Stewart Pitt, Director of Click-Let, comments: “For the last 14 years we have enjoyed being part of the growing Edinburgh property market, developing a strong team and brand to serve our customers.”

“The chance to work with Braemore came at the right time. The move will be great for our staff's progression and their depth of knowledge will help maintain both happy landlords and tenants.”

Braemore is part of the Lomond Capital Property Group and currently manages 2,800 properties in Edinburgh and the surrounding areas.


Monday, 23 January 2017

Landlords warned of dangers of ignoring new electrical regulations

By Conor Shilling
January 23, 2017

A property management firm has urged Scottish landlords to take electrical safety legislation seriously.

Ross and Liddell says that landlords who fail to comply with changes to the Housing (Scotland) Act 2014 could seriously endanger the lives of their tenants.

Private landlords operating in Scotland are now responsible for ensuring that electrical safety inspections are carried out by registered electricians at least once every five years.

The ruling was originally enforced for new tenancies that began on or after December 1 2015 and as of December 1 2016; it now applies to all existing tenancies.

Landlords who do not have inspections carried out could be issued with a Rent Relief Order by the First-tier Tribunal for Scotland (Housing and Property Chamber).

A Rent Relief Order could reduce the rent paid by up to 90%.

“If an electrical safety inspection is not carried out, there’s no way of knowing how effective the appliances are and how well they function within a particular environment," warns Ann McMaster, lettings manager at Ross and Liddell.

“Leaving any problems undiagnosed could lead to electrical fires, which are a very immediate danger for tenants."

She reminds landlords that the inspections are inexpensive and can be carried out easily and effectively by a qualified electrician.

An electrical safety inspection has two parts – a portable appliance test and an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR).

The person who conducts the check must be employed by a firm that is a member of an accredited registration scheme operated by a body recognised by the Scottish Government – this will usually mean that they are registered with NICEIC or a member form of the Electrical Contractors’ Association of Scotland (SELECT).


UK's new towns surpass national average for house price growth

By Press Association
January 23, 2017

New towns generally have seen house prices increase by nearly a third over the last 10 years. Photograph: Andrew Matthews/PA
House price growth in Britain’s new towns has outperformed the national average over the past decade, a report has found.

Milton Keynes, which is celebrating its 50th birthday, was identified as the best-performing new town for property price growth over the last 30 years. New towns generally have seen house prices go up by 32% over the last 10 years, increasing by just over £55,500, from £173,337 in 2006 to £228,902 in 2016.

House prices across Britain generally have increased by 26% over the last 10 years, from £200,059 to £251,679 – an increase of about £51,600.

Halifax said that since 1986, property prices in Milton Keynes had surged by 601% to reach £309,415 on average, making it Britain’s top-performing new town over the last three decades.

Telford, Corby, Warrington and Skelmersdale were the new towns with the next strongest percentage increases in house price growth between 1986 and 2016.

Many of the new towns with the strongest house price growth over the past 10 years are in the London commuter belt, with prices in Welwyn Garden City, Stevenage and Hemel Hempstead seeing particularly strong gains since 1986, the report said.

New towns were created in waves after the second world war to help alleviate housing shortages. Halifax, which used its own database, examined the house price performance of 26 new towns to mark the milestone birthday of Milton Keynes.

Martin Ellis, a housing economist at the bank, said: “Milton Keynes has been the best performing of all the new towns created following the second world war in terms of house price performance since 1986.

“Many of these new towns are within easy commuting distance of major commercial centres where property is typically more expensive, particularly in the south-east, where the average property price is well below that in London.

“This makes them a highly popular choice with home buyers, explaining their relatively good house price performance, and this popularity has been particularly notable during the last decade.”


Friday, 20 January 2017

"Tenant demand slides" in London, warns industry body

By Graham Wood
January 20, 2017

The central London rental market is beginning to show signs of topping out as tenant demand slides and landlords look to higher yielding investments in other areas of the UK.

That’s the view of the National Landlords Association, on the basis of its latest survey of 900 members in a quarterly market assessment.

It reveals that the number landlords reporting a rise in tenant demand over the past quarter has slipped almost 30 per cent when compared to the same point last year - down to 17 per cent from 45 per cent.

The findings also show that 40 per cent of landlords in the South East report a rise in tenant demand over the past quarter – the highest reported across the UK – indicating that tenants are increasingly looking to move out of central London to more affordable suburbs.

The perceived drop in rental demand in central London coincides with a more conservative approach from landlords to purchasing property in the capital in the coming months.

Only five per cent of landlords who operate in London say they plan to purchase more properties in the next quarter, the lowest across all regions and down from 15 per cent this time last year.

In contrast, the proportion of landlords operating in the North East who plan to buy in the next three months has almost doubled – up from 10 per cent this time last year to 19 per cent. The proportion of landlords in Yorkshire looking to buy has also jumped significantly from 10 per cent this time last year to 16 per cent this quarter.

“It looks like central London is simply becoming too expensive for most people, regardless of whether you want to buy, invest or rent. For many tenants the practical solution of moving out of the city to more affordable suburbs with good transport links is becoming increasingly appealing” explains Carolyn Uphill, chairman of the NLA.

“In turn, it seems that landlords have been quick to respond, turning their backs on the capital and looking to other areas where the upfront cost of acquiring property is lower, and the potential yields to be had are higher”.


Private sector rents rise in line with wages

By Marc Da Silva
January 20, 2017

Private rental price increases have accelerated modestly, in line with earnings across England, according to a new report from the National Audit Office.

But while the cost of renting in the private sector has largely followed changes in earnings, rents in the social sector have increased faster than wages, the figures show.

The exception to this is in London, where rents are rising much faster as a consequence of the supply-demand imbalance in the capital.

In its analysis on the state of the housing market yesterday, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors warned that “rents are being squeezed higher due to demand consistently running ahead of supply”.

Commenting, RLA policy director, David Smith, said: “Today’s findings from the National Audit Office will surprise those who have falsely sought to argue that landlords are profiteering. The question must surely now be why the heavily subsidised social rented sector is seeing its rents increasing so much more than earnings.

“We cannot afford to be complacent. Forthcoming changes to mortgage interest relief, due to be rolled out from April will serve only to place upwards pressure on market rents, stifling the supply of homes to rent and reducing choice for tenants.

“In the end, those who will suffer will be tenants unable to save for a house of their own, and the many vulnerable people, such as the homeless, who rely so much on the sector to provide a home for them.”


Wednesday, 18 January 2017

East of England leads house price recovery despite slump in transactions

By Lauren Davidson, Property Editor
January 17, 2017

House prices across England climbed by 7.2pc in the 12 months to November CREDIT: RICHARD GARDNER/REX/SHUTTERSTOCK
The East of England is staging the strongest recovery in the UK housing market, with property prices there 10.5pc higher in November than they were a year earlier, according to monthly figures from the Land Registry.

House prices across England climbed by 7.2pc in the 12 months to November, reaching an average of £234,278, with London prices 8.1pc stronger at £481,648.

“The Land Registry’s data for November shows that buyer confidence is returning to the housing market, underpinned by low borrowing costs," said Katherine Binns, research director for the HomeOwners Alliance.

"While the expected triggering of Article 50 puts a cloud of uncertainty over the market for 2017, people seem to be keen to crack on with their home-moving plans. With a shortage of both sellers and of new homes being built, this means our housing market will continue to be shaped by a lack of supply and we can expect ongoing upward pressure on prices."

On an annual basis, house prices rose across all regions of England and Wales. The slowest year-on-year increase was in the North East, where the average price of a property gained 3.2pc to £126,989.

“Today’s figures from the Land Registry act as confirmation of what we already believe to the true, which is that the UK market remained resolute in the face of uncertainty with price growth continuing to increase late into the year," said Russell Quirk, chief executive of eMoov.

However, the number of sales transactions in England dropped by 22pc in September, the most up-to-date Land Registry figures available, following a 20.3pc fall the previous month.

Just 64,311 house sales were completed in September, down from 82,452 a year earlier. The number of completions in London fell by 39.5pc to 6,698, compared to 11,065 in September 2015.

The precipitous drop in transactions has been attributed to high levels of stamp duty, particularly in London, where houses are more expensive and therefore have a larger tax bill.

A 3pc increase in stamp duty for buy-to-let investors prompted a surge in sales before the changes were introduced in April 2015 and a significant reduction since.

"The bottom line is that demand outstrips supply and so, while interest rates are low, it is likely that the market will continue to grow at this gradual pace – especially in sought after areas such as London," said Simon Gerrard, managing director of Martyn Gerrard and former president of the National Association of Estate Agents.

"However if the Government wants to maintain a healthy housing market post-Brexit, then it is imperative that they work on supporting an increase in the volume of transactions taking place – which is the real issue currently facing the industry."


NALS-led forum asked to consider how fees ban could operate

By Graham Wood
January 18, 2016

The Fair Fees Forum, a platform for letting agencies and trade bodies set up by the National Approved Lettings Scheme, has been asked by a government representative to concentrate on considering how the proposed ban on fees levied on tenants could operate.

The forum, launched by NALS last October shortly before the government announced it wished to ban fees on tenants in England, met last week.

A minute of the meeting says the representative from the Department for Communities and Local Government, which will effectively draft the proposed ban, reminded the group of the government’s policy.

“Therefore, the excellent work of the group should be focussed on continuing to provide evidence and data to help inform government on the fee ban and how best to make it work” the minute continues.

The forum was attended by agents including Belvoir, Chestertons, the Connells Group, Countrywide, Hamptons, Hunters, LSL Property Services, Northwood, Savills, Spicerhaart and Winkworth as well as trade bodies, redress organisations, the DCLG and even Shelter.

The forum also discussed the implications of the fee ban in terms of loss of service to tenants, possible increased cost for tenants in accessing a tenancy, the potential decrease in choice of agent for consumers, and an increase in self-management by landlords - all against a backdrop of a lack of regulation in the sector.

The group also backed a call from NLAS - reported here in December - that the Competition and Markets Authority should be asked to review fees and charges in the lettings market.

The forum is to meet again after the start of the government’s formal consultation process on the proposed fees ban - no date has yet been given by DCLG for this.


Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Report sets out barriers facing smaller builders eager to tackle housing crisis

January 17, 2017

Numerous and varied barriers, including finance, planning and red tape are preventing smaller firms from playing a bigger part in tackling the housing crisis in the UK, according to a new report.

Over the past 25 years the number of SME builders has reduced by around 80%, but just getting back to the number operating in 2007 could produce an additional 25,000 homes a year, says the report from the Home Builders Federation (HBF).

Smaller builders were able to set up and grow quickly to establish themselves as significant contributors to local economies in the 1960s and 1970 so that by 1988 more than 12,000 were building new homes.

Today however the number of SME builders has dwindled with very few new entrants able to secure a foothold and even many established businesses unable to grow, the report reveals.

The report’s foreword, written by Redrow founder Steve Morgan explains how he grew his fledgling business into a national publicly listed builder something he says ‘would be almost inconceivable today’.

The barriers facing SME builders today are led by lack of access to finance and an increasingly complex planning and regulatory systems which are inhibiting the entrepreneurialism of smaller companies, the report says.

Even as banks have increased lending to SMEs generally, the report reveals that the situation has improved little since the recovery from the 2008 financial crash whilst the risky and expensive process required to achieve planning permission has thwarted SMEs without the infrastructure and financial ability to navigate them.

Whilst housing supply has increased significantly in the past three years such that it is now reaching the Government’s target of 200,000 new homes a year, the vast majority of this increase has come from the largest builders. With Government keen to see numbers continuing to increase, enabling SMEs to increase output will be key, the report point out.

The report suggests a number of steps Government could take to help including the creation of a new Help to Build scheme to help extend sustainable lending to smaller companies and lifting barriers for builders to access tax incentives and other support enjoyed by SMEs on other industries.

It also says that tackling specific planning problems that disproportionately affect the business environment for SMEs, including the lack of smaller sites and the impact of pre-commencement conditions would help.

In addition, providing technical and planning advice services for fledgling businesses is needed and the Government is urges to seize the opportunity of Brexit to reform European Union regulation to reduce the complexity associated with building new homes.

‘Whilst housing output has increased significantly in recent years, the vast majority of the increases have come from larger companies. The number of smaller builders has collapsed over recent decades with few new entrants to the market able to grow to any size,’ said Stewart Baseley, HBF executive chairman.

‘If the Government wants to see continued increases in supply it is imperative it enables SME builders to play their part. Removing the barriers for SME builders could result in tens of thousands of desperately needed additional homes being built and boost economies up and down the country,’ he added.

The HBF’s member firms account for some 80% of all new homes built in England and Wales in any one year, and include companies of all sizes, ranging from multi-national, household names through regionally based businesses to small local companies.


Don't abandon letting fees ban, say tenants

By Olivia Rudgard
January 17, 2017

Gemma Anders: 'Landlords and agencies are exploiting the fact that we don’t have any choice' CREDIT: ANDREW CROWLEY

Britain’s growing army of tenants are worried that the Government will delay or quietly drop its promise to end the scandal of arbitrary fees charged to tenants in return for... often nothing.

Chancellor Philip Hammond pledged to ban the fees in his Autumn Statement, winning praise from tenants’ rights groups and dismay from letting agents.

These fees have become so large that Mr Hammond’s announcement resulted in a 13pc fall in the share price of Foxtons, the high-profile, upmarket London estate agency.

The charity Citizens Advice has found that one in five tenants has to pay fees of £100 or more to start and to renew a tenancy.

But for professionals renting expensive properties in London and other city centres, they can be far higher. And the chronic shortage of rental property means most have no choice but to pay.

The Government’s proposed consultation has not begun. Nor has a date been set.

Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said: “The Government’s pledge to ban letting agent fees is welcome and should put a stop to private renters being ripped off.

"But it needs to be enforced sooner rather than later, or letting agents will continue to cash in while they still can.”

Telegraph Money has been approached by many readers who have recently been required to pay higher fees. In many cases agents are not disclosing fees on their websites – which is itself a breach of the rules.

Foxtons’ customer Gemma Anders has been locked in a dispute with the estate agent over the state of her rented flat in Fulham, west London.

The central complaint regarding the fees is that while tenants have to pay them, they have no rights or entitlements as a result.

Gemma Anders’s battle with Foxtons began when her bathroom sprung a leak. The 28-year-old, who is a manager in a London department store, and pays £1,300 a month for the one-bedroom flat, asked for someone to come and fix it in August last year.

A series of quotes were rejected by the landlord without explanation, leaving Ms Anders in limbo for months. Finally the plumber came early in December and fixed the leak, but left a rotten part of the bathroom wall uninsulated and dismantled.

The letting agent was still unable to contact the landlord to arrange repairs, leaving Ms Anders with a cold and smelly bathroom in the winter.

The problem is that while Ms Anders has nowhere to turn but Foxtons, the agency is acting for the landlord. So while Foxtons charges certain fees to tenants such as Ms Anders, its main income comes from fees from landlords, which can be as much as 20pc of the rent.

In this case Foxtons said it could not act without express consent from the landlord. It also warned Ms Anders that she faced losing thousands of pounds if she moved out, as she would be breaking her contract.

Foxtons further incensed Ms Anders by informing her that a contractor who had visited her home had described it as “habitable”.

She paid hundreds of pounds in fees to rent the flat and another £90 in July when the tenancy was renewed.

“So many young professionals rent. Landlords and agencies are exploiting the fact that we don’t have any choice. At no point did they say the landlord was in breach of her contract – but on many occasions they told me I would be,” she said.

Eventually, Ms Anders found somewhere else to live, and moved out at the end of December, but was told by the agent that her contract would not allow her to leave without a penalty. She is still not sure whether she will get her £1,700 deposit back.

When contacted by Telegraph Money, a spokesman for the letting agency said it was “sympathetic and equally disappointed” and that this was an “isolated incident”.

“The tenancy agreement is between the landlord and the tenant. Therefore, the only person who has the legal power to release a tenant from the contract is the landlord,” he said.

“Likewise, the legal power to authorise repairs stands with the landlord, who in this case, has unfortunately not provided consent for all the repairs requested to date, or agreed to release the tenant from the tenancy agreement.

“Foxtons continues to work towards a satisfactory resolution of this case.”

Foxtons also gave us a copy of a letter sent to Ms Anders shortly before Christmas offering her £500 compensation and stating that the landlord would not allow her to move without forfeiting her deposit. The letter said: “We are obliged to follow the instructions of our client, the landlord.”

Dan Wilson-Craw, of the campaign group Generation Rent, said: “It’s not right that letting agents charge someone who isn’t their customer. Just in terms of basic fairness, it makes complete sense to make landlords pay for it,” he said.

Under current rules, letting agencies should also not charge tenants for the same things that landlords are charged for, or charge non-specific “administration fees”.

Under the Government’s proposals all charges would have to be met by landlords or the agencies.


Monday, 16 January 2017

The best (and worst) postcodes for buy-to-let returns unveiled

By Marc Da Silva
January 16, 2017

The key to a successful long-term buy-to-let investment is securing solid rental yields for income returns and the potential for capital growth from increasing property prices over time.

Buy-to-let landlords will be keen to improve their returns, to help offset additional stamp duty charges for acquiring properties and a squeeze on mortgage interest relief.

Fresh data from Aspen Woolf has identified the latest buy-to-let ‘hotspots’ which include Manchester, Cardiff, Leeds and Liverpool.

Oliver Ramsden, founder and director of Aspen Woolf, said: “The UK property market stayed strong in 2016 despite a turbulent year, with confidence remaining in the buy-to-let sector in particular.

Rental growth increased but at a slower rate than 2015; this was to be expected however, notably due to the unexpected Brexit result stalling market movement for a short period.

“House prices should start to increase above the 3% mark again in 2017, especially in buy-to-let ‘hotspots’ which we have identified.”

At the other end of the spectrum, in comparison to the rest of the UK, London’s letting market weakened last year, with rents peaking in April 2016.

“We forecast this trend to continue, especially within prime central London hence have identified West Central London, or the WC postcode, as the top UK location to avoid in 2017,” said Ramsden.


Think tank calls for more tenant-power in private rental sector

By Graham Wood
January 16, 2017

The think tank IPPR has called for increased tenant-power within the private rental sector to give renters the kind of clout existing in Germany.

IPPR has made a comparison of the rental sectors in both England, where 19 per cent of households private rent, and Germany, where the figure is nearer 40 per cent. It says that in Germany only 23 per cent of renters pay more than two-fifths of their household income in rent, whereas in England the figure is 33 per cent.

It also says a key difference between Germany and England is the role of tenants’ associations.

Three million German tenants belong to local tenant associations that can lobby in addition to providing legal cover, advice and arbitration for disputes between tenants and landlords. These associations typically operate as local branches of national organisations.

IPPR is calling for renters in England to have the same kind of collective power, and wants a new national tenants’ association, which would be funded by the government but operating as “a fully independent working group of third-sector, public and private organisations.”

It also urges mass membership organisations such as trade unions to support private tenant members through legal advice and dispute resolution support services.

IPPR argues that the government’s recent pledge to ban letting agents’ fees levied on tenants in England is the start of what could be a better deal for tenants.

“Private tenants need to be given much greater voice and power. This will help make sure their voice is heard in a debate that is often dominated by the goal of home ownership as well as provide them with more practical help to drive up the quality of rented homes. Doing this as well as better regulation of renting and building many more homes will be key to solving the housing crisis” claims Charlotte Snelling, IPPR researcher on housing.


Thursday, 12 January 2017

Renting may be financially more worthwhile than previously thought

By Graham Wood
January 12, 2017

New research claims that the financial benefits of renting rather than owning may have been under-rated.

A financial researcher at the University of Stirling, Dr Isaac Tabner, says the cost of renting includes many additional expenses incurred by home owners, such as building insurance and property maintenance.

He says a simple comparison between rent ands mortgage costs overlooks these additional hidden costs and can lead to an overestimate of the financial benefits of owning versus renting.

The new research, published in the International Review of Financial Analysis, provides a detailed explanation of how costs of renting versus buying a home can be compared, while taking tenants’ and owners’ own personal circumstances and macro-economic conditions into account.

In reviewing transaction costs, rental yields, opportunity costs, inflation and the length of time owning a home, the study also shows that – during periods of deflation or zero inflation – people who rent are typically better-off financially than those who own their home.

Even when economic conditions are favourable, households may need to own their home for between five and 10 years before returns from the rent they are no longer paying are sufficient to compensate for the high transaction costs of buying. However, increases in inflation and rent can tip the balance in favour of ownership.

“It is often thought that buying a house makes more financial sense in the long run: however, renting is frequently more worthwhile than buying for financially-constrained households, as well as households likely to relocate within 10 years” explains Tabner.

“As well as a reduced ability to recover transaction costs, households relocating within a few years face a higher risk that medium-term prices will move against them, thus reducing or eliminating their equity, while financially-constrained households face much higher mortgage costs” he adds.

The study shows that, for someone purchasing a home with no mortgage, deflation of just one per cent per year can result in an equivalent loss of half the present purchase value of their home if they hold it for 45 years. By contrast, inflation – including wages – of two per cent per year, results in the same individual gaining 50 per cent of the present purchase value of their home if held for around 28 years.


Asking prices in UK edge up in January but down significantly from a year ago

January 12, 2017

Average asking prices in England and Wales have increased 3.1% in the last 12 months but in Greater London values have fallen into negative territory with prices down 1.1% over the last year.

Month on month asking prices crept up 0.1% to an average of £296,761 but fell in Wales, Scotland and three regions in England, according to the latest Home.co.uk index.

The data also indicates that more properties are coming onto the market with supply increasing in all regions with the largest rises in the East of England with a rise of 18% and up 23% in Scotland.

The worst monthly price falls were in the East of England where they were down 0.6% and Scotland with a decline of 1.1% while annually the decline is significant, down to 3.1% from 8.2% a year ago.

The total stock of property on the market in England and Wales has slipped again but is 1.7% more than in January last year. Time on the market figures show London and the South East have slowed down considerably over the last year and overall it increased by 16 days to 111 days over the last month.

The index report points out that overall price growth continues to fall at the beginning of 2017 and the decline in the London market continues to have a negative impact on the national average.

According to Doug Shephard, the firm’s director, a seasonal lull is to be expected at this time of year, but he believes that the rapidly declining year on year trend shows the real picture. In January 2016 the annualised rate of increase of home prices was 8.2% but that is now down to just 3.1%.

Looking over 2016 the East of England was the UK’s best performing region and prices have risen solidly for the last five years but this growth period looks to be coming to a close, according to Shephard.

He pointed out that home prices have become seriously out of step with earnings and rents, rising a further 10.2% over the course of the last 12 months and prices in the region have risen by 44% during the last five years. He believes that with rapidly increasing supply the region should expect a slowdown during the course of 2017.

Shephard also pointed out that the UK property market remains highly diverse from region to region. The North East, for example, has yet to experience any sort of meaningful recovery. Prices there have hardly moved over the last five years, increasing just 2.5% and he thinks that a change looks unlikely.

‘However, any region where prices rose too high too quickly runs the risk of price deflation. London is already suffering this fate and the South East and later the East of England look set to follow,’ he said.

‘That said, 2017 is likely to be a mixed picture, with the East and West Midlands, who are still both in the growth phase, adding positive values to the national average. However, their gains are unlikely to change the overall direction of the price growth curve,’ he added.